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Emergency calls only

Thu 29th November 2012

For over 24 hours now, I have had absolutely no mobile phone reception on O2. For the first few hours, I thought this was just O2’s network being flaky, as it has been on several occasions in the past half a year.

Once I had a chance to check Twitter and realised no-one was having the same problem, I began to suspect a problem with my ageing Nexus One, so contacted O2’s live chat support this morning. Guru Brian walked me through turning it off and on again (while rubbing the SIM card with a dry cloth), and then promptly diagnosed a faulty SIM. I tried a friend’s SIM and it worked, so I assumed Guru Brian was correct. He gave me the option of having a SIM posted to me (3 working days wait) or pick one up in an O2 store. Not wanting to wait until after the weekend to resolve this, I decided to pick one up after work.

After the long walk from work into the town centre, I ended up waiting 15 minutes to be served in the understaffed O2 store in West Quay. Eventually I saw a guy who managed to give me a new SIM within a couple of minutes and advised me to go to http://o2.co.uk/swapmysim or call 0844 809 0202 to transfer my account over to the new SIM.

I then had to head to my tennis club’s AGM, but was relatively happy that it would be a few minutes work to activate my new SIM once I returned home. I should have known from experience how wrong I would be.

Upon visiting the swapmysim webpage, I was asked to enter my mobile number, so they could provide me with a code to verify my intended action. Brilliant! Great thinking O2: my phone doesn’t work, so send me along a process that involves texting a code to my phone. Great thinking.

I begin hunting around the O2 website looking for the contact us link (it’s http://www.o2.co.uk/contactus in case you’re looking for it). Not quite sure why it was more difficult to find this evening! Like all good corporations, O2 make sure you’re not being a total idiot and ask a number of questions to which they can answer “RTFM” to.

I was interested to see that it pointed me to My O2, as a way of swapping SIMs, so I thought I’d try to find that feature, even though I know that My O2 is a swamp of bills and pointless that all crap portal-based webpages are prone to containing.

Imagine my surprise when upon visiting My O2 I saw that O2 thought my tariff was £46 per month and for 24 months.

Actually, I guess that is not too surprising without the prior knowledge of what my actual tariff is! My expectation was that I am on “iPhone simplicity 15 – 12 months”, a tariff which costs me £15 per month, and was contracted for 12 months but that expired last year!

Back to O2 live chat! This time Guru Arnold ensured me that he could help me activate the new SIM on my account.

Rikki:
I was on text chat this morning and was told my SIM is faulty, so I went to an O2 store this evening to get a replacement.
Arnold:
Okay.
Rikki:
They told me to go to http://o2.co.uk/swapmysim to activate it
Rikki:
however, that service sends a code to my phone
Rikki:
and the SIM in my phone is faulty
Rikki:
so I cannot receive to code
Arnold:
Don’t worry, I will help you with this.

Wonderful, but hold on a minute Arnold, I am a bit concerned as to why My O2 thinks I’m on a £46 per month contract, when I have definitely not signed up for such a thing. My personal alarm bells are ringing, and this smells to me of an O2 mistake which has resulted in my tariff being changed and my account being disabled. Anyway, let’s see what Arnold has to say, having finally asked for my full name so he can look at my account (they already asked for my mobile number, which is surely a better primary key than a name).

Arnold:
I see that your account is under investigation with our Fraud Investigation Team.
Rikki:
Why?
Arnold:
I’d request you to contact them on 0844 8471420 from land line and they’ll be in better position to help you with your account.
Rikki:
This is utterly ridiculous.
Arnold:
They’re available from Monday to Friday 8 am to 9 pm.

Oh.

Brilliant.

Thanks O2.

The transcript is quoted in full below as Arnold passes me onto his manager John J, and I express my consternation at the situation to him, to pretty much no avail. However, I’d rather express in prose here what is completely confounding about this event.

It is utterly incompetent of O2 to shut off my account and make no attempt to contact me regarding this. They control my access to the network, so even if they have cut me off, they must have some way of sending me a text message or phoning me. Alternatively, they have my e-mail address, so could send me an e-mail. Or they could have put a large, red banner message at the top of every page in My O2 to ask me to call them. As a last resort they could have posted a letter to me. None of these things happened. And the excuse that they would not know whether I am the actual account holder demonstrates a complete lack of understanding: how do they know I am the account holder when I phone them?

To compound this blundering lack of communication, when the only way I could possibly find out my account has been clamped by the Fraud Investigation Team is to contact O2 myself, on neither of the times I did contact O2 did they mention that my account was in this state. Let me ask you this: how on earth am I meant to know my account is under investigation? Am I meant to guess? Am I meant to read O2’s mind?

And to top it off, the people I need to contact work Monday-Friday 8am-9pm. While those are relatively decent hours, it is disappointing that one part of O2’s customer service is available seemingly all the time, but the part that will actually solve my problem is restricted to the time while I’m at work.

I am completely frustrated with this. I am going to resolve the issue with O2’s Fraud Investigation Team tomorrow, and then will start looking for a new mobile phone and broadband provider. O2’s mobile network issues this year, combined with their lack of communication over this situation and their generally disappointing broadband are just too many things that are wrong.

It will be rather intriguing to find out what fraud has apparently taken place; I can’t imagine a scenario where it is useful to anyone to hack my account and put me on a higher contract, although I guess there are a few purely malicious hackers out there.

Transcript of O2 live chat

info:

Welcome to O2. A Guru will be with you soon.

We’re really busy right now. Thanks for waiting. If you’re after the latest information on the iPhone 5 please go here

Did you know you can find out your upgrade date by logging into MyO2 here. You can also do lots of other stuff like check your bill or change your tariff too.

info:
You’re through to Guru Arnold.
Arnold:
Hi I’m Arnold. How can I help?
Rikki:
Hi Arnold
Arnold:
Hello.
Rikki:
I was on text chat this morning and was told my SIM is faulty, so I went to an O2 store this evening to get a replacement.
Arnold:
Okay.
Rikki:
They told me to go to http://o2.co.uk/swapmysim to activate it
Rikki:
however, that service sends a code to my phone
Rikki:
and the SIM in my phone is faulty
Rikki:
so I cannot receive to code
Arnold:
Don’t worry, I will help you with this.
Rikki:
Just before we go any further, can I ask a related question
Rikki:
One of the help pages pointed me to MyO2, and when I went there, it seems to think my tariff is a completely different tariff to the one I am on.
Arnold:
Please help me with your full name,.
Rikki:
And I am wondering if this is the actual cause of my problem (rather than a faulty SIM)
Rikki:
My name is Rikki Prince
Arnold:
Thanks for the details.
Arnold:
I see that your account is under investigation with our Fraud Investigation Team.
Rikki:
Why?
Arnold:
I’d request you to contact them on 0844 8471420 from land line and they’ll be in better position to help you with your account.
Rikki:
This is utterly ridiculous.
Arnold:
They’re available from Monday to Friday 8 am to 9 pm.
Rikki:
Why wasn’t I told this in the chat this morning?
Arnold:
I’m sorry but I don’t have access to your account details as it’s handled by Fraud Investigation Team.
Arnold:
You will have to contact them.
Rikki:
How do I register a complaint?
Arnold:
Please be online while I transfer this chat to my Manager
Rikki:
thank you
info:
Hold on. You’re being put through to John. J.
info:
You’re through to Guru John. J.
Rikki:
Hi John J, I am totally upset at the service I have received.
John:
Hi Rikki, this is John. J, one of the managers.
John:
How may I help you today?
Rikki:
My phone has had no reception since yesterday, so this morning I contacted support and was told I had a faulty SIM. I then had to go out of my way to get to an O2 store to pickup a SIM, and now when I’ve tried to activate it, have been told my account is under Fraud Investigation, which is only open until 9pm.
Rikki:
Why have I not been contacted about this?
John:
The Frauds team is still investigating your account.
John:
Please call on the number given to your by my colleague and they’ll help you further.
Rikki:
Well I would appreciate an e-mail or a phone call to be informed of this.
Rikki:
How am I meant to know I am under investigation unless I contact you?
Rikki:
Am I meant to phone you every day just to check?
John:
The reason the Frauds team can’t contact you is because we can’t validate if we are talking to the actual account holder.
John:
In this case, we ask the account holder to contact us and we’ll verify the details.
Rikki:
Even if you contacted all the methods of contact you have for me?
Rikki:
You could text me and ask to call. You could write a letter. You could e-mail me. You could post a message on MyO2 so that I see it when I login.
John:
Please call us on the number given above as soon as possible.
Rikki:
Don’t you worry, I will.
Rikki:
Then I will blog this incident.
Rikki:
And then I will be leaving O2.
John:
That’s the notes added on your account so I can’t give out any info or make any changes on your account.
Rikki:
The handling of this situation is utterly unacceptable.
Rikki:
I completely understand your position, but you must feedback to your manager that the current situation is unacceptable.
Rikki:

You cannot disconnect someone’s mobile phone without notifying them, it is completely unreasonable.

Rikki:
Right, thank you John. Please pass on my thanks to Arnold as well.
Rikki:
Goodnight.
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