The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.
Share this review on
I have been with the Vodafone network for around 18 months now, having originally chosen this network partly because many of my friends were already on Vodafone (Vodafone to Vodafone calls being cheaper than cross-network) and because my local KJC store was offering a very good deal with free connection and also the then recently released Nokia 3210 free of charge.
As I was on a special deal, my billing was originally done by a separate company – Vodafone Connect, but recently that has been changed over so I am billed directly by Vodafone.
If you want a contract mobile phone, the Vodafone network offers a range of tariffs, aimed at Leisure or Business users. Each of the tariffs has a name, which is something like Leisure 250, or Business 1000, the number relating to the number of free minutes you receive per month. All the leisure tariffs give away free off-peak minutes and the business tariffs give away anytime minutes.
The tariff I am on was a special one only available at KJC, and I get lower line rental and more free minutes, but the call charges I pay are most similar to Leisure 250, which I think is the tariff the majority of personal users would go for. The charges for this are as follows:-
Connection £35 (does anyone EVER pay for connection when there are so many deals which offer free connection?!) Line rental £14.99 per month plus £2 itemised billing (itemised billing is compulsory so I would prefer it if they just included this in the price!) Peak calls 35p a minute Evening calls 5p a minute Weekend calls 2p a minute Vodafone to Vodafone 10p a minute Vodafone to other network 50p a minute peak, 35p a minute off-peak Text messaging 12p per message
In general, the more line rental you pay, the cheaper your calls are. Although free minutes seem like a good deal they are not really, not many of us need more than 250 a month - I currently get 500 a month and always have over 1000 to use up - so really I am paying for something I don't use. I know they are 'free' but you don't get anything for nothing and the free minutes are probably reflected in the higher call charges. As it is, I find myself using the phone for the sake of it, or having to remind myself to use it when I would normally have used my land line - and with all the negative publicity about mobile phones and health it does worry me a bit spending an hour on my mobile. I would prefer really just to use it for quick calls.
Off peak calls start at 7 p.m. and finish at 7 a.m., which is not overly convenient for the majority of people who want to use their mobiles on the journey to or from work. I am aware that another network (namely Orange) was offering a deal where you could choose your off peak hours, which I think is an excellent idea and something I wish you could do on Vodafone.
PAY AS YOU TALK
Vodafone also offer a good range of Pay as You Talk mobiles. I don’t have personal experience of these, but one of my friends has a 3210 on Pay as You Talk so I can refer a little to his experiences! Vodafone do seem to offer the most up to date phones on Pay as You Talk (no more bricks!) before the other networks, which was a plus point for my friend, who had previously had a tiny Ericsson phone on pre-pay so didn’t want to have to downgrade to something huge and basic! You can also change your existing contract phone over to Pay as You Talk for a one off payment of £35.
The Pay as You Talk operates on a system called Smart Step. Calls are 25p a minute for the first 5 minutes of the day, and 5p a minute thereafter, at any time, which is very good if you compare it with the tariff for pre-pay, especially if you make a lot of calls during the day. You can top up your credit either at a Vodafone shop using the swipe card you are issued with when you get your phone, or at many other shops by buying the normal top up cards.
You don't have to pay any extra to be able to use Vodafone Voicemail, but you do pay to receive your voice messages. This can be expensive, as they come through as soon as you turn your phone on or finish your call, so if it is during the day you pay peak rate, whereas off peak voicemail messages are included in your free minutes allowance. You can, however, opt to receive text message notification of new voicemail, which is better really as you can then wait until it is cheaper to phone and hear your messages.
The voicemail service is easy to use, with a menu system to change your options and record a new answerphone message.
Vodafone have a free customer service number which offers assistance with network problems and tariff enquiries. Calls are answered very promptly, without having to hang on and listen to muzak, and I have always found the operatives to be extremely helpful and courteous. Last week I telephoned at a time when unfortunately their computer system was down. I was told they would phone me back when it was operational, and didn’t hold out much hope, but sure enough they called me back a day later! For billing enquiries you contact your billing company – for me this number is not free, but this would depend on who you were with! I have also found them to be most helpful, and I have never had any actual errors or unexplained entries on my bill.
The website – www.vodafone.co.uk has a wealth of information on tariffs, coverage, contact numbers etc. and is a very comprehensive resource if you have a problem or query.
NETWORK COVERAGE AND RELIABILITY
I have always found Vodafone’s network coverage to be excellent, and even in areas of the New Forest (where I live!) which are renowned for their poor coverage, I normally have enough signal to make a short call. Nine times out of ten calls go through, although occasionally you get a “Network Busy” signal – normally at times when many other people in the vicinity are likely to be making calls as well, e.g. on a train when a delay has just been announced, or in a traffic jam! Reception is usually excellent once on a call. Text messages always get delivered promptly and I have never had any go AWOL!
There have been two occasions since I have had my phone where I have had no network coverage at all at home due to a network fault. I phone Vodafone on these occasions (from a landline!) and they were able to tell me the cause and location of the problem and the approximate time they hoped to have it up and running again. Neither of the problems lasted for more than 24 hours and with a mobile it is not the end of the world as the transmitters seem to be so close together that you only have to go a mile or so down the road to pick up a signal from another transmitter!
I have used my Vodafone phone abroad and have found the coverage there excellent as well. It has been possible to use contract phones abroad for a long time, but recently Vodafone have introduced international roaming from Pay as You Talk phones as well. The website gives coverage information for all the countries covered by Vodafone’s roaming agreements (there are a lot, and most of the ones you would reasonably visit on holiday or business have several networks to choose from). If you are going abroad it is worth telephoning Vodafone as they will have up to date charging information and will be able to give you tariff information for each of the available networks in the country you are visiting, and tell you the cheapest one to choose for both calls and text messaging.
The costs are always much greater than within the UK and it is also worth remembering that you have to pay to receive incoming calls. The person calling you from the UK will pay the normal call cost as if you were still in the country, but you pay a surcharge of around £1.00 to have the call “forwarded” to your phone.
My one slight gripe with Vodafone comes in here. When I recently enquired about the cost of text messaging in Spain, where I am shortly going on holiday, I was told that a charge of around 40p per message would apply for both sending AND receiving text messages. I have never been charged for receiving text messages abroad before so queried this, as I normally receive a lot of text messages and if I was going to get charged 40p a time it could work out as an expensive holiday! I was told the charge was a new development. The following day, my friend with the Pay as You Talk phone received a text message from Vodafone informing him of the fact he could now use his phone abroad, and he called the free number to find out about tariffs. He was told, in a recorded message, that there was no charge for receiving text messages abroad. I found this a little strange, so telephoned Vodafone once again and was told that there may or may not be a charge for receiving text messages abroad, but it is up to the network you are on as to whether they make a charge, and that Vodafone are not party to this information. It frustrates me that I have been given three different pieces of information and don’t know which one to believe! The text messaging issue in itself is not a great problem, but the fact that Vodafone can’t get their act together on this one does reduce my confidence in them.
Vodafone are not the cheapest network, and do not have the greatest or most flexible range of pre-pay tariffs. If I had a completely free choice of network, uninfluenced by my friends’ choices, I would probably not choose Vodafone. However, they do seem to be good for Pay as You Talk phones, and they have excellent network coverage. On the whole their customer service is very good, but the problem detailed above does cause me a few worries about the reliability of their information.