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Shoes and mobile phones

To celebrate having a free day on Saturday, I first enjoyed a big fat lie-in, then took a leisurely breakfast, watched some TV, noodled on the 'net, and finally headed into town to complete a few shopping missions I hadn't had time to attend to for the past week or so. I needed to stock up on things like shampoo and so on from Boots, but it had also become urgent that I buy a new pair of actual boots. So urgent, in fact, that I'd got to the point of being faced each morning with the choice of wearing either a) a pair of boots with one missing sole, a broken shank1 and a rapidly disintegrating interior or b) a pair of boots with the bottom of one heel missing. Usually, pair b) won out - but it was clear that this state of affairs could not go on.

I wasn't really looking forward to the boot shopping very much, as I have terrible trouble finding boots I like which are appropriate for work. I've railed in this journal before about those stupid heels which are placed right at the back of the boots, I don't like wedges, and I don't want to wear anything more than about 2.5 inches high for the sake of comfort. So there's not much on the contemporary high street which I really want to wear.

However, yesterday the Shoe Gods were clearly with me, as I walked into Clarks, saw a pair of boots I liked straight away, tried them on and found that they fitted beautifully. I can't find a picture of them online that I can link to, but they're Victorian-looking black leather ankle-boots, with cosmetic laces up the front, a practical zip up the side and a nice-looking heel about 2" high. Plus, they were in the sale. Yay!

Thanks to Clarks, I'd got everything done I needed to do within an hour of leaving the house, so I used the time I'd expected to spend trudging gloomily around boot-shops checking out mobile phone deals instead, with an eye to the upcoming end of my current contract with Vodafone on 27th February. This is what I found, in the sort of price-range I'm willing to pay and with the sort of features I want:

Plan150 AnytimeOnline 25X-Series SilverFlextDolphin
Monthly charge£25£25£22.50 for 8 months, then £40£27.50£35
Minutes150200300c. 85250
Texts5005001000c. 170250
Internet allowanceReally unclear1Mb then £3 per Mb1Gb1Gb£1 per Mb
HandsetSony V630iAnyNokia N73Nokia 6253Most
Contract18 months18 months18 months18 months12 months

Given that I'm currently paying £30 per month for a mere 25 minutes, 250 texts and no internet allowance, those all look pretty tempting. In fact, I think I'm most tempted by the T-mobile Flext deal. Although the numbers of minutes and texts are a bit lower on that deal than some of the others, you can actually use up an overall 'allowance' on whichever you like, which is rather nice, and I very much doubt on current usage levels that I'd feel restricted by it. And that lovely, ripe 1Gb of internet usage is very tempting! Although my current phone can theoretically access the internet, I never use it, because I have no idea how much it will cost me, and suspect it might be rather a lot. A 1Gb allowance basically means being free to surf as much as I like, in practical terms, and the web browser the guy in the shop showed me looked pretty decent, too. Although I probably won't make as much use of it now as I might have done a year ago (when I was spending at least nine hours on trains a week), I can still see how it could be really handy for things like house moves (which I know needs to happen again fairly soon), trips away and so on.

If anyone has any thoughts on that deal, or any of the others, or any general experiences with any companies other than Vodafone (the only company I've ever used so far) which you think I should know about, speak up!
1. The steel 'backbone' of most heeled boots. You know it's broken when the heel no longer stays solid in relation to the boot, will move about if pushed by a hand and feels like it's slipping out behind you when you walk.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know the boots you mean - they're nice! I got some fabulous boots in Clarks myself a week ago - chocolate brown, knee-high, riding-boot style.
Feb. 18th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think I saw those too! I would have liked them in black, although I still don't think I'd have bought them, as I don't wear knee-high boots much except to go clubbing in (and I'm sorted on that front). But given what you've said on your own journal of how you're dressing for your new job, I bet you'll get a lot of wear out of them.
Feb. 18th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
I've got limited free internet access from my phone as well. I tend to use it for local services, train times and checking my emails if need be. It's not much use for things that you'd use home internet for because of how little fits on the screen but bearing in mind you can use bookmarks and things I think I'd be quite lost without mine. Especially if I'm waiting for an important email that I can't access at work.
Feb. 18th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've seen friends using theirs for things like that, and have gradually become converted to the idea. It's the charging issue that really makes the difference for me - while I'm kind of in the dark about what I might be paying for it (as with Vodafone), I won't bother. But if it's all clearly laid out and I know the parameters, everything suddenly becomes very different.
Feb. 18th, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the phone comparisons.
I'm thinking of changing from Orange. I pay £35 a month.No free texts,I have to buy a bundle of 60.
I tried to get a second pair of my Clarks boots because I like them so much. All sandals and slingbacks now!
Feb. 18th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
That's a pity if you know you like them. I did wonder whether I should buy two pairs of the ones I got, but decided that would be silly. This time of year is good for buying boots in terms of prices, but bad in terms of choice!
Feb. 18th, 2007 10:06 pm (UTC)
Yup, another vote for Clarks boots here. Had a very similar experience to yours recently, and now have 'smart but not high heeled' boots for interviews!
Feb. 18th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
Thats a nice comparisson of phone tarrifs there. Considering I work for one of the five companies I really don't have much of a clue of what the other four are charging these days.

A tip for internet browsing though is to use Opera Mini (operamini). It's a small java app that acts as a web browser and is much better than the browsers built into most mobile phones. I use it quite a lot for checking LJ on the move, and it renders most sites pretty well on a small screen.
Feb. 19th, 2007 09:36 am (UTC)
Actually, that seemed to be what the T-mobile phones come with already. The guy in the shop was making quite a big thing about it - how other companies have their own custom-built browsers, which aren't as flexible and so on. But judging from that page you linked to, it looks like I could actually have it for free whatever network I was on anyway.
Feb. 19th, 2007 09:47 am (UTC)
Thats true. However, there's a gotcha worth remembering. Opera Mini uses Opera's servers in america as a proxy. This means that all the data you send/recieve goes via thier servers. Thier servers do clever stuff like reformatting the web pages and resizing the images so that the pages load nice and fast to your handset, but this does mean that all the data goes via your internet allowance.

This is worth knowing for things like Vodafone live. Vodafone live is Voda's own portal area which (if I remember correctly) doesn't count towards your internet usage, it's free. I doubt you could access this 'live' area via OperaMini, only using the phones built in browser. If you could access the live area via OperaMini then it would probably start costing you via your internet usage.

This really isn't that important though, as OperaMini doesn't replace the phones existing browser, it is just an additional option. So there would be nothing stopping you using OperaMini for checking LJ and the phones built in browser for that networks services like Vodafone live.

I feel like I'mjust rambling about geek stuff now so I'll shut up :)
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:43 am (UTC)
Vodafone live is free??? Christ, for the past two years (since I got a phone which could access it) I've been scrambling desperately to get off Vodafone live pages every time I accidentally pressed something which took me onto them, in the belief that it was costing me bucket-loads of money! This is actually my biggest complaint about internet accessibility from phones, and perhaps particularly the way Vodafone handles it - complete obscurity about what it might cost = I don't use it at all, so it might as well not be there. It's why the Flext deal is so tempting - and of course also why fixed-rate internet charges quickly eclipsed pay-by-the-minute rates for home PC usage.
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:56 am (UTC)
i *think* vodafone live is free, but I'm no expert on thier exact rules so don't quote me on that. As it's something I've never used I don't know how clear it is when you start using the real web and start getting charged for usage.

Your comment/concerns are pretty much exactly whats stopping most people using data services. Most operators have never made it clear what costs money and how much things like data will cost you. Quite often thier own web sites are terrible in explaining these kinds of details as well.

In the states quite a few operators have have fixed cost (almost) unlimited data plans for thier mobile networks, very much like broadband is priced in the uk at the moment. I think UK operators have been scared to implement such tarrifs as they think it'll cut into thier current profits from data charges (and are probably right).
Feb. 19th, 2007 11:10 am (UTC)
It looks like we will be going that way over here, too. The deals that both 3 and T-mobile are offering, with 1Gb usage included in the cost, basically are unlimited for most people's practical purposes. At the moment, that means they'll be getting custom other networks aren't, because people are attracted by those offers (e.g. me!). That makes it worth doing for them at present, even if they are losing profits in the specific area of data usage. Of course, eventually they'll all jump on the bandwagon, so things will even out again. But I presume the short-term competitiveness it brings in for the companies who offer it first is making it worthwhile for them.
Feb. 19th, 2007 02:05 am (UTC)
I'm with T-Mobile, and while I'm generally happy with them, I do find their coverage to be annoyingly poor, at least in NI. At my wife's parents' house, for example, I get pretty much no reception. Even in my own house, reception is poor at the back of the house, yet fine at the front. Some streets have such poor reception that I've occasionally been cut off in mid-babble while walking down an otherwise apparently normal street. I was previously with O2 and found them to be marginally better for coverage, though in terms of cost T-mobile gives me more for less (although I really use it very little; typically I use about 45 minutes of calls and 60ish texts a month).

My advice is to talk to people in your own area (and others you visit frequently) about their experiences with various companies. Coverage may or may not be a problem for you; also, some companies may be cheap but have poor customer service etc.
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:51 am (UTC)
The good thing about T-mobile is that they have a service checker on their website, so you can type in a post code and see how good coverage is for it. Of course, I can't say how much that reflects real-life practice - as you've shown, coverage can in fact vary within a few feet, never mind from postcode to postcode. But it's looking reasonably good for most of the places I'm likely to be.
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:45 am (UTC)
which reminds me, I really need to look at changing my phone. I was on a pay as you go (by direct debit) and bills rarely came to more than five or ten quid. Now they're up to nearly 20, fairly regularly, so it may be worth considering a contract deal (and new uberShiny phone)

I'd want one with 'net access, as using WAP to get to emails is a pain in the bum.

Are we still on for thursday, btw?
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:49 am (UTC)
Yes, absolutely! I've put it on my calendar.

Given what I found out over the weekend, it looks like you could get a better deal out of a contract. The deals I've listed up there aren't the only ones, of course - just the stuff that looked about right for me. I recommend walking up and down that street which leads to Boots from New Briggate where the phone shops all cluster, and checking out what each will offer you. They're generally very eager to get your custom!
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:51 am (UTC)
I'll give it a go, but may need to do some persuasion with the lovely K first, as she looks after our day-to-day finances. I just know that our bills (we're both on the same type of contract, in my name) have been high recently. I know I'd use my phone more if I had free minutes/texts/internets.
Feb. 19th, 2007 10:53 am (UTC)
I know I'd use my phone more if I had free minutes/texts/internets

For me, that's the crux, really. I decided when I first got my phone that I didn't want to have it but feel resricted about using it. So I've always been on a contract, even though I'm quite a low user and suspect that often I'd be paying less on pay-as-you-go.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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