Update on the whole O2 story

Okay, just posting an update on the whole Alexia-O2 thing, since I’m being asked about the state of affairs constantly. So, you’ve read part one and you are wondering what happens next..

Well, last Sunday I was feeling a little pissed, as you would imagine, and I discarded the whole idea of buying an iPhone until the end of the year. The thoughts of wasting more of my precious time standing outside O2 stores didn’t appeal. The last thing I wanted to do was go into an O2 store.

Early on Monday morning, I got Twitter messages and emails about the iPhones hitting the O2 online store. I waited and waited and waited. As the hours flew past, I thought long and hard about why I had decided to not to buy the iPhone. The truth is, that the whole debacle left me crushed with disappointment. Last Saturday was a battle of wills and I had lost, but at the end of the day, the child inside still wanted to play with * that * gadget. That love wasn’t rooted in branding – Apple, O2 or whatever. Just pure curiosity. So, I plumped for a 16 gig model in the online store. Of course, the black model was sold out. And against my better judgement I picked up the white one. On reflection, though, it looks quite nice.

Anyway, a courier attempted delivery on Wednesday, but I wasn’t home. Impressed by the speedy dispatch, I picked up the phone in Rathmines yesterday morning. Coming home was like a Christmas morning rush to rip open Santa’s pressies. On opening, I was struck by the emptiness of the box. I know Apple are elegantly barebones about packaging and info, but I was surprised with what box didn’t contain like a card with the PIN and PUK codes or any other branded O2 manuals. Inside the box was an invoice, a page with the returns policy, an envelope and the iPhone box with the SIM card in a holder stuck to it. That was it. Okay, I said. Fine. The PIN code must be 0000 because O2 wouldn’t forget to include important information like that. I typed in the default code, and of course, I get the incorrect PIN message. I was a little annoyed. So I scamper off to the O2 site to search for a support number as I’m damn sure I want to avoid an O2 shop if at all possible. One thing you’ll notice about the O2 ‘Contact Us’ page is that there is no support number for Bill Pay customers calling from Ireland on landlines. See?

O2's Contact Us page

It seems a little strange, right? So I called the Limerick number suggested for Bill Pay customers calling from International destinations. The support analyst was friendly and agreed to look into the issue. She put me on hold. She then came back and told me that Apple do not include documentation with their products. I said I knew that, but my issue was with O2 and not Apple. She said it looked like an oversight, but that she’d be happy to give me the codes over the phone. Grand, says I. I take down the PIN and PUK codes. She hesitates and tells me that she has the PIN2 and PUK2 codes as well and would I like them too. It’s been a while since I’ve studied telecoms. GSM is a faint memory, so I ask her what they are used for. She says she doesn’t know as noone ever asks for them but would I like them anyway. Alright, I’m a bit geeky, but is it too much to expect a knowledge broker, which is what a support operator is, to have answers to these questions? Hmm. She was perfectly helpful, though. So, I enter the PIN code and get a screen filled with numbers including the IMEI. She says that the screen is normal and it only means that I need to charge the unit. I find this a little strange as others reported that their phones were charged, so I leave it to charge for a bit.

After a few hours, I come back to it and the screen is exactly the same. At this stage, I’m a bit worried. I connect the phone to my laptop. iTunes boots up and I’m happy. Yay. We have progress. So the 200meg+ update starts to hit my phone and things are looking up. While this is happening I get an email from O2 saying that they read my post and wanted to know more about my experience. Would I like to call them. My phone is effectively bricked for a few hours, so I pen an email describing what happened up to this point – my unsatisfactory time at the O2 Experience store, missing PIN information, the dodgy contact page and the fact that their support doesn’t know what PIN2 is. As part of the mail I included that some of my friends had crappy O2 experiences too. That was yesterday lunchtime.

I booted up the phone and played with it for a bit after the firmware update. It’s really nice to play with. I’m still learning the ins and outs of it, but I love the way I easily switch from checking mail to Twittering and from calling to texting. So today, I remembered that part of the advertised online shopping experience with O2 is that you need to return signed documents containing the information you entered on the site at checkout time. And yes, I held out all hope that they would be sent separately. I hadn’t received them today, so I called O2 support again. This time I got to speak to another analyst. I explained my situation and she looked at my account. She told me that my phone hadn’t been activated correctly and that she would do it for me at her side. She also said she’d instantly send me out my missing forms and apologised. She was extremely helpful.

Each step forward has been accompanied with a matching step back. I have worked retail in different places. I understand the boiler situations retail staff can find themselves in, more than most. At the end of the day, business is about numbers, but good salesmanship is all about making the customer want to come back.

Just this evening, the O2 person that contacted me sent me an acknowledgment of my mail and said they would look into it. I was hesistant to blog this update as my dialogue with O2 is still ongoing. My experiences with O2 have been patchy so far. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes next.

Update: John has just published a lengthy post on his disappointing O2 store experience. He tried emails and calls to no avail.

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  1. Well like Pat, I am amazed you are getting calls from O2, I have lodged 2 phone complaints and been told they will be looked into, aint heard nothing since, but I have also written to O2 on 2 occasions, the first time I got a snooty email back basically letting me know that the last 9 years of being a loyal customer meant fuck all.

    The second email complaint did get a lovely email back from Paddy, who promised me that the store I had issues with would be in touch with an apology, that was a week ago and still nothing, more can be seen on that on the O2 forum where I was asked to keep Paddy informed.

    As I said before I joined esat digifone the day the launched and have not moved since, but the iPhone fiasco really got to me it was like I was being penalised for been a bill pay customer, not been able to order online, needing an upgrade to even avail of the iPhone the list goes on.

    I agree though the staff in O2 stores are appauling, and after getting my iPhone from the Carphone warehouse I have promised never to shop in O2 stores ever again.

  2. I actually had the opposite experience to McAWilliams and Alexia.

    I went into CPW the Thursday before the 3G phones launched and asked if I could pre-order. No, they said, but we’ll put your name on the waiting list and you’ll be the first to get a call when the new stock comes in. I was a little sceptical when the guy scribbled my details in a ledger – so I called twice more over the next couple of days to find out when the new stock would be in and to make sure I was on the list.

    As we now know, the new phones wouldn’t come for weeks, but I had been reassured repeatedly that I was near the top of the CPW list – and so contented myself with waiting for the phone call with the happy news.

    Man, am I a sucker.

    After hearing that some of the O2 stores had got stock in, I went into the CPW to ask what the story was. Oh, they said, our management have scrapped the waiting lists – it’s first come first served from now on. Of course, they didn’t think to actually call the people whose details they’d taken in good faith to tell them this, the feckless gimps.

    Then on the Saturday of the great O2 server fail that Alexia described in her first iPhone post, a CPW person told me, yes, they’d also got iPhones in but the management had snapped them all up for corporate clients – at which point I swore never to darken the door of CPW again.

    As it happened, I staked out the O2 Experience store for two hours on the Sunday morning after the server fail and managed to be the second person into the shop. As the online registration form was down, the staff had to call a line to register the phone manually – so it only took and hour to get registered (pity the poor people back the queue, which at this stage was well out onto the street).
    Still, I emerged a satisfied customer – my black 16Gig gripped tightly in my feverish paw.

    And my, how it is full of Shiny. I’ve had a great user experience with it so far – only one minor hitch switching between 3G and wifi, which I corrected via a quick noodle around a help forum and resetting the network preferences.

    Certainly worth the hassle getting it. Not that this in any ways excuses the cackhandedness that Apple, O2 and CPW have shown during the 3G launch. Hassle does not good customer service – nor a loyal customer – make.

  3. @woesigner: Right so, they manually registered you while the servers were down but turned me and everyone else away the day before when they were experiencing the same tech failures. This is even more interesting.

    Does this mean that the O2 Experience store were being selective about who they sold iPhone too, as they could have sold out on the Saturday if they followed they same practices as they did on the Sunday?

    As for the treatment in the CPW, that’s disappointing. I can understand your frustration.

  4. No – I think their servers were back up, but some other fiddly bit of their apparently convoluted and not terribly robust registration web machinery wasn’t working for the guys in the store. They were trying to enter the details, but were getting no joy. So they had to do it over the phone with an agent who presumably was able to do all the registration voodoo (and by registration here, I mean switching my SIM over and all that jiggery-pokery; registration may not be the right word for it).

    I got the impression that whatever the guys were doing over the phone was server dependent – so they couldn’t have done it on the Saturday.

    That’s how it seemed from my side of the counter anyway.

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