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back to article IDLENESS sees Brits haemorrhage cash to mobe firms

Almost 20 million Brits are losing money by sticking with their existing mobile phone operators because it's convenient, according to a survey by Which? Mobile. Which? found that 44 per cent of participants had never changed provider and 31 per cent hadn't done so in the last two years, often because they thought it would be a …

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Anonymous Coward

Unless I am mistaken

Wasn't there a reg poll a while ago about what words we would allow our hacks to use before getting the pitchforks out?

I am pretty sure that "mobe" was on the verboten-you-shall-be-shot-at-dawn list.

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Stop

"mobe"

It's probably just "IDLENESS".

Anyway it's a bit damp for torches.

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Anonymous Coward

In other news...

... people spending money on a Which subscription are haemorrhaging cash too.

Talk about the obvious - there is no positive value placed on loyalty now in any walk of life, insurance, electricity, gas, phone, broadband, food shopping, credit, banking... the question is always is the clart of change (however straightforward it is, it's still something that has to be done) worth the gain (and is the gain there anyway?)

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"Loyalty" can be rewarded...

I pay very little for a great deal of comms - not because I'm loyal to my operator, but because their "retentions" department offer me a better deal than any operator can offer as a "starter" package.

I have no operator loyalty, but they are willing to make a decent offer to keep me as a customer then I'll take it.

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Anonymous Coward

Ditto

I've been with the same mobile operator since 2006, simply because every time my contract's up for renewal I squeeze a deal out of them that simply can't be matched by moving elsewhere. Maybe the traditional British reticence to HAGGLING is more the problem..?

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Facepalm

It's a special version of "idleness" here.

If you actually have a life and/or job, there's little time left over for all this Which-driven switching --- of phone, gas, water, electricity, broadband, tv and other suppliers. Paperwork for peanuts while there's other things to chase --- like the recently almost-completely-scrapped child benefits that left a huge hole in our finances.

Also, most of these switches give a ridiculous hassle every once-in-a-while: after switching away from them, a Which-recommended utility has taken about 2years to refund us the £300 it had already taken --- they "expected" us to use £50 a month, it systematically was below £30, they refused to either lower their automatic taking or to refund us the increasing stash; so we left.

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going into shops

why not?

you can get the same deals in a phones4u or carphone warehouse as on their site and you get the thing there and then after having a play on it.

I'd also never go direct to an operator again, I really like having a totally unbranded and un-messed with phone.

I think there is a misconception that loyalty might be rewarded, it's not, it's exploited.

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Gold badge

Other reason

You read the description of the phone on the comparison site and suppliers pages, you order it.

First time you switch it on you find that the background is Barbie PINK and cannot be changed. Oh and the menus seem to have been translated from Chinese through Russian and Urdu on their way to English, and that's even if you get the touch screen to respond properly and can wait long enough for the options to load.

Now why is it that I want to look at what I'm spending my money on again?

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FAIL

Using a courier why?

So you can sit in all day to find that when you needed the loo the courier came and you now have to trek to some industrial estate miles away at the arse end of nowhere to pick up a box containing your phone which looks like it's been sat in Gaddafi's compound for the last week...

At least when you go into a store you can actually see it working there and then and start using it too.

And some of us stick with the same network as they actually have some, admittedly rubbish, coverage where we live (in one of the UK's core cities)....

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Mushroom

"Courier" is a rather generous term.

I got my last phone through e2Save... The "courier" turned out to be a nearby pikey housewife, when inevitably the delivery had missed me, I had the delightful experience of going round to her house to pick it up.

I found that my phone had been opened "accidentally" and played with by her rug rats.

Combined with the "stealth direct debit" for insurance e2save tricked me with, I am actually more inclined to go straight to an operator next time, despite my hatred for operator bloatware.

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WTF?

... it's like DSR had never been invented

If any of those things annoy you, or even something more trivial, or even if you're just in a bad mood, you send it back.

Certainly saves spending time with the guys at those bloody shops.

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You should have sent it straight back

If the item had been opened by your neighbours., then you did not receive it new and either the courier company or the retailer is liable for this and must send you a new one. They have not got your signature confirming delivery, and they don't have a leg to stand on.

e2save (and all of Carphone's websites) are very annoying with the direct debits for insurance and "gadget helplines" and stuff. It's easy enough to fix though. Just go to your bank's website and cancel them. You haven't actually committed to anything. The positive is that independents such as Carphone are more likely to give you an unbranded and unlocked handset than the operators are directly, which is good. And they do have some good deals.

There is a lot to be said for simply getting the cheapest line rental you can find that satisfies your needs with respects to minutes, texts, and data, and simply buying a SIM free handset whenever you need/want a new one. To get the cheapest line rental, either look for SIM only deals, or explain to the customers retentions department that you want the cheapest possible line rental but don't need a new handset. (I'm getting 600 minutes and 1000 texts for £7.50 a month). Either buy the phone SIM free at retail, get it PAYG on the same network and throw away the PAYG SIM, or buy it from someone with an "unwanted upgrade" on ebay. I usually do the last - it's the cheapest way but there can be a certain amount of hassle and risk.

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Anonymous Coward

Consumer rights and pushy salesmen

If you want PAYG but go to high st they'll do their best to sell you some kind of contract.

Consumer protection is better for Internet sales, a right to no questions asked refund. In a shop you can only get a refund if faulty or mis-described/not fit for purpose.

If you do your research, find the best phone then go to high st they'll still try to sell you a different phone - the one that gives them a bigger commission.

Cashback sites often make online cheaper too.

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Unhappy

Nightmare

I'm currently trying to switch from Vodafone (been with them since 2003) because they're refusing to match a good (time-limited) deal I've been offered elsewhere and I've had a nightmare experience.

That aside, the article makes a lot of sense - as a result of my frustration, I actually e-mailed the Vodafone UK Chief Executive yesterday, and pointed out that it might be an idea if they routed calls for their cancellations/retentions department to someone in the UK with a vague command of English (note, "mobile" does not, and never will rhyme with "wobble"), and even the slightest degree of nouse. I'm effectively offering to buy out the remainder of my contract to get my PAC code, and they're still insisting that I can't upgrade early and have access to any of the non-standard "loyalty" deals that I would be eligible to in a couple of months. Retards.

But, if 44% of people have never switched, then it might explain why they don't need to bother trying to retain the rest.

Intriguingly, I had a voicemail last night from the a PA in the Vodafone Directors' Office, promising that I would hear back from them today, after they've looked into the issue. So maybe they do actually care. It's still going to take a stonking deal for them to retain me as a customer though!

As an aside, the "31 per cent hadn't done so in the last two years" statistic is pretty unremarkable, given the prevalance of 24 month contracts.

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Sir

I feel for you regarding your problem leaving Vodafone, but consider this..

I'm about to do something I never thought I would do and praise Orange.

I used to have a PAYG with them, then ended up on a monthly contract for £35, which whilst I was working wasn't a problem, but became so between jobs. (over a year ago now)

I rang up to cancel, no problem.

Next day I get a call from their retention team and he asked me why I was ditching them, easy - price.

So then he asks me how much I would be willing to pay, again easy - £10 a month.

Next thing I knew he was outlining a £10 a month deal, with 400 free minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet - would I stay? Very easy - of course. I got a free Nokia too - basic but sufficient.

Now two days ago I got a call offering me a free phone upgrade (I have very basic requirements of a phone) so I ended up being offered a Blackberry 9300 - which seems quite nice. The other thing is they send me an envelope to return my old phone, which I find out is worth £35 if it's in good working order.

Overall I'm well pleased, and extremely confused. This kind of thing just doesn't happen in my world and I'm waiting for the almighty kick in the bollocks that's must be lurking around a corner somewhere very near in my future. Seriously, I'm totally bemused as to how this can work as a business model?

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title

Just use the 'Contact us' link on Vodafone's website. It worked perfectly for me when I asked for the network unlocking codes for a couple of phones I had lying around, and when I asked for the Porting Code when I finally had enough of them. I had the codes emailed to me within a few days. No 'Retentions Department' delaying everything, just an efficient service.

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Orange = Blacklisted

Orange are blacklisted in my house as they demanded our original marriage certificate be sent through the post (a certified copy taken by a member of Orange's staff in an Orange store wasn't deemed sufficient proof) in order to change my wife's name on her account. And then they lost it (we sent it registered post, so we know they received it).

O2 are also blacklisted after they failed to send me a final bill 8 years ago, then sent debt collectors round demanding £250, then (when I challenged them) went quiet, marked my credit record as defaulted - still without sending a final bill, or contacting me, or proving that I owed them £250 (which I'm damn sure I didn't).

Vodafone saved themselves from being blacklisted after they got back in touch, were genuinely helpful and remorseful, and honest - they told me that the deal I'd been offered was amazing, and that they couldn't do anything to match it, so it would be in my best interests to take it. Fair enough.

The deal I've gone for gives me a phone worth £400, truly unlimited data, and more texts and minutes than I'll ever use, for £25/month. So ~£8/month for the contract once you take the cost of the phone into consideration. Bargain.

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Silver badge

People value convenience over possible small savings

It sounds like Which? would have us spending all our time scanning the internet to search out deals that were lower in cost than what we're already paying. Fine. Some people are rate-tarts and will switch providers at the drop of a hat - or a penny off a tariff.

Many more, however are apparently satisfied with the service, phone, coverage and cost of their existing mobile phone and don't feel the need to waste hours in the pursuit of a deal that may be a little cheaper, may have more "small print", may require them to learn a new handset (when all they want to do is press a button and talk to someone), may not provide such a good service where they live/work and may balls-up the switchover and leave them stuck.

Let's face it, to the majority of people a mobile is merely a device that lets them talk to people. It's not the source for their entertainment, it's not a "lifeline" to the world, it's not a crucial part of their identity and it's certainly not a status symbol - it's just a phone: a minor annoyance, but occasionally handy to have around.

Which? also seem to be missing the bigger picture. These people, who are satisfied, actually subsidise those for whom price IS the overriding factor. If everybody chased the lowest cost deal, all the time, then phone company margins would drop. When everyone was on the cheapest possible tariff, all that would hapen is the phone companies would increase the cost of those tariffs for everyone - just to get their margins back. That would hurt those individuals who really, really needed to save 50p per month (though they'd save even more by not having a mobile - it's not a necessity; like food or rent - maybe someone should have a quiet word?) on their package, to the benefit of those who don't care much if their monthly bill is £60 or £75.

Where's the benefit to Which?'s low-cost chasing horde, then?

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Anonymous Coward

You don't need to spend 50p a month.

I've had my pay as you go phone with Orange since, er.... I can't actually remember exactly when. The late 90's, roughly.

Last time I spent anything on it was about 3 years ago, when I put £20 on it for emergencies. If someone desperately needs to get hold of me, then they can do at no cost to me. I don't do SMS's, which I consider to be the single most painful method of communicating discovered by mankind, instead I get people to email me as it's a hell of a lot less painful, and it's free.

If I want to speak to someone I prefer to do it face to face (I know, horribly old fashioned in this day and age!) or i'll return the call on a landline when convenient. Cost to me, zero.

Now, why is it that people can't manage that? Do you really *NEED* to be permanently attached to your phone?

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Silver badge

phones do email

...but my phone is my email reader! Far less painful than climbing out of a comfortable bed/armchair/sofa/bath in the middle of winter and I get to turn off the power guzzling PC and still get mail ;)

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Stop

Not a necessity?

"they'd save even more by not having a mobile - it's not a necessity; like food or rent - maybe someone should have a quiet word?"

If you're self employed then a mobile phone is pretty much the way you get (and/or perform) work. So if you want to be able to pay for that food and rent it pretty much IS a necessity.

Maybe someone should have a quiet word about your patronisingly narrow view of the world?

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Meh

Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt

Idleness - more likely a response to Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt - when ever you make a switch of technology you are likely to waste time and money getting back to speed.

All those glorious adds where the details flash by in minute script at the bottom of the scree - just shows how much the provider want ot distinguish themselves one from another.

All these special offers just make the jungle more difficult to pass through.

Plain prices and less marketing flash - that would be too much to ask for.

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Anonymous Coward

This is all very well

Provided the networks have coverage where you work, rest and play and that the coverage is strong enough that it does not make mincemeat of your battery.

I switched to talkmobile briefly because it was cheaper than O2, but Vodafone's coverage was so weak I could only get 24 hours tops out of my phone (normally get three days)

Next I tried Giffgaff, O2 network but same prices as Talkmobile, number port took ages and their system decided to put a temporary lost block on the account for no reason.

Tried to order a free Orange SIM, got an invoice for 83p through the post, phoned outcourced indian CS, took me 30 minutes to get through to the guy (who was struggling with his English) why I was a bit miffed to receive an invoice for a free SIM, he asked several times whether I'd ordered it firect from Orange to which I replied yes,

The SIM was eventually sent free of charge but I did not move to them as if it took 30 minutes to sort out that detail who knows how llong it will take to sort a real issue.

O2 have been superb so I moved back to them.

The number was originally on Virgin but T-mobile's coverage sucked and they got rid of Big bonus.

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Switcheroo

"with 26 per cent switching for that reason, 16 per cent for a better handset and 14 per cent for better coverage and reception."

That adds up to 56%. What were the other 44% switching for?

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Facepalm

Saving money

Isn't it worth being prudent with your money these days.

You really have to ask yourself if you really need that shiny new gadget?

If you don't then you can save yourself a packet.

I've just been looking for a new phone. I've ended up switching to a 12month SIM only deal with 3. £10.00 a month for 300 minutes/3000 texts and 1Gb of data.

I got my old phone unlocked for a few quid at the market.

No more £20-£35 a month for two years. The savings I'll make on a normal contract will pay for a shiny new (insert phone type here) in a couple of years.

As for paying 'Which' for their fountain of common sense, well Doh!

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Trollface

Ideless saves money surely?

"And almost half claimed that they spent less on their phone after the switch."

Then most people actually spent more on their phone after the switch!!?

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Silver badge

@Prof

Ho Ho.

But "didn't spend less" is not the same as "spent more", is it? Quite likely the majority spent the same, and were switching to get a better phone.

If you're really a Professor you should know these things.

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Bronze badge
Holmes

@ Kubla Cant

The Prof is right, and I too was immediately struck by the statement "almost half claimed that they spent less on their phone after the switch". That means that for over half there was no financial gain in switching, and no doubt financial loss, despite the headline of the Reg article.

As for you suggesting that "the majority spent the same", that's nonsense. It is highly unlikely that the before and after costs would be exactly the same - far less likely than spinning the same number on a roulette wheel twice running for example.

The conclusion is that after most people switched they ended up spending more - no doubt duped by lying marketing droids.

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Silver badge
FAIL

@Nuke - Entirely plausible they spent the same - tariffs are not random numbers!

Almost all monthly mobile contracts are 'round numbers'*, and many operators will price-match to get your custom.

So you might switch from a £20 pcm tariff to another £20 pcm tariff - but this one includes a nicer phone/more minutes/texts/internet/understandable customer services or some other improvement.

To put it another way, you could pay the same for a better product.

However, I would have expected a decent survey to state the percentage that got a 'better deal at the same price' by switching, so still a FAIL!

*Some were round at 17.5% VAT and just increased by the difference in VAT, while others oddly did things like change £10 pcm to £12 pcm instead.

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Bronze badge

I've gone to switch a couple of times

but T-mobile have always managed to match the best price I could get elsewhere at the last minute (on the most recent occasion, only on the day after I'd requested my PAC code, but they still matched it nonetheless).

So I'll gladly use competitor's prices as a bargaining tool, but that doesn't mean I actually have to jump ship.

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Paris Hilton

"Consumer" group

If they were a true consumer group then they'd be highlighting the fact that most people effectively CAN'T move provider as there simple another provider providing suitable coverage in their area. I'd love to move provider for one with a decent data allowance, unfortunately if I did I wouldn't be able to use it due to lack of coverage.... The result - I've been with the same provider for the last 5 years. Sure I try to get the best deal I can, but without a realistic alternative it's not great ...

Maybe if the carriers were forced to allow transparent (To the end-user) roaming across their infrastructure it'd be different....

Competitive market? Only Paris would believe that ...

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Stop

re. going into shops

The fact that operators find it attractive to run their own high street shops must mean that there is too much profit on mobile phones. I got a simple pre-pay phone for £3.45 plus £10 on a Virgin SIM but they wouldn't let me keep my number so although Virgin have got £10 for nothing (unless I decide to use it for outgoing calls) they won't get any further business.

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FAIL

Orange and Loyalty...

... Is a bit of a joke.

For example, I'd like to upgrade to a new phone. Orange want £200 upfront and a 24 month contract.

PhonesForU offer the same deal but only want £40 upfront. Sweet thinks I, but here's the kicker, you can't take your number with you to the same operator if you want a better deal from a third party.

You would think providers would be interested in keeping their customers but having spoken to orange to see if they'd match the PhonesForU deal, "Nope".

So the ony way I can get the phone I'd like, for a reasonable price and keeping my current number is to move operators.

The entire system of moving around is F.U.B.A.R.

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move numbers

I had that problem a few years ago, and when I requested my pac code so that I could move it to a pre-pay for a couple of weeks then back to my new phone. Suddenly not only could they move my number to the new contract, the could also process the new contract as an upgrade for the same price...

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Silver badge

Actually, the moving system works very well.

It's just that some operators really don't want you to move so claim it's not possible until you ask for a PAC.

Under EU law, they cannot refuse a PAC request - much like your broadband provider cannot refuse a MAC request.

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Go

Virtual Operators

After spending years on expensive contracts I investigated my options around the virtual providers. Result. £10 per month gets me 250 minutes, unlimited txts, unlimted data and free calls to the same network. Oh and free call numbers are actually free. £5 recommendation for each user I add. Added the entire family so now all calls between us are free.

My virutal provider runs off O2 and are called GIFFGAFF.

Up unti lrecently they did offer roaming for data, but that has been added this month @ £1.50 per meg.

Been with them now for 18 months and can't fault them.

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Thumb Up

re: Virtual Operators

Another vote here for Giffgaff.

My iPhone 4 is on their unlimited internet and texts plus 250mins for a tenner a month 'goody bag'

In most cases if you are a rational private user you'd me mad not to grab a second hand handset off of ebay, unlocked iPhone from the Apple Store (or whatever you fancy) and whack a PAYG sim in it. (or at worst cut down the sim to a microsim and then whack it in!)

Since with Giffgaff and other PAYG operators you can set 'auto top-ups' then there really is no reason to be locked into a monthly fixed rate unless you are a business user doing hundreds or thousands of minutes a month.....plus you're free to swap the handset for anything you want at will.

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Silver badge

Quality, not cost.

If Which want to be helpful, they should do a report on quality of service. I'm with Orange not because of cost, not because of idleness, but because all other services look equally grim. I've had voicemails arrive two days after they were left with Orange, texts appear a week later and their supposed 3G coverage and voice quality are appalling. I've asked around my mates but no-one seems to think very highly of their provider. One with O2 seems to think that's alright, so as there seems little room for it to get worse, I'll probably give them a try. But all I really want is to read a decent report on the quality of the service provided. Has everyone forgotten the "benefit" side of the cost-benefit equation?

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Thumb Up

HP disguised as a contract

That one gets me.

Why anyone (but the terminally skint) would buy a phone:

Locked to a network

Carrying branding

and pay a premium for the benefit beats me.

£7.50 a month gets me unlimited everything with t-mobile and I can choose when and what handset to buy.

Depreciation when it comes to reselling isn't bad either.

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FAIL

It works like this....

HTC Desire S - over 18 months.

Cost on contract for more-or-less unlimited everything - £25 - total cost is £450

Cost for phone £335 plus £7.50 per month over 18 months - £335 + £135 = £470.

So, I reckon I'm paying a premium of - er - minus twenty quid for the benefit.

And I don't have to find £335 up front.

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Another vote for Giffgaff

Buy a secondhand phone. Use Giffgaff - 250 minutes calls, unlimited texts and truly unlimited internet with a £10 a month "Goodybag", no contract so can be changed anytime.

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Childcatcher

giffgaff are spiralling into obscurity

Great time to jump into the world of giffgaff, with PAYG rates about to rise substantially because they suddenly noticed those bundle deals don't make any money. The reason they're not making money is too few people making out of bundle calls so raising the rates seems unlikely to help, it's inevitable the bundles will shrink. Unless O2 close them down first.

That little debate, where users are being asked to decide how far over to bend for the probe, is hiding a more serious thread, where giffgaff staff openly claim EU roaming rate consumer law doesn't apply to them and the 'members' seem to think they can vote away laws they find inconvenient. With the parlous state of giffgaffs accounts I doubt they can survive the fine heading their way.

I'd wait a while before joining giffgaff, just in case the madness ends before it self destructs. Otherwise, they're rapidly becoming just another shady mobile company, with the only distinguishing feature the astonishingly short time it takes getting 9 identical wrong responses to any support question.

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

I find it difficult to believe I could cut my costs by changing operator. A tenner every other month; the first using the inclusive texts, the second running down the tenner sending texts. Someone going to offer me a better deal than just over £1 a week ?

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Headmaster

Creative accounting from Which?

"Which? found that 44 per cent of participants had never changed provider and 31 per cent hadn't done so in the last two years..."

Run that past me again?

Did Which? screw up, or did El Reg muff the data handling?

<Jimmy Edwards* icon 'cos somebody needs educating>

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Silver badge

Buy unlocked...

Always have, probably always will.

No operator branding, I can leave at the drop of a hat if they get too annoying or I can find cheaper elsewhere.

Simply not being tied to the operator was reason enough to go SIM only and more and more people must be doing it despite what Which? say as lower tariff SIM only deals were once as rare as hens' teeth yet now are commonplace.

And as for the phone, you can get it delivered to your workplace...

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Happy

TalkMobile

300 mins 1000 texts and 500MB data for £8 a month.

Works fine with my Pre 2.

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Anonymous Coward

Advertising Standards Authority...

I have an otherwise intelligent friend who insists his phone was free. I paid £100 for the same phone and about £10 per quarter PAYG, he pays £20 a month. My 2 year cost is £180, his is £480.

ASA should not allow ads for phones (and other consumer goods/services) to say "Free" when there's a contractual obligation to pay £££ a month for 2 years.

And BTW my vote is unlocked phone and, better than free, GiffGaff sim - use affilliate code rob1951 and you get £5 extra credit when you make your first top-up. Calls 8p/min, text 4p. Heavier usage? - buy a bundle to suit your usage, still the cheapest around.

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Coverage, coverage, coverage...

...are the reasons to put up with a particular provider. None of them seem to care about improving coverage, over many years, so it stays pretty much the same these days. I spent a while on the phone to Vodafone's retentions office many times when I dumped them, often demonstrating that they'd been lucky to contact me by moving a few feet and having the call drop. I don't like my current provider much, but in five years I've done nothing with voicemail but set a PIN, because I don't miss calls.

I'm guessing the Which article doesn't look at, or only barely touches on, coverage. This is not a surprise. It's rarely even mentioned these days, by anyone involved.

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Overpowered phones, better deal elsewhere but worse coverage? trains, try out others on PAYG

On trains, if the coverage was better and the same elsewhere with another other operator I would switch.

Lower costs would not persuade me to change if the coverage is going to be worse. To me that's a false economy. After all, the primary reason for paying for a phone service is to be able to make calls and use data second, but not to pay less for these. In other words. sounds to me like some of those who switch to get a cheaper deal are doing it for the sake of the deal itself rather than the quality of service. Why pay less for a worse service? I am also wary of networks that say they cover 97% or more of the *population* rather than geographical area, and its no good if I'm out in the sticks and want to use that service.

Smart phones are overpowered I think. I have had a HTC Desire Z since November 2010 and I don't intend to get new phone for long while yet. I even still use my Nokia N82 because the Carl Zeiss lens and Xenon flash is not bad for some point and shoot photography and my Nokia Sport 5500 for outdoors stuff and the beach. Both of them do data and basic internet quite well. I can't see the point in a dual-core phone when the internet connection, required for downloading the rich content that such phone can process, is so variable.

Widespread LTE or 4G in the UK for fast reliable broadband mobile internet, once that is in place, that will be the time I next review my service and phone.

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