We’ve been covering the unfortunate liquidation of Carphone Warehouse’s network, iD Mobile in recent weeks. It’s a massive shake-up to the Irish mobile landscape and to date we’ve been focused on what this means for bill pay customers. Any company shutting down sucks and there are real repercussions for the iD Mobile staff. There are also repercussions for their customers including those on prepay plans.

iD Mobile Prepaid Customers Stuck With Credit

We had an iD Mobile customer get in touch with us on Facebook outlining the conundrum that faced him. As a prepaid customer, he had regularly topped up his phone with prepaid credit and had accrued over €150 in credit. He was then given thirty days notice that iD Mobile would cease to exist on 6 April 2018 and he should move his number or risk losing it forever. The problem is that when you move your prepaid number to another network, you lose your credit; that’s €150 worth of service this customer had paid for they would never get.

To be fair, customers who chose to change network in a Carphone Warehouse store were being offered €20 store credit which might cover a single top up, a pair of headphones or a phone case. Personally, when I moved from iD I went for the Chromecast; I’m a sucker for gadgets but am very aware I ended up falling into that lovely trap of doing exactly what they hoped would happen – spending more than the €20 voucher!

Look, I’m happy enough getting a new Chromecast for €20 and it sure beats paying twice that for a second hand one in CeX!

Our Facebook Community Has A Plan

Ok, so back to that customer with €150 worth of credit. Before the announcement of the liquidation, they would have thought they had years to use up that credit. Now, faced with 30 days to burn it up, they got in touch with us on Facebook. Another Goosed reader had a great suggestion; rather than lose the credit, donate it all to charity. Most Irish charities will let you donate by texting a word to 50300. For example, you can text DAFF to 50300 and donate €4 to the Irish Cancer Society.

While this would leave the customer out of pocket and they would have to sit down for the evening sending a few texts to their charity of choice, few would argue against this being a better idea than letting the credit go to waste. We’ve seen plenty of people sharing charities on Twitter and Facebook pages asking iD mobile customers to donate their leftover credit to worthy causes.

Unfortunately, this plan wouldn’t work.

50300 Charity Numbers Don’t Work On iD Mobile

I personally tested out a few charities on my iD Mobile bill pay plan before I moved network and noticed I wasn’t getting any confirmation messages about my donation. During testing, I noticed that nearly every charity uses the same phone number, 50300, but requires a different word. The word decides which charity your donation goes to. I was left with two thoughts as to what could be causing this

  1. MVNOs can’t contact premium numbers like 50300
  2. iD Mobile never set up 50300 to process donations

Can MVNOs Use Premium Numbers?

I assumed the best and starting with the thought that iD Mobile, as an MVNO, simply couldn’t process premium numbers like 50300. At first, this appeared to be possible with Lycamobile informing us that they didn’t support premium numbers at all. Then Virgin Media threw a cat amongst the pigeons with one of the Virgin Media customer care guys informing us they have no problem at all in process charitable donations through 50300.

Crap.

Was iD Mobile Setup To Use Charity Numbers?

I got in touch with the company that provides this service to Irish charities: LIKECHARITY. I asked them if iD mobile customers were able to donate via text message or if they could offer some alternative. LIKECHARITY told us that “iD Mobile never asked to set up on [their] service” and “there is no way to process donations from iD mobile” phone numbers.

Which all seems a little unfair. First of all, it’s unfair that customers will not be refunded their credit. They’ve paid for a service they won’t get and iD Mobile, or Dixons Carphone or Carphone Warehouse, whoever it is, is shortchanging them. I got in touch with ComReg who confirmed that it’s impossible to refund prepaid credit and iD Mobile was within their rights to simply let existing credit expire. Frustrating as that is, I can accept it.

What I think is a real shame for the network and indeed is a shame for Lycamobile too, is a lack of support for LIKECHARITY in what seems to be sheer laziness. While I understand LIKECHARITY is a business in itself, they do generate vast sums of money for charity; over €7 million since 2012 according to a spokesperson from the company.

iD Mobile had around 40k customers. That’s 40k customers who were unable to donate to worthy charities through a very popular method; SMS. We were in touch with iD Mobile Ireland and some of their team on Twitter, Carphone Warehouse and the PR company who managed Dixons Carphone’s public handling of the liquidation. While I appreciate everyone taking the time to help us with our questions, the result was negative. Those prepay customers won’t be able to donate their leftover credit to charity.

iD Mobile: The Prepaid Pity

Right now, it kind of makes sense that no one can get this set up. The network is in liquidation and technically not even owned by Dixons Carphone anymore, the parent group for Carphone Warehouse and iD Mobile. The network is now owned by the liquidator and they’ll hardly want to see payments owed to LIKECHARITY heading out of the iD Mobile coffers. However, the question remains why the network never made the effort to get charitable donation numbers setup for customers to avail. It also begs the question how many customers think they’ve made donations over the years and didn’t receive a confirmation or error message.

If you’re a Lycamobile customer, it’s worth noting you cannot donate to charities through 50300.

If you’re an iD Mobile customer, the clock is ticking and really time is up. If you haven’t moved yet, you need to move before April 6th or you’ll risk losing your number. I’m afraid it doesn’t look like you’re getting your credit back nor will you be able to spend it. And that’s the prepaid pity.

 

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