Archive for July, 2011

Five Lies from Three

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

I hope you’ll excuse me digressing from the usual topic of this blog (again)…

I’m posting this up because it may help other people avoid being ripped off by being told complete nonsense by Three or other mobile phone sellers.  This is as best as I can remember it (next time I am tempted to record the conversation) and I’m sure that there were other things that they lied to me about but I can’t remember everything precisely.

My wife is a UK Three mobile phone customer. I knew that she was approaching the end of her contract, and I am authorised to access her account, so (with her permission), I decided to do a bit of research on what deal would be best for her and then phone up Three to ask when the contract ends.

After over half an hour on hold, I finally got through to someone who told me that she had 44 days left on her contract.  I was quite prepared to say “ok, I’ll call back in a few weeks”, but he wanted to know whether she was happy with her handset.  I explained that she would prefer to have a new one and he started trying to sell me some.  I’d discussed with my wife what she wants and done my research and so I explained that she wants a Nokia X3-02 or C3-01.

He said that the X3-02 is a very nice handset (they sell it), and that he could do me a special deal of £16 a month for 100 minutes, 5000 texts and 2000 Three to Three minutes for 24 months and he wouldn’t charge any extra for getting out of the contract early and he’d give her 2 2gb memory cards.  I told him that T-Mobile would do the C3-01 for £15 a month on an 18 month contract.

(Personally, I think that long contracts are a rip-off.  I usually sell the phone at the end of the contract and they tend to devalue quite a bit from 18-24months.  Also, I don’t see why I should have to pay another 6 months to buy a phone)

First of all, he tried to tell me that it was worth it for the extra 2000 Three to Three minutes, despite the fact that he had noted that my wife barely uses her 35 minutes a month that she currently has and mostly uses her phone for SMS.

First Lie: He tried telling me that OFCOM say that the standard length of a contract is 24 months.  I said that I had read that they said that the maximum length is 24 months which he tried to tell me was wrong.  Having done a bit more research since I got off the phone, I can see that OFCOM actually banned contracts longer than 24 months and insist that all mobile phone networks have options for contracts of as little as 12 months!

Second Lie: He told me that they have to do 24 month contracts to give the phone away free.  I explained that T-Mobile are doing an 18 month contract with a free phone and it is £15 per month.

Third Lie: He told me that the X3-02 is better than the C3-01 because it is newer.  He told me to look at GSM Arena and compare the two.  I did this and pointed out that the C3-01 actually came out a month later (Oct 2010 as opposed to Sept 2010).  He tried to cover this up by saying that the X3-02 has more memory (which is fair enough, but isn’t such a big difference).

He also tried telling me that the X3-02 is better because it has the buttons that are normally on the bottom row (*,0,#) on the right hand side.  That’s highly subjective, but I suppose it isn’t an actual lie.

Fourth Lie: He told me that T-Mobile don’t have their own network and that Three are superior.  Actually, T-Mobile now have 2 networks since they merged with Orange (I’m on T-Mobile) and that means that if you are out of signal with one, you can usually pick up the other.

He tried asking me why I wasn’t willing to pay an extra £1 (I don’t think he actually said per month) and I was about to explain that from my perspective, it is an extra £1 per month = £18 plus the extra 6 months to exit the contract (6 x £16 = £96), totalling £114 extra, which is well worth worrying about.  However, while I had been talking to him, something else had caught my attention online.  I had been looking up what deals Three were doing on their website and I found that they were doing the X3-02 for £15 a month on almost exactly the same deal.  I asked him why he was offering me a worse offer than what was on the website and he said that it was to cover finishing the contract early.  Of course, he’d already told me that he wasn’t charging for this, so it turned out that that was another lie (five lies so far!)   I tried asking him what this customer loyalty discount was, and he said that it was the 2 2gb memory cards.  I pointed out that she already has a 16gb one so they are completely useless.  Also, looking at the figures now, those are worth about £4 each, totalling £8 as against the £114 extra that he was trying to charge me.

At this point I decided to ask for the PAC code to transfer out.  He told me that there would be a £13 charge for finishing the contract early, so I said that I’d call back in a few weeks then (wishing that I’d just gone with my original inclination to say that at the beginning of the conversation).  He said that they do the best deals in the last 30 days of the contract (meaning that he obviously doesn’t care about helping a customer get a good deal otherwise he’d have just told me to phone back in a couple of weeks) and that it might be worth me finding out what the deals were then, but he could still offer me the deal he had today.  I said that I was in no rush and we’d wait a few weeks.  He sounded very surprised and repeated that I’d have to wait a few weeks and was I really sure that I wanted to do that.  I repeated that I was and managed to end the conversation politely.

I hope this has been some use to someone.  Please post comments if you have had similar experiences.  It would be interesting to know what kind of tricks these people get up to to rip people off.

Lessons learned: 

  1. Mobile phone companies will openly lie to keep business
  2. OFCOM say that all customers should have an option of a 12 month contract
  3. Don’t bother calling to haggle an upgrade before the last 30 days as they will just try to rip you off
  4. Customer loyalty can cost you £1 a month (as compared to the cost for a new customer).  Always worth shopping around!