I’m not a great one for mobile phones. I think it’s partly because I neither needed one nor was provided one at work, so I never got into the habit of spending hours printing money for mobile phone companies. Doubtless, it is also because I have never spent hours nattering on any kind of phone. I’m just not a big phone user. Be that as it may, I did possess a very old Pay & Go Nokia phone (3310?) "just for emergencies". I top it up by about £30 a year, so little do I use it. I’d replaced its original flagging battery once but that replacement battery was beginning to flag again; it would last all week on standby but try and do anything and I would be greeted by a cheery, "beep!" accompanied by a "low battery" warning. It could wait for a phone call for days on end but when one arrived it couldn’t answer it. Very useful!
For little more than twice the price of yet another replacement battery, I could now get a new, lightweight, slimmer, basic modern mobile phone using improved rechargeable battery technology. Lightweight (<50%) and slim line (<50%) are good – if I can’t tell it’s in my pocket, maybe I’ll carry it with me. "Basic" would be good but now seems to mean a phone incorporating not only a crappy digital camera but an FM radio as well. Yikes! Of course, to use the radio, I ‘d have to fill my other pocket with the earphones. No matter, I can’t remember the last time I turned the radio on in our cars, far less wandered the streets listening to one.
I called the O2 sales folks and told them I wanted a new Nokia 2630 but that I wanted to keep my old number (it’s a particularly nice number even though very few people actually know it). "No problem, just switch the SIM card from your old house brick over to the new phone/camera/radio", the lady said. "The SIMs are all compatible are they?" "Yes, just switch it over." "Great, thank you", I responded and divulged my credit card details.
I was mightily impressed when my new modern, lightweight, slim line, mobile phone/camera/radio turned up at our front door at about 8:30 the following morning. Actually, it was a DHL@Home lady that turned up but you get my drift. The point is, prompt service – excellent. I unpacked my new phone/camera/radio, conquered my mobiphobia and managed to switch my SIM card into my new toy. A swift charging of the new toy’s new battery and I’d soon sent my first text message to Carol’s phone. I did have to keep ignoring silly suggestions for words that new phone/camera/radio/dictionary guessed that I wanted to type but essentially all seemed well.
Two days ago, I needed to use my new phone/camera/radio/dictionary in anger for the first time. Carol and I had parted company (intentionally, I hasten to add) in one of the Milton Keynes shopping centres and, when it came time to reunite with her, I didn’t know which shop she was raiding. No matter, Nokia to the rescue. A swift search through my contacts for Carol’s mobile number whilst hanging around in M&S out of the wind and … "STOP – Call not allowed". The "STOP" was particularly graphic: a very small red road sign. Cute. The "Call not allowed" was much less subtle but seemed equally graphic. Must be an aberration: try again … "STOP – Call not allowed". Maybe they have a blocking system inside M&S? Out into the car park and try again in the open and very cold air …"STOP – Call not allowed". Try phoning my home land line … "STOP – Call not allowed".
I’d got plenty of credit and I’d been merrily sending and receiving texts for over two weeks. I have even successfully received a phone call. When it came to making a phone call, however, I seem to be equipped with a Nokia 2630 camera/radio/dictionary. The "phone" part of the deal – the very part I had come to think of as the multi-faceted device’s primary function – was sadly lacking.
An Internet trawl produced a few others who had fallen foul of the "STOP – Call not allowed" scourge. Sadly, though, it produced no answers other than irrelevant ones banging on about PIN, PIN2 and PUK codes.
O2 support seemed unfamiliar with "STOP – Call not allowed" but suggested I try extracting, cleaning, and reinstalling my SIM (no joy) followed by trying my SIM in another phone (yeah, right, I have several spare mobile phones). We did try it in Carol’s phone but it’s a different network and wouldn’t come up. If none of that works, they could send me a new SIM for the same number, though this seems to take three days longer than a new phone, for some curious reason.
Nokia support seemed less than familiar with "STOP – Call not allowed" but valiantly tried all they could to have me bounce around countless menu options changing various very technical settings – all to no avail. "I’m afraid you’ll have to send your
phone/camera/radio/dictionary in for service/repair, sir", said the helpful and apologetic Nokia support man. Drat!
Wait a moment, maybe it’s worth trying Carol’s SIM in my new
phone/camera/radio/dictionary. Being a SIM-free thingy, it may not be locked into a network. Sure enough, up it came on Carol’s network and, further more, it could make real phone calls. It was my old-fashioned SIM causing the problem.
The helpful chaps at O2 gave me a new 3G SIM card, swapped my number and credit over to it and all is now well with my phone/camera/radio/dictionary thingy. Clearly all SIM cards are not compatible.
I’m surprised no one seemed familiar with "STOP – Call not allowed", though. Surely this can’t be that isolated a problem?