Vodafone are liars. Film at 11.

I’m in the market for a new mobile phone. My SonyEricsson z800i (chosen after lots of helpful advice from my glorious readship) is now starting to feel the pinch a bit: the buttons sometimes don’t respond, for example. It’s also the size of Bolivia, which means that if I’m not wearing a jacket and I try and cram it into my pocket then I look like John Wayne. Plus, people laugh at me on the train because they think I’m doing a Gordon Gekko impression and it’s some sort of performance art. So, new phone required. I do have a list of requirements, which you’ll find below because I’m now looking for advice again, but I thought this time I had it cracked. After research (by which I obviously mean: reading things on the internet), I decided on the Motorola KRZR K1 (which is sometimes called a MOTOKRZR instead. why? Who the fuck knows. Perhaps they’re twins.) It’s a nice looking phone, and it did pretty much all the stuff I wanted it to do. Including (and this is important for the next bit), SyncML, the thing that lets you synchronise your list of contacts with a server out there on the wild wild internet. I need that: for one thing, I don’t want to have to type all the people I know in again. For another, I like a backup. Thirdly, it means I can edit contact details on the web rather than on the phone. I already have a SyncML account at mobical.net, which is excellent; I don’t want to move to another one. (People thinking “just store your contacts on the SIM card”: that fails the “have a backup” criterion.) I noticed that Vodafone (my current mobile provider) offer the KRZR in their list of “phones you can upgrade to”, and after a phone call it turned out that I could upgrade to that phone for free. How cool is that, eh? That sounds like the way for me. Yes, says I; I’ll have that, please. Vodafone person: “It comes in two colours, sir, blue and silver. Which would you like?” Your gentle narrator: “What’s the difference between them?” V: “Nothing; one’s blue and one’s silver.” Me:OK, I’ll have a blue one, please. I like blue.” V: “Certainly, sir, it’ll be with you tomorrow by courier.” The next day (Friday 16th March, last Friday) my brand new phone arrives. I excitedly unpack the box, put the battery and the microSD card and my SIM card in it, plug it in to charge up. Two hours pass, and it’s completely charged. Ringing my phone number rings the phone — yay! So, excitement building, I think: OK, time to pull down my contacts onto this phone. I RTFM (rly!) — the Vodafone-branded manual, note — to discover that the way you set up a SyncML connection is: Menu > Connectivity > Synchronisation > Vodafone sync > New Entry. Ah, but…in Synchronisation, there’s no Vodafone sync entry. There’s just Exchange, and that’s it. After a few minutes poking around, I ring 191 to talk to Vodafone about it. After explaining my problem, and then explaining it again in shorter words, and then explaining it again to a technical person, and then explaining that I was following the instructions in their manual with their logo on the front, I get: V: “Ah, the blue KRZR doesn’t have that function. You need the silver one for that.” Me: (splutter) “But I spoke to your colleague who said that they were the same!” V: “I’m sorry, she must have got that wrong. The silver one supports SyncML and the blue one doesn’t.” Me: “But the phone itself supports it. You mean that you’ve deliberately disabled the function in the blue KRZRs?” V: “Yep.” Me: “The silver one definitely does it?” V: “Definitely.” Me:OK. You’ll send me a silver one and pick up this blue one at your expense, since you lied to me about them being the same.” V: (concilatory tone) “Of course, sir, no problem. It’ll be there Monday. At some point between 8.30 and 6pm.” A little divergence here. How the fuck is it reasonable to say “We’ll deliver it at some point in this NINE HOUR WINDOW”??? It was fortunate I could have this delivered to work. Everyone does this now. I end up having to take a whole damned day off when we have furniture delivered, and 90% of that time off is wasted for the half an hour that they actually deliver the bastard. While I appreciate that it’s a different situation, Andy tells me that a drayman, delivering beer to pubs, can give you a FIVE MINUTE window in which they’ll turn up, and they always manage it. Moving furniture is a bit different to moving beer, especially since beer deliveries are always to the same pubs rather than arbitrary houses, but it’s just one more example of companies making customers bear all the brunt and pain even though they’re paying the money. Fuckers. Back to the story. You can see where this is leading, can’t you? Monday passes: no phone. Today, Tuesday: the new phone arrives. A silver KRZR K1. Unpack, put in SIM, put in microSD, put in battery, charge, two hours, turn on, ring to confirm it works, decide to check SyncML. (are you ready? prepare yourselves…you might want to hold on to something so you can properly handle the shock) Lo and behold, my snazzy new silver KRZR, which definitely, definitely supports SyncML, has exactly the same damned Exchange item and nothing else in its Synchronisation menu! Amazing, eh? fume, fume, fume, fume. 191. Wait for two minutes. Me: (five minutes of introductory stuff elided) “You swore blind that this phone wasn’t hobbled like the blue one! grnch grnch grnch” (time passes. I try to not get too irate because it’s not the fault of the call centre employee) V: I’ve spoken to our technical people, and they say that the phone supports SyncML.” Me: “I know it supports SyncML! You numpties have deliberately turned it off in the Vodafone firmware! Which you swore blind you hadn’t done on the silver one! grnch grnch grnch” V: “You’ll have to talk to our 14-day returns department.” (time passes. You may be eaten by a grue. Alternatively you may lose so much blood by bleeding out of your ears in anger that you fall unconscious.) Different Vodafone person: “No, sir, the blue and the silver phones are exactly the same, they’re just different colours.” Me: “But, but, but, I specifically asked that and was told it was not the case! I’ve wasted nearly a week of my life on this!” V: “All we can recommend is that you send the phone back. We’ll cancel your 18 month contract extension when we get the phone back.” Me: “And I shall go and talk to a third -party phone vendor who doesn’t hobble their phones. Why do you do that, by the way?” V: “I don’t know, sir.” So, the phone goes back tomorrow. Remember, kids: winners don’t buy phones from Vodafone, because they’ll tell you lies about their capabilities. Their network seems fine, and their technical people seem fine if you can get to them, but their phone sales people just lie to you. Now I need a phone. I’m still debating the KRZR, but from a third-party. If you have any other suggestions that will meet the stuff below, I’m interested in hearing them.

  • A flip phone. Not a clamshell one (which is short and rounded and quite thick), but a long thin one (like the KRZR, or the z800i)
  • Not made by Sony. I’m boycotting Sony for putting a rootkit on people’s machines and lying about it. Not interested in discussion on this point: I’m not asking you to boycott them, but I am doing.
  • Supports SyncML
  • Bluetooth
  • Enough Java support to run Opera Mini

For extra credit (read: I’d really like these things, but they aren’t ultra-critical)

  • Supports JSR-75, which means that Java applets can read and write to the phone’s storage (SD card). This will be immeasurably helpful for ReadManiac, the e-book reader that I use.
  • Charges over USB instead of a proprietary connector
  • Can be plugged into a USB socket and appear as a hard drive
  • Plays mp3s. For über-extra-credit: plays Ogg Vorbis.
  • I can buy it with a Vodafone contract, so I don’t have weeks of pain transferring my number and getting a data account set up. If I can’t, then it can be on any network except T-Mobile, who have ruinously high data charges.

Suggestions welcome. Remember: Vodafone tell you lies about phones. Watch out for them.

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