It really is only a week since last Saturday. Amazing. It feels like about a month. I wrote this post mentioning how we were trying to get a mobile phone for Dan with international roaming, including Tanzania and Mozambique where he's going to be in the next couple of months. The new company, Areeba, doesn't include those countries and the older, bigger company, CYTA, didn't have its mobile section open on a Saturday.
Yesterday Dan didn't have any drama performance in the morning, for the first time in several weeks. So we went to CYTA to enquire about getting him a mobile subscription. Had he wanted an ordinary pay-as-you go, like Tim has, it would have been no problem. But monthly subscriber services are only easily available to Cypriots or permanent residents of Cyprus. We knew that was the case a few years ago: when Richard needed a phone with international roaming facilities, he had to take a Cypriot friend with him to vouch for him. Otherwise he would have had to pay £1000 (yes, that's right.. a thousand pounds. Which is about two thousand US dollars) as deposit.
The reason for this is that there were, apparently, problems with foreigners taking out subscriptions then vanishing from the country leaving huge unpaid bills. Requiring this huge deposit was a way of putting them off applying for subscriptions with their mobiles, so it makes sense.
However Cyprus is now part of the EU, and we have the right of residence here even though we don't have any paperwork to say we're permanent residents. And since Areeba don't require any kind of deposit from anyone (other than the initial £10 setup fee) we assumed that CYTA would be doing the same. We did check the web-site and there was no hint of any kind of discrimination between Cypriot and non-Cypriot.
Unfortunately, the rule is still in place. If and when we buy a house here (as is possible within the next couple of years) then we could have another subscription from CYTA without any problems. But while we're still renting, we can't. Even though we've been here nearly eight years, have plenty of utility bills - including phone bills - showing we pay everything regularly, and even though we're entitled to live here as Europeans.
So, over lunch we discussed what to do. Should we ask our Cypriot friend to go with us again, to vouch for us (even though we pay bills far more regularly than he does...) and have yet another subscription in his name?
Instead we decided on a more complicated solution. Richard would apply for a phone subscription with Areeba, since they cover all the Middle Eastern countries where he travels, and he's unlikely to want to go to Africa. Then we could simply buy a phone for Dan, and he could have Richard's CYTA number. So CYTA have lost a potential customer... and seeing the number of non-Cypriots in Areeba, I expect they'll continue losing them until they get rid of this ridiculous rule about the deposit.
So today Richard went to Areeba and has a new number. It was supposed to activate within an hour, although it's now six hours later and it hasn't yet. And he took the boys to Kleima, a useful discount store, where they found a small Nokia phone that Daniel decided wasn't as bad as most. Bizarrely, it has three dictionaries in it for predictive texting: French, German and Greek. No English!
So this week Richard will have to let as many of his contacts as possible know that he has a new number, in order that Dan won't be inundated with calls when he's away. Unfortunately Richard's managed to lose the writing thingy that goes with his phone (it's a phone-organiser and he writes texts on a screen with a pen-shaped object rather than typing) so we're hoping he manages to find it.