Sunday, May 25, 2014

Changing my mobile phone provider

It's seven years since I first had a mobile phone. Five years ago I wrote about topping it up annually, having to buy a €10 card, since the €5 cards only lasted for 30 days. Normal users of mobiles would think nothing of this, but at the time I struggled to spend as much as €10 in a year.

I eventually had to replace my original Sony phone; it still worked, but the battery life was almost non-existent. When I discovered that a basic Samsung phone in the UK would cost me £10 (unlocked) about three years ago it wasn't a difficult decision to make. Admittedly it took me a few days to get used to it, but I like the predictive text feature; it's light, and simple and - as with my first one - I can make phone calls and send texts.

Oh, and it tells me the time and occasionally acts as an alarm clock.

I have no wish for anything more advanced. I have continued with my pay-as-you-go contract from MTN and had no problems.

Last May, I was pleased to find that I could buy a €5 top-up card from MTN which would last me a year.  I had succeeded in getting my credit to less than €20 and wondered if I might actually succeed in running it down to nothing - after all, I send a minimum of three texts per week (when arranging morning walks) and often as many as ten. I just checked my call log, and it appears that I have made twenty actual phone calls in the past two months. Some of them as long as thirty seconds.

Last Summer, when Tim tried to top up his MTN pay-as-you-go phone, he was annoyed to find that a €10 card was only valid for 60 days. He thought it was because he bought it online - but then learned that they had changed their policies. A €20 top-up was the same - only valid for 60 days. Apparently they don't want light users any more. So, since we had a 'spare' contract (a long story) Tim took that over a few months ago.  Including the monthly charge (85c) he seems to spend about €2-3 per month - and he uses his mobile a lot more than I use mine.

The end of my last year's validity period was fast approaching. I went into an MTN shop to check that this really was the case - that I could no longer pay a small amount that would last a year. The girl in the shop confirmed it, and when I said I'd have to switch providers, she shrugged and nodded.

So it's a nice irony, really. Having moved our landline from CYTA to Cablenet last month, I'm about to move my mobile phone from MTN to CYTA. I double-checked, and their top-ups are far more reasonable: €5 last a year.

I knew I would have to buy a new Sim card, and thought that might cost me ten or fifteen euros... so when I popped into the CYTA shop last Friday, I was surprised to see this:

I told the cashier I would like a new pay-as-you go Sim, and she handed me the pack. Not only was it cheaper than I expected, it included €5 of credit. It's only valid for 90 days, but that's fine; I have 100 free texts included, too. 

Evidently I looked somewhat incompetent, as the cashier asked me (very nicely) if I knew how to activate the Sim. I told her that I didn't, but my son would help me. I'm sure she could have done it for me but I didn't actually want to start it until a couple of days before the end of my current validity period with MTN (which STILL has €12 on it, although I am trying hard to use it up).

I opened it up when I got home:

I assume everything is there. I will need to activate it (or, rather, have someone in the family activate it for me) within the next few days, because it occurs to me that my mobile number is used as a security measure for our online banking, and various other online services. In order to switch to a new number I will have to receive and validate a code on my current number.  Happily my original Sony phone is still usable (so long as it's plugged into the charger continually) so that seems like a good place to put my MTN Sim for the last few days of its life.

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