vodafone made my day

After several years, I finally got around to cancel my Vodafone mobile subscribtion. From next month on, I’ll be using the discount provider klarmobil.

And Vodafon made all efforts to make sure I’m really happy about leaving them.

It is impossible to talk to any of their representatives without being offered a special “deal”, even if you just had a most trivial request. Most of the deals had hidden costs that you were explicitly not told about.

They’d also text and call me at the most inconvenient times to tell me about the newest “deals”. It only stopped when I got rude with the call center lady.

If you don’t go for the “deal” packages, the web site makes it virtually impossible to find the price for a particular service, such as GPRS by call or roaming prices. The pricing scheme is designed to be as intransparent as possible, and spread out on about 20 PDF documents. I guess they want to obfuscate the fact that, despite the “deal” packages, basic services are really expensive.
Of course they also tried to make it virtually impossible to cancel the contract. You can only do so once per year, but you’ve got to tell them three months in advance. When I did so, they started texting and calling me again, despite the fact that I had requested them not to.

When I told the guy this he had the chuzpah of telling me that “I’m not calling to advertise, I’m calling out of hope”.

The only reason that I put up with this so long was that a) there were basically only three providers with virtually the same conditions, b) I wanted to keep my old number and c) I got a cool phone every two years virtually for free.

With the new discount resellers, conditions seem to change. While I don’t think that the people at klarmobil are inherently nicer than at Vodafone, there’s one advantage: They’re selling just one product, and I’ve already ordered that. Which means there’s nothing for them they could still sell me – which makes me optimistic about customer relation calls.

I was able to transfer my old phone number for a modest fee, calls are much cheaper than with my old subscription plan, I’m free to leave the service at any time and the entire pricing information fits on three pages.

The only downsides: Data calls are still expensive and there isn’t any possibility to use UMTS or Blackberry push. Since I did never use those services anyway, I should be fine.

Frankly, the only full-service mobile provider with a competitive portfolio seem to be ePlus. While still having a two-year lock-in, they offer flat fees for phone, data calls and even UMTS, with simpler and more reasonable conditions than the other ones.

And as far as the “free” phones go: Nowadays they only come with the most expensive “deal” packages, and it is actually cheaper to get a cheap mobile card and buy the hardware yourself.

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