Category Archives: Real Life

The unwanted Nanny

At the end of last year I finally replaced my seven year old phone with a shiny new HTC Desire Z. I really enjoy having mobile Internet access. And writing text messages is no longer fiddly thanks to the keyboard of the Desire Z.

Unfortunately I suffered a setback when Silke, Vader and I visited Germany last week. My phone stopped working: no calls, no text messages, only emergency calls. I searched through all the settings but couldn’t find the cause and finally had to give up.

When I was able to use the Internet via WiFi the next day I found the cause of the problem: my mobile phone provider T-Mobile disables international roaming for their customers by default. They claim that they do that to protect their customers from high phone bills. I’m sorry but I find that a rather unconvincing argument:

  1. Whenever I switched on a mobile phone in a foreign country in the past I immediately received one or more text messages telling me how overpriced phone calls, text messages and especially mobile Internet usage are. If T-Mobile really doesn’t believe that their customers are able to understand such an obvious warning it would be somewhat insulting.
  2. If T-Mobile were really that worried about their customers’ bills they could just reduce the horrendous roaming charges. Their roaming partner in e.g. Germany is the Deutsche Telekom, the owner of T-Mobile UK. I’m quite sure the two of them could agree on more customer friendly conditions if they only wanted to.

It was quite a hassle to get this fixed. I used a friends phone line to call T-Mobile support in the UK who enabled international roaming for me. After I power cycled my phone on their request it finally registered with a mobile network in Germany. I was relieved until I found out that I still couldn’t make calls to the UK or send text messages. I once again looked over all the phone settings but didn’t manage to find a solution. I sent T-Mobile an e-mail, they called me back (which I probably have to pay for with my next phone bill) but it still wouldn’t work.

When I was back in the UK I finally found the problem by comparing the settings of Chris‘s and my phone: mine had call barring enabled for international calls. I tried to disable it but it asked for a barring password which I didn’t know. I tried to enter the SIM PIN but I only got a Network/SIM error. I called T-Mobile again with gritted teeth. At first their support blamed the problem on my hand set  and claimed that I could find the barring password in my phone’s manual. When I told them about the error message they finally changed something on their end which after another power cycle of my phone got rid of the call barring. I hope this was really the end of it because I won’t know before I travel abroad the next time.

Overall T-Mobile’s disproportionate customer protection caused me a lot of trouble that I really could have done without.

A Bite of the Big Apple

The week before last I flew to New York with two fellow workers on a business trip.  We arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday about noon and directly went into a meeting with a customer. After a very long day (I had to get up at 4:00 am UK time) I was very happy when I finally was in my (very nice) hotel room. After another day of meetings we finally had time to go to Manhattan on Friday evening.

After wandering through the city centre for a bit we made it to Times Square which looked spectacular in the dusk.

After a good steak for dinner we went back to the Hotel to catch up on lost sleep.

The next morning we checked out of the Hotel reasonably early, dropped of our bags at the airport and went back to Manhattan as our flight wasn’t leaving before the evening. This time we visited the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy.

After wandering around for a while and buying some small presents we want back to the Airport.

As you have probably noticed we didn’t have that much time to tour the city. There are so many places left that I would really love to visit, so many things I would like to do. I guess I will simply have to come back one day, but this time with Silke and if at all possible with Vader as well.