Advantages Can work out cheaper
Disadvantages Customer support, the way the top-up works
A few months ago, I switched over to 3Pay, the pay as you go service from 3. Part the reason was my little bro talking me into it and partly becuase I wanted a camera phone (see my revew on the NEC e313). I've now decided that this was sheer madness on my part.3 have one of the worst top up systems I have ever seen. With most of the other network providers you get a nifty little swipe card to top up with. Being slightly concerned with the environment I like to make as little waste as possible, but with 3 you have to go down to a shop, pay them and then get the till receipt. This isn't too bad, but then you have to ring the top-up line and enter the number. I've never been entirely convinced that one day it will mess up, but so far it hasn't. I just prefer vouchers to till receipts as I feel more 'secure' for some reason.
The way the top up works too is odd. Say you spend £15 then you have a choice of the following : either 25 mins of calls (to anyone on any network in the UK or landline), 100 texts and £2.50 credit (to use on their multimedia services) or 100 voice minutes and presumably £2.50 credit (never gone with this option so I don't know). Now this isn't too bad apart from the fact that you have to use it all within 30 days because then they reset it and you're back to zero voice time, texts and credit. If you hammer your phone it may be worth it, but for me it's not a good idea.Also, customer service is appalling, They have a call centre located in India or Pakistan and it's nigh on impossible to get these guys to understand you. Over here we're pretty used to dealing with different accents and things like that, but over there they have a different alphabet and they all sound the same (I'm not being racist and maybe they have accents too, but they can't grasp English accents). My name is spelt the way it's pronounced and they couldn't even get past my first name without me spelling it about 8 times so in the end I just gave up. Eventually I found a sneaky way to register. Basically call technical support (they're UK based) and then say "Oops! Sorry I haven't registered!" and they'll do it for you there and then in about a tenth of the time it takes them in the foreign call centre.
The service coverage isn't too bad, although there are times that if you move your head a millimetre too far from the signal direction then you'll get cut off, but this only seems to happen when I'm in built up and urban areas so it could just be buildings and things interfering. If you really want to use the video calling system I suggest you check the coverage in your area too. Some places you're limited to just voice and some can take voice and video, but if you really want the whole thing then check.Would I recommend them? No and thats purely on the basis of the customer service. Customer service is pointless if one party cannot communicate effectively. Shame about that, because they could be a good network.
*** Note added on 30-09-04 ***I'd like to clarify that even if you haven't topped up after 30 days you can still recieve calls.
Also the services on the 3 website you can access from your phone includes an option to download ringtones. Use this at your peril. My little brother has had varying degrees of success (some work, some don't), but I've had hassle. I've downloaded the same tune 3 times now and each time been given the run around. They've eventually re-creditied my account, but it's taken me 3 days and 9 calls for each one.
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