Two years ago, when the iPhones legitimately became available in the UK, I stopped being a Vodafone customer (they didn't have the iPhone on their books back then) and moved to O2. Vodafone's people called me several times offering ever increasing amounts of money along with exotic phones to encourage me to stay with them. The bribe topped out at around £1,000 plus a phone of my choice. I turned them down.
With my iPad came a Vodafone SIM. I wanted a bit of redundancy with a different network from O2 and in the buildings where I work, Vodafone seems to get better reception so it seemed like it was worthwhile having a Vodafone data plan.
I've had my iPad since Thursday of last week and have singularly failed to get the cellular data function to work. So:
1) I called their activation line over the weekend and failed to get any response. The call just failed. Over and over.
2) On Sunday morning the line started to work (oddly about 5 mins after I'd posted about their problems on my blog). Having spelled my last name 7 times (using alpha and phonetics) I was asked what my last name was one more time. I gave up.
3) This week I've called their support lines a few times. They don't open until 9am for "i" support. None of the other lines were able to help.
4) Today I went into a Vodafone store. The instant diagnosis following a check that the SIM was activated was that it was an iPad problem. They kindly called the Apple support line whilst I was in the store and then left me to talk to them. A pleasant chap from Apple talked me through various changes and options and concluded that it probably wasn't the iPad but the only thing left to try was a full reset and restore.
5) I tried the full reset and restore. No change.
6) I went to the Apple store in town and picked up an O2 sim.
7) I put it into the iPad, connected to iTunes, downloaded the new carrier settings. 15 seconds later it was working.
8) I created the account on the iPad itself using menu options built in to the iPad and set up everything needed. Another 15 seconds.
9) I now need to figure out how to cancel my Vodafone data plan. A call to their support line tells me that I need to write to them
10) A check online (following a link from their purchase confirmation email that says "set up your account") requires me to enter my mobile number so that they can send me a text (for "Security reasons"). That, of course, neatly misses the point that the SIM doesn't work and, even if it did, it's in an iPad which doesn't receive texts.
Plainly O2 have learned much from their problems with iPhone activation of a year ago. I hope that they are ready for the new iPhone launch due any time soon. They will be keeping my business even if searching for "iPad" on their site still returns no useful results.
Vodafone, though, have demonstrated not only that they didn't have the foresight in the beginning to take on the iPhone business but now don't have the mechanics in place to deal with a later generation product launch. That's not a good sign.
Oh, and I sold my Vodafone shares.