Car Phone Company Blog
If it’s broken, Sugru can fix it.

After a SIM card copier and SIM card cutter, Sugru is the most cost effective tool I have in my mobile maintenance toolkit. 

It’s mouldable silicon that cures in 24 hours. I can only define its texture as blu tack or plasticine that sets to whatever you shape it into but retaining a degree of flexibility.

One of the most common uses is instead of electrical tape to make a repair to perished rubber surrounds on cables. Sugru is better as it’s a more permanent solution. We aren’t suggesting to go and bodge up dodgy electrics but everyone has USB or AV cables that have seen better days. 

In my own life, it’s currently fixed or improved the following (the links below are from other users of Sugru doing similar repairs) :

  • Combined with a Lego stud, it repaired the perished remote central locking button on a car key. 
  • A dock lead that had frayed at the connector to expose bare wire
  • In ear headphones where the rubber seal between the cable and headphone unit had perished..
  • A mains charger for a laptop where the cable had started to come apart from the cable relief unit. 
  • A pair of trainers where the backs had started to crumble internally.
  • A door and sign to my daughter’s dolls house which had snapped off.
  • New feet for a monitor stand to level up perfectly with a second display. 
  • A custom microphone mount for a car kit. 
  • New grips for pens custom moulded to my fingers for added comfort .

Cost of buying new versions of all of the above: circa £300.00.

Cost of a packet of Sugru (of which I used about half): £11 plus postage.

The stuff is simply incredible. I have my eye out for other uses:

It comes in different colours (you can mix colours to create new shades) and there’s a great blog showing all the different uses it’s been put to on the Sugru website. Sugru has been into space, the North Pole and has competed in the London 2012 Olympics

It’s about to go mainstream, as it’s now stocked in B & Q and Maplin, so you can pick some up for an emergency fix. The best place to buy it though is from Sugru themselves: low cost postage and a better choice of colours/buying options. You can even buy a big lump from them if you need a major repair. 

Have a look around and see what you can fix or modify with Sugru: send us an email to share your experiences for a future blog. 

How to protect yourself from “crash for cash”

You may have recently read about “crash for cash” or “flash and crash” in the media. Over recent years, there have been developments to help try to safeguard drivers and their no claims bonuses.

 

The initial type of incident of crash for cash was where a number of vehicles suddenly brake, in the hope of a rear end collision. These kinds of incident have resulted in death in the most serious cases and were perpetrated by criminal gangs looking for insurance claims. Luckily most of these do not escalate to this level of seriousness but cause major inconvenience, insurance claim/cost increases and loss of no claims bonuses.

 

Accident witness cameras can be fitted to vehicles to help fight your corner when it comes to the insurance claim. In certain countries, they are almost as compulsory as insurance or seatbelts due to insurance fraud. We supply and fit a number of variants which can have different applications in business/consumer use. They broadly break into three types with differing levels of quality.

 

All witness cameras work by tracking via GPS the vehicle’s position whilst driving, recording the video feed from the cameras constantly. This allows the ability to attach vehicle speed and location to the video footage. The movement sensors in the camera can trigger when going over a speed bump too fast, hitting a pot hole or sudden braking/skidding/acceleration. Every time it triggers an “incident”, the footage prior and post the alert is recorded, saved and tagged.  You can also manually tag the footage if it’s a low speed incident.

 

This means you can review just the incidents rather than viewing the entire footage to find the event via the included PC or smartphone software. If you hit a pot hole and need to claim from the council or a kid suddenly pulls out on a bike in front of you and you slam on the brakes, you’ve got evidence of what happened. You can prove where and what speed you were travelling as well as showing the events pre and post the incident. 

 

The quality is either Standard Definition (SD) or High Definition (HD). The distinction is simple: the HD versions record much better quality so can be used for “drive offs” by capturing number plates. After deciding on recording quality, there is a choice of what the cameras capture i.e. how many cameras you have. There is a simple front facing camera that records the driver’s view through the front screen. You can then add a rear facing camera with two variants: driver facing (to record the driver’s actions) and rear view to record the rear of the car. The latter is the more common of the two: few people want to record themselves or their staff picking their nose at the wheel!

 

With a front and rear facing setup, the most common kinds of incident are recorded and it protects you in the case of a claim, providing you are driving sensibly.

 

It’s important to clarify some false information around these cameras. Some cameras can reduce your insurance premium: the cameras we sell do but only with specific insurers. We recommend these products not as a cost savings exercise on insurance: having a camera discount doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cheapest policy. Where it can save money is in the protection of a no-claims bonus, cost of excess and fleet admin costs. The cost of a camera is often less than the excess in your policy. If you can use the footage to prove you were not at fault in a 50/50 type incident, you can then retain the no claims bonus, as you know it can take several years to get that fully back.

 

There is also the lost time administering and chasing a claim. We are personally aware of an incident that has dragged on for months where a third party, caught up in the aftermath of an incident is caught between the two other drivers wrangling over blame. If our third party had a camera, he would have been able to help the investigation as could provide evidence of the actual incident he was caught up in.

 

In a commercial environment, one claim could cost as much as tens of thousands. With a camera costing as little as £200 plus VAT installed from us, you could outfit your entire fleet for less than the business cost of a single claim.

 

The new “flash and crash” scams work by a driver flashing their lights to indicate and invite right of way. They then continue on their path without slowing down, hitting the driver of the other vehicle and claiming that they turned across them. Whilst these camera will not capture every eventuality (side on incidents) as they don’t have 360 degree vision, they generally give greater piece of mind and improve driving standards.  If your staff don’t want their driving recorded, this suggests their behaviour and technique needs to be modified.  The cost of fitting a camera is a lot less than a driver technique training course.

 

Outside of the pure safety and evidence benefits, having cameras installed tends to improve fuel economy by encouraging good driving technique which is always more economical. Human nature also tends to make people being recorded more aware of their actions and makes positive behaviour changes. Get in touch via the “contact us” page for pricing and installation options. 

The best Waze to get from A to B…

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Over the past few months, I’ve used Waze as my sat-nav of choice. In the past, I’ve flirted with Google Maps, Apple’s inbuilt Maps, Skobbler, Nokia Drive/HERE Maps and others. I even had a separate TomTom a few years back (that still sits unloved in my glovebox). For a long time, Skobbler won: it allowed easy download of the world’s mapping, had maps stored on your device so no need for high speed internet on the phone and offered free updates after a low cost map purchase. It’s still a “Recommend” due to the world mapping stored on device for people that roam or are worried about data usage costs. 

However, Waze makes all of the others look basic by comparison. It’s to do with the “crowd sourcing” of data that makes it so special an app. I’ll explain those horrible buzz words and what it means in a line or two.

Waze ticks the important box of doing navigation with weak Mobile Internet service, although I didn’t realise it at first. It has a set of local data/mapping stored on device: it seems to keep data on the most recent/common routes you drive. If you are heading out from further afield, it needs to download some basic data first. The clever thing is that you never really notice it doing the grunt work behind the scenes, it all just works.  It needs a low quality web connection to send the address to the routing servers: if you’ve no data at all, it would be able to route but still can display local mapping stored on device.

An Internet connection however brings the real magic compared to a standard sat-nav. All users are feeding back their speed info whilst using the app. This is a tiny amount of data being used so don’t worry about your bill! This is what “crowd sourcing” is: using other users’ data automatically to improve the service for all by pooling all the knowledge and data together.  

Waze then uses this info to intelligently route you around traffic, update traffic information on your route (it sees slower than average speeds as congestion) and updates your estimated time of arrival. It also allows users to send alerts from a single button push on screen. It allows users to tag a location then (when safe to do so) update the type of incident (road closure, accident, police, broken down vehicle). This is where more manual crowd sourcing comes in: the rerouting happens in the background for the vast majority of the time. People are passively and actively updating the knowledge Waze has in real time. It also uses points to encourage people to feedback data and grow their Waze icon: this is a technique known as gamification.

Crowd sourcing and being socially aware also allows for some really clever features: on one journey, it warned me that traffic ahead was slowing, let me see updates on the traffic jam ahead and even message a Waze user/driver ahead whilst we were both stationary. Waze disables many features if it detects any motion: as I was stationary with engine off, I could ask the driver if they could see what happened ahead. Don’t know who it was but they were able to tell me I wasn’t moving for a good time to come! If I wasn’t on the M25 between junctions, Waze would also have rerouted me past the traffic. 

What has impressed me most is the accuracy and speed of the data it uses: on a journey in Watford (an area I know well), I used Waze to back up my local knowledge, just in case. As I was approaching a roundabout to my destination, Waze told me to turn left when I KNEW it was straight on for my route. After questioning the app’s routing in my head, I suddenly could see traffic just at the brow of the hill ahead: the Waze map showed a “red 5 MPH” line growing ahead. So I trusted my new app and took the route Waze suggested.

It took me a very obscure route through housing and industrial estates: at one point, I was driving almost parallel to the jam I would have been sitting in, cruising past all those unfortunate drivers! Ten minutes later, Waze plonked me at the end of the jam and about five minutes from my destination. It had easily saved me a good half an hour or more of traffic and showed the prowess of the routing and live speed info. This was a day when I really needed the ability to get to my destination on time. 

However, Waze isn’t perfect. As with any sat-nav, there are errors in its mapping and certainly for some minor roads, the lack of other “Wazers” means it doesn’t quite beat local knowledge at peak times but it far outperforms any other solution I’ve tried.

Waze was recently acquired for $1 billion by Google but is subject to some anti-monopoly investigations so may be pulled back out. However, in the meantime, Google is using the Waze data in its own Google Maps service and there is likely to be a blending of the services over time. Certainly, a quick check on a local route seemed to have substantially improved the traffic info on Google maps now the Waze data is added in.

For now, Waze is still my preferred choice over Google Maps due to the social aspects plus it tracks local fuel prices too, so can save a few quid when you fill up! If you use Google Maps, you don’t feed the same quality of data back. If everyone did that, Waze wouldn’t be as powerful or beneficial to all.

Even if you don’t need it for routing your journey, try to keep Waze running to warn you of road issues on your journey ahead, as well as feeding your data back to the rest of the users. It’s like having your own customised, live updated traffic service: the higher the number of users in an area, the better the results will be for all. Just remember to keep the phone charged up, as GPS is a big battery drain, and to shut the app down after use. If you need a car charging or handset mounting solution, get in touch

Give it a try now: it’s available for iOS and Android. It won’t cost a penny to download, uses tiny amounts of data to use so shouldn’t bust your data allowance and could be the difference between arriving on time and getting stressed in a traffic jam!

Xobni and how to work Smartr

I’ve been a huge advocate of Xobni for a long, long time. When I started using it, it was a powerful tool to fix a specific problem; now it’s an app that every smartphone user should be using. 

I first discovered Xobni around five years’ ago when it was in its infancy. It was initially a turbocharged version of search for Outlook that lived in a special side bar. It handled threaded conversations and generally made managing mail simple, as well as collating info about my contacts together for me. It showed me how many emails, links and files I had exchanged with the contact. I could click on a link and open that file or email from within the sidebar. Very clever and helpful: making your life easier by putting all your data in one place. 

Xobni would find stuff that would defeat classic Outlook search in the older versions of Office (2003). Over time, it added integration to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter so that it would discover and link that live update data to the contact in the Xobni tool bar. So up until about 18 months’ ago, it was a great tool to maximise your use of Outlook and put lots of useful data at your fingertips. It was like a “get out of jail free” card for finding stuff!

One of its lesser known features was how it created relationships between contacts: it could find all the people you had ever been cc’d into an email with and make them a Xobni contact. It would know who you had directly contacted and who you were just in a cc’d mail with, so you could establish relationships, search for connections, get introductions and generally be a smarty pants on your email communications. 

It also offers email analytics. For example, you can measure almost any aspect of your email volume, response time or effectiveness. You can see how many emails you’ve exchanged with someone, how long it takes you to reply or them to reply to you. You can see who emails you the most, least and at what time of day/week/month you get the most/least emails. The business intelligence this gives you is very powerful if you need to measure the effectiveness of the communications in your business and which business doesn’t need that? You know who jumps to attention and who needs a shove on email. Maybe it’s better to give them a call?

This was great and a common part of the toolset in the Efficient Thinking training I deliver. But what changed everything and made it an essential tool was the launch of the Smartr Contacts apps for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android handsets. At the same time, Xobni rolled out the Xobni Cloud service. This glued all of my emails in Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo Mail together with your phone and other contacts. Suddenly all your contacts from everything you used were in one place, searchable with relationships and basic email history/data analytics built in!

It meant there was a cloud back up of all my contacts if I needed them, all my disparate contact sources were merging into one powerful, searchable address book and I could see all of the top level email history of our interactions. I could call, email, Facebook or Tweet them from the one app.

So where’s the downside? There’s always a downside. The first is that the “special sauce” is only really in the paid for version at $48 a year or $7.99 a month; the free version ties itself into the auto-complete on email addresses and “allegedly” hijacks your auto-completes unless you pay for the full version. It doesn’t really do that but certainly gives that impression to end users. Some of the funky cloud syncing/back up doesn’t play ball unless you pay for it. Plus some of the nice sidebar features around links and appointments are disabled. Xobni Free is certainly functional, has its place and will suit many users but Xobni really does benefit from a full subscription. 

The other downside: it’s reportedly a resource hog in some set-ups  As it uses the Outlook PST file, some IT managers are nervy about using it in case it causes corruption or hogs memory. Arguably, Outlook is as likely a culprit of data corruption and memory hogging!

Other than that, I don’t see why not to use it. The apps are free, there’s a free version to trial so you can see if it works for you and your business. You can try it on your personal email first in Gmail/Yahoo Mail and then extend out to business use.

Download a trial now and see how Xobni can make you work Smartr. If you want to learn more about how Outlook and smarter thinking about email can help your workload, look at the training on offer from our sister brand, Efficient Thinking.

O2 Travel: an update. Essential reading for all O2 customers.

On 26th March 2013, O2 Travel is changing for all O2 customers. It’s a “give and take” change in my view. 

The first big change is that the calls still cost 41p per call to connect but incoming and now outgoing calls no longer use your UK minutes. That’s a theoretical benefit, if you don’t have enough minutes on your plan, but pretty much everyone now has more minutes than they need now. 

The other big change is that the £1.66 daily data cap is now only 15MB, down from 25MB, However, you can get an additional 15MB for an extra £1.66 that day. See O2’s details below

"Customers can add more data to their O2 Travel allowance at any point during the day. If they need more data they’ll be able to reset their allowance for a further £1.66 by texting moredata to 23336 which will give them an additional 15MB that day. These texts cost 7p". 

For more detail, direct from O2, click here.

So what’s the impact?

For the vast majority of O2 clients, this change has minimal impact and it is only the data allowance change that needs careful examination. Most people don’t go over 15 MB a day in normal use; there’s a reason the most common data bolt on is 500MB (16.6MB per day!).

I would advise it’s generally business as usual but just be mindful: install a data counter app on your smartphone. Most phones have a data record built in but the iPhone’s is a bit buried! I prefer a specific solution called Data Usage. It’s worth 69p to prevent a nasty shock. 

HELP! I’ve lost my phone…

Everyone’s had that sinking feeling in the belly when you don’t know where your phone is. What is that sinking feeling? The fear of how much it costs to replace itall that data you haven’t backed up; everybody’s phone number; all the personal details stored that you don’t want in the wrong hands; the irreplaceable photographs? 

If you have any kind of smartphone or tablet, help is at hand.  Most manufacturers have some variation on a theme to keep the data secure, make devices traceable and remote wipe capable to stop the data falling into the wrong hands. If you lose your device, you can locate it and erase it if need be. Howeverif you haven’t set it up before it happens, it’s too late! So don’t delay: this post is designed to inspire and inform you how to do it for yourself.

Almost all modern phones (above a very basic specification level) have the ability to be plugged in via USB cable to a PC to back up key data. The classic piece of software for this is the Nokia Ovi/PC Suite. This allows for almost a complete image of a Nokia handset to be saved to a PCready to restore data in case of faults, data corruption or loss. 

It’s a great bit of software with one huge flaw, known in tech circles as PEBKAC (“Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair” i.e. human error). It’s not the phone’s fault, it’s not the PC’s faultbut it is the user that doesn’t plug the phone in. It’s very easy for a human to forget to backup/plug in a device regularly enough to prevent loss of data: it’s not your fault; it’s the way we’re all wired!

That’s why automated/cloud back-ups that require no cables are the way to go to secure dataYou still haven’t solved the issue of what to do when it goes missing though! So here’s how to handle that challenge across the common platforms, as well as their respective backup services.

Windows Phones have device wiping built in via Microsoft Exchange servers. In fact, any mobile device with email connected via Exchange has the option of a data wipe. Speak to your IT team about this or we can introduce you to our IT guy, Tony, to advise.  It doesn’t work if you aren’t using Exchange but that’s rare for a Windows Phone user.

Exchange also doesn’t help you locate the phone if you can’t find it. Luckily, Windows offers a solution here: however, you still have to set up a Windows ID first. It will also allow a basic device wipe for non-Exchange users.

Apple is the most well-known solution with its iCloud and Find My iPhone service.  The personal data synchronisation in iCloud isn’t particularly great. I would only ever trust it with contacts, possibly calendars and some documents. “Photo Stream” and “iTunes Match/iTunes in the Cloud” takes care of the rest of the tricky stuff and turning on iCloud backup of your device is definitely worth doing to backup all the niggly little bits that sit outside of the classic sync services.  You would find Office 365 or a Google Account does a better job of synchronising your email, calendars, contacts and tasks.

However, Find My iPhone is truly brilliant. It enables you to locate your device wherever it might be. Not only does it show you where it is on a map, you can also trigger an audible alert on the device, PIN code lock it, send a message to the screen (“please return to me for a £50 reward, no questions asked”) or remote wipe all the data. With the iPhone 5 on iOS 6, you can even make it ring you back!

A client was able to work with us to track his iPhone travelling down a road every few seconds (on its way to the police station, in fact). We sent a message to the phone and it was returned to the owner within fifteen minutes

BlackBerry has remote wipe built into their BES serversbut not device tracking. If you don’t have a BES server and/or want device tracking, BlackBerry Protect is for you. It offers cloud backup via Wi-Fi, device tracking and wiping. So it has benefits for every BlackBerry user. Even better, like iCloud, it’s free! Here’s the home page for Protect and it’s really easy to set up with your BlackBerry ID.

Android is a bit trickier, as there is nothing “out of the box” to do it. However Where’s My Droid should tick the security boxes, with services like Dropbox and Google Drive taking care of document sync. 

There are also some alternatives here: http://www.tested.com/how-to/3743-how-to-remote-wipe-data-on-an-android-phone/

So now you know how to secure the data on your mobile phones and tablets, your valuable data should be as secure as possible.

If you are sitting there and thinking, “I know I should but I don’t have the confidence to do it”, get in touch (rob@carphonecompany.com) and we can help you do it.  For a call-out fee, we’ll make sure it’s backed up, there’s no data loss and you have peace of mind going forwards. 

Wimbledon’s no longer washed out: make sure your phone isn’t

Last July, we covered how to protect your phone from water damage as part of our roaming/holiday update. The current wet weather (and Centre Court’s roof keeping play continuing) made me think an update was in order. 

What’s changed since last year?

The general advice of sensible usage and ensuring you understand how you get charged hasn’t changed. However, in the past couple of months, the EU regulatory changes have certainly altered the landscape for using your mobile in Europe.

On O2, the new “O2 Travel” service has become the default option. For almost every user, it’s a better choice than paying as you go: hence why it is the default setting. Unless you receive a very high volume of incoming calls or make very short calls when you use the phone in the EU, O2 Travel is better value.

On Vodafone, the new Euro Traveller option is not the default option and careful analysis needs to be made to make sure the deal fits your usage. I would define the simple “back of a postage stamp” calculation as: if you are happy to spend £35 plus VAT to use your mobile for a two week holiday in the EU, Euro Traveller is for you. It removes the risk of bill shock by using your UK inclusive allowance so if your current UK allowance suits you, there is no need to alter how you use the mobile when abroad on Euro Traveller.

Check out our last two blogs for full details of how the propositions work financially and the network web pages are below

http://www.o2.co.uk/international/o2-travel/business

http://www.vodafone.co.uk/business/price-plans/working-abroad/eurotraveller/index.htm

The updated blog

As it’s approaching holiday season, we felt it was time to share the tips and tricks to save a fortune and protect your phone from harm when taking it away on holiday.

One of the things you learn in school science is that oil and water don’t mix. When it comes to mobiles, I would say that sand/water and mobiles don’t mix! What do you tend to gravitate towards when on holiday, sand and water!

Our biggest tip is to stick your phone in a sandwich bag when heading to the beach. A rogue grain of sand can scratch a phone screen: if it gets under the plastic lens, it can crack the LCD screen. The classic sandwich bag with a Ziploc or press seal pretty much stops this from happening. As a side benefit, it also makes the phone moderately splash proof. I wouldn’t go swimming with it in a bag but it offers a degree of protection that it isn’t going to get without it.

If it does get wet, turn it off, take it apart (if the handset allows you to) and immerse in a bowl of dry rice for 24 hours. Silica gel (the stuff you find in little white bags with DO NOT EAT on it) is even better at drying out moisture but that’s not the kind of thing you can easily get down the supermarket. We have a more detailed guide we can email you; just email us.

If you get in touch and are one of the first fifty to respond, we will even send you a sandwich bag to protect your phone for you. We will need your full postal address though.

If you are really clumsy and expect to have a water bound problem, get one of these in advance of your trip. http://www.save-a-phone.co.uk/

So now your phone is safe, let’s stop it costing a fortune when abroad.

Tip 1

Do you need to take it abroad? If you leave it at home, it can’t run up roaming charges! Plus you get guaranteed peace and quiet from the office.

Tip 2

Switch off your voicemail. Every time you pick up a voicemail, it’s a roamed call. Outside the EU, you are charged when the voicemail is left too! Dial 1760 on O2 to do this or 1210 on Vodafone to turn it off. Dial 1750 or 1211 to switch on when back home.

Tip 3

Whenever you can, use text. It’s often cheaper than making a call and receiving an SMS is free when roaming.

Tip 4

Turn off data roaming. It’s potentially very expensive and can rack up huge bills in no time. In the EU, there is a £40 data cap in place to control costs if your tariff doesn’t override it.

Tip 5

Ask us about various add-on’s the networks offer to reduce roaming costs. Our last two blog posts cover the new rates from O2 and Vodafone. As a general rule of thumb, the more you use the handset when abroad, the better your options are.  

We can add services to reduce calls in certain countries, offer inclusive roamed calls or add inclusive roamed data. Just get in touch well before you go and we can advise on the best route to take.

Tip 6

If there’s local or free WiFi, use it. Use it for email, data and look into using Skype or Facetime to make calls as it is free to call Skype to Skype.

Follow all of these and you can enjoy your holiday without a risk of bill shock with a phone that should return in one piece.

O2 roaming rates are changing

On July 1st, the EU is implementing regulatory changes on the cost of calls, SMS and data whilst roaming in the EU. This means that the major networks are altering their propositions: as with any change, you need to take care and analyse the options to see if there are real benefits. Mobile tariffs and contracts are full of clauses that perform “smoke and mirror” tricks.

OR

You could read on further and we have done the hard work for you! There’s a huge history of old tariff options on O2: One Rate 300, International Traveller Service, Discount Country, My Europe Extra, Chosen Country Spain and International Favourites are just a sample of the past options.

It’s impossible to cover every scenario in a blog to compare what you may have now and what the new options are offering. The safest route is to get in touch and arrange some time to explore the best solution together. You can still keep any of the old options but cannot access the new stuff without retiring all of the old options on your account.

What can be covered though is the top level understanding of the new Europe only proposition: O2 Travel. It breaks down in to the classic three elements: calls, SMS and data.

Calls

  • 42p ex VAT per call to receive a call with up to 60m free on that call. 30p per minute after the first 60m.
  • 42p ex VAT per call to make a call to UK or Europe with up to 60m deducted from UK allowance per call. 30p per minute after 60m.

Texts

  • 9p ex VAT per text sent to the UK or Europe, free to receive.

Data

  • £1.66 ex VAT for 25MB of data usage per day in Europe.

“So Rob, that seems great but what does it actually mean and how do I choose if it’s good for me?” I have simplified the key indicators as follows. Ask yourself or research if your usage matches the following statements (if unsure, contact me to help you find the answers from your billing).

  1. If your average outgoing call duration whilst roaming in Europe is over two minutes, O2 Travel is cheaper.
  2. If your average incoming call duration whilst roaming in Europe is over seven minutes, O2 Travel is cheaper.
  3. If you have a smartphone (not a BlackBerry) that has any moderate level of use when roaming in Europe, O2 Travel is cheaper.
  4. If you have a BlackBerry that has any moderate level of use when roaming in Europe, O2 Travel is possibly cheaper.

If you match more than one of the first three options and have no special add-on’s for roaming in Europe, O2 Travel is almost certainly for you.  It would be prudent to make/receive infrequent long calls to maximise your value for money. There are certain ratios of incoming to outgoing calls that provide worse value but by understanding the basic rules, you can modify your usage to avoid this.

If you only match one of the first three, it’s still probably a good choice and offers more potential usage for less spend. If you match option 4 or have optional roaming bolt-on’s, it needs a bit more analysis to establish the best solution for your needs; get in touch to find out the best options for you.

What do you need to do?

If you think it’s a winner, email me (rob@carphonecompany.com) and let us make the changes on your account for you. We will  discuss/analyse your usage first to ensure it’s the correct route for you and whether an alternative option is better.

If you are unsure, email me (rob@carphonecompany.com) and let us discuss/analyse your usage to establish the correct route for you.

Even if you aren’t a current mobile client but want to explore what benefits there are for your business, please get in touch. You may be able to access a better all-round deal via us and access our knowledge.

Anything to be wary of?  

This only applies to mobile phones with voice, not data cards (dongle, iPad, MiFi)

Vodafone roaming rates are changing

UPDATED Vodafone roaming rates are changing

On July 1st, the EU is implementing regulatory changes on the cost of calls, SMS and data whilst roaming in the EU. This means that the major networks are altering their propositions: as with any change, you need to take care and analyse the options to see if there are real benefits. Mobile tariffs and contracts are full of clauses that perform “smoke and mirror” tricks.

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You could read on further and we have done the hard work for you! There’s a huge history of old tariff options on Vodafone: Passport, World, European Data Traveller, roamed data bundles and Vodafone Europe Bundle are just a sample of the past options.

It’s impossible to cover every scenario in a blog to compare what you may have now and what the new options are offering. The safest route is to email me and arrange some time to explore the best solution together. You can still keep any of the old options but cannot access the new stuff without retiring all of the old options on your account and possibly moving to the latest Vodafone tariffs.  If you use data abroad at all when in Europe, you need to discuss the impact of these changes: please get in touch, you may need to alter your usage to control your costs.

What can be covered though is the top level understanding of the new Europe only proposition: Euro Traveller. It breaks down very easily: pay £2.50 ex VAT per day to use your UK allowance for the following three elements in Europe: calls, SMS and data.

Calls

  • Outgoing calls deduct from your UK call allowances (excludes One Net allowances).
  • Voicemail retrieved from UK call allowance.
  • Incoming calls are free 

Texts

  • Outgoing SMS deduct from your UK call allowances. Excludes MMS.

Data

  • Data taken from UK core allowance.

“So Rob, that seems great but what does it actually mean and how do I choose if it’s good for me?” I have simplified the key indicators as follows. Ask yourself ,or research, the answers to the following questions/statements (if unsure, contact me to help you find the answers from your billing).

Do you have Vodafone Passport?

If yes, see 1,2,3 and 4 below: if no, go to section “No Passport?”

  1. If you make on average more than four outgoing calls per day whilst roaming in Europe, you need Euro Traveller and will have to change tariff to access it.
  2. If, on average, your total received/incoming call duration per day is less than thirty eight minutes whilst roaming in Europe, you need Euro Traveller and will have to change tariff to access it.
  3. If you have a smartphone (not a BlackBerry) that has any moderate level of use when roaming in Europe, you need Euro Traveller and will have to change tariff to access it.
  4. If you have a BlackBerry that has more than 4MB of daily use when roaming in Europe, you need Euro Traveller and will have to change tariff to access it.

This isn’t a shopping list: if you match pretty much any of the above options, Euro Traveller works for your needs.  It works even if you only partially match a couple of the options. If you only make a couple of calls, use a MB or two of data and receive one call per day, Euro Traveller still works out cheaper than Passport.

Your safest option?  Get in touch and we will check your usage over for you and ensure it’s the right decision.

“No Passport?”

If you don’t have Passport on your tariff, it’s an even easier choice. Do you have a smartphone or not? If so, what make is it?

  1. If you have a smartphone (not a BlackBerry) that has any moderate level of use when roaming in Europe, you need Euro Traveller and may have to change tariff to access it.
  2. If you have a BlackBerry that has more than 4MB of daily use when roaming in Europe, you need Euro Traveller and may have to change tariff to access it.

If you don’t have a smartphone, it’s easy too.

  1. If you make over ten minutes of outgoing calls per day, you need Euro Traveller
  2. If you receive over thirty eight minutes of calls per day, you need Euro Traveller. 

Again, if you mix and match the usage, Euro Traveller is often the best mix: only six minutes of outgoing (£1.44) and sixteen minutes of incoming calls (£1.06) still works out the same or better. Put simply, the more calls you make, the more likely Euro Traveller is likely to work better for you.

What do you need to do next?

If you think it’s a winner, email me (rob@carphonecompany.com) and let us make the changes on your account for you. We will discuss/analyse your usage first to ensure it’s the correct route for you and whether an alternative option is better for you.

If you are unsure, email me (rob@carphonecompany.com) and let’s discuss/analyse your usage to establish the correct route for you.

Even if you aren’t a current mobile client but want to explore what benefits there are for your business, please get in touch: you may be able to access a better all-round deal via us and access our knowledge.

Anything to be wary of?

Some newer tariffs may increase the basic rental costs on your bill: this has to be considered against the benefits of the Euro Traveller options. This will of course factor into the analysis performed for any current clients by Car Phone Company Limited.

This only applies to mobile phones with voice, not data cards (dongle, iPad, MiFi)

Once you ditch the old tariffs, there’s no going back!

Other details you may need

Here’s a map of where it can work

The £2.50 (excl. VAT) daily charge is triggered by the following:

  • Making a call.
  • Initiation of a data session (above 50Kb usage).
  • Sending an SMS.
  • Retrieving a Voicemail.

Usage outside of allowance will be charged at the current domestic out of bundle rate.

The following do not trigger the £2.50 (excl. VAT) charge:

  • Answering a call.
  • A call that is not answered or where a Voicemail is left.
  • Data under 50Kb usage (to allow for background data activity).
  • A call to 191.
  • Use of extras not part of core tariff (e.g. Premium numbers).
Why the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee made me think about voicemail

With the upcoming long Bank Holiday weekend, my thoughts turned to how many people use the bank holidays to get more bang from their holiday allowance buck. One of the biggest challenges when off work is how to handle mobile voicemail.

Even if you announce “I’m away, it’s unmonitored and please call A.N. Other person,” that additional call may never happen and often you come back to a mailbox full of messages that may or may not be answered or dealt with. This week’s app/service solves that problem and a load more: Hullomail.

Hullomail

We stumbled upon Hullomail when looking for Visual Voicemail alternatives for the iPhone. Visual Voicemail is brilliant: play messages in any order, rewind, and pause them. However, it only works on the iPhone on O2. What about other networks or other phones? Well, Hullomail works on Android, BlackBerry and iPhone. The basic service is free and it’s much better than the inbuilt iPhone voicemail.

How come? Well, it’s cross platform so more people can get its benefits. The mailbox is centralised so your iPhone, iPad and Blackberry could all access the same messages and get the same alerts. You choose which device you use to interact with it and it doesn’t have to be a phone. It can email the voicemails and alerts to you so you don’t even need your phone. (I’ll come back to this later.) 

It picks up missed calls even if the caller doesn’t leave a message, so you never miss an incoming call.

You can upgrade to have personal greetings per person. That’s right, you can announce “Hi John from AB Company, sorry I missed you call, I’ll be right back to you.” How special will that make a caller feel? 

It can also upgrade to Scribe services: “Get the Gist” sends the first ten seconds of the message as a text file so even when you can’t listen to the message, you can get an idea of  who and what it’s about. 

So how does it solve the holiday voicemail issue? If you are using the “email the voicemail to you” service, you can forward that email on…

You can write an incoming mail rule in Outlook in server based environments (if you aren’t in that environment, why aren’t you? It’s from only £4 a month per user on Office 365 and Car Phone Company offers a free trial). So how do I do that?

  • Select “Create a new rule in” in the Office 2010 ribbon or right click an email from Hullomail and select “Create Rule”.
  • Write a rule that runs on any email that comes from noreply@hullomail.com.
  • Tell the rule to forward those mails to another user who is covering for you.
  • As soon as the Hullomail voicemail message is emailed to you, the email forwards on to whoever is covering for you, sound file, number dialling and all!
  • Plus you can also write a second rule so that the message moves from your inbox to another folder, ready for you to review when you get back. 

If you need help on rules, get in touch: you can also create rules in webmail such as Gmail, Yahoo mail and Hotmail.  

It also means that you can keep email as evidence of orders, special messages you want to keep for business/sentimental reasons or use to forward on to the police if you have abusive callers.

The ability to save, forward and manage voicemail as individual files is an amazing tool. Maybe you could use it to enhance your CRM system and details stored on client interactions. Maybe it can massively speed up your business processes and delivery to clients. Maybe it just makes a few days off a lot less stressful and easier when you get back! 

Give it a try, you can always turn off the service if it doesn’t suit you, but once tried, it’s hard to imagine a different way. And if you have a Blackberry or Android phone, you can have one less thing for the iPhone users to brag about with you.