Movistar Costa Rica

Having spent any amount of time in Costa Rica, one quickly realizes that customer service is not that high on the agenda.

I’ll be the first to tell you that Costa Ricans are incredibly generous people and will bend over backwards to help a person out – foreigner or otherwise. I’ve never been a subscriber to the theory that Ticos treat foreigners differently.

Sure there’s a bit of prejudice with regard to menus and stores featuring products without posted price tags but this is more of an opportunistic approach over anything racially motivated.

I don’t care what country you’re in, a buxom blond bombshell walks in to a used car lot…she’s getting the “special price” just for her. And I’m almost certain that price would be higher than a man or even worse…a mechanic who was to be interested in the same car. So no…I don’t believe it’s racially motivated by any means.

That being said…

Today I had another wasted day — a few weeks back I wrote this blog post on my experience dealing with Movistar and activating my New iPad. (read it here)

I simply bought a prepaid cell chip for my iPhone/iPad. Then again…nothing is “simple” in Costa Rica. Especially where here…the customer is ALWAYS WRONG.

Now this is the complete polar opposite to what I am use to back home in Canada where it doesn’t matter if the customer is clearly in the wrong…the bottom line remains – the customer is ALWAYS RIGHT!

Coming back to Costa Rica…

Here’s the short and slightly less painful recap of the events.

Movistar Costa RicaBought a Movistar prepaid sim from MonteGeneral Mall (only mall in PZ) and loaded it with 13,000 colones of credit. They told me the Internet was 2700/week so i thought this was fine for one month.

They couldn’t get the sim working in my iPhone 4 but they sent me on my way anyways given my family was in the car in the searing heat.

Turns out that I couldn’t get it to recognize in my iPhone nor my New iPad. Then I waited until Monday and took it to another Movistar office near McDonalds in PZ. There they noticed that the chip (regular SIM) was cut wrong and the other guy ruined the chip by cutting it improperly and shaving the actual contacts.

You see, you have to cut a regular SIM because the new iPhones/iPads all take microSIM chips which are smaller. For this reason they cut them.

So the guy breaks out another SIM and proudly cuts it showing me what a great job he did compared to the other guy. Then he couldn’t get it to work in my iPhone. So he then puts the cut SIM back in to the adapter and put it in his old Nokia (not an iPhone) and it worked. So…then he tells me it must be my phone.

I had previously noticed that his co-worker had an iPhone 4 so I asked…can’t we try it in that one? He declined.

I went home and tried it in my friends iPhone 4S and it was the same thing…NO SIM. Then we compared the chips to see if it was cut wrong. It was.

Back again but this time he wouldn’t accept it so he tried and tried to get it working in the other iPhone of his coworker until finally, after 20 minutes, he got it to work. Yet still when transferred back to my iPhone it would take the same amount of time to work.

I don’t know about you but I certainly have better things to do than wait 20 minutes for my SIM to recognize in my phone.

In Spanish there is a saying, “medio palo” which means basically “half-assed”. This combined with, “I’ll just MacGyver it!”…explains a lot about how things are done here.

After a week (today) I went back because I simply could not recharge (send SMS) the Internet again because the iPad is not a phone and can not send SMS messages.

This time I went to another office (near Chirripo in PZ) to talk to another guy that ended up confirming once again…the chip was cut wrong and that is why it’s not working.

He changes the chip and then when it came to transferring my remaining balance…he says to me, “Sir…you only have 1900 colones. Not 13,000.”

So where did it go? This is where it gets completely insane.

The man calls the other office to confirm I in fact had that balance – they confirmed it.

He then told me to go and talk to them about what happened when they were suppose to of transferred the funds upon reissuing me a new chip.

So I went back again. They told me that…

“You see sir – when you buy minutes on your prepaid SIM it lasts for 5 months BUT, when you transfer funds from one to another…it’s only good for 1 week. And yours expired yesterday at 4pm.”

For which I replied…”and what part of all this is my problem or fault?”

Then I got the deer in headlights look.

Basically they had taken my 13000 colones and given me NOTHING!

So now I wait until tomorrow when I’m sure another (uneducated) service representative will call me only to tell me…nope…we’re keeping your money and it’s YOUR FAULT!

In fact they already told me numerous times through this fiasco that I should have known this. Like I have a freaking crystal ball and should have guessed that Movistar would simply take my money and provide me with nothing. Ya…makes sense right?

End of a long story is this…

Next time you buy absolutely ANYTHING in Costa Rica, be sure to have it in writing, take photos, get their names and ID numbers and whole 9 freakin yards…GET IT ALL. Because if you don’t and something goes wrong…remember…ITS YOUR FAULT! You should have known.

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