Mobile technology good, network and accessories bad

by on September 25, 2004

Having recently bought a Sony Ericsson T610 on a deal from BT Mobile (and no, that’s not O2), I’ve been reflecting on the fact that while the phone itself is pretty good (if seemingly designed by somebody left-handed), the peripheral stuff like support, billing, accessories and general “off-handset” features, are appallingly bad.

WARNING: The following post is probably very, very tedious.

Take the route to purchase from e2save.com. After trying to work out why the deal has to be structured as “cash back” and not a normal discount, I paid for it online. Three days later I get a mail from their system saying the application has been rejected. Why, it doesn’t say. So I call them. They tell me BT have informed them that I already have a BT Mobile product, and the small print forbids more than one handset per BT landline customer. After about an hour of ding-donging between e2save, BT and Vodafone (my previous network) it turns out a munchkin at e2save.com processed my order twice. The rejection was for the second attempt. But since it didn’t quote an order number, I couldn’t have known and neither did they.

Two days later the phone arrives. All is sweet, but I need to get my number ported over. We go on holiday. A week later it still hasn’t gone over to the new phone. I ring BT – a minimum 25 minute wait on hold. After three calls, each lasting about 30 minutes over three days, it turns out I had some call redirection feature turned on, and that I should have asked for this to be turned off while requesting my PAC code. The number goes across three days later.

I then notice that while the GPRS indicator on the handset looks healthy, the phone is set up to use GSM for data/WAP access. So I switch it over to using GPRS (and do the same for SMS/MMS). This is only after about two days of solid Googling and usenet posting to work out how to do it. There is no info on BT’s site, nor e2save.com. I then mail BT to ask what their rates for data are (since again, no info on the site). Three days later they mail back saying I will only be able to use “WAP” and not GPRS (they mean GSM, but hey, they’re only the UK’s largest telco – what do they know?). Well, since my phone tells me my data connections are now using GPRS (and the browser connects immediately once it’s loaded) I take that to mean they don’t know how to bill me for data. Hmmmm. Chaos.

So then I buy a Bluetooth dongle for the PC. I’d like to be able to back up my contacts and stuff off the phone. £16.00 on eBay later, all seems to be working fine. Then I install Sony Ericsson’s synchronisation software on my PC. It doesn’t work, and errors of various types fly around – one of which is from an incorrect path for a shortcut that the installer puts in the Start menu. How shoddy is that!? More chaos…

The T610 is hardly an obscure phone. I can only assume that 99% of people that have one use it just make calls. But it’s 2004 for gawd’s sake! Can’t I expect a couple of clicks up on the feature scale from five years ago? The fact that I have to do some serious guerrilla activity to configure my phone to use GPRS on BT Mobile is a complete joke. Mobile telecomms revolution? Don’t make me laugh.

And all this before I even start laying into how ridiculously bad the Java “games” are…

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