15 August 2013

Too Good To Be True

Usually when you think it's too good to be true, it is.  And in this case it really was too good to be true.  Though there was still that little silver lining that made the phone/phone service acceptable.  Or at least acceptable for my foreign exchange student.

Just a little back story, I have hosted 11 exchange students from different countries.  During that time only one owned a cell phone that they used here because he was a long term student.  He used it to keep in contact with his friends he made here and on rare, RARE, occasion contact the mother-ship.  Another student who was short term had a mini breakdown or culture shock or something.  The girl broke down crying about day 6 and insisted on calling home.  I think the tears and look of desperation caused me to break down and put international calling on my cell plan.  NOT CHEAP!  This was about 6 years ago, maybe things are different now.  I also kinda broke the rules as we are not supposed to have the kids contact the mother-ship.  But ya know what... 13 year old kid half way around the world, scared and homesick.  I broke the rules.  Whatever!

This time around Jackey, my kid from China came with a cell phone and touched base with the mother ship often.  On his 3rd day with us, the magic smoke left his device.  No water damage, he hadn't dropped it, no problems with electrical current, it just stopped working.  We went down to AT&T to try out one of their chargers, they looked at it and said, "Sorry, it's dead."  So Jackey got permission from the mother-ship to buy a new phone to use while here.  Did I mention his cell was doubling as his camera too?  Yea so no phone, no camera... what a way to capture your memories!  We went over to Best Buy to check out the phones while he used a voice/text relay app on my phone to the mother-ship.  The trip to Best Buy was roughly about a 2 hour visit.  Oh yea, did you know that Jackey was specifically told he could not use his sim card from China in any phone he purchased while here in the US?  I don't know how much truth there is to that.  But dad and Jackey were convinced the card he had would work in any phone.  But dad also didn't want to risk wasting Jackey's fun money on a chance.

Jackey's father wanted the cheapest phone possible with the Andriod OS.  With cell phones you got two options here:  one is setting up a contract to be billed monthly and the other is a pay as you go phone.  We went for the latter option for obvious reasons.  A rep at the store suggested the Samsung Galaxy Rush for $99.  It was the cheapest Droid OS phone that was pay as you go so we went for it.  And were told that with Boost Mobile's prepaid service for $55 dollars you get unlimited text, talk and data for the month.  Great, but Jackey needs to call China.  The rep then told us for another $10 he would have unlimited talk/text to China and other countries.  WHAT?!  Really???  Are you sure?  I must have asked three times.  It sounded too good to be true.  But he guaranteed that it would be unlimited for international calls and texts.  So we got the phone, when all was said and done the total was $172, Jackey got to learn about sales tax.

After about a week of using his phone Jackey told me he couldn't make calls to the mother-ship.  The mother-ship was also unable make phone calls to him.  When he told me this it was late at night and I decided to take him back to Best Buy to find out what the problem was the next day after his classes were over.  So after school the next day I went to Best Buy.  Before we got out of the car I asked him if his phone was still acting stupid.  He said no!  I had him ring his mom, dad and my phone.  I even had him try sending a text message.  OoOoOhhhhh magic!  So off we went home.

About 9pm he tells me he is having problems again.  So I hopped online and contacted their support number.  Turns out they can offer such a steal of a price for international service because of the low amount of availability.  Their circuits get overloaded from time to time which makes most calls with the whole network impossible.  The answer from Boost Mobile:  KEEP TRYING.  Fuck!  So that is what we did.  I guess you get what you pay for right?  I mean for the price, he was still able to contact the mother-ship but damn what a pain in the ass.  It really was too good to be true but for Jackey being able to contact the mothership most of the time instead of none of the time; it was worth it.

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