£3.00 less?

Sometimes I feel like I am living in the bizarro world when I am dealingDC1FCC13-B898-412F-A4B5-BB8D0B9D8720.jpg with the mobile operators in the UK.

My first foray into this bizarro world was around two months ago when my wife’s mobile contract was up and she wanted a new phone. Off we went to the Vodafone store and somehow walked out with a new Blackberry 8110 and an £85.00 credit on our bill, all in exchange for merely renewing her 18 month contract. Coming from Canada, the world of over-priced cell phones and 3 year contracts, we would have been happy with just the free Blackberry, so to add onto that an additional £85.00 credit was flat out bizarre.

This surprising outcome was not an isolated incident – Yesterday, I contacted Vodafone to find out what it would cost to get a higher monthly data allowance on my Blackberry. From my experiences in Canada, my expectations were set that for one reason or another there would be nothing they could do for me – whether it was because I had the wrong phone, or it cost too much, or I needed to sign my life away to a 16 year contract or whatever else, something would make this relatively simple request turn into an impossibility. Imagine my surprise when the Vodafone rep. offered a package including 150 additional voice minutes, a near 100x increase in the amount of data (up to 500MB/mth), and all for the outrageous price of £3.00/mth less – yes LESS – than I was already paying. No new contract to sign, no new device to buy, just a change of service that takes place at midnight.

As a point of reference, this same request to the three Canadian operators would be met with the following options:

  • TELUS Mobility: $60.00/mth additional offers a change from 8MB/mth to 1GB/mth.
  • Rogers: $75.00/mth additional offers a change from 4MB/mth to 200MB/mth. (The limited-time 6GB plan is only available to non-Blackberry Enterprise users).
  • Bell: $60.00/mth additional offers a change from 8MB/mth to 1GB/mth.

No doubt the locals here in the UK have their fair share of complaints about the mobile operators, but it is all relative – and relative to the Canadian marketplace it is a breath of fresh air. My natural state, when it came to dealing with mobile phone companies, had always been one of skepticism and a general feeling that in one way or another they were out to either screw me around or present service plans that were simply not viable to anyone but the top 1% of users. These experiences will definitely ensure that when we do head back to Canada, our expectations of what we should get in return for what we pay, or the contracts we sign, will be much different than when we arrived here.