Monday, September 11, 2006

One Cingular Sensation

My cell phone was useless when I was in Japan, and I assumed it would be useless across much of Asia. I almost didn’t bring it on my trip at all, but I had this idea that it might work in Russia, so I took it along for emergencies.

Imagine my delight when I flipped it on in Shanghai and found it worked perfectly. It even knew the local time. When I was waiting at the airport to meet Pipi’s flight, I was able to leave her a message assuring her I’d be there.

I experimented with phone cards for calling home, but they’re expensive and the concept is hard to pantomime in a store. Eventually Pipi got Skype on her computer, and this seemed to solve the problem completely. She loaded up $10 worth of credit on her account, and in several weeks of calling my cell phone regularly, she didn’t even burn through that. Problem solved, or so it seemed.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my first Cingular bill when I got home and discovered an astronomical charge. I’m not going to say how much it was, but let me put it this way: I’ve seen used cars sell for less. And they sort of ran, even.

The moral is: Skype is a great thing. But for the love of Pete, don’t use it to call a cell phone internationally unless you understand your plan’s international roaming charges perfectly--that includes inbound calls as well as calls you make.

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