REVIEW: Problems with ‘An Post Mobile’ (a.ka. ‘Post Mobile’ previously ‘Postfone’)

14 December 2020
By Bryan Smyth
bryan@TheCork.ie

Conclusion:
“Once you are on the network Post Mobile might be wonderful, we simply cannot say! We didn’t get that far. Its staff seem nice, which is always a good start. Our delays in porting could well be due to an issue with our current network. Our main comment is that the hold times for the customer care number are not acceptable. They remind us of the old days when a telco was a state owned monopoly. Times have moved on: in a democratic marketplace customers will take their money elsewhere if a telco is too much hassle.”

If we believe what we read online then state-owned company ‘An Post’ in Ireland, gets praise (e.g. The Postman is great!) and hate mail in equal measure (e.g. Where’s my important parcel) every Christmas!

This review isn’t about the traditional; postal service, just the mobile phone service.

Review

An Post Mobile is a virtual network (MVNO – Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which re-sells whitelabel Vodafone services. This means that a users phone connects to Vodafone masts, but the only branding a user sees on a day to day basis is ‘An Post Mobile’.

The name for this ‘Network’ has changed over time from ‘Postfone’ when it was launched in 2010, to ‘Post Mobile’ in 2015 or to give it a fuller name from its logo; ‘An Post Mobile’.

We couldn’t port

We tried to port one of our phones to the network last week, but we could not. We intended reviewing the service, so we will simply review what we can from our experiences so far.

The process

First, it took about 7 working days for the SIM card to arrive, but we can forgive the Christmas post (which is another division of An Post). The envelope contained a SIM card but absolutely no instructions. As others mentioned in a thread on boards.ie it came from a fulfilment centre with a return address of “Fónua, Finch House, Dub Airport Bus Pk, St Mgts Rd, Finglas [Dublin]”.

After some Googling, we found this is a fulfilment centre possibly used by multiple networks. An Post Mobile appear to do business with them as the result of a tender. It is unusual to see a telco using a public tendering process for the fulfilment function, but parent company An Post is a state owned entity. It does seem like a step back in time to have a phone company owned by the state (In Ireland the legacy telco Telecom Éireann was privatised in 1999, and rebranded as Eircom). An Post are keen to diversify their business model into financial services, and other complementary areas which build on their existing nationwide network of Post Offices, and well-known brand name.

Anyhow, back to the timeline of the new customer joining process; The next happening was an audio call from an unknown number when a nice lady asked if we had received our SIM card in the post. We then needed to port (transfer) our number to the service. Most large operators allow a customer to do this self-service, but with Post Mobile, you must speak with a human, and herein lies the issue. The Irish based customer care number is open office hours on 1850 789 789 and appears to be overloaded. We noted wait times of upward of 25-45 minutes to speak with someone. The maximum call centre wait time – before a customer becomes irate – is around 90 seconds according to one website. The Post Mobile hold music is quite hypnotic, and perhaps we could push it to 5 minutes before our finger hovers over the red hangup button, but 25mins+ is too long.

Above: The Hold music now sounds familiar, after many minutes (Moral note: we actually recorded this in a separate short call just to hear the music again – because we would never record an actual conversation. This music is certainly better than the classic Cisco telephone system default hold music)

Either there are not enough staff generally, or perhaps there are, but the system is overloaded with new customers such as us. After much waiting, we spoke with a human who setup the port process. The member of staff was very knowledgeable.

Next came a text message a couple of days later from ‘An Post’ (with no actual sender number), asking that we text a random 087 number with our name, number, and desired date and time of port. We rang the number to check its bone fides (as there is currently a high profile AIB scam text in the news – never click that link in a text), but our audio call went to voice mail with a default message along the lines of; The Post Mobile customer at 087 555 5555 cannot take your call. We wanted to proceed so we sent the text.

Post Mobiles’ pricing is ok, but not amazing

The deal is the first month free then €15 per month as pre-pay only, for pretty much unlimited everything; calls to all networks (3,000 any network minutes and text per month), and data (50GB per month). The price point is competitive, yet could not be described as amazing. Rival brands ‘GoMo’ (an MVNO on the eir network) are around €12 per month for the same setup, and 48.ie (an MVNO on the three network) is around €8 per month.

A back door to Vodafone’s network

The attractiveness of An Post mobile is that it is the only MVNO on the Vodafone network, so it’s a cheap way to enjoy Vodafone’s reliable data and audio quality. If you deal directly with Vodafone the cheapest equivalent plan is €30 per month on prepay (or on bill pay it would be €25 for 6 months, increasing for €35 for the remaining 6 months, but you would be locked to Vodafone for 12 months, whereas prepay allows a move at any time).

Suggestions for Post Mobile

  • Create a self-service system to allow users to port their own numbers to your network
  • Add more staff to the call centre at 1850 789 789
  • Publish an email address on your website on a page with a sensible name like ‘Contact us’ so that customers have another means of contacting you apart from phone. When any contact link is pressed currently it goes to the mobile home page. The order confirmation email does not help as it comes from An Post general address irishstamps@anpost.ie. After much searching, buried within a settings page there is an email of care@anpostmobile.ie
  • Whenever reference is made to customer care provide both a phone and an email address. Currently, on the T&C page it says “17. Complaints (a) If you have an issue with any aspect of the Services, please call Customer Care from any other phone and we will do our best to resolve it.”, but the issue is that that number is too busy!
  • Spend a day googling about Irish phone networks, absorb the vibe. Add yourself to places you should be such as the switcher.ie list, plus add a mention of the Post Mobile service to the Wikipedia page for An Post. Ye need to be listed wherever your competitors are listed. Ye need to be in the conversation.

Customer sentiment

Searching for iterations of the brandname we find others have shared our negative experiences of trying to join the network:

Conclusion

3/10 stars = Avoid

Once you are on the network Post Mobile might be wonderful, we simply cannot say! We didn’t get that far. Its staff seem nice, which is always a good start. Our delays in porting could well be due to an issue with our current network. Our main comment is that the hold times for the customer care number are not acceptable. They remind us of the old days when a telco was a state owned monopoly. Times have moved on: in a democratic marketplace customers should take their money elsewhere if a telco is too much hassle.

As regards pricing alone; the best offer at the moment in the Irish marketplace is 48.ie, if you feel that the three network will provide good quality then we suggest you take your business there.

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