My mobile contract with 3 Mobile is now over and after 6 years of paying more for less upon each upgrade, I finally made the leap and started to look around at the other mobile networks for a better deal.
I’d worked out that given my needs, it would actually work out cheaper to buy a new phone outright and sign up to a SIM-only deal.
I haven’t liked Android phones for a long time now and was disappointed with the Lumina/Windows phones which I looked at because they were just so slow (like a rarely-mentioned, slightly retarded little brother of Android) . Ever since getting my iPhone 4S four years ago I haven’t wanted anything other than an iPhone, so the logical decision was to buy an iPhone 6S.
Whilst playing around with phones at Carphone Warehouse, I had a good look at the iPhone 6S. It’s a good, solid phone and the range of colours it comes in are quite nice (I really like the silver one), but I was drawn to the iPhone 6S Plus. This is a considerably larger phone but I watch a lot of porn/TV on my phone and I edit a lot of movies with it. I also found out that the iPhone 6S Plus battery lasts for a lot longer and there’s a few features it has that the iPhone 6S doesn’t (optical image stabilisation for example).
I’d made up my mind and was just about to complete my purchase at Carphone Warehouse when another worker there came over to the till and said that he’d heard me mention SIM-only. I confirmed that this was the case and the worker who was already serving me had confirmed that iPhones bought at Carphone Warehouse were unlocked. The second worker asked if I knew that iPhones bought at Carphone Warehouse automatically lock to the network of the first SIM card inserted- I did not know this because the worker serving me hadn’t mentioned this tiny detail.
This would have been a wonderful surprise in a couple of years time when I tried to use another network’s SIM in my ‘unlocked’ phone, only to find that I’d have to pay an unlocking fee to the network which had busted the hymen of my wonderful new phone and taken it’s network virginity.
Apparently, the only place to get a truly unlocked iPhone was from the Apple Store.
So, off I went on a 30 minute drive to my nearest Apple Store, which happens to be in my least-favourite shopping centre; Bluewater.
I don’t know what I dislike about Bluewater, but I know that I hate it. It’s the wrong shape, it’s full of expensive shops and it can be horrendous to get in and out of at times. Bluewater is just wrong.
Still, at least I knew what I wanted so should have been able to pop straight in and straight out again.
I’ve never been to an Apple Store before because I’ve simply not needed to, so I was surprised to find that there were no sales counters. Amongst the sea of iDevices on display, there were Apple employees wandering around, some of whom had the appearance of homeless people.
All I wanted to do was buy an iPhone 6S Plus, so I went up to an Apple employee who was walking around with an iPad.
Apple: “Hi there, how can I help you?”
Me: “I want to buy an iPhone 6S Plus 64gb in silver, please”.
Apple employee consults his iPad
Apple: “I can fit you in with Sam in 10 minutes time”.
I was going to pull out an imaginary diary, flick back and forth between a few of the invisible pages and confirm that the appointment was fine, but that I’d have to move my pretend purchase of some new trainers to the next day and my fake coffee at Starbucks back to 5pm.
I didn’t do that though.
What happened to the days when you went in to a shop, picked an item off the shelf, took it to the till and paid for it? Ok, I know that millions of quid in valuable iDevices isn’t going to be left on shelves at the Apple Store, but why can’t I just queue up at the till to buy what I already know I want? They should have different queues for different things; if you need help with something, join queue A. If your phone needs a repair, join queue B. If you want to buy something, join queue C. Why do I need an appointment to buy something?
It’s a similar system to the one which Argos uses; the difference being that if you physically move from your spot in the Apple Store, you miss your appointment because a homeless employee can’t find you.
Sam came over to me around 10 minutes later (he was wearing a ridiculous beanie hat which I will never fathom because it was about 1,000 degrees Celsius under all those lights in there) and he already knew what I wanted. Hurrah!
At this point, he asked me if I have an iPhone I wanted to trade in against the new one. I had my old iPhone 5S with me, which has got a few dents and scratches around the edges, which has had a screen repair and a recently replaced battery (the old one was barely lasting for a day). Oh, and the top of the screen didn’t sit flush with the body because I’d fucked it up after changing the battery. I told Sam that I had the iPhone 5S but that I didn’t have any of the accessories as I didn’t know I could trade in the old phone. Sam said that this was fine, checked the phone’s serial number and told me they’d give me £135.00 against it (he didn’t even inspect the condition of it). I asked Sam to wait whilst I had a quick look on eBay to see what my phone was worth and even specimens in “good” or “great” condition had only sold for between £120.00 and £150.00 (remember that sellers would pay eBay and PayPal fees on these sales, too) so it made perfect sense to trade in my old phone. It would only gather dust as I’d probably keep it as a spare instead of sell it. Fortunately, I’d made a backup of my phone a few weeks beforehand, so it was no great loss to stand there and wipe it before handing it over to Sam.
Sam loaded an Apple gift card with £135.00 and went out to the stock room to get my new phone (at last!). He returned within a couple of minutes so that we could complete the sale.
However, one more thing was required- photo ID.
Did I need to prove that I was mature enough to be let loose with something which has internet connectivity? Or perhaps I could somehow become intoxicated by using my new phone, so had to prove I was old enough to get drunk?
Fortunately, I always carry my driving licence in my wallet but I would have been so pissed off if I didn’t carry it with me, which I’m sure many people don’t.
I confirmed with Sam that I was who I said I was and that I was old enough to own an iPhone, paid for it and went on my merry way.
I’d set out that morning knowing what I wanted to buy and where I could buy it from, much in the same way that if I know I need to buy some milk, I know I can go to the corner shop at the end of the road.
I didn’t expect to spend 3 hours doing something which I should have been able to do in one and I certainly didn’t expect to visit the loathsome Bluewater.
All I wanted to do was to buy a phone.