Posts Tagged ‘handphone’

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Your Call Is Important To Me

June 9, 2013

Your call is important to me, and that’s why I won’t answer it. I get voice calls on my hand-phone all the time. I ignore them, not because I’m a curmudgeonly old fart (which I am), but because it doesn’t make any sense for me to answer your call. And it’s not because I wish to emulate those execrable call centres who tell you in unctuous tones: “Your call is important to us”, and then leave you on hold for the ninety minutes it takes for some earnest character, for whom English is a fifth language, to pick up and tell you why he can’t help you.

My voice call avoidance behaviour is partly a matter of motivation. At least 70% of my voice calls are from people I don’t know, and who are trying to sell me something. Regardless of the pervasive ambient noise problem here, I won’t answer calls from unknown numbers, or from those whose caller IDs are blocked. Life is too short to waste on dreamers who believe that I want to give them money, or that buying their insurance policy will somehow enrich my life. How will it do this when I have to die to get a payout?

No, I don’t answer because my phone usually rings when I am riding my bike, and I am way too busy avoiding other riders who are texting and talking because they have answered their phones. Just because they are dangerous lunatics who can’t concentrate on actually driving while talking doesn’t mean that I should become one too. So while you fume at the manifest unfairness of your call going unanswered, I am occupied in staying alive and relatively un-maimed.

And when I have parked my bike and I am sitting in some restaurant or bar, I don’t answer my phone either, simply because there are probably only two venues in the whole of Bali that are quiet enough to hear you, and I’m rarely in either of them. I’m so deaf now that I wouldn’t understand most of what you say even if I did pick up in such noisy environments. Do you really want a conversation that goes:

You: “Hi, Wayan here, apa kabar?”
Me: “Um, no this is not Wayan, it’s Vyt, and yes, I’m in a bar. Who’s calling?”
You: “Wayan!”
Me: “Why? Because I want to know who I’m talking to!”
You: (Gnashing teeth) ” No, it’s … doesn’t matter. You free there tonight?”
Me: “No, not three, I’m here alone …”

And so it goes. Any conversation under those circumstances will end in either tears or homicide.

Once I am actually at home, where it is comparatively quiet, the situation theoretically should be better, but in practical terms rarely is. The rushing sound of water from my pool produces white noise which is perfect for masking critical mid-range vocal frequencies. The dog next door is psychic, and with devilish cunning, only barks during critical words in conversations, rendering the meaning of sentences unintelligible. Bali’s air traffic controllers only schedule aircraft to fly overhead when I get a phone call. The ringing of my phone immediately triggers a need by some locals in my lane to rev the shit out of their motorbikes just outside my gate, or some clown to begin fogging the place, and all of these sonic distractions serve to destroy any chance of meaningful conversations. But that’s not why I don’t answer my phone at home.

It’s because Telkomsel, my lovely provider, has somehow managed its tower coverage so that their normal 4-5 bar signal everywhere else in Legian drops to 1-2 bars in my house. Voice calls drop out, or they are so broken up as to become auditory garbage. Sure, if I stand on tip-toe on the edge of the south-east corner of my pool and connect an earth wire to my left foot, I get a reasonable signal, but only if I hold my mouth right. That’s why I don’t answer my phone at home.

My eyes still work – not very well, but they are good enough to read SMS messages, as long as I take my glasses off and squint a bit. The trouble is, no-one who rings me, and gets no answer,  seems to consider the possibility that sending me an SMS might actually be more productive. I used to reply to missed calls with an SMS explaining that I can’t hear voice calls, but inevitably this would trigger yet another voice call. Sigh. I don’t do that any more.

Now all I have to do is to work out how the hell to clear my phone log of 1,679 missed calls. Last time I tried, I deleted all my contacts by mistake. Actually, that might not be such a bad thing …

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Oh Telstra – please learn from Bali!

January 3, 2010

I’ve been spoilt by the ease of getting a local SIM card for my mobile phone in Bali. And in Beijing, and Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur – and even in Lithuania. So when a trip to the Great Southern Land for Christmas was planned, I just assumed that the process would be quick and painless there too. I was wrong. I don’t think I have ever seen such a manifestly inept display of bureaucratic administrivia as I experienced in Australia.

So there I was, at Melbourne Airport at 7 am, having arranged to call my family on arrival. I go searching for a purveyor of fine SIM cards and find a $30 starter pack from Telstra. Mind you, this involves filling out a huge form requiring heaps of ID and reading a page of fine print – a process that vastly annoys the huge queue behind me, most of whom merely want a paper. That done, I extract the SIM from its packaging (cunningly designed to thwart those without fingernails) and insert it in my phone. It remains lifeless, and steadfastly refuses to make calls.

OK, time to read the instruction booklet, which congratulates me on my wise purchase and informs me that I need to activate my card before using it. It also kindly provides me with a number to call to activate my phone. Which of course, I can’t do, because my phone is not yet activated. Eventually at 8 am, I try to activate my phone again using a landline. The instruction book makes it very clear that while I can ring if I really, really want to, activating online is far easier. I soon see what they mean – endless menu choices, the need to punch in all sorts of arcane numbers – the phone number, the SIM number, the serial number, a PIN – I finally give up, hang up and borrow a computer to activate online.

Telstra’s activation website tells me that I can’t do anything at all until I register to use their site. By this time, it’s 9.30am and I haven’t slept for 28 hours. I am becoming a tad irate, but nevertheless, I start the registration process by typing my user name, which the site informs me is my new phone number. The site, apparently designed by someone who failed Systems Logic 101, triumphantly tells me that my registration has failed, because the phone number I am using has not yet been activated. WTF? This is where I’m supposed to come to activate! My ire morphs into a low-grade, pervasive anger.

OK, back to activation by phone call. More menus, interminable inputs of multi-digit numbers and 15 minutes later I’m finished, waiting for the robot voice to tell me my phone is now active. No way. I end up connected to an operator in Sri Lanka, who proceeds to ask me for all of the  information that I have already punched in.

Me: (Incredulously) “I just put in all that stuff!”
Her: (Ennui suffusing her voice) “Sorry sir, our system doesn’t display that information”

So we go through the whole ritual again, and she tells me that the process is complete – and she has now put in a request for activation! I am nearly speechless, but manage to ask how long that will take. She blithely says 4 to 6 hours. My low-grade anger advances to high-grade anger, but with an effort, I stay polite. Hours later, I try to use my phone, and get a promotional message extolling the virtues of Telstra for perhaps 30 seconds. Then another voice tells me that my service is ‘not available’. By 4 pm, with the message playing every time I try to use the phone, I ring again. The operator is bemused.

Him: “My screen shows your phone was activated 2 hours ago.”
Me: “Maybe so, but I’m still getting your promotional message.”
Him: (After much testing and getting more incomprehensible numbers from me) “Try ringing someone now, and hold your phone up so I can hear what you are getting.”
I do, and we both sit through the whole message. This time there is no tag line about my service being unavailable, and the number I dialled starts ringing.

Him: (Elated) “See – you were connected to the number you dialled when the message finished!”
Me: (Incredulous) “I have to listen to your ad everytime I dial a number?!”
Him: (Patronisingly) “Well, that’s what you get with a prepaid service. Ha ha! Besides, the ad only runs for a week …”

My anger is now more of an incandescent rage, but I keep my voice level as I explain that I paid for a SIM card and phone service, not unsolicited ads, and that as a point of principle, I will never use Telstra again. Something must have worked, because two minutes later the ad was gone.

And so, back here in Bali, as I look at tourists walking into market stalls with their phones – and out again three minutes later with a fully-functioning local SIM card – I am tempted never, never to bag the telecommunications industry here again.