Monday, August 06, 2012

Topping up a Cyprus phone when roaming...

I could take several paragraphs explaining why our son Tim, in the UK, needed to top up his Cyprus phone urgently. But I won't. If anyone really wants to know, please ask.

Suffice it to say that he had marked on the calendar that he needed to do so by tomorrow.  Had he been in Cyprus, as he had originally planned to be during August, this would have been easy. He could have popped into any shop selling MTN cards, paid five or ten euro for a receipt with a 'secret code', typed that into his phone, and been good to go.

But he's in the UK.

And while there is a website that, theoretically, allows people to top up MTN phones directly from anywhere in the world, he wasn't sure that it was genuine, didn't want to risk giving his card details to it, and didn't know how much they would charge for the privilege 

So I offered to buy a top-up here and let him know the 'secret code' via Google Chat.

I didn't even have to go out to do this, since the online 'shop' at our bank's website allows purchase of top-up cards for both the phone companies.  That worked easily, and within a couple of minutes our account had been debited by €10, and the secret code had appeared by the transaction. I copied and pasted it into a message for Tim, and assumed all would be well.

Tim then had to remove his UK sim from his phone, temporarily, and put his MTN Cyprus one in. And when he attempted to top it up, he was told that he could not do so because he was not in Cyprus.

So he phoned the customer services number, who put him on hold for three minutes - thus using up almost all his remaining credit - and then got cut off before he could explain the problem.

So he asked me - still via Google Chat - if Richard could borrow my phone (also MTN) and call the number here, to see if we could get it topped up.  Richard is much better on the phone than I am, and in general Cypriots seem to respect men more than women... so we agreed to do that.

Richard, too, was put on hold for three minutes - with some very loud music - but eventually spoke to someone who understood English.  He explained the problem, and gave Tim's phone number. Then he read out the secret code.

'No,' she said. 'That's not the right code. Where did you get it from?'

He explained that it was via our bank, and she said there was another number. I remembered that there was, indeed, a serial number given next to the transaction status, so I logged in again, and found it.

Richard read that out, and the girl said that wasn't right either. It was a 14-digit number, she told him. We counted, and the 'secret code' did indeed have fourteen digits.

So Richard read it out again, slowly. And this time, she seemed to think it was all right. She checked the phone number too, and said that it was now topped up.

A few minutes later, Tim checked his phone and, indeed, it now had €10 credit, and an expiry period of early August next year, rather than tomorrow.

So all is now well with the Tim sim saga; but once again, it appears that nothing is ever as simple as it should be in Cyprus!

1 comment:

lilegyptiangoddess said...

It must be a UK based thing. My husband had no issue topping up his (via me buying a card here) while he was in Saudi a few months ago.