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THEY CAN PRESS MY BUTTONS ANYTIME
Member Name: sue.51
Date: 15/06/02, updated on 15/06/02 (2590 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent service
Disadvantages: Usually a queue
Over the years I've have used the independent local chains, the specialised network dealerships and the major electrical stores; it was now my chance to try out a National independent chain on what happened to be the Monday of the queens Jubilee celebrations;
"On a bank holiday Monday?" Shouts my other half - of course, everyone else is having street parties or at the seaside or local show - what better day?
I will admit that I have approached the Carphone Warehouse every time I have needed a new phone, and every time have come face to face with massive queues, and not being the most patient of people I can never be bothered to wait and my goodness have I paid for that impatience? I still fail to understand the British fascination with queueing.
So this time there was no queue and it was their turn.
Carphone Warehouse are probably the most indicative of a National Independent chain, they sell phones on the following networks:
o Virgin Mobile
WHAT DO THEY SELL?
Mobile phones, lots and lots of them, I really was spoilt for choice, exchangeable covers, accessories such as hands-free kits and in car-chargers, home telephones, CD's containing ring tones and PDA's.
THE STORE (SWANSEA)
The store is compact with the counter on one side and with a range of about 40 dummy sample phones attached to the wall on the other, listing:
o The make of each phone
o The applicable networks
o The cost of the phone for contract, pay as you go, and Orange No Line rental.
I was, on this occasion fairly clear about what I wanted. I didn't want another Nokia phone, and had to have the Orange network, but was uncertain as to whether to elect for pay-as-you-go or contract. I have had previous bad
experience with Orange customer services and was more than a little reluctant to commit myself to them for another 12 months, but being someone who uses her mobile a lot, particularly during the day, PAYG was not necessarily the best option for me, and Orange contract calls are infinitely cheaper than both O2 and Vodaphone (I have had all 3).
One thing I will say about the Nokia phones was that they were by far the cheapest option for all call options and also all the accessories with the exception of the cases are interchangeable between models.
However, my ear burning 3310 has put me off this range for life and if I ever receive another horrendous bill or text message from O2 then I think I will be liable to commit Hari Kari.
Carphone Warehouse produce a quarterly magazine that contains details of all their products plus a whole range of other incentives such as phone exchange and cash-back incentives which, if you don't really know what you want, you can take home and read at your leisure.
The company operate a 14 day return policy and products can be returned to ANY branch of the Carphone Warehouse (terms and conditions apply - don't forget to read the small-print and keep your receipt)
They accept most forms of payment, including:
o Credit Cards, including Amex and Diners
o Debit Cards - including Solo and Duet - they do not however accept Electron Cards
THEIR PRICE PROMISE
They claim that if you find the same product cheaper within 14 days they will refund 110% of the difference (does not apply to the sale of SIM Free handsets).
THE ASSISTANT - STEPHEN
My first question was could I keep my current mobile number? I had heard before that this was possible. He kindly pointed out that I could, but that my request should have been put to 02 BEFORE cancelling my contract, I advised him that I had cancelled the O2 contract three mon
ths before (this is how disillusioned I was with them) and he suggested going back and asking them if a number transfer was still possible.
Apparently, the number change will take around 10 days to implement and customers will be allocated a temporary number during the interim period. After giving this some thought I decided it was now or never and guessed that 15 days was sufficient to tell everyone about the number change, so I decided to start afresh. Two weeks after signing up I received a sheet of small cards through the mail that I could distribute to advise people of my number change.
Stephen kindly ran through all the charges with me for:
o Pay as You Go
o Pay Monthly
o Orange no-line rental
We did some swift calculations and decided that without a shadow of a doubt that a normal contract was still my best bet. For anyone who is not familiar with Orange No-Line Rental, you pay a one off fee for the phone and then call charges at 15p per day for the first 5 minutes and then 5p/minute thereafter, calls are billed monthly in arrears.
SETTING UP THE CONTRACT
You will need two forms of ID, one with your address on it, dated within the last 3 months, (or alternatively a driving licence) and a credit/debit card containing your signature.
Last time I connected to Orange they required an address that I had been living at for more than 3 years, something that was quite difficult as my lifestyle over the last few years has been something akin to a gypsies, thanks to needing to move to areas that encompassed my daughters school catchment area, we even moved next door to the flipping thing, and she still scrounges a lift now and again - but that's another story.
The credit check process took around 5 minutes and was all computerised, current and last address were required and I was approved, happily no problems with my new postcode this time (even more impressed). This could possibl
y be because I had previously had an unblemished account (if rather a volatile relationship) with Orange and may differ for new customers. I was issued with my mobile phone number immediately.
I was offered the option to pay by Invoice or Direct Debit, however, unlike the Orange Shop I was not offered a choice of dates when the payment would be taken out of my account, shucks the way I seem to have changed jobs recently this is a relatively minor issue.
I stumbled across the phone I wanted, the Motorola V66e, a very sexy little number that also vibrates (essential if you need to be contactable in meetings) and also, as I have discovered since bringing it home has WAP access and a USB connector allowing you to access the internet via a computer while travelling - blimey this could be a recipe for disaster. Once I was fairly certain he brought one out of the showroom and demonstrated its operation, style etc to me, although it still took me around 10 minutes to suss out the battery connector when I got home. I have since discovered that any phone containing an 'e' suffix can only operate on the Orange network - those on other networks can pick up this phone as a V66.
The SIM Card was pre-inserted for me - I can still remember the days when SIM cards were the size of credit cards and had a rather embarrassing experience when I bought my fathers PAYG phone for Christmas a few years ago, having taken it back to the store claiming there was no SIM card in it, so make sure you check where yours is before leaving the store.
Connection to any of the Orange monthly contracts with this phone should have been around £30; however Carphone Warehouse were running a Jubilee offer that weekend whereby connection to all Orange Networks are free, can't fault it.
I opted to purchase, what is for me, an absolute essential an in car charger kit, for those worrying times when I found myself driving lo
ng distances alone and with a flat battery, and as I was making the purchase at the same time as taking out the contract I received a 10% discount.
My daughter then decided she wanted a new casing for her 3310, and managed to pick the most expensive (if very attractive Tigger case). Stephen removed her current casing which we had encountered problems with, and had become totally irremovable since she managed to drop it on my very hard tiled hall floor - luckily for her the tiles remained intact; we got 10% discount on that as well.
Nearly 1 hour later we left the Car-Phone warehouse proudly clutching our new purchases, all my documentation safely placed in a wallet labelled "Welcome to the Carphone Warehouse".
I am a stickler for good customer service and seldom seem to get it, I am highly critical of both service assistants in shops and telephone operators on phones so much so that I planning to study it for my Doctorate, but on this occasion I have nothing but praise for the young man who served me; he was polite, helpful, patient and very tolerant, this man deserves a Gold Star.
Would I visit there again? Most certainly if he was serving me. Even better I got a very sexy free phone and discount on my associated purchases, what more could a girl want on a windy warm bank holiday in a seaside town?
Within two weeks of obtaining the phone, I received another welcome pack from the Carphone warehouse, together with a sheet of distributable cards advising of my number change, and a questionnaire asking me what I thought of the service in-store, something I will most definitely be returning. I have heard people saying that they have had a hard sell with insurance in the carphone warehouse, I encountered nothing of the sort, although I believe that Orange phones are automatically covered for the first year through Orange themselves.
TO FIND OUT MORE:
You can vi
sit their website www.carphonewarehouse.com to establish where your local store is, or you can order on-line whereby you are guaranteed a next working day delivery Free of Charge. The company have won a variety of customer service awards and on my experience today I really am not surprised.
The store I visited was in Union Street, Swansea.