Saturday 13th June 2015 at 10:04AM
Today my 9-year-old daughter leapt out of the car with a new found passion for school. As she approached her colleagues, she began to shout. ‘My Dad’s cool now. He’s got an iPhone. He’s, like, street!’ she said, while her pals giggled their appreciation like those fatuous Californian bred-for-teen-TV automatons.
As I drove away I eyed my new contraption suspiciously and mouthed a curse in its general direction. I swear it bleeped back at me. But at least I could draw a long satisfactory breath and console myself with the fact that I, Mark Bradley, had embraced the future and strengthened, in the short term at least, my chances of continuing to enjoy default membership of the gene pool.
But that hides a litany of troubles – strife that I imagine no other ‘modern man’ would have suffered as he nonchalantly upgraded his phone, pressed a few buttons and produced a fully functioning multimedia and communications device. I, on the other hand, appear to have spent the last few days arsing around in the ether and failing to approximate to the desired progressive state.
Let me take you back to late last week. I received a letter from my mobile phone provider Carphone Warehouse. I was due an upgrade. Hurrah! Having been on an 18-month contract, it was time to put aside my miserably out of date and uncool Nokia 8600 and take the next giant step. Ana’s phone was due an upgrade too, so we drove off to the nearest store and queued. The retail park is starting to look different these days. Brantano shoes has given way to Greggs and Subway branches have appeared everywhere like fifth columnists rising up at the appointed moment to take Madrid.
Inside the phone store there was no sign of recession as people fixed up new phone accounts and took away ‘free laptops’. I use the inverted commas because for the life of me I can’t help thinking that this term obscures the reality of the deal. No useful free software, no security package included and less virtual memory than my cat. Perhaps I do them a disservice.
The service, as it happens, was excellent. Our man explained the options, which included a £45 a month deal, which in addition to reducing my current monthly bill would also provide me with a free iPhone. My mind raced. I imagine myself in the first class carriage, power-dressed up to the oxters, ostentatiously waving my new device around like Excalibur, listening to The Killers in one ear and organising meetings in the other.
For once, I’d been hypnotised by the dark side, where normally pragmatism would win out. I’d been with Carphone Warehouse for 9 years now and always had Nokia phones. I use a PC at home and other than the one I wear when it’s wet, I’ve never used a Mac. Everything should have told me to proceed with caution, except I allowed myself to get carried away and when the assistant asked ‘would you like me to run through the features with you sir?’ I thought for a moment, smiled and said ‘Nah. No probs. Groovy’ (or something like that.
Weeping at my desk half an hour later, I began to appreciate the foolishness of my actions. I could only initially locate one button. But when I pressed it, images and colours flooded my screen like Rio on carnival day. I’d been told to connect my iPhone to iTunes and also to go to the O2 website and download my settings. I couldn’t remember in which order I was supposed to perform these tasks, so went to the website first and watched helplessly as all of the necessary settings arrived by text to my (thankfully still functioning) old phone. Next, to iTunes, where I managed to load everything but the kitchen ‘sync’ (sorry).
Up and running? Not quite. It won’t recognise my Jabra (didn’t we meet at the Nokia convention last fall?).
Neither can I find out how to put it into ‘meetings’ profile. Something of a priority after a meeting last night when we were rudely interrupted by Cock Robin’s 1986 masterpiece ‘Remember the promise you made’. It did help make a valid point however, as we were discussing the failure of a colleague to carry out a previously agreed action at that particular moment. He opted to apologise, when he could have played ‘You were always on my mind’ and I would have felt better.
My iPhone is also heavier than a housebrick and almost as big. Where previously the Nokia lent a manly air to my trouser, it now looked like I was wearing a colostomy bag. Except one that could play ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ and update you on the weather in Littlehampton.
Having observed me staggering around the house like a distressed gazelle, Ana decided that her new Sony Ericsson phone quickly needed updating with new picture messaging settings so she could capture my personal purgatory and sent it to all of our friends. Off she went to the appropriate website.
The settings arrived but the functionality didn’t, so given that the account was in my name I offered to phone on her behalf. First I called Sony Ericsson, where an embarrassed Geordie voice explained that they only manufacture the phones. I’d have to go to my service provider to do that.
The IVR prompted me to key in the phone number, so I did. It then told me I was in the wrong place. O2 isn’t my service provider. Apparently Carphone Warehouse is. For the third time I dialled a number. This time the keying in of the mobile number took us to the next stage. I chose ‘problems with phone’ and gleefully waited for our troubles to cease. It then asked for a PIN. ‘What PIN?’ I shouted redundantly at the IVR system.
Several hours later we’d found a letter from O2 telling us we’d need to use a PIN as this would improve the service we would receive. It already hadn’t. We used the PIN and it ‘wasn’t recognised’ (didn’t we meet at the Sony Ericsson convention last Spring?).
Every other option on the IVR produced the same obstacle (and believe me, I tried every permutation), so I gave up. Unfortunately, this was unacceptable to my darling wife, so I tried the age-old trick of calling the new sales number and pretending to have made a mistake. This time it worked like a treat. The kind voice put me through directly to O2’s human department where a nice human greeted me warmly and sounded slightly dismayed as her initially warm tones were met with icy restraint.
Five minutes later Ana was happily distributing pictures of my bulging strides, while I sank into a deeply regretful state from which I was roused by a plaintiff beep from my iPhone. Perhaps we were to find communion after all. I quickly found the SIM Applications icon and touched it lovingly, expecting a frenzy of settings to arrive.
A few seconds later, my first iPhone text arrived. It said ‘unfortunately we had problems dealing with your request for settings. Please contact Customer Service.’
Before embarking on an extended bout of swearing, I could at least reassure myself that I’m now ‘street’.
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