Has anyone out there made a phone call to an official anywhere without hassle? I am asking because I am sure many others have had similar problems.

I had to make a phone call to a UK government office today. But let me backtrack a little.

Mobile Phones

Like most people these days, the husband and I have a mobile phone each and have had for years, the same numbers, no matter who the provider was, and know them by heart. Our most recent phone contract included a landline, so we took the handset for that too but had never needed to use it, and it sat on the ledge, unused, gathering dust. At some point in its sad little life, it got left out in the rain and wouldn’t work anymore, so it got binned. The reason it got left out in the first place is a bit bizarre – if it buzzed, beeped or rang, one of our dogs went bonkers, and to save our sanity we left it outside so we could get a good night’s sleep without interruption, and it sat out there forgotten for weeks under a towel or something, by which time it was dead, beyond help.


Out of the blue, I recently had an ‘official’ call to make, mentioned above, and suspected an 0800 number on either of the mobile phones would either eat up all our data or cost a fortune in charges. Nevertheless, we had gaily been paying for the landline without twigging that we didn’t even have a device for it anymore, and therefore needed to get a new one.

I hotfooted down to the shopping centre, and got in the queue to talk to someone in our service provider shop about getting a new device, and even though I hadn’t got the original SIM card (binned with the soggy phone) we were still paying for it, so could I please have a new handset and a replacement SIM card thank you.

After much tapping and staring at a computer screen, it was confirmed yes to both the handset and, not only a new SIM card, but one with the original number. Then came the hitch - as I personally wasn’t actually mentioned on the bill as the ‘bill payer’ they would only give the SIM card to my husband, who was, so I went home, collected the protesting bill payer husband and returned to the shop, so he could physically receive the card in his hot sticky hand from them.

Credits: envato elements;

Dreaded Call

So now we had the phone, and the SIM card, and I could make the dreaded call. It was dreaded as I just knew I would be hanging on, listening to the same few bars of music over and over again, and the recorded message ‘we know you are waiting and your call is important to us, so please hold’, or something similar, while I waited to be connected to the right person - and sure enough I did, having pressed 3 and 5 numerous times trying to get through to a real human, and being cut off completely at one point. Eventually, I got through to a very helpful young man who understood what I wanted, and the question has been answered.

So now the new handset will be back on the ledge, gathering dust until it’s needed again. Or gets binned.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan