July 10th, 2010


Three's a shower

I should post more before I entirely forget how to write. So I'm going to post about something small and annoying (no, not myself): my Three micro-SIM for my iPad. (I can't call them '3' because it's too confusing when I'm also talking about '3G'.)

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When I activated the Three SIM, despite the fact that it was supposed to be a PAYG SIM Three wanted to know everything about me: from the usual name/address/DoB etc to things like how long I'd been in my current job, and what my previous address was. This was presumably for a credit check, but when I asked why they needed to know this, all they could tell me was "we need to know these things, Mrs M—, because, Mrs M—, in order to set up your account, Mrs M—, we need to know these things to set up your account". Anyway, all this information was nothing they couldn't get off Facebook anyway, so I gritted my teeth and went through the mandatory 45 minutes of interrogation, and then the 3-hour wait until the SIM is actually activated, etc etc. It did work in the end, though; and I can now get MAGIC INTERNET FROM THE AIR on my iPad (hurrah!).

However, I then came to set up my 'my3' account, i.e. the ability to look at my bills etc online. I put in my name and address and SIM number, and so on, and was told that in order to activate the account I'd have to type in a PIN which they would send my SMS to my Three mobile. .... See the problem? The Three SIM is in an iPad. Not a phone. There's no way to receive a txt on the iPad (there may be apps that fake it, but that's not the point). And because it's a micro-SIM, I can't even just slap it in another phone. OK, I probably could find someone with an SMS-receiving device which would accept a micro-SIM, but I figure I shouldn't have to do this to make their stupid setup process work.

So I emailed them and pointed out the flaw in their process, and waited for a reply. They tried to phone me a few times; I was annoyed that they couldn't just reply to the email (I got an automated ticket response, but that just told me to phone their helpline), but figured that maybe they'd be able to give me the PIN over the phone once I'd cleared security, but couldn't do it by email.

Today I finally gathered enough round tuits to phone them back. First, there's no ticket number or other way to skip through the phone-menu and say "I'm following up this previous request that you told me to follow up". Second, when I do get through to a human being (or at least a slightly better AI than a phone-menu), I find that there is literally no other way for them to give me the PIN for the account. "OK, Mrs M—, the reason is, Mrs M—, the iPad does not support SMS." I pointed out that they knew that when they offered an iPad contract, but the point was lost on them. Apparently I can log into my 'my3' if I'm using my Three connection on my iPad, and then it won't ask for a username or password at all; but that's the only way to do it. "Mrs M—, we are looking into another way of doing this, Mrs M—, OK." Fortunately I will get notifications and bills and suchlike by email, i.e. I don't have to go into the 'my3' account to get them... but still. The only thing that's stopping me cancelling the Three SIM now is the knowledge that doing so would involve talking to them again. Well, that and the fact that I'd have to go and deal with a different phone company instead, who would simply be differently awful.

The moral of the story is ... I don't know. It can't be "don't buy an iPad" because it's absolutely great and has honestly actually been useful as well as being a joy to use. It can't be "don't deal with mobile phone companies" because if you want to use mobile phone technology there's no real alternative at the moment. Maybe the moral is "everything is a bit full of fail, but mostly works in the end". Not exactly catchy, but it'll do.

The concept of 'fail' is another subject for another blog, or maybe a book (in fact, I will gladly write a book about 'fail' if someone will pay me for it, because I've written most of it in my head already). Which means I probably won't ever get round to it, because of... well, because of fail.