Thursday, May 19, 2011

O2 madness (updated)

Phone companies' payment schemes are now so complex that even the staff are completely out of their depth.
When it became possible to use the iPhone 4 for wireless tethering (make the phone a mobile hotspot for a laptop or tablet), I went to their shop to get that done. We got it done for a small fee, and I was told to wait until the Hotspot option turned up in the menu.

I waited and waited, but it never did. So I called them. I was told I'd been given the wrong "bolt-on" as they call it. So I got another one. And I was told to wait until the option appeared on my phone... And I waited and waited, never appeared.

So I mailed them, and now I'm told that the tethering is not compatible with pay-as-you-go. I'd suspected this from the start (this would be too simple to be "good business" wouldn't it?), but all had said it was no problem.

But typically I have not been told how to remedy this problem. So I've spent half an hour on their extensive web site, trying to figure out how to change to a monthly plan so I can use tethering. And it just seems like I can't. It seems I have to get a new SIM card and a new phone number in order to get this to work. Good friggin' grief already. [Turns out I could change the phone number back to my old one later, in a separate procedure.]

Update: the whole thing is mind-bogglingly complex. Just one example: to send them *any* question by their site I have to log in, password and all. And then, again just to ask a question, I have to fill out a couple of letters from a *different* password which is used for support. And clearly this is not enough, for I *also* have to give them the exact amount I have on my account. ... Aaaaaaaand, get this: I *also* have to tell them two phone numbers I call frequently! This is complete insanity.

Another example, there are apparently two types, with many variations, of monthly contracts: "simplicity 30-day tariff" and "O2 Pay Monthly". There is no way that I've seen of telling the difference.  I've just signed up for the Simplicity thing since it was the only thing I saw presented, but seeing the other thing now, I wonder if maybe tethering does not work on the Simplicity thing either. Probably not, it would be too simple.

Update: Not to flog a dead horse, but it's just getting too funny how looong this saga is becoming. I can't even remember all of the newest meanderings, but here are some of them:

So I got the new SIM card for monthly payments. (I don't know why you'd need to get a new card for that, doesn't make a lot of sense.) So, it was the wrong size. It should be micro-SIM for iPhone 4. So I mailed it back, and some days later I got a correct one.

I signed up for a monthly bill. It turns out I need a special tariff for iPhone, so it has to be changed. So I do that. Later over the phone, it turns out there are even newer tariffs, where there is *not* special pricing for the iPhone, and I need that instead. OK.

So I need a "bolt-on" to get data over the phone. The good news is that at least they are not charging extra for using the phone as hot-spot, like some companies do. And the pricing is much more reasonable than it was a couple years ago, or than it is in the US. Less than 25 Sterling for like 300 minutes, unlimited texts, and 500MB of data. The minutes in particular are much more than I need, which was why I had Pay-as-you-go from the start.

So now it should work. So once again, for maybe the 30th time in five weeks, I try to set up the Hotspot on the iPhone. Still doesn't work, I just get a link to a web page... sometimes when I load this page, it gives general data which don't help me, and sometimes I get a 404 page.

So I just called up, and the tech says: "you've been given the wrong bolt-on. The one you need is the same price and the same data, but it's specific to the iPhone." So he changed it for me, and it should work from tomorrow.

Holy cow.


Bruce said...

I suggest picking up a free phone number with Google Voice. You may not need it, but it's nice to have for a backup. If things go horribly wrong with your carrier, you have a number that you can use with any carrier.

eolake said...

Thanks, Bruce. Interesting tip. I know I have never ever used any email address which was ISP-dependent.