Posts Tagged ‘Telecoms’

eFax free is no more

August 31st, 2008 No comments

I’ve received an email stating that the eFax Free service is to cease as of 1st October 2008:

Due to pending changes imposed by OFCOM, the UK regulator for the telecommunications industry, we will no longer be able to offer eFax Free service for your number as of October 1, 2008.

Presumably this is because they receive a kickback from the 0870 numbers used and that is what funds the free service. It goes on to say that in order to keep my number I must convert to the paid-for service ‘eFax plus’. Err… no thanks.
Interestingly, eFax are still offering free numbers with no mention of the short life they will have. No matter, I haven’t used my free eFax number for several years; I now use a proper local number provided by my excellent ISP.

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OFCOM loses the plot (again)

August 29th, 2008 No comments

The toothless government regulator OFCOM has today suggested that the UK’s mobile users should follow the ludicrous US model of being charged to receive a call. Yes you read that correctly: pay to receive a call.

Hello, OFCOM, you are supposed to be protecting the telecoms consumer, not giving a blank cheque to the operators and free reign to cold callers.

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iSyncing a Nokia 6300

April 26th, 2007 4 comments

Nokia 6300Having changed from a Sony Ericsson k750i to a Nokia 6300, I was amazed that the Nokia did not support the wholesale copying of my phonebook by Bluetooth, so I had to find another way round. This was to set up a temporary account on my Mac and use iSync to synchronise the two bluetooth phones. (It also has the benefit of making a backup copy of my phonebook on the Mac).

Unfortunately, the Nokia 6300 is too new to be listed as supported by iSync, but Koos Kaspers has a post on how to modify the iSync files to include it in the list of supported phones. This worked a treat, and my phonebook was copied over in no time at all.

Nokia 6300

April 24th, 2007 18 comments

If you are looking for information on opening the USB cover, see this post.

My Sony Ericsson k750i started playing up recently: locking up requiring a battery removal to reset, but then continuously vibrating on switch on, or going very slow, not responding to key presses, so I decided it was time for a change.

The question was, “what to?”. I had always stuck with Ericsson phones (starting with the analogue EH237, then on digital: GH388, I888, R320, T39m, T68i, T630 and lastly the K750i) because the menu system always made sense compared to Nokia, and prior to Sony getting involved, Ericsson had always made the serious phones with useful features, whereas Nokia had gone the route of appealing to those more interested in silly ringtones and swappable covers. Some Nokias didn’t even have a normal telephone ringtone.

Nokia 6300Unfortunately, Sony appears to be trying to turn all the phones into Walkman clones, and the last three (T68i, T630 and k750i) have all exhibited the common Sony Ericsson joystick failure problems, so I decided to give Nokia a try and chose the Nokia 6300.

A Glaring Omission

Bluetooth smallFirst thing to do on receipt of the new phone was to transfer my phone book from the old phone. Here I hit a snag. Ever since my first bluetooth phone (T39m), I have been able to ‘send all contacts’ via bluetooth to the new phone. Unfortunately, Nokia phones don’t seem to support this. Sending a single contact at a time works, but not the whole phone book. I was not prepared to sit and transfer one contact at a time and copying to the SIM was not an option, as this truncates the names, so I would have to spend time correcting all the contacts. I did find a way round this using my Apple Mac, but I shouldn’t have had to resort to that.

This is a glaring omission on a modern bluetooth enabled phone.

Buried Memory

I had realised that I would have to change from the Memory Stick Duo in the k750i to a MicroSD card, but was at first stumped when I came to look for the slot. Whereas the k750i has a rubber cover for the memory card, the slot on the 6300 is buried away and you have to remove the back cover to get to the memory card slot. This is not some ‘fit and forget’ item like the SIM card. If you are using the phone’s camera on a day-to-day basis, you need to be able to remove the card easily.

Speaking of the camera, it is a shame there is no lens cover to protect it, nor is there a light or macro mode.

The phone does has a mini-USB port on the bottom, (good, so you don’t have to buy a special Nokia lead) so it is actually possible to connect the phone to a computer and access the memory card directly, effectively using the phone as a card reader, but I shouldn’t have to carry an extra lead.

There is also a missed opportunity here. If you’ve provided a USB connection, why not charge the phone using it?

Use with Tom Tom

I was pleasantly surprised that the Nokia paired up very quickly with my Tom Tom GO 500 and the wireless data side also works, whereas my k750i refused to pair up at all under current Tom Tom firmware (6.x) requiring to pair under 5.42 and then upgrade the Tom Tom. Also the k750i wireless data never worked and had to be disabled. Considering that Ericsson developed the Bluetooth standard, it is rather odd to see another manufacturer’s phone working better than an Ericsson phone. Plus point for Nokia.

However, it then goes and falls flat on its face for two reasons:

  • incoming SMS messages do not show on the Tom Tom. Minus 3 for Nokia.
  • Importing the phonebook to the TomTom only brings in one phone number per contact. Nokia was late in the day introducing multiple numbers per contact and it would appear that they still don’t have it properly implemented.

Minor niggles

The following are minor niggles, but show that a little more thought would have gone a long way.

Changing the wallpaper to a colour similar to the menu text makes the menu text invisible. Not very clever! There is no warning about this. Note this is using the supplied Nokia wallpaper, so someone obviously forgot to check this. The k750i would automatically swap the text to a contrasting colour.

Pressing the green ‘call’ button brings up a list of recent contacts, both incoming and outgoing. The icons for in and out are very similar and difficult to distinguish. More importantly, there is no indication against the contact’s name whether the call was home, mobile or work. For this you have to go into details, check, then come back out to make the call. Again, on the k750i, an icon appeared against each entry. You can switch icons on for the main names list, but this does not affect the recent caller list.

There is no tone or message when you get a receipt for a text message (Sorry, Delivery Report in Nokia-speak). You need to open each message in your sent items list and check the message details and scroll down to delivery status – very long winded. On Ericsson, apart from getting a tone and message, each sent item has a tick next to it if a delivery report has been received.

This next one make me think that Nokia just haven’t thought the interface through. Let’s say I have a contact ‘John Smith’ which currently contains only his landline number. He sends me a text with his new shiny mobile number. On my Sony Ericsson, I would simply open the text, select ‘options-save number’, then select existing contact and tell it what type of number (home/work/mobile/other) it was. It would then add the new number to the existing contact. Simple. Not so on Nokia. True enough, there is an ‘option-save number’, but it does not allow you to save it to an existing contact. Never mind, I thought, enter the same name and it will ask if you want to add the number to the existing contact (in much the same way as MS Outlook does). No. Instead I get “contact exists, do you want to replace it?” “No I **** don’t you stupid phone”. In the end, I wrote it down on a piece of paper and manually edited the existing contact. I think it boils down to the fact that Ericsson’s phonebooks have been able to hold multiple numbers against a single name for a lot longer than Nokia’s have, and Nokia hasn’t got the hang of it yet.


Overall, the screen is very good and the in-call sound quality is comparable to a landline.

I’m still getting used to using unlock-* rather than *-unlock, and the different keys for space, and upper/lower case, but that’s to be expected.

A Number with History

April 24th, 2007 No comments

Phone KeysYou may remember that BT managed to foul up the take-over of an existing line when we moved in January.

Well now we have started to receive calls for a decorating firm. The first couple were taken by the answering machine, so we ignored them as wrong numbers, but I spoke to one lady last week.

“You’ve got the wrong number” I said.
“No I haven’t, it’s on the side of your van”
“I don’t have a van, are you sure you’ve got the right dialling code?”
“Yes, it’s on the van”

I asked her where this van was, and went to look. Sure enough, there’s our number on the side of the van. I knocked on a house door and it appears that the number is correct, or rather was correct. The decorating firm used to have our number before moving, but hadn’t got round to changing the number on the van.

Fair enough, but what is extremely annoying is that when I ordered the line from BT, they assured me that it had never been used for a business purposes.

Congratulations BT, you’ve screwed up again.

I sent a complaint via BT’s website:

When I opened my account with BT, I was assured that the number given had not previously been allocated as a business number. However, we are now receiving calls for ‘xxxx Decorating’. I have managed to track down this firm who confirm that they used to have our number before they moved.

and it is clear from the response, that they completely failed to understand the problem:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding your recently obtained BT telephone number.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Unfortunately BT have to recycle telephone numbers, and in the years previous to your having this number a customer may have had it, and not requested it to be ex-directory. Once a telephone number has been registered on a calling list it will remain on it until has been removed by registering the number for the Telephone Preference Scheme.

However, I can arrange a renumber for you, free of charge.

Once again please accept my apologies for the inconvenience and distress this may be causing you.

It has nothing to do with being on a calling list and therefore nothing to do with TPS. However, if they had bothered to actually check anything, they would have seen that this number has been registered (by BT on our behalf) with TPS since we got it.

Update – Jan 2008

At the time I discovered the van in question, the decorator assured me that he was getting the number on the van changed that week. It is now nine months later and I was recently annoyed to find that our number is still on his van. I used to pass on his new number to potential customers, but since he doesn’t seem interested in us being inconvenienced by calls for his business, we now simply tell callers they have the wrong number.

Update – Mar 2010

Three years later, his van still shows our number.

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Moving House with BT

December 28th, 2006 12 comments

Phone KeysWe’re moving house shortly, and one of the many things we need to take care of is the phone line.

We are currently with ntl for both telephone and broadband, but the new address, despite being in an ntl area with all surrounding streets having cable service, was never cabled up. That means switching to BT.

Even if the street did have ntl service, we were still going to go back to BT for the phone line, as we cannot get free itemised billing on ntl, and the phone line goes dead during a local power cut (in contravention of OFCOM regulations). We would however have preferred to stay with ntl for broadband.

No problem sir… or is it?

A few weeks ago, I called BT to see whether we could take our existing phone number with us (originally a BT number before being ported over to ntl). I was told that this would not be a problem as the new address was still within the same exchange area. “Just give us a week’s notice when you know you are moving”.

Having a firm moving date, I called yesterday to place the order, only to be told that the BT line at the new address had been ceased for a long time and that an engineer* would have to call to check the wiring was intact. Strange that, since the current owners have a fully functioning BT phone line. The CSA claimed that it must be another non-BT line. How, if there is no cable? She got very shirty:“There are lots of other companies, sir”. Yes, but it’s called wholesale line leasing – the line is still a BT line at the end of the day! “No sir, the BT line has been ceased for a long time”.

Not wanting to cause further damage to my head or the wall, I hung up and called back later.

It seems, however, after talking to someone who did understand wholesale line leasing, that the current owners have chosen to pay their line rental to a third party provider, and although the line still belongs to BT who have leased it to the third party, BT have no details about the line. I find that very hard to believe, as BT must have a record of the leasing arrangement and that they are receiving an income from the third party for the line. BT would also be responsible for maintenance on the line, so are they saying they have no records for that either?

Need more staff

It gets worse: the earliest appointment for an engineer is 23rd January! That’s almost a month away, to perform a task which will take a few minutes (and may even be done without a visit). Pathetic! This means that despite giving BT two weeks notice (one week more than requested), we will be without a phone line at the new address for almost two weeks at the very least. It also means that we will not be able to take our number with us, unless we left the ntl line live after we move out (allowing the new owners use of a free line for two weeks) Not bloody likely!

It also extends the period without broadband, as I cannot order broadband until the line is working. Now because of this debarcle, for the first two weeks, I won’t even have dial-up access.

I would not be surprised if it is BT policy to deliberately ‘forget’ about wholesale leased lines just to put a spanner in the works, as sour grapes for being forced to lease lines to third parties.

I have posted a complaint to:

Jillian G Lewis – Customer Service Director
BT plc
Correspondence Centre
DH98 1BT

I’ll see if I get any response.

Update: 3rd March

Over 9 weeks later and no response.

Update: 17th March

Over 11 weeks later, and I’ve just had a message on the answering machine saying “this is a courtesy call regarding your letter” and “you will be contacted within 10 days”

Question: why not just contact me? Sounds like an NHS style fudge, so they can say they responded within 12 weeks.

Update: 17th May

Well, it’s now two months since I got the message saying that someone would contact me within 10 days and almost five months since I originally wrote to BT. I’m still waiting.

*This use of the word engineer is very annoying and the reason that real engineers have lost their status in this country. The man who comes to fix your phone or television is not an engineer, he is a repairman, or a technician. He may be highly skilled in his job but he does not actually engineer anything. The person who actually designs the telephone systems or television is an engineer. You would not refer to a nurse as a doctor. In other European countries, you are not even allowed to call yourself an engineer without proper credentials.

Freeserve number change

October 3rd, 2006 No comments

FreeserveMy mother-in-law has always been with Freeserve on Dial-up and does not use the internet enough to warrant paying for broadband. When Dixons sold Freeserve to Wanadoo in France (part of France Telecom), she was none the wiser, except that she didn’t understand why her homepage had changed to

Now that France Telecom have decided to merge the brand names under the Orange brand, her homepage has changed again, still with no explanation. Since her homepage is still actually set to, this redirects to Surely, it doesn’t take much for Orange to spot the redirections and display a banner explaining the change.

Now the really crap part: She started getting a message saying she had to change the number her computer dialled. The POP server also started refusing connections, refering her to the same page. Not exactly much warning nor much explanation to someone who just wants to check her emails and log in to her bank.

The automatic ‘download new number’ option does not work, even when logged in as administrator, but then again that’s Windoze for you.

Previously, she had dialled 0845 079 6699 (1p/min weekday eve), but the new number is 0844 058 7000 (2p/min).

There is no valid reason for doubling the price, especially as most people won’t realise this.

According to the FAQ on the changes:

Why is the number changing?
We’re asking you to change to this new number as the old one is out of date and will soon be closing.

What utter Bollocks! If you need to change it, change it to another 0845 number. The real answer is that Orange don’t like dial up customers and have therefore chosen to fleece them.

When did you tell me about this change?
We emailed you about 30 days ago explaining what the number change was and what you’d need to do.

No you did not! My mother-in-law received no such email.

So basically, no warning, no valid reason for the change in price. Shame on you Orange.

More Vodafone Incompetence

September 14th, 2005 No comments

Apparently, Vodafone have sent my PAC code (Number Portability Authorisation Code) to my old address. I only moved 2 and a half years ago!

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Vodafone try to tempt me back

September 9th, 2005 No comments

Well, surprise, surprise, Vodafone rang me this afternoon to ask why I was leaving and could they persuade me otherwise.

I filled them in on the lack of security on their online billing website, and the fact that Vodafone customer services were not taking the matter seriously.

They offered to halve my rental for six months and upgrade my phone for free. Well since the first part only represents a saving of 30 quid, and an upgraded phone would have Vodafone’s butchered operating system, I didn’t think that was much of an offer.

I declined, saying that the website was still non-secure and besides, I had already set in motion my move to another provider.

Vodafone Customer Service

September 9th, 2005 No comments

Further to my problems with Vodafone customer Service (see previous posts), they finally accepted they were giving me false information:

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