If sorry seems to be the hardest word, goodbye is definitely giving it a run for its money. Particularly if the goodbye in question is a tah-rah to your mobile network provider. Let’s be honest, none of them make it easy to go. The last time I made the leap was two years ago when I had a very odd conversation with an increasingly manic Orange rep who became all mum-like and accused me of being under the influence of an errant Apple assistant. Apple was making me leave them, couldn’t I see? And what was I thinking wearing a skirt that short?
It was all a bit awkward.
Moving on to the present day and I find myself needing to change networks again because I have a short memory for pain and live in deepest County Down where getting a phone signal at all is akin to chasing gold at the end of the rainbow. Sure, you’ve heard it exists but that doesn’t mean it’s really there.
I did a bit of light research – if you can include picking up a copy of Which? Magazine – and sifted through the darknet of phone user forum pages quietly thanking all the contributors for contributing whilst thanking my lucky stars that I don’t have to meet any of them in person. I decided, rather sagely, to move to Three. The process looked straight forward enough – like getting a divorce or escaping an upturned ocean liner in Seventies flares. But needs must.
So here’s what I’ve learned –the hard way – so you don’t have to. You are most welcome.
Don’t assume getting your PAC number is all you need if changing networks but not your phone. You will need to “unlock” your phone via your network provider with a special pin number. This is not information they will offer up voluntarily. Consider it a last “screw you” if you will.
Vodafone, for that is the delightful company I am trying to separate from (and it is beginning to feel like a divorce), will not take requests to unlock your phone by a phone. You need to fill in an internet form from their website, assuming you can find it. I suspect they have other restrictions too, you might need to fill it in by hand, with black ink, on a full moon, at Beltane. I couldn’t tell you. Rest assured this form isn’t easy to find.
In my experience, Vodafone don’t like to take calls at all. They will “put you on hold” or “transfer you to another department” which is code for “I’m going to cut you off now” – something they do with alarming regularity. My grand total for being cut off is four times in 90 mins. I didn’t even get a chance to raise my voice. Expect a large chunk of your premium-line time to be taken up by Auto-Bot Call Answering Hell. You will not be offered the Cancellation option unless you opt for the Upgrade Option first. Sneaky, isn’t it?
Today, during phone-call No 5, a customer service operator admitted that more and more customers are just being cut off mid call. I didn’t get an answer as to why.
Got an iPhone? If you bought your phone direct from an Apple shop, as I did, Vodafone might tell you that you need to go to Apple to get your phone unlocked. In that case, like me, you will need to call Apple who will tell you, correctly, that only a network provider can unlock the phone. Something we all knew all along. I suggest Apple and Vodafone should be shoved in a row boat in the middle of the Pacific without any oars where they can discuss this matter amongst themselves and leave everybody else out of it.
Do not rely on the IMEI number on the back of your phone being correct, assuming you can read it at all. I used a microscope. The number on mine is ONE digit different to the one I eventually found under Settings (having juggled redundant sim cards around). This difference will not get baby a new blanket or result in an unlocked phone.
If you have to swop a faulty (new) phone at the Apple store at any point in your phone contract (say, the beginning) Apple will email you a work form to confirm this (what normal people call A Receipt). They might not tell you this. Make sure it’s sent to the correct email address and not one of their made-up Apple ones that nobody uses because they will not resend it to a different address later. Now you may think, so what? Right? But in two years’ time when you are changing networks, you may need it for the original IMEI number as Vodafone/your network provider may request it – although they don’t need it – because, sure, why not?
Once you have jumped all these hurdles, double-check and check again how long it will take for the release code to be sent to you via email. And make sure it was actually requested. My first request has magically transformed into a request to unlock international calling. Which I’m sure will be massively useful on a handset that no longer works. Two different Vodafone people advised me unlocking my phone would take 48 hours, the Twitter rep tells me ten working days. But then, working days from which request (we’re already a week in) is a moot point.
Finally, don’t give up. Vodafone don’t want you to call them up and so make it as difficult as possible for you to speak to a human being. But this is true of many organisations. When it comes to the auto-bots handing out enquiry options, always follow the money. If you can’t find a cancellation option, the upgrade one is your best bet. The quickest way to get to a person is to either suggest you’re going to spend more money on the company or threaten to take it away. Sad but true.
Yep. And breathe.,