It’s probably obvious that most of the posts for our Yen For Living blog, which since April has morphed into a twice monthly column in the Japan Times, originated with our own experiences as consumers. This week’s piece, about mobile phone plans, is really an attempt to understand the ridiculously Byzantine process of setting up such a plan, and I’m not entirely sure the article is that successful. For sure, it doesn’t come close to conveying the frustration many people must feel when trying to get straight answers from salespeople and other representatives of the various carriers who want your business. For one thing, there isn’t enough space to discuss the problems involved, so it might be helpful if I relate how our own search went.
At the end of the article I mentioned how we asked Y!Mobile about switching our Docomo keitai plan to one of their smart phone plans without mentioning that they have more than a few options. When we went directly to Docomo with the same idea there was only one smartphone plan given to us, and since it involved data services we weren’t going to use we didn’t see the point in paying for it. Later, after we had filed the article and checked out a few more companies we went back to Y!Mobile to look at their cheaper plans because we already subscribe to their pocket WiFi plan and thought maybe we could get a special deal if we added a smart phone. As it turned out, they were in the middle of a campaign to boost their smartphone sales. They have three plans with different monthly data limits, and each plan would be about ¥500 less a month if we signed a two-year contract before a certain date, though the fee would go up ¥1,000 after the contract expired and we didn’t expressly inform them we didn’t want it renewed. This re-up strategy is used by all the carriers and is notorious. Continue reading