Monday, May 27, 2013

TCB, plus the saga of the phones

Friday was the day we decided to be productive. The first thing we had to do was open a bank account, so that we could pay rent. We had originally wanted to go with Deutsche Bank, since they are somehow linked to Bank of America, but we couldn't find it so we went with Commerzbank, which also is a large bank comfortable with international dealings. We went inside and luckily there was a banker who spoke good English. We pretty much just had to show our passports, and I guess our address, and we were able to open what is here called a "current account," which is what they call checking accounts. I was also able to deposit the rest of my American cash into this account. I had assumed that opening the bank account would be the most difficult/stressful part of the day, but it was actually one of the easiest.

The next thing we wanted to do was get phones. There was a T-Mobile shop nearby, which Hunter was favorably disposed to because of how nice they were after Hurricane Katrina (they just didn't make him pay for like 5 months), so we went in there and were able to find someone who spoke English. We wanted smartphones, and the pre-paid smartphones are a much better deal here than in America, plus I think the network is faster. My understanding is it's pretty hard to find Internet as slow as it is in the states. Anyway, we picked out two pretty cool phones and then were on our way home.

I guess this is when the trouble really started. Hunter installed the SIM cards and started charging our phones. After I rested a bit, I got up to start setting mine up. I turned it on, synced my Google account and everything (we both got droids), and then saw the message that said "Emergency Calls Only." Somehow, my phone wasn't connected to a network. We planned to just take it back to the store the next day and see what the problem was--I suspected something wrong with the SIM card. Before we did that, though, Hunter wanted to see if the card from his phone, which worked, would work in my phone. Sounds easy, but in the process of trying to get his SIM card out, it got jammed even further into the phone. It was impossible to get out. It looked like the only way we could get it out was to use a tiny screwdriver to take apart the phone. This being like probably 9 or 10 on a Friday night, we had no way of getting a tiny screwdriver.

Some of you might be thinking, oh you had to wait til Monday but no, we did find a place that was open on Saturday (which I will talk about in more detail tomorrow) where we bought several things, including a set of tiny screwdrivers. But when we got home, either the screws were too small or just in too tight. We didn't want to risk stripping them so we just took both of the phones to the store to see what the problem was (the T-Mobile shop was also open on Saturdays but only til 2 or 2:30). Regarding my phone, the woman at the shop, whose English wasn't great but enough that we could communicate, said something about a SIM  pin that should have been on a paper included with my phone. Regarding Hunter's, she said the only thing to do would be to unscrew the back of the phone, and that she didn't have a small enough screwdriver. We went back home and attempted to put in the pin, but that didn't help my phone and we already knew that we couldn't do much with Hunter's. I think Hunter went back there later and bought another SIM card, to try with my phone. For some reason even though it was a T-Mobile store, they didn't have T-Mobile SIM cards.

I also remembered that there had been SIM cards at this store we had gone to earlier, so we made a second trip and bought some more food and a T-Mobile SIM card. Hunter decided that he was just going to try and unlock his OLD phone, from America, which was really nice, and put the German SIM card in it. I guess he found a tutorial or something online and was able to do it. He started out putting the T-Mobile card in his, but then we switched because since my phone was from T-Mobile, it was being weird about having a card in it that wasn't. So I FINALLY had a phone with the T-Mobile card that worked and Hunter had his old awesome phone with some other card that worked--kind of. Whatever company his card was from seems to be taking a while to process his pre-payments. So he can call or text but can't do data yet. He might end up just buying another T-Mobile card and sticking it in his since I haven't had any problems with mine.

So far I'm pretty happy with it, and it's dirt cheap. It's 9c a minute for texts/calls, and I think 10 Euro a month for data, but that part is a little confusing. They have one plan where you can just pay 99c for every day that you use data, but since I'll probably use it almost every day that wouldn't be worth it.  It's so much cheaper than Verizon, who we were with in the states, and who we will not be going back to when we return.

Anyway, next time I will talk about the magical store of wonder that we found just when we felt most lost and alone.

1 comment:

  1. OOOOOOO, I can't wait to hear about the magical store of wonder!!!!