Today I bought prepaid cell phone and mobile internet access.
Before coming to Spain, my Spanish teacher told me of a few places to possibly get a cell phone and internet. Out of the 3 companies she listed, the only one I’ve managed to see thus far was Vodafone. There is a small branch of this store near the hotel and a large branch on Plaza Nueva, across the river, so I went to the large store.
After getting to the store, and standing near an employee’s desk for a few minutes, I realized that they were on a number system, which used a type of computer screen to assign numbers. The screen had the English flag and the Spanish flag so I clicked the English one just to make this easier on myself. Stuff like figuring out your cell phone and internet plans is challenging enough in your native language, much less a language you’ve only been utilizing extensively for 2 days, not to mention my classes haven’t even started yet.
I waited in line for at least half an hour. During the first ten or so minutes of my wait, one of the employees spoke English to me so I asked him some questions. His English was fine I guess, but I did not understand the internet packages at all. He made it seem like the package I was looking at only works for 3 weeks or so out of the 3 months you’re supposed to have service and it just didn’t make sense to me. He wrote my name down on a card and brought it to the front.
Eventually it was my turn to be helped. This employee only spoke Spanish, so I told her that I didn’t understand the internet packages, this is difficult enough in English, and then explained what I thought they meant. She got the main brochure of theirs and broke it down for me: the first mobile internet package just contained the USB stick for 19 euros and then you choose a monthly data plan to go with it; the plan I was looking at comes is 39 euros with 1 GB already included and once you run out you can recharge it and choose a monthly plan then. I asked her how many minutes or so does 1 GB last and she said it depends, so I figured I’d just get that plan, see how long 1 GB lasts me, and then figure out a monthly plan.
Then it was time to get a cell phone plan. The brochure said if you have 10 euros of recargas (when you add money to your phone plan), you’re charged 8 cents per minute or SMS. Without the recargas, it’s 15 cents each. I told her I didn’t understand why you’d add money to the phone, like what that is exactly. In my mind, I was thinking it was something extra, like if you bought 10 euros of some additional service, your rate was 8 cents on top of the 10 euros you already spent. Like I told her, I’d ask these same questions in English. She told me that you add the 10 euros, and as you use the phone money is subtracted from this pool at a rate of 8 cents.
Picking a phone itself wasn’t complicated. I asked for the cheapest ones and I got the best of the cheapest, 16 or so euros.
I’m not sure how long the whole thing took me, but like I mentioned on FB it may have taken me like 2 fewer minutes to do this in America.
Fast forward an hour or so, the internet starts to give me problems. It told me that the mobile internet wasn’t connecting. I knew that the wifi wasn’t connected, and according to my computer the mobile internet wasn’t working, but I was able to surf the web and chat to at least some extent. I tried to turn it off and on and still had the same problem. I figured I should bring the USB stick and my netbook to the store to get it checked. Naturally I was like, Oh. Great. I’ve been in this country 2 days and I have to talk about technological problems in Spanish.
I went to the store near the hotel and talked to the employee there. Long story short, just like in America, you go through the effort of taking your broken crap back to the store and nothing is wrong with it anymore.
And it’s been raining all day.