OK, the conclusion to the VPN problem can be found here... Has anyone been able to get VPN working?
As to the time not synchronizing on connecting to the mobile network, LOL, does it really matter ('3' have actually sent me a second 'phone to try out which they have not asked me to return!!), and there is quite a bit of work being done on ROMs at the mo., so maybe I could root and reflash one of them... All Kown Roms To Date - Android @ MoDaCo
Not an ideal ending, I would really have just liked a 'phone that worked out of the box. I have to make a decision as to whether to take '3' to small claims court and get my £100 back or just settle as is.