Monday, 11 June 2012

How to get an iPhone in 10 easy steps

Mr. Click and I have been weighing up the pros and cons of getting iPhones for a while now. I had one for a couple of years a while back and as much as I dislike Apple and iTunes, I have to admit, they’re pretty useful. Not having internet access at home, or a landline, we’ve come to rely heavily on our mobile phones but they’re basic (my current phone is of the text, make calls, calculate stuff and ooh look! a flashlight variety). After months of debating and talking about it, we finally decided to take the plunge.
Step 1: Choose your provider
My last iPhone was with O2, they’d also been my network of choice for the past… well, a while. I’d had my first contract phone with them when I was 18 and off to university and I knew they did the sort of package we wanted. So I went into a store to speak to them.

The guy in the shop was very helpful. I explained that ideally we would have two phones on the one contract, this is a business deal, he explained. Produced all the leaflets about it but couldn’t tell me any more because the computer system was down. I went away and investigated the leaflets he had given me. It sounded great, the one flaw in the plan was that you had to be a business to qualify for it.

But I liked O2, and I’m the sort of person who goes in for brand loyalty; my last three camera, Canon; my laptops, Acer; underwear, Marks and Spencer; you get the idea. So we continued to look into phones with them. Found an excellent package, unlimited calls, unlimited texts (Mr. Click and I send a lot of texts), 1Gb per month data allowance and they throw in the phone for free. Sounded great.

Step 2: Speak to your provider
Wanting to confirm everything before I committed to actually buying it, I decided to speak to O2 beforehand. Now they have a nifty system called Live Chat, which basically means you can talk to an agent, without actually having to speak to them. I’m not such a fan of actually talking to people on the phone (text, email, Facebook, Twitter, sure, but actually using my phone to call someone? Don’t be ridiculous!) so this suited me fine.

The woman was very helpful. Talked me through everything I needed to know, so I went ahead with my order. Now it would only let us do one phone at a time. Fair enough, they’ll be two separate contracts, both in separate names, that’s cool. We’ll order mine first.

Step 3: Order your phone
It asked for the usual; name, date of birth, address, card details, colour of your first car, all was going well until suddenly a screen popped up asking me for a £300 deposit. I stopped, obviously we’d done something wrong. We went through it all again, but nope, it wanted £300 for my phone.

Step 4: Repeat Step 2
Back to the Live Chat. This time it was a very helpful man. It’s due to credit reasons, he told me, you get the deposit back after three months. Will that be for both phones? I asked. Yes, he replied, each phone will have a deposit. But it works out better for you in the long term, it’ll actually improve your credit score. Yeah, I thought, though shelling out £600 for a couple of phones isn’t going to do much for my bank balance in the short term.

Ah yes, my credit score. It seems that because I’ve avoided having credit cards and never touched my overdraft in almost ten years I’ve got zero credit rating. I was helpfully told that getting a credit card and living at my address for three years would help improve this, so while I’m applying for my credit card and waiting for the next two years to pass, I decide to look elsewhere.

Step 5: Repeat Step 1
Who else could we apply for a contract with? Ah ha! Who am I with right now? Tesco Mobile (which is kind of on the same network as O2 so actually works for us here). They’ve always been helpful in the past, letting me had my free credit which for some reason didn’t go onto my phone and then became never ending credit when I was able to carry on sending texts for free long after it should have expired. We like Tesco, let’s go with them.

Step 6: Repeat Step 3
Maybe it’s just me, but Tesco’s site was looking a lot easier to understand than O2’s. We picked our tariff and we went through the checkout process. It all went swimmingly, until almost the end when it told us that there had been an error and we were advised to call the Customer Care Team.

Step 7: Repeat Step 2
Knowing that we needed to speak to someone and anticipating that it was probably to do with the credit check, I went onto that handy dandy Live Chat function to find out what information we might need to have to hand before calling. The woman I spoke to was very helpful; apparently the problem was actually because our bank details didn’t match our home address, a little strange because that’s where they send my bank statements, but whatever.

She helpfully offered to walk me through the checkout process to get the problem resolved. I said sure. She told me to add the phones to my basket again. I did. She told me to go to the checkout. I did. She told me to delete the original order. The computer told me that there had been an error and to call the Customer Care Team. It said the same thing when I tried to process the second order attempt. And by this time it was time to go to work.

Mr. Click then called the aforementioned Customer Care Team. It’s a problem with the identity check, they said. We need some information from you, they said. Let us have some details from your passport and driver’s license, they said. So, not being at home at the time, Mr. Click headed home and procured the required documents, only to call them back and be told, no, we don’t need those, we just need to ask you some security questions. This did not go well; when he was able to answer the three ‘random’ questions correctly he was told that as two checks had already been done that day, they could not progress with the order and he would have to call back the next day.

Step 8: Repeat Step 1
Mr. Click’s current PAYG phone is with Vodafone. Despite not being my first choice, it is one of the few providers which works at our house though I’d dismissed it because coverage isn’t always good at work. But our options were becoming limited. I was prepared to write off the idea of getting iPhones on contract by this point, but my husband decided to give it one last go.

Step 9: Repeat Step 3
So Mr. Click investigated the options available, found a similar package to those offered by O2 and Tesco and went ahead and ordered it. Incredibly the free phones remained free and no deposit was required when it came to actually paying for the order, and no call to the Customer Care Team was required. Finally, four days after we tried to place our initial iPhone contract order, we were able to check out.

Step 10: Repeat Step 2
And Vodafone have been very helpful. They called him that day to let him know that the first phone would be despatched shortly, a call that was followed on Saturday and again on Wednesday to let us know the actual delivery date (there was a slight hiccough in that we were told it would be with us on Bank Holiday Monday, despite our pointing out that it was a Bank Holiday and deliveries would be unlikely, but when we called to double check the woman Mr. Click spoke to was very apologetic and after everything else we’ve gone through trying to order these phones it’s really the least of my complaints).

It finally arrived a week and a day after it was ordered and it works a treat, nice and easy to set up and whenever we've needed any help Vodafone have been really happy to help. Plus I now get a good signal in the living room (and I was able to buy a lottery ticket at home, always a bonus). All in all, it's been mostly worth the wait. ;-)

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