Home > Focus on Japan 2014, iPhone > Carrier Nonsense

Carrier Nonsense

November 2nd, 2014

Usually I get new iPhones as soon as they come out, but my carrier kinda screwed me on that; somehow, over time, they added a few months to my contracts, and I couldn’t get out of it until November 1st. That, and a bunch of other stuff has me good and tired of SoftBank. For example, they offer “points” with your service, but after three years (after which the points expire) I had a grand total of ¥1090 (about $10) after about $5000 worth of bills for myself and Sachi over that time. To add insult to injury, you can’t buy squat with that at their store, which means you can only do so at the online store. And their online store is so convoluted that after 20 minutes, the staff member there couldn’t figure it out either, and started to give me a phone number which I am sure would have inevitably been staffed by a teineigo operator who would use such obscure vocabulary that they would only confuse me more.

I changed to a new carrier, Au, for a couple of different reasons. First, switching carriers means you get a discount in the first two years just for that. Au’s prices in general were already a bit lower than Softbank’s, and that was further sweetened by an additional $15 a month discount (each) because our home Internet connection is with KDDI, which is the same company as Au. Au was also much more accessible and open about the terms; for example, I had never known that the “unlimited” data plans get severely throttled after 5 or 7 GB of use in one month; Softbank’s people never mentioned that over the years, but Au was very upfront about it.

In addition, Au did me a solid on timing. While some orders can take a month, and commonly two weeks to fulfill—a problem with me because I had a short window in which to switch carriers else suffer a $100 penalty—Au happened to have an extra iPhone 6 the color and capacity I wanted, and decided kindly to hang onto it for me for 10 days after I signed up, so I could pick it up immediately as soon as my shackles to Softbank evaporated.

On top of that, KDDI (and, it seems, Au) have English support—if not total, they do try their best, and it’s appreciated.

Long story short, instead of paying about $75 apiece per month to Softbank, our contracts are now for about $55 for each of us. Over two years, that saves a lot of money (almost a thousand dollars over our first two years). We lose about $10 a month on each contract after that, as the switching discount is not renewed and the home-Internet discount is cut to $10 a month instead of $15—but even then it’s still better.

Not to mention I was getting the Worst Sales Rep Ever at Softbank every time I went, who was royally pissing me off. Glad to be rid of them.

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  1. Tim Kane
    November 3rd, 2014 at 09:18 | #1

    The customer is always right.

    These days, I’ve seen t-mobile in the states charge $40 for unlimited everything. Imagine if T-Mobile had been swallowed up by Sprint which has majority (I think) ownership by Softbank by the way. (I was contracting at Sprint when the deal was announced).

    Competition means that hundreds of millions of Americans are paying lower phone bills in the aggregate for improving service. I wonder how much a little thing like that, along with the roll out of Obamacare has had in putting added purchasing power, in the aggregate, for consumers, and thus having a roll in finally getting the economy to take off.

    What is ” teineigo”?

  2. Luis
    November 3rd, 2014 at 10:31 | #2

    Teineigo” is the polite language—though it’s possible I should be saying “keigo,” which is more honorific. Whichever it is, it’s a formal manner of speaking used with a specialized vocabulary not commonly used. For example, instead of suru (to do), they might use the alternate form itashimasu. All kinds of non-standard words pepper the speech, and when spoken, it is often so fast I can’t even begin to get a handle on what they are saying. I have tried pleading with people who use this language over the phone, explaining how my Japanese language skills are limited, and I need them to speak more slowly and use more common language—but no matter how hard I try, they never slow down, and never simplify their speech even the slightest bit.

    Even worse, they seem incapable of even saying a simple “yes” or “no”; I will try to restate what they said and ask, is that what you mean, just tell me ‘yes’ or ‘no’ please, and I get several long, formal sentences which I cannot make heads or tails out of. Frustrates the hell out of me.

    As a result, when the Softbank idiot, after me wasting half an hour trying to get any useful information out of him and failing, started to write down a phone number to call, I just told him to screw it and left.

    Even if I had been able to access the online store, it probably would have been so overpriced that I would have paid more than the amount I had accumulated in excess of what I could get at a shop elsewhere.

  3. Troy
    November 3rd, 2014 at 10:42 | #3

    teineigo 丁寧語 is the polite/formalized way of speaking you get from customer service / public relations in Japan.

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