For reasons rather complex and difficult to understand I found myself in a void between ending an O2 contract and starting a Vodafone contract with the promise of an iPhone 5 from Phones4u. Needless to say Phones4u couldn’t keep its promise to deliver me an iPhone 5 in 5 working days (no other provider could promise more than 3-4 weeks but good old Phones4u were adamant 5 working days)!) So I ended up back with O2 with my iPhone 4 on “Pay As You Go” while I waited.

Wow what an experience! If you work in the digital inclusion field and, like me, you have always been on good contracts so you have never had to worry about how long you talk or how many texts you send you should try it. What an eye opener.

For the first couple of days after I put my first £10 on I used it quite a bit but after each call or text I got a message saying how much credit I had left. I couldn’t believe how fast my credit ran out and eventually resorted to phoning people and saying “I ‘m on pay as you go phone me back” eventually I could say this without a gap between the words and without breath.

It didn’t help too much because it was only a couple of days before my next £10 went on and I resorted to “callbacknow” as my standard opening line to people I called. I also found I had to pay to access my answerphone as well so listening to long rambling messages became bad for my stress levels.

After 4 weeks I gave up, cancelled my order with Phones4u, who were still sticking by the line that the demand for the iPhone5 was unprecedented and unexpected and they hadn’t promised me a 5 day delivery just to get me to sign up. I settled for an iPhone 4s and signed up with Vodafone as quickly as possible.

I have spent the last 12 years working in the digital inclusion arena in one way or another and have heard so much about how smartphones or even just a mobile are a route to tackling digital, and therefore, social exclusion.

Forget it. I have been trying to find out what percentage of mobile phone users are on pay as you go rather than contract but have been unsuccessful. If anyone can point me to the answer please let me know. Certainly most of the learners I tutor at the WEA are on pay as you go and are on low incomes.

It seems to me that this is yet another example of those in society who are least able to afford something being the one’s who pay the most. If you haven’t a bank account to set up direct debits then you pay the most for your electricity, gas, water and mobile phone.

I honestly fail to see how mobile phone companies justify the extortionate costs for pay as you go but I am listening if any of them want to explain.