O2 UK – mobile phone telco is crap, grass is green, bears etc

Two days ago I decide to order a Moto G handset to replace the one I destroyed earlier this year. So I head over to the O2 website to get me a new phone (O2 because my PAYG SIM is O2 and not much else works in my rural environs, or certainly it was the case three years ago).

The O2 website shows the Moto G 3rd gen handset is “in stock” and there’s a tenner off bringing the cost to GBP109.00 for a new phone. Win!

I add the phone to my basket and pick an airtime tariff. Annoyingly you *have* to pick an airtime tariff even though you just want a handset, there’s no “I already have a bloody SIM” option. And this truly annoys me because they allocate you a number on a new SIM which is just a complete waste of a number and plastic and packaging, etc.

So, I then click checkout. Despite already being logged into my account the checkout wants me to login *again* (sigh).

Next up, delivery address. The last Moto was bought from O2’s local bricks and morter shop so my account doesn’t have my postal address, I only ever used my account to do online topups and was never asked to provide my home address. At the checkout it’s currently filled in with some weirdo default template text. So I hunt around for a way to update my address, turns out you can’t. Their FAQ swears blind there’s an option to do this, but I’ll be damned if I can find it. What to do?

To solve the delivery address problem I hit up their online support chat doodah. Before I get to chat to anyone I’m asked to fill in my Name and registered mobile number, I do this and what’s the first thing the human on the other end asks? “Can you tell me your mobile number?” (deep sigh).

Anyway after going through various security checks I explain my address problem, the blandly helpful bod on the other end says he can fix this and I provide him with my address. After confirming he’s updated my address I’m told this will take up to 48hrs to happen (another deep sigh). Seriously 48hrs? At this point I decide to eat lunch.

Unconvinced that it really takes 48hrs to update an account’s postal address I decide to try and purchase this sodding phone again. I get to the checkout and find my address has actually updated but there’s something wrong with it, it shows as:

house number

instead of:

house number

(more sighing because there are courier drivers out there who won’t deliver your package unless the address is 100% correct, for all I know my phone might be delivered by Yodel, enough said)

So I ping the blandly helpful online support folks on chat and after the several minutes of security checks I explain that my address is wrong. He/she assures me it is fine and will print out correctly on the courier’s labels etc.

Whilst chatting I also explain that my contact number (presumably so the courier can call if they get lost) on the checkout is wrong, it’s set to my mobile number, which is completely unusable because I don’t have a functioning mobile, hence this purchase. There’s no way for me to change it on the website.

I try to explain this to the blandly helpful support bod but he/she doesn’t seem to comprehend this Catch 22 problem. I ask for the contact number on the order to be changed to my house land line number (in case the courier can’t find me and needs to phone for directions) but this is a futile and fruitless effort. The blandly helpful support bod says he/she will remain on chat to make sure my order goes through properly, so I click through my payment details only to be logged out by the site, again.


So, I re-login, restart the purchase, pick phone, pick unnecessary tariff, add to basket, click checkout which makes me login again, pick incorrectly displayed address, sigh at unusable and non-editable contact number, click through to payment page. I enter my card details, click confirm, and then for the first time in forever my bank’s 3D secure anti-fraud checker decides it wants to do its own security check (more deep sighing), fortunately it just asks for my card’s bank sort code, account number, expiry date and CVV number on the back, which I have in my hand; if it had asked anything else and I’d be kicking off on the gin early. One more click and I get the order confirmation page and an order number….yay!

I copy/paste the order number to the blandly helpful chat bod and he/she confirms my order is fine, we exchange pleasantries and part company. I give the chat bod a very favourable rating in that “was our support helpful” survey screen before closing the window.

A few minutes later I check my email and see that there’s an order confirmation message complete with order number, so far so good.

Now during the whole laborious process O2’s e-commerce website showed my handset as “In Stock – Free delivery next working day when you order by midnight”, I double check this before getting back to work, and it’s still showing as in-stock.

Later in the afternoon I get a second email confirming that “Your order is being processed”, again, progress. However, dismayingly, the message also says:

“We’ll email or send you an SMS to confirm when your order has been despatched so that you’ll know when to expect your delivery”

Grr…SMS, to a number that I CAN’T BLOODY USE UNTIL I HAVE A WORKING SODDING PHONE, which is why I went to the trouble of trying to explain why my contact number needed to be changed…deep, deep sighing and eye-rolling.

Fast forward to the next day, I check my email for order progress updates, there’s not a peep from O2. It’s still early, I’ll check again in the afternoon. I take a late lunch at around 3pm, check my email and still nothing from O2.

I also once again check that my handset is still showing as in-stock, because I have that sneaky feeling something is not right.

So I logon to my account to, as the last O2 email explained, “keep tabs on your order at https://myo2services.o2.co.uk/myorders”. My account screen under “Recent Orders” states “You haven’t ordered anything in the last 31 days.”, I have a hunt around to see if there’s maybe a different “Orders” page, but no, that’s the only one. Gathering my remaining reserves of patience for the day I decide to hit up the blandly helpful support bods on chat again. Once more, several minutes of doing the security thing, copy paste my order number, then explain that I don’t see my order on my online account, nor have I received any further updates about my order. There’s a longer than usual pause before the support bod comes back to me and tells me that the phone is out of stock and on back-order. What the cocking hell!?

I maintain my online calm and explain that the handset is showing as “in-stock” on their website (right there and then I check once more, yep, “in stock”), support bod blandly apologies and explains to me that the website is wrong and it’ll be at least a week before any more Moto G’s are in stock. This is no bloody good. In a fit of polite and constrained temper I tell the remote support bod to cancel the order and refund my money which he/she confirms is done but it’ll take up to 14 days to process the refund. YES…FOURTEEN TWATTING DAYS!?

Knowing there’s no point trying to argue the toss with the blandly helpful remote support bod, who’s clearly in a far away land several timezones ahead of me, I politely protest about how stupid their website is, grumble about the 14 day refund thing, part company, and leave a far less favourable rating on their “how did we do?” end-of-chat survey.

Annoyed I decide to phone O2 Sales to double check if the remote support bod is maybe seeing incorrect stock data or is just plain lying.

One does not simply

After 15 minutes of queuing and heading up several ACR/ACD/ACH blind alleys I eventually get to speak to a sales person, and one on the same continent as me, and quite possibly even on the same land mass just north of the cost of France.

I provide my order number, but they insist on more security checks, I provide my order number again (doesn’t anyone have a pen and paper?) and the sales dude confirms that new Moto G’s are definitely out of stock and would be on back order. I explain to the sales person that yesterday and all of today the phone is showing “in stock”. Out of idle curiosity I refresh the Moto G’s product item page and lo-and-behold its stock status changes to “Home delivery in up to 1 week”. I have a moan to the sales bloke about how much this experience has sucked from start to finish but he, politely, doesn’t really give a shit. I get him to check the stock status of the refurbished Moto G 3rd Gen which even as we were speaking was still showing “in stock for home delivery” on their website, unsurprisingly it’s also out of stock. Exasperated, I ask why they still show it as “in stock”, he doesn’t really answer my question, he doesn’t give a crap. I ask about my refund and get him to confirm that it’s really happening, he confirms it’s all fine and I should have my money back in five working days, not fourteen (but who bloody knows what might happen between now and then?).

From start to finish my whole order experience was one hurdle after another. Seriously, it’s 2016, and O2 can’t provide a real-time stock status from whatever big iron ERP runs their back office? I think what really pisses me off is that they didn’t provide any sort of update to explain that my phone went from “processing” to “on back order”. Oh no, I had piss about for an hour or so to find this out for myself, and couldn’t leave the house in case the courier turned up. It makes me wonder how many sales they lose when their website shows items as “out of stock” but are really in stock because they aren’t reflecting their stock status in real time. Or maybe they do, but maybe showing as “in stock”, for items that really aren’t, is just a dark sales pattern where they hope you don’t have the mental energy to cancel an order. Either way it’s shit.

The upside was that Argos has unlocked/sim-free refurbished Moto G 3rd Gen handsets for 99 quid advertised on ebay. I ordered that instead, it means I’m now no longer tied to O2. I’m rather hoping we’ve got better coverage around my village from other providers so I can ditch O2 completely.

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