Friday, November 1st 2013
I broke off the story yesterday, having been prevented from setting up my new iPhone 4S by the lack of a SIM and unable to go out and buy SIMs for us both because I was awaiting delivery of a parcel. A rather frustrating situation.
Shortly after I posted my piece, the doorbell rang and the awaited parcel arrived. There was now little time left to buy the SIMs before going down to meet Tigger but I was determined to do so if I could. I hurried towards the N1 Centre where there is an Orange – sorry, an EE shop. Why this company would want to exchange the presentable name “Orange” for the absurd “EE”, standing as it does for the even more ludicrous “Everything Everywhere”, is beyond me. But, I digress…
In Liverpool Road I encountered what used to be the T-Mobile shop but which, following amalgamation of Orange and T-Mobile, has been rebadged EE. I went in hoping quickly to purchase my SIMs and be on my way. Only two assistants were visible and both were busy with customers while several other customers were waiting. I decided to try the original Orange (now EE) shop in the N1 Centre.
Success! Or so I thought when I found a lady assistant without customer and ready to help. I started to make my prepared speech, which began “I wish to purchase two pay-as-you-go SIMs for iPhone 4S, one on the Racoon tariff…” Here I was interrupted by the lady assistant who, opening the catalogue and pointing to a page, began to explain tariffs to me.
“No, no,” I faltered, “I want one on the Racoon tariff and one on the Dolphin tariff, both with the £5 per month Internet add-on.”
“I’m confused,” was her considered response.
After what seemed a very long time and a lot of explanation, I managed to convey what I wanted and the lady assistant retired to the back of the shop to fetch the SIMs. She returned empty-handed.
“You’re going to tell me you have run out, aren’t you?” I enquired.
“We’ve run out,” she replied. “But, they have them in the shop in Liverpool Road and they’ll be expecting you.”
Back where I started, I found the shop as busy as before. There was a customer on the phone arguing a very complicated case about a contract and an assistant occasionally taking the phone and saying his piece to it as well. All other assistants were busy, some of them with important tasks such as showing one another the phones on display. Eventually, I was addressed by the first assistant and explained my mission. And then I explained it again. Eventually, the penny – or something – dropped, and the assistant produced two SIMs. It took a a while for him to prepare them with the requested tariffs and to put credit on them. Pay-as-you-go SIMs are free but you have to put at least £5 credit on them.
Now I had the SIMs in my pocket I hurried to the tube to go to meet Tigger. Arriving a little before she was ready to leave, I decided to call Orange while waiting, to get the SIMs registered and the Internet bolt-on added. I reckoned this would take me 5 minutes. In the event it took me half an hour.
For one thing, the assistant was in some far-flung country and there was an appreciable delay between me speaking and him replying. As a result we kept interrupting one another. The line was as bad as you might expect and though his English was tolerable, his accent made him a little difficult to understand. I would ask a question and he would say “Just a minute”, and there would be a long silence before he came back with an answer, presumably having consulted someone. Then he would put me on hold and I would listen bad music punctuated by drop-outs until he returned and thanked me for waiting. Then we found we were talking at cross purposes or he would say “Yes, I can do that for you” and then it would turn out that he couldn’t.
I was standing on a staircase in the entrance hall of Tigger’s place of work. I had always wondered why people walked up and down while talking on their mobiles but now I found myself walking up and down the stairs, even while waiting on hold. I think it’s the frustration and anxiety building up energy that needs release.
He explained me that while I would have to pay £5 a month for a measly 10 meg Internet bundle on my Racoon tariff, Tigger’s Dolphin tariff gave her 1gb of Internet without additional expense. My response was the obvious one: “OK, put me on the Dolphin tariff as well”. Case solved, yes? Unfortunately, no.
He couldn’t put me on the Dolphin until next month because I was currently on the Racoon tariff you’re allowed to change tariffs only at the end of a month. Pardon? I haven’t started to use my tariff yet. My phone doesn’t even work. All I have is a SIM in a plastic envelope. I am not “on” a tariff at all.
More hold, more just-a-minutes. In the end we left it that he would consult “the team” and if this mysterious “team” could do anything, they would, and he would send me a text containing the details. Otherwise I would be stuck on the Racoon until next month. It was the best I could achieve, no matter how vigorously I walked up and down the stairs.
We went for coffee and sitting there explaining it all to Tigger, I felt curiously drained, as though I had taken part in some contest requiring emotional fortitude as well and physical strength. Why firms have to make things so difficult for customers who, after all, are trying to spend money with them, is a conundrum I cannot solve.
At home, we sat down to set up our phones. I must say that the process was virtually painless. The phones take you through every step, allowing you to select the options as you go. If you were hoping for a blow-by-blow account of how to set up an iPhone 4S, let me tell you it is not necessary. The phone does all the work and all you have to do is answer a few simple questions.
Before buying the phones, I did a lot of experiments on the iPod. For one thing, I set up all my email accounts on it in order to see how to get the effects I wanted. I was expecting to have to do this all over again of the iPhone but it turned out that I didn’t.
When you set up your iPhone, you have a choice: you can use your existing iCloud ID, if you have one, or you can create a new one. I was going to make a new one but Tigger persuaded me to use my existing one. This proved a sound decision, as I shall explain.
When you run an iPod or an iPhone, you have the option of switching on the automatic backup. This periodically backs up your data and settings. Where to? Well, to the iCloud, of course. Then, when you set up your new device, you simply do a restore from the iCloud and – hey presto! – everything backed up comes onto your new device. All my email accounts, all my data, all my apps, everything was copied across. The amount of work saved by this was huge. A few things failed to be copied, such as the books attached to my ebook reader, but I can recover them easily enough. I also discovered that I would have to log into things again as no passwords were coped across – obviously a sensible security precaution.
I don’t know how long it took us to set up our iPhones but not very long. We soon had phones in perfect working order, and were merrily sending one another messages with the messaging app. This serves a double purpose, acting as an Instant Messenger between iPhone users and as the phone’s text messaging system. On the Dolphin tariff, such messaging is included in the monthly fee so you feel it is free, which in a sense it is.
Did I say the Dolphin tariff? Yes, it appears that the mysterious “team” had decided that I could after all be transferred to the Dolphin tariff. I received a text message confirming this. So I now have a gig of Internet usage to play with and that will continue as long as I top up by £10 each month.
Though the phones are set up, there is still a lot of work to do. I mentioned the missing passwords and these will all have to be entered. Contacts have to be moved or copied from the Blackberry and so do all those calendar entries that remind me of birthdays, dentist’s appointments, plumbers’ visits and so on. It’s also necessary to learn how to use facilities which, though they do the same tasks as those on the Blackberry, are designed and operate rather differently. This is not something that can be explained succinctly. You just have to buckle down and learn how they work. It helps when there are two of you because one often discovers something that the other has missed. In that sense, two heads really are better than one.
There are some problems to solve as well. For example, I have already mentioned that the on-screen keyboard doesn’t suit me and that I am looking for solutions. For now I am using a “doiker” for much of the time. A “doiker”? That’s a stylus to you. Have you ever watched those episodes of Tom and Jerry where the little mice are dressed as the “Mousequeteers” and assault Tom with their rapiers? The sword-stabbing is accompanied by noises that sound like “doik doik”, and it is from this that we retained the word.
There is also a problem with email which is not “pushed” on the iPhone as it is on the Blackberry so in one of these posts I will explain my workaround to that.
In the meantime, questions and suggestions are all equally welcome.