overdue upgrade

March 7th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


It’s been a while, huh? Do you wanna hear a story with a happy ending? Read on then.

I’d had my current mobile phone for a while now. It’s a HTC Desire S and it’s been a good, trusty tool for me. The spec is ok and I’ve never really had any problems with it.

Recently though I’d been thinking about rooting it. I don’t know why, just plain old curiosity probably. I’m not sure what I’d do with it after rooting it, but I’ve never quite been able to bring myself to do it. I’ve read a couple of forums and so on about it and it seems easy enough but there’s always the fear of bricking it that has stopped me.

Then yesterday my phone locked up. It stopped. Bugger. I tried rebooting it, taking the battery out for a while and restarting it, and eventually the only thing I could do start the bootloader and factory reset it. That worked for a little while, half an hour or so and then nothing again.

It’s now sat on the mantlepiece, the only thing it will do is start up in bootloader and shutdown.

Until now, I’d never really thought about how long I’d had the phone. Every reasonably priced contract is 24 months long with available at at 21 months. I logged into the Orange website to look at my account to see when I was due an upgrade. I was expecting to see I had another month or two to go, but now the little box said “Upgrade available anytime”. Excellent. That’s a bit of a result. In a subsequent conversation with the upgrade department it turns out I got my Desire S 35 months ago! I suppose that’s a testament to how well happy I am with it. In nearly two and half years it never occurred to me to change my phone, it never lacked anything enough to make me think about getting another.

Because I’m a skinflint and the latest high-end mobile phone isn’t that important to me I don’t want to be paying hundreds of pounds for a new phone. Taking this into consideration, my options for upgrading looked like a Nokia Lumina 820 LTE, a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini or an iPhone 5 16GB for nothing or a 32GB iPhone for £50.

The Nokia is Windows Phone 8 OS, and even though its spec is quite good (I’m no expert on phones btw) I really don’t want Windows. I use Windows everyday for eight hours at work, I really don’t want it on my phone as well. So that one is out. The Samsung looked ok. Every review I read said it was ok, but it was no full sized Galaxy S3 which, although the reviews were good, left me a little disappointed that it wasn’t a phone that would cost me £199 to upgrade to.

This left the iPhone. I know the iPhone. Everyone knows the iPhone. Loads of apps, good screen blah blah blah and it wouldn’t be used in a way that would mean changing loads of accessories (because of the change of connector). It doesn’t have an SD card slot so it’d have to be the 32GB version. I clicked the upgrade button and a pop up box appeared I’d have to either pay a fuck load more for it (I can’t remember how much) or change my contract to a 4G plan. I didn’t progress any further because either way, it’d cost me an arm and a leg.

In hindsight, I think I would’ve got fucked off with having to do everything through sodding iTunes very quickly.

That left the Galaxy Mini. Fair enough. On its own it looks a capable phone, and it’d cost me bugger all.

Whilst buggering about on the Orange site I thought I’d have a look at some bills and check exactly how much I’m currently paying a month when I noticed I was being charged £3.33 a month for the last fuck knows how long for something called TrafficTV. A little stupidly, I don’t always check my bills. Ok, I never check my bills. I know I should but the amount always varies a little because of 0845, 0870 and all those non-geographic numbers that organisations have started using over the last couple of years. Sometimes SayNoTo0870.com doesn’t have an alternative number and you just have to suck it up and pay a little.

It turns out TrafficTV is an app Orange bundles with their phones. It tells you about the state of traffic on your route and stuff like that. I now remember opening it once to have a look and never opened it again. That, apparently, is enough to trigger a subscription to it. I can’t moan about it being sneaky or false as it’s that long ago I can’t remember the warnings, if any, I was given about any subscription. I was still bloody angry about it and was prepared to give whoever answered the phone a load of shit about it when I called. Remember kids, always check you bill, I will now.

So, I ring Orange and eventually get through to someone to speak about this TrafficTV thing and with out hesitation the chap said he’d cancel the subscription and will refund up to £50, which is handy as I want a £40-ish refund. That completely took the wind out of my sails as I don’t have any way to prove I haven’t been using it and was expecting at least a little resistance to it. After a little bit of Googling, I think they’ve had a lot a calls like that and it’s pointless ranting to the customer service chap about it, so I got passed through to the upgrade department to order my new slightly disappointing phone.

Again, what happened I wasn’t quite expecting. When I upgraded to the HTC, I can’t remember all the details but I kept my call plan which is now getting on for 10 years old, got a discount on it, and had to pay £50 for the phone, whereas it was listed at £75 or £100. The phone was despatched to the wrong address and so arrived a day late and without even being asked, Orange refunded the £50 I had to pay.

This time, I was asked what phone I was looking at and told the Nick, for that was her name, that I was looking at the Galaxy Mini as I couldn’t justify paying nearly £200 for the big Galaxy…. and off she went. “Just give me a minute” she said and 20 seconds later, she’s offering me the Galaxy S3 LTE for nothing, on basically my plan, but twice as much data for one pound more a month. Oh and then she re-applies my 10% discount.

So now, I’ve got a phone that should’ve cost me £200, twice as much data allowance, and a monthly bill not too far shy of £5 less. 35 months ago I had to threaten to go with another phone company. I know the people on the phone have a certain amount they can do, but wtf? I was expecting to at least have to haggle/beg a bit to just got the Galaxy Mini for free.

For now though, it’s off to the forums to get work out how to fix the trusty HTC.

The mobile phone directory

July 8th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

What the fuck is all the hoo-haa about with this mobile phone directory, then? Eh?

Several times this week I ‘ve had people email me with a rather urgent tone telling me I have up until this week to opt-out…

This has come from our legal department, please see below!

Early next week all UK mobiles will be on a directory which will mean that anyone will be able to access your numbers. It’s easy to unsubscribe but it must be done before the beginning of next week to make sure that you are ex-directory. You may want to suggest it to all your friends and family who have UK mobiles or they could be swamped by unsolicited messages and calls. Removal is recommended by the BBC – see link below.


(That particular quote was from a friend, I don’t know if that was his ‘telephone voice’ or not but it doesn’t sound like he’d written it. Too alarmist.)

First , lets just deal with the email message then, the directory itself.

The email says anyone will be able to access our numbers. Anyone can at the moment. You’ve seen the little boxes in the small print that you’ve either got to tick or leave blank? Well, that ticking or leaving blank gives the company you’re dealing with permission to take your phone number (or postal address or emaill address, depending on what the form/company/product) and pass it onto ‘partner companies’ or ‘companies we think you may be interested in’. To translate, they can sell your numbers. Your number is in the public domain. It can be bought and sold. You are no longer Ex-Directory as far as direct marketing is concerned.

The email also states that you must unsubscribe (which is also wrong, you need to be ‘removed’ from the directory) by the end of next week to be sure of that you are ex-directory.
Well, the end of next week could be any time depending on when the email was sent. Considering the BBC article is date 9 June 2009 and in it, it states that the directory site is going live ‘next week’, I would say 9th July is a bit late and we’re all buggered.
It sounds like if you weren’t ex-directory by 16th-ish june that’s it, you’re in for life. But you’re not.

It may be a nice thing to do to make family and friends aware of this directory, but a month after it going live, I’m not drowning in window sales men, pollsters and heavy breathers. Are you?

I fucking hate these fucking circular emails that are just wrong in the first place and have an unneccesarily alarming tone to them.

Removal is recommended by the BBC – see link below

Um. No it’s not.

I doubt my buddy wrote that. I hope he didn’t.

Apart from the issues surrounding where 118800 got the 15 million or so numbers it claims to have, what is the problem with an opt-out directory? I’m normally of the opinion that opt-in is the best thing, but for some reason, I don’t have a problem with this. No more than the landline directory, and infact I’m a little surprised it’s taken so long to come about.

Where the numbers have come from, although not stated specifically which brokers and lists these numbers were on, somewhere there is a little box that signifies that the numbers can be used for commercial purposes. If there isn’t, there is a problem with the data controllers of a company somewhere and not with the idea of a directory.
Remember, this directory and the company behind it are no different to any other direct marketing organisation. If you have a problem with this directory then you should also have a problem with the whole way data is bought and sold.
This directory is probably more accurately reflects peoples’ wishes than the landline directory, which the phone companies have to give their numbers to.

The issue of privacy is also dealt with rather simply and admirably.
They directory contacts you and tells you someone is trying to get in touch. If you are contacted by phone, you tell them no, if you don’t want to accept the call. If you get sent a text, ignore it. That has to be better than just being listed in a book ready for anyone, including teenagers skyving off school and finding people with funny names to abuse down the phone. Again and again… and again…

The opt-out is also still there, with no time limit on it. Apparently, the first time the directory contact you, they also give you an option to become ex-directory. And of course you could got to 118800 and opt-out there. Anytime.
Four weeks to get off their list is a bit much though.

Whether this directory actually works in practice and are as ethical as they reckon they are will remain to be seen, but the idea itself a mobile phone number directory, should be a cause for concern and they way they are doing it to try and ally peoples’ privacy concerns, should be should be welcomed. It could’ve been so different.

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