O2, currently under fire for its website failure on the day the iPhone 3G pre-order process began, has come under attack from another segment of the market - would-be Pay & Go customers.

When the iPhone 3G was announced by O2 in the UK, the operator revealed that, unlike the original, and to the delight of many, the device would be available on a contract-free, Pay & Go basis.

O2 stated that both the 8GB and 16GB iPhone 3G would be available for O2 Pay & Go customers with pricing to be confirmed "in the coming weeks."

This announcement, plus the iPhone 3G holding page on the O2 site urging customers to register their interest for the device, led many to believe that the Pay & Go version would be available on July 11 - the same as for contract customers.

This isn't the case, and O2 are yet to confirm pricing, let alone availability - with the Carphone Warehouse coming closest to mentioning timescales with an "in time for Christmas" promise.

Now, O2 customers, and would-be customers wanting to purchase an iPhone 3G on a PAYG basis, are venting their anger about the situation at the operator on O2's customer forums.

One post reads: "I too registered my interest on the iPhone 3G Pay & Go page fully believing that I would be able to purchase my phone on July 11th as O2 had not made any indication that this would not be the case and feel that I have been misled by O2 as they have clearly known this was not the case for the past few weeks since promotional material has now appeared in stores stating that 'the iPhone 3G will be available on Pay & Go later this year'".

Another paints a similar picture: "Their website clearly led PAYG users to believe that they could get their new iPhones in July. They must have known some time ago that the PAYG users would have to wait, now it appears till Christmas. Why hold out false hope to those users?"

One poster even goes as far as to accuse O2 of contempt for Pay & Go customers: "No solid info, websites falling over, misleading statements and just general contempt. I hope Apple take a long hard look at O2, their handling of the iPhone in general and realise that their reputation is being ruined by O2 and its terrible handling of this."

In response, O2 has issued Pocket-lint with a comment on the situation, stating: "We have in fact confirmed that the iPhone 3G will be available on Prepay in time for the Christmas period."

"Due to the high levels of demand we felt it prudent to phase the launch of the iPhone 3G to best manage stock levels. The iPhone 3G will be available on Pay & Go in time for the Christmas shopping season. We will provide more precise details closer to this time."