Thursday, 21 August 2014

Three things to take on holiday

My mobile contract is with T-Mobile and last year our holiday was in France. To use my phone in France I bought a booster for £10. It had a call, text and paltry data allowance. Despite being careful with my data usage I burned through at least one additional booster.

This year I wanted a better solution and started my research a few weeks before we left. On one website I saw that customers with a SIM from Three paid nothing extra for calls, texts and data when using their SIM abroad. I noticed that to qualify for this benefit the SIM had to be active for a month before leaving the country. I also spotted that there was a loophole that allowed customers to buy a SIM with an add-on (a pre-paid top up with set amount of defined use) that could be used straight away. 

I did my research on the Three website and it wasn't crystal clear. Admittedly my research wasn't thorough and I didn't read everything, but I couldn't find the information I needed. 

I searched for T-mobile solutions. I found something about a £2 per day charge for calls and texts and a £3 daily charge for something pathetic like 50MB. I also found a reference to the booster solution I'd used the year before. When I contacted T-mobile they advised the web pages about boosters had been removed from the website and weren't visible. I sent them screen grabs to show they were still discoverable and turned my attention back to Three. 

I dived in and bought four SIMs. Two had £15 add-ons with calls, texts and unlimited data and two had £10 add-ons with calls, texts and 500MB of data. The SIMs were free and the purchased add-ons would last for 30 days. We started using them in the UK and they worked perfectly except for one hiccough (more later). 

It was a different story in the Netherlands. Hannah's phone worked and so did Ethan's but mine didn't and neither did Dave's. But the children's SIMs only worked for calls and texts, not data. I phoned Three using Hannah's phone and they explained that their "works abroad" claim didn't include the Netherlands but did include Italy. I was confused because the cheaper SIMs worked partially but I waited until we arrived in Italy. In Italy everyone's phones worked perfectly except I had no data. 

I lived on WiFi for a couple of days and then called Three. Their offshore customer services team were great. They talked me through simple checks then transferred me to the technical team. The fix involved deleting a couple of profiles hidden somewhere in Settings. I was soon starting to enjoy my "All you can eat" data. A couple of days later and Dave's phone stopped working. A quick call to Three and everything was sorted. 

So it worked, and despite the problems, I would recommend this as a great holiday solution.

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