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I'm a long time Virgin mobile user and very happy with the service but it has one catch: coverage. It's no problem where I live, but when you get out into the boonies Virgin, who piggy back on the T-Mobile service, are usually the first to go.

I'm off to Scotland soon and I need a phone that's going to work there to keep in touch with home so I got Virgin to unlock the phone and got a Vodafone SIM card as they have good coverage for the area I'm going to.

Over the weekend I tried topping it up over the phone for the second time. I failed miserably. At home I tried again, both via the Web and using my mobile. In the end it insisted I call an operator as otherwise I might be cut off. So I dialed 191 (cost 25p) and waited ... and waited ... and waited. Over half an hour on hold later, by which time I'd heard the same punk classic a good ten times and was heartily sick of it, I got through to an operator.

Nice young man, who was helpful, but blimey did he have a broad scottish accent and I could hardly understand him half the time. I had to get him to repeat things. Still could have been worse I suppose, he could have been in Mumbai rather than Glasgow (actually that would probably have been better!).

As well as sorting out the top up I also asked how I could find out where the first £10 had gone to - could I find this out via their Web site? Turns out that I can't: I can phone up and they can go through it with me (for 25p and a half hour wait) but it's not available to me otherwise.

With Virgin, by comparison, you can view your spend online. And on the rare occasions I've had to phone I've got through a lot more quickly and they're spoken the same dialect of english as me.

Anyway the lesson for me is that I shall only be using this Vodafone SIM while I'm away. Then I'll be back to Virgin whose service is far superior.

Written 05/06/07

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