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In which I triumph over Telecom Italia!

camel.jpg

(BTW, I should point out that the above reproduction of Giotto's The Adoration of the Magi from the Capella degli Scrovegni in Padua has nothing to do with this post, except that I love it -- especially the medieval idea of how camels looked -- and will visit the Scrovegni with Girasoli in June!)

I have a love-hate relationship with Telecom Italia (TIM)

Here's the love part: I love having an Italian phone number. It's like holding a wee bit of Italian identity; a toehold, albeit tenuous, in Italy. Actually, now that I think of it, I also have a code fiscale as well, which came with the phone. Surely that means I'm practically an Italian!!

I also love the pay-as-you-go principle applied in Italy concerning cellphones. You buy time as you need it. No monthly rental agreements, no flat fees applied regardless of how few calls or texts you make. Canada should try this. I really hate paying monthly cell phone fees, especially if I barely make a call from my cell.

Here's the hate part of my TIM relationship: dealing with Telecom Italy. More specifically, trying to add credit to my cell phone from North America.

I suppose my struggles with TIM are really supporting evidence of just how Canadian I still am (and Irish, of course, being the proud bearer of an Irish passport. Tho sometimes I cover all of the other letters on the cover and pretend the I stands for Italy.)

Now, as anyone who follows the Slow Travel Italy message board knows, countless anguished posts have been thrown up concerning how to recharge an cellphone registered with TIM. Especially when you're not actually in Italy.

This matters because once you buy a SIM card from TIM (still with me?) your cellphone is registered for use in Italy for one year after you the last time you bought, well, time. If, for some reason, you don't buy any more credit by the time that year elapses, your TIM registration and Italian phone number dies. (There may be an extra month's grace, I'm a bit fuzzy on that detail.)

Anyway, I learned this the hard way two years ago. I bought my first TIM card and at the Florence airport, splashed out on a 50 euro time card. Whoo-hoo! Load up with lots of credit, I thought; and then you and your cell will be set for years. Alas, I was very confused. I mistakenly thought so long as you used the phone at least once per year, the number remained active. (Now, of course, we know you have to purchase credit at least once per year to remain active.)

Needless to say, the TIM registration card expired a year later, swallowing about 40 euro in credit. And then, I had to buy a new TIM and give my friends a new Italian number.

So before I left Italy last June, I bought a 5-euro ricaricard for recharging and brought it home with me. And this morning, heart in mouth, I dialed TIM, punched in the secret code from the card, and promptly got a message back from TIM, essentially acknowledging my Italian citizenship. Yahoo!!! I didn't think it would work, since I'm not active on any Canadian cellphone networks. But I guess business transactions are permitted. How's that for free trade?

BTW, I tried for many hours to do this over the Internet, but TIM IT gods refused to accept my Canadian credit card or Paypal.

My lesson? Add a few ricaricards to the annual shopping list for Italy. Or, visit there more than once a year!

Comments (8)

Mindy:

Pronto Sandra! (pretending I'm answering my Italian cell phone in Italy). I learned a lot from your blog post. I bought another phone while I was there in October (my first phone was lost by my supervisor). I will of course take it with me in April and add more time. Now I know to buy a ricaricard so I can add even more time at a later date. (I doubt I'll get back to Italy in 2012 so I'll certainly go pass the one year time frame).

Thanks again for a great and informative post.....
BTW, the camels ARE way cool!!

Congratulations! Good to know that TIM in a foreign country can be overcome!

I have a pay-as-you-go phone from Virgin Mobile, and it's been perfect for me. But ... I covet the iPhone and am close to treating myself to one. :)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I like the expressions on the camels in that painting. It's very cool that you'll be able to visit with Girasoli. And yay for getting the success in recharging your TIM. That second solution of visiting Italy more than once a year seems very appealing. :)

sandrac:

Hi Mindy, glad I could help! I remember when you lost your cell phone, what a hassle that must have been. And losing your TIM registration is a pain, as well as expensive.

It's so easy to bring back a little ricaricard and if you watch the dates, you can probably keep your number alive for a couple years (tho hopefully you'll be back in 2013 even if you miss next year!)

Colleen, I'm envious of your pay-as-you-go option, I wish we had that choice in Canada!

Hi Kathy, aren't the camels so sweet? I'm fairly sure Giotto and his contemporaries never had the opportunity to actually see one, so they just imagined a tarted-up horse!

I love those camels too. Amazing how much personality comes through.

I'm glad you found the solution to the problem. Learned a new word today: ricaricard!

sandrac:

Annie, I do love those little camels....I'm pretty excited at the thought of returning to Padua to see them in June. Girasoli and I are going to do a little day trip from Venice!

Who knew? I've allowed 2 separate numbers (and credits) go by the wayside. SIGH I'll get a new one when we get to Italy in the fall and now I know how to keep it active.

sandrac:

Jerry, I tried to keep my TIM registration active by buying time on the company's website (didn't work;) by forcing the phone on friends traveling to Italy ('cuz I thought simple use of the number kept it active; didn't work.)

But the simpliest way -- just bringing home a 5-euro recharge card was all I needed to do!

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