A few weeks after switching my iPhone to the EE network, I noticed a funny thing. It hadn’t rung. I checked my voicemail and found heaps of messages from angry people asking why I wouldn’t answer. Was I sick? Was I avoiding them? Had I finally lost all grip on reality and run away to join a convent of Cistercian nuns?
A constant stream of furious texts was coming in as well, although a lot weren’t coming in, I found out later. All said the same thing. ‘Where are you? Why are you ignoring me? Have you been granted asylum in Montana by Donald Trump already?!’
Meanwhile, my nearest and dearest got hold of me on my secret other number, the one connected to the ancient BlackBerry that I cling to for dear life because I hate the iPhone so much. I only give the BlackBerry number to people I really worry about worrying about me: chiefly my mum and the builder boyfriend. That phone I had kept on Vodafone, and that phone still faithfully rang.
But after the iPhone contract was switched to EE to save money, not only did it not ring, it didn’t notify me it hadn’t rung either. All it did was not ring at all — that I noticed anyway — and go straight to voicemail.
I checked the settings and nothing had changed. It was not on the setting for ‘go straight to voicemail’, it was on the setting for normal ringing please, thank you very much.
Only it didn’t seem to ring. I took it into the phone shop where I had signed the contract and they tested it. But as there was no EE reception in the phone shop they couldn’t prove anything one way or another.
In order to examine the phone’s functioning capacity, the shop assistant had to walk around the shopping centre, and then all the way out of the shopping centre into the open air and then up and down the street outside, all the while waving my phone in front of him searching for some EE signal.
And EE signal came there none.
He wandered back and said he was sorry but there was nothing he could do. The problem was definitely not the phone, it was the signal.
‘Do you not think advising me to switch to EE was a little rash, then?’ I asked. ‘I mean, what with you not even being able to get an EE signal in this shop, next to all the “Switch to EE!” posters, or indeed within a half-mile radius of it, and possibly further?’
He agreed it was jolly annoying. But he reminded me that EE was very cheap. And so it is.
EE is very, very cheap. In fact, it is so cheap that when my bills come I have to do a double take. It is much cheaper than any other network I have ever been on. It is amazing value. Until you consider that you are not making or receiving any calls, or looking at the internet much. And so this, rather than any special largesse on EE’s part, does tend to explain why it is so inexpensive.
EE stands for Everything Everywhere. Some say it should be called NN, for Nothing Nowhere. But I think they should rename it EE E — because that is what appears at the top left-hand side of your screen most of the time. It says EE 3G when there’s 3G, or EE 4G on the very rare occasions when there might be some of that. And when you’ve got hardly anything at all it says EE E (where E stands for Enhanced GPRS).
I would like to see EE E commercials where Kevin Bacon tells you to switch to EE E not to avoid, but in order to get ‘buffer face’, as he calls it.
Instead of him hopping about excitedly telling us to switch to EE to avoid waiting for a picture to download, he could be advertising the real benefits, by saying: ‘Look, people, if you switch to EE E you will never again have phone reception for longer than a second and a half a few times a day. So if you don’t like being disturbed, if you loathe the constant demands of instant communication, if you are a Luddite who cannot handle Facebook or Twitter and who does not wish to have people you don’t like being able to connect with you 24/7 and show you pictures of their lunch, or their dog having dental work, or a tick removed from its ear, then EE E is ideal for you.
‘Never again will you have enough reception to be forced to do any of these awful things. That’s unless you keep a secret handset connected to Vodafone, because that would actually work.’