During the marathon that was November, we decided it was finally time to get my husband a new phone. Our contract was coming to an end and his phone was already at its end. It froze, it typed its own words, it opened its own apps 5 minutes later… you get the idea.
So, our quest for the best plan began. I believe it would be appropriate to imagine us with safari hats, binoculars, water bottles and heavy duty boots as you read through this post.
Thankfully, we had the pastor of the church here to help us navigate the terms and badger the salesmen to get a little more out of the deal. We learned a lot with so much LESS stress.
There are three major cell phone companies here– Docomo (which used to monopolize the market), AU and Softbank (the new-thinker of the companies and the first one to bring iPhones to Japan). Docomo we ruled out because their plans were the most expensive, no matter what we tried.
We went to Softbank, a company I was prone to prefer as I used it when I was here before.
After about 2 hours of making deals with the manager, I had to call a phone number from AU (our current company) to get a code to switch the ownership of our phone number over to Softbank. It was a tedious phone call (do you know how I feel about phone calls in another language??) since AU wanted to keep our business, but too bad people.
We then applied for something like a credit check with the company. We have no idea what it’s based on– it’s not connected to the US credit rates, etc. It’s all very vague. We put in our work information and what we “make” annually, etc.
Not approved. We tried it via my husband’s information.
At that point, there was nothing that could be done, because they wouldn’t give us the contract unless we wanted to pay for the phones in full at the moment. Even the store manager wasn’t sure why we weren’t approved– he said that it’s really up to the person who reviews the application. Very likely though, it had to do with the fact that we’re foreigners.
Sigh. A wasted 3 hours. (Or, as the pastor says- it wasn’t wasted time, we just gathered more information about how things work).
But I like results, so for me….
Vicente and him went another day to investigate options at an electronics store that carries our company’s phones. They got all the quotes and promotion information for a few different ways and what our monthly bills would end up being.
Then the next week, we took that information back to AU’s main store. We tried the same deals mentioned in the quotes we had from the electronics store. The thing was that we wouldn’t get the same promotions that the electronics store was offering for the same deal.
So guess where we went next.
Back at the electronics store, we went back to the basics with the representative for AU at the store.
Ok, we’ll turn our current phones in AND get new phones AND we will switch our home internet service AND provider (they are different companies here). Everything was going well– only we had to call to cancel that number switch we made a few weeks back when we thought we were gonna get the Softbank deal.
A few hours later, the deal was done and we had new phones and no desire to do this again for another 2 years at least.
Now, I just had to wait for a phone call from the home internet company to come set it up. Once that’s done (Thursday this week), we’ll cancel our current internet service AND provider. And then I fill out something outline for one of the promotion campaigns, something will arrive in the mail and I take it to the post office to collect money. For another promotion we are able to claim, I have to make a trip the store next month with a few different pieces of paper I have to gather from sources in order to collect the money. (worth the effort though)
I think that’s why they make it so complicated: so you won’t remember what all you have to do to collect your money.
Nonetheless, the moral of the story is:
-It’s WONDERFUL to have someone who knows the ropes help you out (because you can get deals you wouldn’t have imagined!).
Also, never underestimate how long it takes to get things done in another country.