Magazine article The Spectator

Ringing Up Trouble

Magazine article The Spectator

Ringing Up Trouble

Article excerpt

I've just come back from a week's skiing in Verbier with my girlfriend Caroline where, unfortunately, our relationship took a turn for the worse. As regular readers of this column will know, I moved back from New York at the end of January to live with Caroline in London on a three-month 'trial basis'. Oddly enough, the downturn in my fortunes had nothing to do with the presence of her father who accompanied us on the trip. No, it was all the fault of One 2 One, the mobile phone network. One 2 One, I've discovered, does not make two.

I became a One 2 One customer last month, having been seduced by a particularly attractive offer at Carphone Warehouse whereby I was able to trade in my old mobile phone and get 50 off my new One 2 One phone. Having secured this discount, I opted for the top-of-the-line model, impressed by the 'international roaming' facility that would enable me to make and receive calls on the Continent. At the time I didn't realise that this facility is absolutely standard on all the mobile networks provided you've got the right phone.

I called One 2 One customer service on the eve of my trip to activate this facility and was a little surprised to discover that I'd need to pay a deposit of 150. However, Caroline and her father were due to join me in Verbier a few days later and I wanted them to be able to contact me on arrival so I paid up. You can imagine my disappointment, therefore, when I switched on my phone in Switzerland and was greeted with the words 'No Service'. I felt particularly humiliated because my host, Hutton Swinglehurst, was a Vodaphone customer and had managed to activate his 'intemational roaming' facility without any difficulty at all.

After I'd endured much crowing from Hutton I became determined to prove that the One 2 One network was every bit as good as Vodaphone's so I called Caroline - on Hutton's phone - and asked her to contact One 2 One to find out what was wrong. This turned out to be a huge mistake. The customer service adviser she spoke to informed her that the reason my phone wasn't working was because the 150 deposit I'd paid wasn't nearly enough. Apparently, the amount each customer has to pay varies according to his or her credit rating and, according to this helpful gentleman, I had a credit rating of four. …

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