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Ding Dong Dumbbell

Turns out it's relatively painless to replace a lost mobile, especially if you have insurance.

I knew that my phone dropped out of my cargo pants yesterday morning on the way to Victoria Station. It was early, and Larry was "driving", so clearly we were in a cab. I *always* check the cab when I get out, but it was early and I hadn't had coffee and blah blah blah.

I called the phone a number of times during the day, and it rang and rang (so I knew it was still turned on) but no answer. I'm pretty sure I didn't have it on silent mode, but you never know with me. Before I turned in for the night, I had to get the phone turned off. No point in paying for someone else's calls till the fully-charged battery wore out.

To replace the phone, the first thing you have to do is bar the old handset with your provider. This only caused me minor apprehension when I misunderstood the accent on the recording that told me I had to "buy" the old handset. Hadn't I already done that?

Easy enough and accents be damned. The handset, and the SIM card, (both previously purchased and accounted for) have been barred.

Next step is a trip to the Police station to fill out a lost/stolen report. I love going to police stations. They're like hospitals, but without that refreshing smell of disinfectant. I'd already gotten the requisite IMEI from Carphone Warehouse, so I wandered off to my local Met to file said report. It was easy as getting arrested, despite a my school-boy's assimilation error.

She asked me if I knew how I lost it, and I said, full of morning cheer and caffeine, "Sure do, it fell out of my pants yesterday morning." I heard my mistake before it came out of my mouth.

She smiled and said, "Trousers?"

So I got my report filed in less than five minutes, and now have a receipt from the Metropolitan Police Service which says: "Name of Loser: Bob M________". Nice.

I am the loser.

Next off is a quick jaunt back home, to call Lifeline ... the phone company's insurance company. I bought the policy when I got the phone last January and the coverage lasts for the entire 18-month contract.

Surely they won't be open on a bank holiday.

As sure as I am the loser, I am wrong. The guy on the phone is lovely. Not bitter at all that he's working while the rest of England lallygags. Or maybe he's just drinking. Scottish, you know, and they're separating anyway.

We go through the requisite Q&As. He;s being really chipper and friendly and then, when we get to the end of the survey, he says, "do you know your policy has lapsed?"

Erm, no.

"I thought it was covered until the contract expired," I said.

"Yes, but you have to pay for it."

"Didn't I pay the whole premium when I bought the phone?" I asked.

He informed me that it was billed quarterly and they'd not gotten a payment since last October. Readers with elephant-like minds will recall that's about when HSBC decided (for the first of two times) I didn't exist anymore and canceled all my direct debits. I thought we'd gotten all those reinstated. Apparently not.

Nice Scottish boy says, "Sorry mate, not much I can do."

Cheers, thanks a lot.

I explained the bank issue asked if we could back pay the premiums, but the situation proved to be quelle Vicomte Sébastien de Valmont, "beyond (his) control."

Oh well. That will does not kill us gives reason to remember why we love the Lexapro. I wandered off to my local Carphone Warehouse (they're conveniently located on every corner in central London, right next to a Starbucks) to correct my communication condition.

Hmmm, my contract doesn't expire till the end of July, so they can't upgrade me. Apparently there's a month-long window prior to your expiry where they'll work with you, and it's at least six weeks till they even open the shutters on that window.

Han, my able Asian assistant ponders for a bit, applies more product to his crazy look-how-high-I-can-spike-it hair, and tells me my best option is to buy a new SIM card with my existing carrier (02), and get a cheap(ish) replacement phone on a Pay-As-You-Go plan (the cheapest being Orange). I don't need to use the PAYG SIM, just use the new handset and a recoded SIM until I upgrade my contract in 6 weeks. Then I'd have a spare phone for the next time things go pear-shaped (as opposed to the pineapple shape of Han's coiffure).

It only cost me about 70 quid, and, as I said to Han, "it was probably easier and faster than waiting for the insurance company to file a claim and mail me a replacement."

"Um, not really," he said. "We just look up the claim on the computer and give you a new phone from our stock. Takes about 5 minutes."


My next rationalization is that the replacement phone and SIM card didn't cost *much* more than the premiums would have if the direct debits had gone through.

Cool. And, bonus, I now have an Orange account so I can get 2-4-1 film tickets on Wednesdays.

Cinema, anyone?

So I'm sorted.

:: :: ::

A couple hours later the home phone rings.

"Hiya mate, this is the taxi driver. I think I have your phone from yesterday. Who are you and where do you live?"

I tell him B2 and he says, "Really? I'm right near there, be over in a couple minutes."

Ten minutes later, I've got the lost phone back, and cool cabbie is happy with a tip of a bottle of Pouilly Fume and a tenner. I only use white wine to get the red wine stains out of the carpet.

All's well that ends well. Oh sure, I suppose I could take the new phone back and explain, but it's raining and I've got a lesson plan to write. Besides, now I have a spare phone for the overseas houseguests who don't want to pay roaming charges on their own phones (if they even have their own phones). We really are a full-service B&B. And how much fun is it to say "just top it up."

Unless, of course, anybody wants to buy a brand new Sony Erickson Z530i.