Advantages Good coverage, pay upfront is good value, network is keen to retain existing customers
Disadvantages Inept customer service, exorbitant charges for calls to other mobile networks
If you are thinking of changing your mobile, perhaps even changing your network, don't just cancel your old contract and go for whatever appeals in your local phone shop. You could be throwing your money away...By all means do your research and find out which handset you want next. Feel free to have an in-store prod & poke, ask your mates, check out the opinions on Ciao. But if you've had a pay-monthly contract with Cellnet for more than a year, DO NOT buy your chosen handset from your original retailer WITHOUT calling the network and asking to cancel first. Even if you have no intention of actually doing so, the threat of cancellation works wonders.
Having operated an Ericsson T10s for almost two years on a pay-monthly basis, and become all but joined at the hip to my Palm V over the same period, I was thoroughly fed up with two things; firstly, the random way in which the T10s would switch itself off, and secondly, having to carry around two separate pieces of kit everywhere. So I started looking for something to do the job of both.Eventually I decided on the Ericsson R380s (review to follow), but I discovered that I would have to pay a £35 third-party service provider upgrade fee on top of the cost of the phone (£129) which I could only do through the original retailer (DX Communications). Offset against this was the discount I was receiving through the Cellnet First program (£2 a month off subscription) and the convenience of retaining the same phone number. As I am a light user, this meant changing would cost me £164, plus the usual average £11 discounted monthly bill; for a year, £296. I'd worked out that switching to Vodafone (the only other network the R380s is available on) would cost only £268 as I could get the phone for £100 from Carphone Warehouse on a new £14 monthly tariff. I would have a new phone number, but I figured I could cope with the hassle of telling everyone (e-mail is a wonderful thing!).
So I rang Cellnet to cancel my contract. They of course wanted to know why, so I told them that I wanted to upgrade my handset but could get a cheaper package on Vodafone. This got me put through to a member of the sales team who offered me a new contract on a pre-pay basis - no upgrade fee, the handset I wanted at £100 couriered to me, and *fifteen* months' line rental for £90 with free itemised billing, plus *100* inclusive minutes per month. Well how could I refuse? I didn't. I agreed there and then - £78 less than switching to Vodafone, retain the phone number, get three extra months' line rental, more inclusive minutes (only 40 on Vodafone) *and* a 20% discount (thanks to the First program) on calls above that - wouldn't you? The only downside was that calls to other mobile networks could not be counted in the inclusive minutes (though everything else, including WAP and calls to other Cellnet mobiles, no matter what the time of day, could). My wife is on Vodafone, but I was never a great lover of the telephone and our conversations are thus usually brief through this medium, so I figured that I could cope with the outrageous 30p/min off-peak, 50p/min peak charges for such infrequent use.I was offered the option of paying the £190 through my bill or on credit card. I thought it would be easier through the bill. However, my phone credit limit was only £100 but they didn't spot that and the an automatic system cut me off from the network for a day - pretty shoddy service. I then had two or three letters about it and I had to call them a couple of times (they also neglected to stop charging for the previous subscription) before I was assured that things have been straightened out - I look forward to receiving my next monthly statement to ensure that they have.
Although this opinion relates specifically to BT Cellnet, competition amongst the UK's mobile networks remains fierce and I imagine that my experience with the country's now only third-largest service is typical of all. Always remember that it is they who want your custom - not you who needs their network - and don't be afraid to remind them!
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