Bye bye, Orange…

Disclaimer: T-Mobile is a Brands2Life client. Microsoft isn’t, I just seem to really like a lot of its tech.

This, I promise, will be the last tech post for a little while, and I’ll think of some non-techie things to write about.

So, I left Orange a few days ago, after using it as my mobile provider for 8 years. Why?

(1) I really have had enough of its marketing. It’s too weird. I like the “Orange Wednesday” guys, but honestly, that’s the only decent thing Orange has done in years.
(2) It doesn’t do an unlimited data tariff. Why not?
(3) Orange have stupid and patronising names for its voice/text tariffs, that bear no relation to what the tariffs offer.

On the flip side, I love the Orange Wednesday promotion and have always had good customer service experiences, so it was a non-trivial decision. But I rang up the disconnection people to present my case and see if they would make me an offer to stay with them… the conversation went a little something like this.

“So, I’m thinking of leaving Orange,” say I, to the customer retention helpline.
“Ok, sir. Can I ask why you’re thinking of leaving?”
“Sure – you guys don’t, as far as I know, have an unlimited data tariff, or HSDPA. Is that something you can do, or will be thinking of doing?”
“No, sir. We’ll get a PAC code out to you in 48 hours.”

And that was it. None of the polished negotiating I’d come to expect of the retention team (who hasn’t called to try to blag a better upgrade or a deal on their tariff?), and they seemed happy to let me go. So I left.

Choosing the new network wasn’t hard. The benefit of working in an office with a bunch of people who promote T-Mobile meant I had a wealth of information literally across the desk from me. There are two unlimited data tariffs out there, and there are WAY too many horror stories around the 3 network for me to head there just yet, so… A few conversations later, and I headed down to the T-Mobile Retail store in Victoria where I had a pretty good retail experience (after an online store requested 17 forms of ID to sell me a contract), and walked away with my new MDA Vario 2 on Web n’ Walk, T-Mo’s unlimited data package, and Flext – an affordable, flexible mobile tariff. The Vario 2 is an HTC device, my fifth – after the Orange SPV100, E200, C500 and C600 — it is, I have to say, a thing of awesome beauty and power. I have Google Maps and Windows Live Search installed and it works fast. I mean, HSDPA is really, really fast, and everything else just works seamlessly.

Of course, days after I bought the damn thing Microsoft announced Windows Mobile 6 and HTC (and others) announced a spate of new devices using the technology at 3GSM, and Orange announced HSDPA (still no unlimited data), but ah well… you can’t have everything!

Interestingly, I’m paying T-Mo more than I paid Orange monthly, but I’m ok with that. It’s all about delivering a certain level of service – and in a world where all the operators are wondering how to get their users to spend more time accessing data services, I’m fairly amazed that there are only two unlimited data packages out there. Good for T-Mo, though, and good for me!

Oh – and for anyone who thinks I should be waiting for the iPhone? (1) have you met me? (2) you’re wrong and (3) here’s why.