Saturday, May 08, 2010

The good and the bad

Interesting comparisons .

A couple of months ago I bought a PAYG mobile broadband dongle from O2. This week I've also bought one from T-Mobile, as I know I'll be somewhere this summer that has very poor O2 coverage but pretty good T-Mob coverage.

Having both might seem extravagant but it does give me some backup options. Anyway, the interesting thing has been how easy (or not) these things have been to set up and get going with.

The O2 one was pretty straightforward. Installed the network manager on my Mac, put the dongle in. Went to the O2 mobile broadband top up page, entered my number, paid my money, connected and off I went. Now, every time I need to top up, I just do the same. I haven't needed to set up an account (even though I have an O2 account) or register a card.

The T-Mob experience was much harder. The network manager install was easy - easier than O2, as everything was installed from the dongle when I put it in.

However, that's when things went a bit pear shaped. When I bought the dongle it had a compulsory £10 "top up" on it, so I should have been good to go. But I wasn't. When I tried to connect I kept getting a message saying that I was trying to connect but hadn't any top up or hadn't activated my account. Activate my account I had to register a card! So I did. But to register a card I had to put a top up on it! Minimum £5. However, I must have tried a couple of times without success as eventually it told me I couldn't register the payment as I'd exceeded the number of attempts. So a long call to T-Mob ensued. The first problem was I couldn't register my debit card because that's already registered with another T-Mob account for my son's phone, and yo can't register a card with 2 accounts - apparently. So I topped up on my credit card. Now I had paid £15 of top up including the original £10 with the purchase of the dongle, but still only £5 was showing on my account.

Tried again, and got the same message - have to activate, and to all extents and purposes it looked like it was still asking me to pay. In the end I worked out that I had to go through the motions as if I was going to top up again whereupon my initial £2 daily top up charge was deducted from the £5 top up payment I'd made earlier (this was entirely unclear to me). A further phone call to T-Mob as to where my original £10 top up was elicited an apology and assurance it would be put right within the hour (and it was).

So eventually, I'm there. I just hope it's easier next time, and that the bloody thing gets a network connection in the middle of nowhere, where I'm assured by my sister who also uses a T-Mob dongle, it will.

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