But Not For Me…

I have had a mobile phone since the 1990s and when I was working as a project manager on multiple sites, it was an essential business tool. However shortly after I left London for Somerset to look after my Parents and was no longer able to work, I cancelled my monthly contract and switched to a Pay As You Go arrangement.

By the time I was free and able to resume work, I was coming up for the Old Age Pension and my contacts and work sources of 7 years and more previously had all moved on so that was that and therefore there was no incentive to renew a monthly contract on a mobile.

Things Had Moved On

It is interesting because not just my job prospects had changed to none, so too had the phones. Devices that did phone stuff and text messaging had gradually been replaced with the “smart phone” a device that is a pretty poor would be computer which really just allows people to play games, watch films, listen to music and browse the web on a tiny screen. You can tell I’m not impressed with any of this but this isn’t just me being an old curmudgeon, I have earned my stripes on this one.

It started with a friend gifting me an Apple iPhone. I played with it quite a bit, admired the concept but pretty quickly realised that it just wasn’t for me and after checking with my friend, handed it over to one of my adult sons who made good use of it. I cheerfully kept on with my pretty basic Nokia with its physical keyboard until yet again, I was given another smart phone though this time an Android one and for this I bought a SIM card . Obviously I kept hold of my Nokia and certainly didn’t transfer my existing number.

Although it meant me carrying two phones around with me for a time, by actually field testing it I got to grips far better with what these smart phones were all about which of course led me to realise that these were in no way intended for OAPs such as me because they just didn’t do anything I might need. In fact my son Michael put it all rather succinctly when he said that if all you want is a phone with text messaging potential, a smart phone is a total waste of money.

However in the end I did buy a Windows smart phone because it has one “App” I find useful, Nokia Maps which mean that the maps are stored locally on your phone and to use them you don’t need to connect to the mobile network because they work on GPS all the other stuff I don’t really care about, whether Windows has fewer apps than Apple or Android is irrelevant to me.

Constant Offers…

Obviously as an OAP, you don’t commute to work and if as I do you live in a rural area, normally you will be driving so there is little possibility of wanting to watch a film or browse the internet on a mobile device. In fact when it comes to web browsing, why would you want to squint at a tiny screen when you could use a 24” screen, a proper keyboard and mouse ?

Also the older you get, the fewer people that phone you or for that matter, you phone so my usage on pay as you go is very spasmodic. I might spend £20 in one month and £5 the next so whilst the service providers are keen to get you on a minimum top up each month, I certainly have no incentive to do so. What really amuses me though are the constant ‘offers’ that are: “If you top up £20 by “x date”, we will give you an extra £15 credit which you can use in the next 7 days”.

I cannot imagine who they are trying to target with this. If it is us old people, it takes no account of our likely usage patterns, I am unlikely to use the ‘additional allowance’ in the next 7 days under most circumstances so their offer isn’t at all tempting. If it is younger people they are after, if they are ardent mobile phone users, I’m sure that they will already be on some monthly plan that matches their needs so to me it makes no sense.

What They Should Do

The key problem and the reason for the headline for this small piece, “But Not For Me…” is simply that these mobile service providers seem to lack any common sense in terms of their basic marketing. This is now a mature and established market where everybody who wants one has got one… so if you are trying to get more revenue and market share, you need to think outside of the box which they seem incapable of.

When it comes to older people, they probably see mobile phones as “expensive to use” so the first thing is to change that perception and change that behaviour. Ignore text and data usage just focus on the phone element and put together a package that gives ‘unlimited voice calls’ for that market with the other bits as add ons if required. Better still, OAPs may want additional facilities but not frequently, when they go on holiday, visit relatives and so on, make it easy to pick up an ‘add on’ for a limited time at a fixed price.

A silly tale goes back five years to when my Mother died, the land line was in her name paid quarterly and I faced all kinds of nonsense from BT’s Indian Call Centre in trying to get it transferred to me. I had the Internet from an ISP and you do need a land line for that but because BT wanted to change me as a ‘new customer’ to monthly payment, the monthly charge quoted for a phone hardly used meant that between the Internet and the phone, my monthly cost would be £60 for the two !

It was at this point that I turned to my ISP and combined my phone and Internet with them at a combined cost of around £30 a month. Amusingly my ISP Plusnet is a BT subsidiary.

Conclusion

Unless or until mobile phone companies get their heads out of their bottoms, they won’t get me taking them up on any of their current offers because there is nothing in it for me, in fact I can’t see that there is anything much there for anybody.

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