An Post have issued a press release on their new mobile phone top up facility available from Monday. Now aside from the fact that you won’t see any details on An Post’s own website for some time yet (even though press release has been released and is already getting media coverage), you can find details on the PostPoint website.
Traditionally, mobile top ups are a matter of purchasing a fixed increment (€10 or €20, usually) credit value from a shop who use their in-house PoS systems or their Credit Card validation machine. The customer gets a printed receipt with a code they then enter once they call their mobile phone provider’s top up number.
However, in An Post’s case, you’ll purchase a similar piece of paper with a code on it. You’ll have to text that code to a short code (a 5 digit number, rather than a full-length mobile number), and wait for a response, by text, giving you the actual code you need to use when calling your top up number. There’s no mention of any cost associated with the short-number text, or response text for that matter. Presumably both are free, but it’s not clarified anywhere.
Have you ever tried reading a text message while on a call? On some phones it’s not possible, on most phones it’s not an easy thing to do. Many people will resort to having to write down the number. An entirely unnecessary step (given that PostPoint branches are all interlinked and already have interconnects with other services like, say, AIB).
An Post do raise a valid positive point to the new service and that is that someone can buy a gift top up without needing to know what network the recipient is on. I’d imagine that person represents a tiny minority of pre-pay users.
Finally, media coverage, and An Post’s own PR, suggests that it’s a top up service for all networks, but it doesn’t appear to be. Nowhere is there a mention of Tesco Mobile.