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advice for renting mobile phone at Heathrow (or should I just buy one?)

advice for renting mobile phone at Heathrow (or should I just buy one?)

Old Nov 5th, 2001, 07:19 AM
  #1  
beth anderson
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advice for renting mobile phone at Heathrow (or should I just buy one?)

Hi all

has anyone had experience/luck with renting a cell phone at Heathrow airport? what sort of prices should I expect?

or, should I just buy a phone while I am there (or buy into a service??)

where roughly is the mobile phone rental counter, anyway. Can't say I've ever come across it for all the times I have gone through that airport, but I wasn't looking for that matter..

thanks!

Beth
 
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 10:15 AM
  #2  
Rex
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Beth,

It used to be that there were some, but I asked around at Stanstead two years ago (had an hour or more to kill there waiting on a flight to Dublin), and I asked EVERYwhere. The consistent answer was "no one rents phones anymore - - too cheap to but; no money to be amde in renting them".

As you undoubtedly know, there are numerous threads (or a simple internet search will give various companies), there are numerous threads on phone rental here on this forum - - these are generally for companies that FedEx it to you here in the US before you leave.

I had such a good experience in Italy in September simply buying a pre-paid phone, that I suspect that you would find a similarly good experience in the UK as well. And I sold my phone to someone else traveling to Italy for $55 after I got back home; I paid $80 for it, and this included $25 of call time. I had $11 of call time left on the phone when I sold it to the buyer. The calls back home were a remarkably good deal, ranging from 20 to 80 cents a minute - - AND the convenience of making them anywhere, anytime I wanted!

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Old Nov 7th, 2001, 04:25 AM
  #3  
beth
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hi all

I bought a cell phone.

Rex, thank you for your suggestions!

I will likely keep mine though. never know, I may have reason to have one for a while!
 
Old Nov 7th, 2001, 09:17 AM
  #4  
Bill
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Beth,
Did you buy your cell phone here in the states? If so where? Tell us about it.
 
Old Nov 7th, 2001, 10:39 AM
  #5  
Ann
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Bill-I'm assuming Beth bought her phone in London (most people in the UK use prepaid phones, and they're pretty cheap), but I just got a new phone, which can be used overseas. Most of the cell phone companies now offer dual-band phones. I got mine from VoiceStream--only $30.
 
Old Nov 7th, 2001, 01:52 PM
  #6  
kavey
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Hi All, Beth will no doubt reply today, but I saw her (and the new phone) at lunch time and she bought it from a regular Vodaphone shop once in the UK.

Vodaphone is one of the networks/ mobile phone companies here in the UK along with Orange and many others.

I think she got pay as you go but she could elaborate...

Sexy looking little number it is though!
 
Old Nov 9th, 2001, 04:36 AM
  #7  
beth anderson
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Hi all,

yep, Kavey said it right - Vodaphone, there are stores ALL over the place - try Oxford Street when you get here, although Covent Garden has a shop too and I got this one on 152 Regent Street. (I tell you this so you go to A DIFFERENT store)

it really is great to have this phone, I am very glad I have it - it's been quite needed, but...

take note! learn from my mistakes here:

pay careful attention to the tariff you are on. They sold me on their great calling plan of 25p for the first 3 minutes of the DAY with a 5p per minute rate after that (every call) with all incoming calls FREE...

come to find out, the phone when you BUY it is set up on a completely different tariff. it was more like 35-50p PER MINUTE regardless of who called whom.

I could not for the life of me figure out how I went through 20 pounds so quickly (in less than 48 hours) as I really wasn't calling that many people with it, I was taking calls but certainly didn't even HAVE anyone to talk for hours and hours on it (which is what the cheaper tariff should have allowed for).

to add to that, the store 'forgot' to give me the free 10 pound top up card starter (a bonus with the phone) as well as not giving me the instruction manual - when I got the phone home I found out the manual was missing. so I have trekked back to that store 3 times now...

to get to the point - the manual, once I opened it, shows that the default tariff is not at all cheap. you have to change to the cheaper one.

may I point out that the salespeople repeatedly told me that the price was 25p, 5p, etc - but not once did they tell me that I had to request that change. even when I called back to complain (after the first ten pound top up card wasted) - they STILL just said, hum, why is that, you're on your own, here's a number to call.

I figured it out for myself - it's quite easy to change to the better plan, you just have to KNOW TO DO IT. when I called in to the hotline to top up for the third time (already wasting 20 pounds) the voice prompt then told me how to change it.

so, long and short:

having the mobile is great. it's a neat little phone, it really is. I like the pay as you go plan, for anyone who is traveling, it's a one time expense, and EACH time you go to Europe - voila, you have a phone (it works elsewhere in Europe I am told - have not tested that out though of course)

but, be aware - make sure you have all documents, don't just rely on the salespeople. and make sure you are on the tariff they tell you that you are on. I think they knew full well that I would need to change tariffs to get the good rate - they just didn't tell me. why not? if they can get some tourist to pay the higher rate cuz they don't know any better (and are going home in a week anyway), why not? vodaphone makes out if they sell you 5 top up cards versus one or two...

sorry about the rant, I am a little steamed. and more so mainly due to the fact that I have had to go back so many times - and they have not been helpful or forthcoming in my return journeys. I may have to go back AGAIN as I called to tell them of their misrepresentations - the guy who answered is going to see if he can get me another top up card (but hasn't called back yet in 3 hours so I am not holding my breath.)

humph.

(having a great time regardless, just cheesed at feeling taken advantage of)

 
Old Nov 9th, 2001, 04:58 AM
  #8  
beth anderson
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ok, am feeling less cheesed.

that was quick.

Andy (ask for him if you go to this one) called me back, he is going to give me a 15 pound top up card.

so, I wasted 20 but they are giving me 15 back.

ok, now THAT'S customer service. finally.

make sure you know which tariff they are putting you on, and keep asking questions. I asked many, but the other sales guys were not being forthcoming...

later all!
 
Old Nov 9th, 2001, 06:30 AM
  #9  
Alec
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Hi Beth, I'm glad you've got a phone you really like. I hope you found my reply to your e-mail also helpful. You are on what is called Vodafone 'Smartstep' tariff. The expensive tariff you were on first is called 'Firststep' and is meant for evening and weekend users.

About using your phone elsewhere in Europe: yes, you can roam in almost all European countries, but it will cost you A LOT! For example, to call US from France will be around US$1.50 a minute. Since your phone is locked to Vodafone, it will not accept a SIM card from any other network (getting a local SIM card is a cheap way to roam). May still be useful for emergencies, and for receiving calls (which will cost you around US$1.13 a minute in France). You can get details on http://www.vodafone-roaming.co.uk/
 
Old Nov 12th, 2001, 10:10 AM
  #10  
Fairfax
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I am leaving for the UK later this week and travelling around a lot, and will be in Rome later this year and thought about getting a phone to use in Europe. (My current US cell company doesn't do Europe) Does Vodaphone assign you a phone number for your pre-paid phone? What do you need to get a phone- cash, credit card? Any practical information is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 
Old Nov 12th, 2001, 12:12 PM
  #11  
beth
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Hi

I assume you can pay cash although I did not...

yes, they do assign you a number. and the bonus is, if someone calls you it is free for you, unlike in the US where you pay airtime.

you can use it abroad in Europe but it's expensive.

hope that helps...
 
Old Nov 13th, 2001, 06:00 AM
  #12  
Fairfax Fielding
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Here's another query: Here in the US, my cell has an area code. Since I am going to be in Cardiff first, then in London, where I will need the phone most, should I get a phone with a London area code, or does it matter?
Thanks for any help. I am a neophite at mobile phones abroad, but with all the stops I am making on this trip, and all the people I am seeing, I feel like it will be a huge help!
 
Old Nov 13th, 2001, 08:42 AM
  #13  
beth anderson
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Hi

You won't get a 'London' area code, you'll get the generic mobile code they give you. one thing which makes it a bit harder to memorize everyone's cell phone number (I usually have all my friend's phone #s memorized) is that each carrier has a different area code, from what I can tell.

one friend has 7879, another 7976, mine is 7876, another is 7967, etc etc. so it isn't like you can 'know' the area code as in VA or DC, and just have to keep straight the 7 digits of their number, you have to memorize each number differently, and some are so similar...

hope this helps.

yes, I do think it is a nice thing to have. and if you don't have a contract, you can hold on to the phone and only pay to use it, when you are in the country. for that matter, even if you won't be in country for a while, you can lend it to a friend for instance, or whatever...
 
Old Nov 13th, 2001, 09:45 AM
  #14  
Doug Weller
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I noticed someone mentioned dual band. A dual band phone will not work in the US, you need tri-band for that! Not likely to get one prepay.

Orange's tariff is 25p for the first three minutes every day (after which you pay a flat rate of just 5p per minute) to call standard UK fixed line numbers or other Orange phones.

International calling rates are at
http://www.orange.co.uk/cgi-bin/international/chooser.pl?tariff=payg

A good chain that sells them all (Orange, One2One (avoid), Vodafone (no 'ph'), BT Cellnet (avoid Virgin, their phones are too costly for your purposes probably), is Carphone Warehouse.


 
Old Nov 13th, 2001, 10:49 AM
  #15  
Fairfax Fielding
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Thanks so much for this handy information. My friend from Cardiff is leaving this afternoon to go back, so I am going to have him investigate this and arrange for a phone when i get there. I am not usually so hooked in, but there a lot of connections with people that I have to make on this trip (and it is for pleasure, too!).

Fairfax
 
Old Nov 13th, 2001, 11:53 AM
  #16  
Ann
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Doug-I'm based in the States, so my dual-band phone works here and in Europe.
 
Old Nov 14th, 2001, 02:34 AM
  #17  
ruth
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Just a comment for anyone buying a mobile phone for use only in Europe: my mobile (Vodaphone) with prepaid calls (not a monthly tariff) requires me to make at least one call every 6 months, otherwise it stops working. So read the small print - your phone might not work when you returned to Europe the following year.
 
Old Nov 26th, 2001, 09:53 AM
  #18  
Fairfax Fielding
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I actually ended up not getting a phone after all. They have really jacked up prices for the Christmas holiday and the cheapest phone I could find (we went about five places to look) was GBP70. For a week, it wasn't worth it. Also, was sick for much of the time I was in the UK, so wasn't buzzing around as much as anticipated.
Thanks so much for all advice and help!
 
Old Nov 26th, 2001, 10:01 AM
  #19  
beth anderson
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Hi

yeah, mine was almost 100 pounds with the insurance but I figured it's an investment - I really need one for what I'm up to...

sorry you were sick!

beth
 
Old Dec 26th, 2001, 06:14 PM
  #20  
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