Thursday, July 24, 2008

hair-pulling Indian cell phone service

Among the many things that continue to confound me here, one of the most constant has been the cellular phone service. Let's begin with my purchase of a pre-paid plan and a cheap temporary cell phone. I went to the local equivalent of Radio Shack, "Subhiksha." There, I purchased the cheapest possible, bare-bones phone, a Nokia with Vodafone service (most phones purchased here are Nokia, as iPhones, LGs and Motorolas seem to have completely missed out on this market). After waiting around for half an hour in a mostly-empty store, I noticed that you have to assert yourself and demand service as opposed to waiting for eager customer service representative to come rushing to your assistance as you would have in a Verizon store of the same (OK, this doesn't relate to my cell phone confusion, just my trouble getting used to Indian consumer etiquette in general). After explaining my specifications, I am told that this transaction is not possible to complete. Why? I must fill out the application sheet, which is not complete without a passport photo. What?! I tell him I have a photocopy of my passport. No, that is not good enough. You must staple a passport-sized profile photo of yourself on to the front. "And you need to know what I look like for purchasing a phone and service from you, because....?" "You need it." "So, facial recognition is needed in order to....?" "Must get photo." Ahh... that makes sense. NOW I see things your way!
So, after that debacle, and learning that when you recharge pre-paid minutes with 500 rupees and get 410 rupees, you shouldn't get upset (because that's just a "service charge" that they forget to mention when you ask to purchase 500 rupees-worth), I have since been plagued with SMS-spam (texts are called SMSs here) not from outside agencies, but from Vodafone themselves!!! Totally shamelessly, and without an option to opt-out or block them, I'll receive 3-6 spams a day from them, with some days being worse than others. However, I wish to share my two favorites with you, received recently (completely unabridged!)
Dial *123*85# to make your love interesting. Get daily quotes, grooming
tips, love compatibility tests. Chrgs Rs30.month.
Vodafone message centre +91988600542
Sent 5-July-2008
I KNEW there was something I wasn't doing! All I had to do was pick up a phone. And my absolute favorite, received this morning:
Pope Alerts
Make a holy beginning everyday. Dial *123*111# to get daily alerts on
teachings from the Pope. Charges Rs30/month.
Sender: Pope Alerts.
Vodafone message centre +919886005452
Sent 25-July-2008
I also send texts often (because seemingly no one here checks nor has voicemail, I have ascertained after a thoroughly unscientific poll of coworkers, my host, and Indian friends) and about 25% of them are never received by the recipients. I brought it back to Subhiksha. The answer? Turn the phone off, then on. If it doesn't work, do it lots of times. That sure gives me assurance. Sort of like my similarly acting camera and its instant-battery-draining-abilities. Losing faith in Indian-assembled electronics...

Ah, for christ's (wait... Ratzinger's) sake. I miss my crummy old LG.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had NET-10 [TRAC-PHONE] 13 people3 days My droid makes a good fishing weight