Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Too Multi-National For My Own Good?

Samsung-Z560 fxd When we left the UK to move to Germany I kept my English mobile. I had been with the same network for many years, although they became T-Mobile instead of One2One (the only low-cost alternative at the time).

I had joined One2One in the days when they still had sales reps who made home visits to convince you to buy their services. In this case a young woman came to my flat one evening. I was living on my own at that time, and I have thought many times how inappropriate and unacceptable that would have been today. No company would send a young female rep on her own to an unknown man's flat at night time these days; that would be irresponsible company behaviour. But this happened in the late eighties and was not considered a problem.

Sometime after the move to Germany I thought it would be best to have a German mobile, which obviously would cut down on costs. As I was considering this, my son and partner gave me an old (Swedish) phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM card, which would save both caller and receiver money when we were in Sweden. (Otherwise they would have to pay for calling the UK and I for transferring the call from the UK to Sweden!)

The phone was an old Sony Ericsson, which had seen its heyday. Often it was impossible to scroll up in a menu, because of a worn-out button. So I had to go back one level and start all over again. But OK, I could live with that.

Then it struck me that I could get a German SIM card and use that with the Swedish Sony Ericsson. Yeah! But NO! It just would not work. That's when I learned about how telecoms lock their phones to their networks. What to do?

I think I did a bit of googling and came across the phenomenon of unlocking the phones via the internet, to free them of their crippling chains. I used the service of mobileunlocked.com , and for a modest fee they liberated the handset. So, now I could use two different cards for two different countries in the same old knackered phone. Brilliant!

But I still had my old English one. One day I needed to ring their customer service regarding some matter or other, and to my great surprise the lady asked me would I want to upgrade my phone. Upgrade my phone? Yes, have a new one. I can see that you are out of contract and have not had a new phone, she said.

Then it dawned on me; I had never had a second phone from them, although I had bought one myself years ago, and I had been with them for close to 20 years!

To some younger readers of this blog, that seems a lifetime. How many phones could I have had over the years, I wonder?

So they sent me this spanking new Samsung Z560, with camera and the lot. (Read about it here.) It seemed to be state-of-the-art, but I really only used it when we were in France since we don't have a land line there. Can you see where this is leading? Unlock it, of course, thought I!

Oh no! It had only been on the market for a short time so nobody had had time to create a code to break the lock. Sigh! I had to wait for a long long time, but now, nearly two years later, I have just received the magical code. It took exactly 2 days 13 hours and 16 minutes to create it!

I feel, in my own modest way, slightly ecstatic to have just the one top-of-the-range phone (still, I hope) that allows me to use three different SIM cards for three different countries. And I hope my son will forgive me for saying this; no longer will I feel embarrassed, having to answer a phone call or receiving a text message on the worn and tired old Ericsson in public, but can now proudly flaunt my foldable friend for anyone to see. Does that make me vain or just practical?

14 comments:

oreneta said...

Cell phones are just plain odd, I must say...I also have far far too many phones, but I have the opposite problem of them arriving endlessly, rather than lasting forever...

swenglishexpat said...

Oreneta - Too many is not good either, I suppose. The competition and development of new models go crazy sometimes.

Protege said...

I think it makes you just human; I mean who is not in awe and feeling excited about new trinkets and gadgets? I sure am.;))

What is amazing to me is the fact that you already had a mobile phone in the late 80s! I had my first HUGE bulky, chunky mobile (cellular) in the US in mid 90s. I know that Europe was ahead with the mobiles for while, because when I moved back here about a decade ago, the difference in technology was astounding.;))
My first one here was an Ericsson too.;))

Veronica said...

I just love the latest technology gadgets, but most recently my husband is rather amazed that I still love my almost 5 year old O2 pda - but that is because I can't find one that gives me a good reason to upgrade - even the iphone is impressive but hasn't won me over; the HTC touch HD has almost done it ... but not absolutely yet ... I still love my battered O2 ;-)

swenglishexpat said...

Protege - I cannot swear to the year it was,, because I did not have a PDA then, only a school teacher's planner, to keep track of things. But it was when not even the whole of London was covered by this network.

Veronica - I have a Palm TX, but I still use the software from my first Palm PDA, because last time I tried to upgrade the software, I (nearly)lost all my data. Can you imagine! I felt suicidal. Next time I feel the urge to upgrade I will google it extensively first!

1st Lady said...

I tend to keep my phones for many years. Here in the UK I'm currently using a phone that cost a tenner about 3 years ago.. it makes people laugh if anything. Still, I dont see phones as a status symbol like many seem to.

Eric Valentine said...

In the same club here with phones Swen, problem is these days it hardly ever rings anymore LOL

swenglishexpat said...

1st L - You're right, they are not status symbols in my book either, but I enjoy having only the one handset, which is easy to use. I think I exaggerated the embarrassment bit a little for effect. ;-)

Eric - Same here. All this bother for a phone that hardly ever rings! Mostly text messaging actually. Almost comical!

matthew_in_ham said...

I have three mobile phones too, but they are all for the UK! One is mine, one is my employer's and one is my current client's. I prefer to use all three according to my needs than to use just one and try and sort all the expenses out each month.

swenglishexpat said...

Matthew - Long gone are the days of smoke signals, beacons along the coast, a good horse or own feet. How did we get on before all these gadgets? ;-)) It is truly amazing how we have adapted to new expectations.

Rositta said...

We seems to get a new phone every two years from our provider. I always get the new one and give my husband the old one. They are "locked" as well but I found a place that unlocks them for a reasonable price and always take one with me to Greece. I already have a Greek sim card. Last year I got a German sim card but the cost per minute is very expensive. I think I paid 2 euros a minute for a call to Greece. It's great for incoming calls though, they are free so my offspring from Canada can always find me. Cell phone plans are way cheaper here but even cheaper in the U.S...ciao

swenglishexpat said...

Rositta - The mobile phone industry is BIG. I believe there is some EU legislation in the pipeline restricting how much the telecoms can charge for "roaming", when you use a network in another country. It tends to be a rip-off normally. Let's hope it comes soon, otherwise I might have to get a French SIM card as well. Sigh!

LadyFi said...

Code cracking, eh? How very useful! As for your question, you are both practical and vain - like us all!

swenglishexpat said...

LadyFi - I was afraid you would say that about me. ;-)