Friday, January 27, 2012

Bus Stories

With Dan hospitalized in Ichilov and crazy parking fees in Tel Aviv, last week I traveled by bus - something I rarely do.

I get on the bus near work with a banknote of NIS 100. The bus driver says he has no change. I offer to sit behind him and wait until other passengers pay and he collects enough change from them. He refuses. I ask him what should I do. He claims it's against the law to pay with a banknote more than 10 times the price of the ticket. I apologize, telling him I don't know about that law, I rarely use buses. He rants about the general lack of civilized behavior in Israel. A women gets on the bus and changes my 100 for two 50s. I'm saved.

I'm walking towards the bus station in the morning. A few meters before the station I see the bus coming towards me, after it left the station. I realize I missed it and I know it's not supposed to stop, except at designated stops. I'm frustrated. The bus stops at a red light while I am near it. The door opens and I get on. I thank the driver and ask him whether he is a mind reader. He says that's part of a bus driver's job. What a counter-experience!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mobile Victory

After reading my previous blopost on mobile phone dilemmas, many asked me what phone I bought. Samsung Galaxy S II. This was back in July 2011. While paying for it, I accidentally found out in the shop that my mobile operator is supposed to reimburse me for it because they were not selling this model yet. Called them up and indeed, after asking me to fax the paperwork, they promised to start reimbursing in monthly installments. So they said. I waited a month, two months, three months, nothing. Called them up from time to time and always got the same answer: "next month". After about three months and the same lie, I asked the rep to check what's really going on. "You are not on right plan for getting the reimbursement". I didn't know there is a 'right' plan for it, but they assured me there is. Of course the 'right' plan was much more expensive than my current plan. In fact, the data part of it was so expensive, I decided not to buy it at all and just use Wi-Fi for Internet. Naively, I believed what I was told and forgot about the issue completely.

Last month, Tom came across a ynet article on this very issue and sent me the link. No mention of linkage between plan and reimbursement, but a handy list of options for contacting the Ministry of Communications for complaints. So I complained.

My operator's call followed shortly. I repeated my story to their Nth rep and was offered all sorts of inattractive plans, with thousands of minutes and SMSs I don't need. What I do need is a reasonably priced 3G connection. This time they claimed there is no 'right' plan, but I simply don't speak enough to reach the reimbursement threshold. So now there is a threshold. After a few more uninteresting offers, I was frustrated and ready to get back to the Ministry. Just before acting on my frustration, the operator finally offered a reasonable data plan. Since the reimbursement is higher than the price of the data plan, I signed up immediately.

Started using Waze. The first time, it navigated me home using the same route I use every day. Beginners' luck. Since then I'm happily following its proposed routes. Now I just have to learn how to disable the annoying messages and understand the meaning of all the cute icons. And use all the features of my smart phone I don't even know exist...