They always say don’t blog when you’re angry. Well, here goes. Hope you enjoy it because anger is also a rich source of humour.
Let’s first go back in time. I regularly visit Grasmere in the Lake District. In March I had problems with wifi, so I bought a mobile wifi device and a sim card from Giffgaff. It runs on the O2 network which has no 4g signal coverage in Grasmere.
Tangential point 1: anyone from a developing nation such as Japan will now be wetting themselves with laughter that in Britain a communications company doesn’t have 4g coverage in one of the busiest tourist hotspots in Britain. But that rant is for another day.
The only mobile company with 4g coverage in the area is EE, formerly known as Orange, and as we all know, left uneaten oranges will eventually rot.
I bought an EE sim card to replace the Giffgaff card. And after twenty-four hours I managed to get the EE card to work. How drug dealers get away with their crimes by using PAYG sim cards is beyond me, but mine would not work straight away and the EE website was the cause.
I’ll try to keep this simple. To activate your account you need to go to the EE website and ‘add a device,’ a totally unnecessary procedure and designed simply to make life bloody difficult for you.
Before it will add a device the website wants to confirm the phone number of your sim card. So you type in the number and you end up in an infinity loop by which the website won’t leave the page, asking you to confirm the number until you drop dead. And no, it’s not a cookies thing, or a cache thing, or a browser thing….
What I didn’t know was the existence of a little known page on EE’s website that you can only access via a device with the sim card installed. Finding that web page allowed me to see the recognition of the sim card, available data and expiry date.
For thirty days I had no further need of this website, but the dark day came when the PAYG sim expired and needed topping up. Was it a recurring bill, or did I need to manually pay again?
You tell me. In a garden centre cafe in Pimbo I managed to navigate to a page that looked like a screenshot of 1987 and it was asking me to learn more about cookies and business accounts and I had no data left and the sim had expired, but if I clicked a button I could top it up.
I clicked the button and was taken to a web page where I was asked to add a device and the whole infernal infinity loop started again.
The word infernal is unfair, because not even the Devil is this malicious. If you want help from EE you can call them or send them a text, but the sim is in a mobile device so I can’t send text messages. They’ll send you one. Which of course went to a number in a device that couldn’t read text messages.
I contacted their complaints section through an online form and the reply basically said they couldn’t help because of privacy laws.
After the top up debacle, I sent another complaint, this time using rather more fruity language. They haven’t got round to responding to that one yet, but the first message did receive a second response.
It included an apology, a note to say they had set up my account and sent a verification email to confirm my new password. I clicked the email, typed in a new password and found myself with a brand new account and the welcome words please add a device.
On EE’s website you can top up, but you can’t cancel. You can add a Huewei or an iPhone or a Samsung or a dishwasher or a labrador, but you can’t confirm your phone number.
They’ve received another complaint, this time ordering them to cancel everything. From the back room of the house I can see two fires blazing on Winter Hill. They’re not the moorland going up in the heatwave, they’re disgruntled EE customers self combusting. Victims of a company that doesn’t care, that’s not as clever as it thinks it is, staffed by people who either can’t read or don’t understand the world around them.
And for the record, when the EE sim was installed in my wifi device, there was still no f***ing signal in Grasmere.