I've just received my new nokia 7610 phone, replacing my old nokia 7250i, which I've had for about 18 months.
I've wanted a new mobile phone for a while, in order to be able to take better photos on the move, but actually getting around to buying a new one is a different matter. The thought of having to go into a mobile phone shop and talk to the staff fills me with dread. On the other hand, most mobile phone websites are pretty poor too.
The biggest problem with mobile phone shopping is that trying to compare tariffs, mobile phone costs and contract clauses across different operators and phone retailers is a nightmare and next to impossible. It's a situation that's made worse by the fact that the only way you can find the information out is to ask sales assistants, who have to refer to complex tables, printed out on reams of paper. The info on the walls of the shop and in their catalogues is worthless.
I already had a contract with Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone, and so I thought that the easiest option would be to simply upgrade my existing contract. I enquired in a shop as to how much it would cost and was told that it would be 120 pounds. I asked how much it would be if I was a new customer, and was told that it would be 110 pounds. Asking if I could then simply register as a new customer, I was told that this was possible but that I'd have to have a new number. If I wanted to get a new phone with a different network, it'd be possible to port the number, but it was impossible to port the number to a new contract on the same network. This seemed ridiculous, so I left the shop in a huff.
A week later, when I recovered, I tried phoning up customer services. I again told them that I wanted to upgrade, and was this time quoted a price of £99. Having worked out that I could get the same phone and contract cheaper on a different network, I then asked if I could get my PAK code so I could disconnect. I was transferred to a different department. Asking this new department whether I could have my PAK code, I was told yes, but they then started asking the usual questions of why I wanted to leave, etc etc. I tried to retell the above story. The man on the other end then did some tapping into his computer, and magically told me that I could have an upgrade with a new Nokia 7610 and the same contract for just £12.99! So I agreed this, and the phone was duly ordered.
This whole story seems similar to many that my friends have told. My question is, why is an upgrade cheaper if you threaten to leave first? From a business point of view, I can see that they'd rather make money out of customers too timid to point out that they could get a better deal elsewhere, but from a customer service point of view, it sucks. Mobile phone companies have a bad enough reputation already without being devious over their pricing.
It'd all be a lot simpler if service providers only sold service contracts and PAYG SIM cards, and the selling of mobile phones was left to a seperate market. Then the real cost of your phone calls and mobile phone (which is currently subsidised) would be a lot more transparent. The current situation means that if you don't upgrade your mobile phone every 12 months, you're not getting your money's worth of your contract...
Anyhow, rant over, my new phone is very nice. Here's a picture of the old phone taken on the new phone and vice versa. Expect to see more photos taken from the new phone soon.