Half-price offers! The one that interests me is the 18-month contract for 3â€™s USB E160G modem dongle with 5 gigs bandwidth allowance per month for just Â£7.50 instead of the usual Â£15.
This is similar to the broadband modem I had on free loan from 3 and 3mobilebuzz earlier this year to try out, and I liked it and 3â€™s service a lot.
I needed no urging to sign up for this â€“ itâ€™s a very good deal for the price. So I go to 3â€™s website to buy it online.
Thatâ€™s when I fell at the first hurdle. Actually, more like a brick wall.
I couldnâ€™t fill in some of the information on the online order form which asked for my address information as it only let me input things like UK postcodes. So I couldn’t enter my address in The Netherlands from two yearsâ€™ ago.
So I go onto web chat. First attempt failed as the message I got was the service was too busy and to email instead. Email? So much for spontaneity.
I tried again a bit later and got connected via text messaging to a customer service agent.
And here was the brick wall: No, sorry, we canâ€™t accept your order as you havenâ€™t been resident in the UK at a UK address for three years or more.
Excuse me? I said. Surely I cannot be the only UK citizen youâ€™ve dealt with whoâ€™s lived abroad for some years and who returned home less than three years ago, and who meets all other criteria, eg, UK bank account, credit cards, etc.
But that was it â€“ I couldnâ€™t be a customer of 3 because Iâ€™ve not been living in the UK for at least three years.
A pity, I thought. Weâ€™re moving next week; Virgin Media wonâ€™t have hooked up cable broadband in our new place yet so having a mobile broadband option would be very useful meanwhile.
So while I was thinking about giving Vodafone a call – they are the people with whom Iâ€™ve had my mobile phone contract for the past two years – an email arrived from 3.
â€œWe miss you already,â€ it said, clearly in reference to my aborted attempt to become a 3 mobile broadband customer.
The email actually intrigued me (it didnâ€™t piss me off like a marketing email from Dell did earlier this month), maybe because of its immediacy and obvious connection to what Iâ€™d tried to do on 3â€™s website a bit earlier.
I decided to call the toll-free number in the email and ask them about this brick wall I encountered on their website.
According to the helpful Heather I spoke to, it turns out that what the online customer service agent should have told me is that I couldnâ€™t do my order online because the process there is geared wholly to would-be customers providing their personal info related to the UK, eg, UK postcodes, etc.
She then should have suggested I call 3 if I do wish to become a customer, and do it all over the phone.
Anyway, in less than three minutes (all these 3s!) on the phone, my contract was approved and Iâ€™m expecting the dongle to arrive tomorrow.
So a bit of a disconnect between 3â€™s e-commerce website for ordering, and the efficient human beings on the end of their sales phone line.
As someone who does just about everything online, itâ€™s an example to me that the real human touch can count most.
My recommendation if you want to deal with 3 â€“ phone them!