Every now and then I get yet another stark reminder that this benighted country still hasn't got the plot on the matter of customer service. This month's jolt arrived when I weakly succumbed to the new Nokia 8110 GSM handset (mainly for the increasingly impressive battery life performance) and upgraded from the trusty old 2110.
Securicor Cellular dutifully took the details and twisted my arm into a new 12 month contract, and I got the phone a couple of days later. So I charged it up, stuck in the SIMM card and called the service desk to enable it. It was 9pm on a Monday.
I got a security man who gave me the emergency customer service number manned by Cellnet directly. The bloke at Cellnet advised that only 3 of their 20 resellers (laughingly called "service providers") offered a genuinely 24 service, Sony Telecom, Hutchinson Telecom (who also operate Orange, don't forget) and BT Mobile.
Yes, it's true. Something that has become as fundamental to the communications infrastructure of this nation as a cellphone generally doesn't have a 24 hour support service to back up the system. Unbelievable.
I'm in two minds to send this back and tell Securicor where to stick it (it's very small and smooth, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem apart from the antenna) - but like most cellular phone users, I can't face the aggro and the interminable forms and chasing about, so I shall meekly accept it as my karma.
But before any of you lot get a GSM cellphone, demand to know that the customer support is available 24 hours, or tell them you will take your custom elsewhere.
And as far as Nokia goes, you are of course correct to guess that none of the accessories for the 2110 are relevant for the 8110. But they do bundle a nice little brochure telling you to buy your desk charger, hands free, laptop connect kit etc all over agai...
And in case Securicor think I'm being beastly just to them, I'll now tag Orange by pointing out that their press office is still proud not to have any form of email to communicate with the outside world. Hutchinson spend all that money promoting a snazzy image, and then for us e-hacks, it's all completely undone by our efforts to communicate with their press office.
So for email, the answer as far as Orange PR is concerned, is still a lemon. Would you buy high tech communications from these people? Moreover, would buy into a regular feed of hype to publish in your magazine or newspaper, telling you how just how darned gnarly, hip and leading edge their service was - when their press office can't even handle humble email? Unlikely...