Mystery Caller – September 2015

If we are to believe the recent reports about 4G coverage in the UK it would seem the networks are making mixed progress towards the coverage targets set by Ofcom. This month our Mystery Caller wants 4G but he is on a budget. He wants to know what he can get in terms of handsets and functionality but isn’t interested in furnishing his staff with expensive devices. This year the mobile market has seen several low cost options hit the shelves but what will the experts recommend? Find out below.

Carphone Warehouse Business

After parent company Carphone Warehouse has been splattered across the news because of a data breach recently I felt safe calling these guys because they would be extra vigilant… and I was giving them fake information! Ray picked up the phone after an initial encounter with the automated calling menu and was happy to listen to what I was after.

Ray started by telling me that in terms of the basics, calls, texts, email and apps, all smartphones now do pretty much the same thing and if price was the main factor for choosing handsets them the Lumia was a good place to start. In particular, the Lumia 435 and 535 were good devices which would give us the desired 4G connectivity. Apparently they didn’t differ a lot on price so the slightly newer model (Lumia 535) was probably the way to go.

When it came to the networks Ray said if we were travelling to big towns and cities there isn’t a lot to choose between them and unfortunately there wasn’t a coverage checker for the whole UK. He’s wrong, there is one on Ofcom’s website. Ray said where the networks differed was outside of the towns but it was still hard to really say who was best, although Ray did mention EE had just won an award for their coverage.

When Ray found out I wanted twelve devices he said it was normally time to hand me over to the corporate team, unfortunately they were all busy and unable to deal with me so he took me through the process himself. We discussed usage of data, minutes and texts so Ray could enter the details into his computer to see what kind of deals they could offer.

When the figures came out the other end O2 was the winner with 2GB of data per handset and unlimited texts and minutes all for £23.10 a month. I wasn’t immediately bowled over but then Ray had some extras to offer. He mentioned we would also get Microsoft 365 for free for the duration of the contract (24 months) and £75 cash back per handset after ninety days! That’s £900 cash back in total!

Highlights: Friendly, moderate knowledge, concise

Lowlights: Regurgitated computer data, not enough questions

Scores  Helpfulness – 4/5  Manner – 4/5  Knowledge – 3/5  Understanding – 3/5  Sales Technique – 2/5  Clarity –4/5

Total 20/30 Could do better. Ray actually presented me with an offer at the end of the call which was pretty good I thought, especially regarding the extras such as Office 365 and cash back incentives. Ray did cover all his bases eventually but it was about three quarters the way through the conversation until he asked me where my office was based! With a bit of fine tuning this call could have been great.


EE Business

My call to EE business went straight through to Terry with no fuss. Terry was a man of few words to begin with and was happy to let me prattle on about what I was after. I mentioned I had seen their Rook device online and wanted to know if that was the best handset for me. Terry didn’t offer up any other devices which might compete with the Rook and launched straight into questions regarding data, messages and calls usage.

I was trying to coax information out of Terry rather unsuccessfully and after less than a minute he was punching my data into his computer. There was a few moments of silence where I wasn’t sure if I was waiting for Terry do complete his typing or if he had some sort of cerebral meltdown. When the silence broke Terry assured me these devices would do the basics just fine. They came on a two year contract and they could offer next day replacement also.

Rather than quote me directly from the website Terry said he wanted to go and speak to his managers to see what they could offer me. I was told to sit tight and expect a call back in twenty minutes!

About an hour later Terry was in touch and although I had initially asked about the Rook he said he had a device from a company I might not have heard of. After very slowly spelling out Huawei for me he told me that they also sponsor Arsenal FC, I think he was trying to make me feel more comfortable talking about an unknown brand.

Terry offered me the Huawei Ascend Y550 with unlimited calls and texts with 2Gb of data for £17.50 a month. I asked about account management and I was told that usually you need to buy fifteen lines or more to qualify for an account manager (I was asking for twelve). Terry said he would happily give me his number and email address so he could look after us which he already did for a number of customers anyway.

Highlights: Great deal offered, friendly, account management offered

Lowlights: Nothing asked about location, wider knowledge lacking, late calling back

Scores  Helpfulness – 3/5  Manner – 4/5  Knowledge – 2/5  Understanding – 3/5  Sales Technique – 3/5  Clarity – 3/5

Total 18/30 Terry was a likeable chap and he gave me a great deal but I felt that he did the bare minimum to satisfy my request. I do think he is a credit to his business by offering to account manage the company even though the order didn’t meet the required volume. Terry lacked a bit of knowledge and time management skills, he said he would call back in twenty minutes and that turned into an hour! That was enough time for three cups of tea and a Twix if you were wondering. A1 Comms

I initially rang Buymobiles not realising this was the consumer arm of A1 Comms. I spoke to a chap there who offered to transfer me, wanting to be clear I asked if the business division was still part of the same company… I was assured it was.

Scott at A1 picked up the phone after a brief period on hold and was very apologetic as his computer system had just crashed, we’ve all been there! I could feel the frustration down the phone and after a short time he said he would just put me on hold while he gave his machine a kick.

A short time later he was up and running and he listened to my request. If price was the most important factor then we wanted to be looking at the Nokia Lumia range he said. When it comes to the network Scott said he could offer me all of them but as it was 4G we were after then EE were apparently the best and subsequently had some great deals to match.

Scott suggested the Lumia 640 because it would easily do what we wanted, and it came with Wi-Fi calling. If there was no signal in an area but we could get Wi-Fi then we would still be able to use the phone to make calls and texts as normal. It runs a Windows OS also which Scott said would be useful for our Word, Excel etc.

I was asked about usage for the devices and I enquired about pooled data as some users were heavier data users than others. Scott told me it was better to have individual plans as pooled data can end up being more expensive and EE now cut off users once they reach their limits rather than billing them in excess for data consumed past their agreed limit.

Feeling mischievous I asked what A1 would offer me above and beyond EE Business, who I also called in this feature. Scott wasn’t the least bit fazed and simply explained that we would be assigned an account manager who would look after us and would also resolve any problems we had by dealing with the network directly. If we went straight to the network we wouldn’t have that service and would constantly talk to different people every time we had a problem. Scott also said they could offer us better deals as they had agreements in place with EE on prices. Scott said he would need a few hours to build some proposals for us and would be in contact later that day.

Highlights: Great industry knowledge, inquisitive, excellent manner

Lowlights: Initial computer malfunction

Scores  Helpfulness – 4/5  Manner – 4/5  Knowledge – 4/5  Understanding – 4/5  Sales Technique – 3/5  Clarity – 4/5

Total 23/30 Good call. Scott had great knowledge and was very insightful with which features of the phone might be of use to us. He said he was going to be in contact later that day, an email came through but it would have been nice if he followed up with a call.


Round up

I had some varied calls this month. In terms of the actual deal offered EE Business were the clear winners. Over the two years Carphone Warehouse Business were not that far behind and could also throw in Office 365 for free. When it came to the call itself I had to give it to Scott from A1 Comms who easily had the best all round knowledge of the market. It’s a difficult one to judge because in order to fulfil my request there wasn’t a lot of knowledge needed. I just wanted 4G at the cheapest possible price which doesn’t necessarily require much more than looking at a price list. I was more interested in what the participants packaged around that price and what they could offer me outside of twelve bog standard handsets with a 4G tariff. On that front the winner was clear.

Final Scores

1st  A1 Comms

2nd Carphone Warehouse Business

3rd EE Business



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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine