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Thursday, May 14, 2015

My experience in using one2free prepaid Mobile Broadband SIM in Hong Kong

I am a regular visitor to Hong Kong and in every visit, I purchase a prepaid mobile broadband data SIM for my Huawei pocket modem to provide Internet service to me. I am no stranger to this kind of SIM as I have used in the past various types of 3HK Data SIM. So after reading so many glowing remarks about the one2free's prepaid mobile broadband SIM, I have decided to give it a test ride this time.

I did some preliminary investigation prior to the visit via their e-mail customer service which I may say is rather responsive by comparison. It would be nicer if they have 3HK's online chat service.

On the whole, I am rather pleased with the performance, the cost, the responsiveness of the customer service which I had to use quite a lot, as you will see, during my stay. Unfortunately, their responsiveness is tarnished somewhat by their answers which clearly indicate that they are let down by their organisation.

Now, with the good bits out of the way, let's go through the bad bits.

Foremost is their web site which is devoid of any useful and helpful information. It would be more helpful if their web site provides some form of instructions in using their services. Such as what happen if you buy the $100 starter kit, what rate will you be charged at. What about the steps to buy the 30-Day Pass with 3GB quota for someone what has not used your product before? What happen when one uses up the quota but still within the 30 days? Will the connection speed be shaped?

In my case, I want to use the 3GB 30-day pass, which according to the published information will cost me HK$148.00. To subscribe to that, one needs to load the prepaid SIM with at least (preferably more) that that amount. At the shop where I purchased the kit, they did not have $50 top up voucher instead they only had $100 voucher which means my SIM card is loaded with $200 and after paying for the 30-Day pass, it has a balance of $52.00.

No where in their web site explaining this and what happens to that balance. For those wanting to go down this path, here is the treatment of the balance.

The 30-Day pass expires after 30 days from the day of subscription. CSL will immediately deduced that amount from your card on subscription. Hence you must load your card up with sufficient amount before you can punch in the code to select the day pass. The amount remaining can be use for other purposes such as making calls or to contribute towards next day pass purchase. It does not expire until 6 months after the activation or from your last top up. In other words, your prepaid SIM card is valid for 6 months as long as there is sufficient fund to pay for the monthly government charges, which is HK$2.

Unless you do not have other SIM to make voice call, this SIM charges (HK$0.3/min) 3 times as much as other CSL SIM ($0.1/min).

The next area of great disappointment is how to monitor the data usage. Their web site for the prepaid starter kit contains wrong and misleading information.

While that site is for the Prepaid Mobile Broadband SIM, the login button is not intended for Prepaid mobile and I only found this out after the event.

This web site expects the user to possess certain degree of psychic to realise that. I was misled by this page and unsuccessfully to get a password or to reset it by following the online link. Out of desperation, I inserted the data SIM into a mobile phone and used the *777 code to successfully reset the 6-digit password for my SIM. The system acknowledges the request and echoes back the password (very security conscious).

Next, armed with my SIM's mobile number and the password, I pressed the login button on that web page. Rather than telling me that my SIM cannot use 'My Account' to manage my usage, it throws a Java Exception message:
type Exception report


description The server encountered an internal error () that prevented it from fulfilling this request.


 LoginRedirect.doPost(Unknown Source)
 sun.reflect.GeneratedMethodAccessor57.invoke(Unknown Source)
 java.security.AccessController.doPrivileged(Native Method)

note The full stack trace of the root cause is available in the Sun-Java-System/Application-Server logs.

Nice? Have they ever tested their program? Why doesn't the web page inform their user that the login page is not for Prepaid user? Surely, they have all the information to tell if the caller's SIM is a prepaid or not.

I raised this issue with the online support as well as visiting one of their customer service centres and was then told that that login button on the web page and "My Account" facility are not for Prepaid users. Surely their web designer can put that few words into their page to warn their user and even better, their program tests and traps that kind of exception and to inform their users in a more meaningful manner. It is not a big ask isn't it. More disturbingly, if that facility is not for prepaid user, why does *777 allows a number belonging to a prepaid SIM to reset password? So amateurish!

So after the visit, I discovered that as a NextG-Prepaid user, I should use this URL http://www.one2free.com/nextg-prepaid while connecting to the CSL using the one2free SIM. Using this URL, I have managed for the next 3 days to make a daily enquiry of my usage.

On the 4th day, when I used that URL, I was confronted with this web page:

Notice that the left hand pane tells me that this is a "My Account" facility, the very facility that I was told that it was not for me.

Not deterred and with a sense of adventure, I pressed the login link which sent me to https://prepaid.hkcsl.com/login with the following login page

The login page asks for the mobile number of the SIM and a password, which I duly use the one that I used the *777 code to reset. The system accepts my inputs and provides me access to my SIM's data. The data usage can be retrieved by pressing the "Promotional Bonus Details" link.

Notice this is a different web page as compared to the previous one via the NextG-Prepaid link.

I sought the customer service for an explanation of how I could access "My Account" when they told me that it is not for me to no avail. We ended up going around and around in circle. The customer service refuses to acknowledge that the URL https://prepaid.hkcsl.com/login is right for me despite being pointed out that the URL containing the word 'prepaid' to indicate that it is for prepaid users.

Even more interestingly is that I can access my prepaid SIM card detail using this URL without having to use a connection provided by CSL SIM while I need to use the one2free SIM in order to use the http://www.one2free.com/nextg-prepaid regardless successful or not. As an experiment, I have just connected to this https://prepaid.hkcsl.com/login some thousands miles away from Hong Kong.

After discovering that I can use this URL to monitor my data usage, I continue to use it ignoring any contradictory comments from the customer service. Incidentally this URL is not disclosed on any of the CSL web pages. It seems that there is a communication problem within the CSL on this issue.

Whatever it is, it is CSL's problem and they need to deal with it. I have supplied all the information, such as SIM card number, mobile number, and modem model. They need to improve their web site to make it more useful and helpful. Don't just throw figures and data on it. Test it with someone who is not a user of your system or product.

Teach your front line support personnel to slow down and take time to explain the various facets of your products. I know you know your products very well but your potential customers DON'T.

Test your web site with any non-sensible data and don't let your Java exception message leak out to the users. That is not an acceptable way to tell your user that they have entered something wrong.

To date, I still have not been offered a logical explanation why the link http://www.one2free.com/nextg-prepaid, I was instructed by the customer service to use, failed after 3 days. And that why I should not use https://prepaid.hkcsl.com/login which works but the customer service next acknowledges that I should use that.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful Internet service and despite all the above mentioned issues, it is still cheaper than 3HK's offering and I still will recommend it to other travelers. Just be prepared for some rough edges.

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