By Fergus MacOldie
A few months ago I sold my original 3G iPhone, which was locked to O2, to a friend. He took out a new "Simplicity" monthly contract, which can be cancelled at any time, for £20. This gives him 600 minutes, 500 texts and unlimited data. Not a bad deal, really, considering that the standard monthly iPhone contract costs £35 and gives exactly the same level of coverage. The only things missing in Simplicity, apparently, are visual voice mail (yawn) and the free wifi through The Cloud and BT OpenZone (welcome but not worth £15 a month). So well and good.
My friend took the iPhone for an extended visit to family in Newcastle. On the first day up north he noticed that the iPhone was reporting he was not subscribed to a data service. I told him to take the phone into the nearest O2 shop to see what could be causing the problem. He went to two O2 shops in Newcastle and both gave him the runaround and blamed the phone, telling him to go to the nearest Apple Store (conveniently located 100 miles away in Manchester!)
As a result of this he was three weeks without data. I confidently expected to get the thing working and did a complete restore, checked all the settings and still there was no data service. So I went to the O2 store in Chiswick, west London. The guy there knew immediately what was wrong: the network settings had somehow been changed to the values used for the standard iPhone contract. The Simplicity contract uses non-iPhone data settings which are common to other mobile phones. In seconds he had adjusted this and the data was once more working.
The culprit? None other than MacOldie who updated the iPhone software immediately before the phone was borne off to Newcastle. It seems that the update changed the network APN settings (Settings/Network/Cellular Data), so they have to be returned to Simplicity settings. Easy when you know how. But this is really something that needs addressing by O2.
My worry is that two O2 stores in Newcastle failed to spot this simple problem. It must be very common, yet all they could do was blame Apple. My friend lost three weeks of data coverage as a result of Geordie O2's ineptitude. It's good that they seem to employ a better quality of staff in London. A note to O2's customer service brought an immediate apology and a credit of £14, which is full compensation for the outage time. Eight out of ten to O2.