By Joshua Hamilton
In Japan there are a number of different phone providers to choose from, but the big 3 are: DOCOMO, Softbank & AU.
If you are new to Japan I highly recommend that you go with a friend or someone who can help you understand the details of the contract should you wish to join. If you already have a handset then you can go to any good electronics store and get a sim card. However there are some rules that you need to know about.
If you are here short term you might be limited by what brands you can apply for because of the length of your stay. Also, having a Japanese credit card may be necessary if you want a better deal and a phone number. If you are here short term and don’t have a credit card you may only be able to get a data sim card which you would have to replenish when your data runs out. An easier option is to check out Sapporo cities website. They offer sim cards that allow access to their wi-fi around Sapporo.
Back to the big telcos. Recently I had trouble with my phone and went in to ask what options are available to me. I could either order a new battery, which would take up to 2 weeks, or use my insurance plus ¥6,000 and get a new handset. I decided to go with the new handset. But it would be a different model to the one I currently own.
The following day I went in to get my new handset and everything was going fine until the staff member handed me an envelope. I enquired as to what it was for and the young lady said ” You need to exchange your old handset for the new one “. Surprised I said to her that I wasn’t informed of this yesterday! She immediately apologised and said she would see what she could do. I said that if it’s not the same one, I don’t want it. Also I paid a lot of money for my old phone, paid the insurance plus the extra fees for the new phone. After what seemed like forever I was asked to speak to someone from customer service. The man said that I agreed to the new phone and MUST return the old one. Furthermore I couldn’t cancel the new phone! I was very upset. The following hour I tried to explain my side. ” Yesterday the lady did not tell me I would have to give my old one, that is not my fault.”. However he said, ” I had agreed to the new handset and if I read the paper I was given it states that it must be returned “… I looked and there it was. “However I was not verbally warned about this! That is your responsibility!” But the man said “There is nothing we could do, we assure you the lady would have mentioned this” Upset, I returned the phone. After she hung up I said this is ridiculous! Furthermore I feel upset because everybody thinks I wasn’t listening or I didn’t understand! But, I said ” The lady mentioned no such thing! She was too busy wanting to practice her English!”
All they could do was apologise. Then apologise some more.
So, I said ” If I quit today, you couldn’t do anything? “. “No, sorry”.
“Ok, I quit, do the paper work.” I asked that I would be paying the months fees so I should be able to use the service until the end of the month, or so I thought! ” No, if you quit now, you will lose access. “. ” So I need to come back again just to quit your service? “. “Yes, sorry.” I was fuming! I needed the phone for work, so I had little choice.
So with a new phone, that I didn’t want, I left the shop with my tail hanging between my legs.
The following day I did my research and found a better deal. They helped me to cancel my contract and keep my number. However, every provider has it’s good and bad side. Just the other day I went to get an iPad from my new provider. I spent an hour doing the paperwork to then be knocked back! Because of my visa. Regardless of how long it is, not being a resident makes it difficult to purchase “Mac” products in Japan, but a new phone is fine!
I’m happy with my new provider, I get 4 times the data per month for the same price I was paying and I got a headset that I actually wanted.
So please be careful and do your homework when you choose a provider, and if possible take someone with you who could help. Ask me! If you’re not sure. Also I have a brand new Samsung Edge 6 for sale if anyones interested! ^^
Thanks for reading.