Sunday, April 18, 2010

dirt cheap cell phones

OK, so I've been living here for what...a year and a half now? And in that span of time, I've managed to lose two cell phones: one the maid threw it out with the trash (not really my fault), and the other abandoned in a taxi in Dubai (completely and utterly my fault). Unfortunately you CANNOT be without a cell phone in Riyadh. There aren't a lot of payphones around, and as a woman, you can't go anywhere if you don't have a phone to call your driver to pick you up afterwards.

I've always been under the impression that cell phones are very expensive in Riyadh, because any time you walk into a cell phone store at mall, the ones on display are all in the range of 1000 Riyals or more. I found out yesterday that I couldn't have been more wrong. For whatever reason, I've never actually spoken to an employee at one of these stores before. When I approached the counter at Axiom and asked for their cheapest cell phone possible, the guy responded with "we have a hundred" and sent a minion to the back to retrieve phones. I asked, "a hundred what? a hundred phones? A hundred dollars?" The manager clarified, "no, a hundred riyals!" The minion came back with four phones in the 100-400 riyal range. I was totally gobsmacked. I figured there must be some major inconvenience in a 100 riyal phone and asked, "oh you must not be able to send text messages with them or something, right?" And he shook his head, saying, "m'am you can send and receive texts with all of them, there's just no camera." ...well that's not really inconvenient is it?!

In Canada, we pay insane monthly rates for our cell phone coverage compared to other countries. And if you want to use Pay-as-you-go, Rogers - the Canadian kingpin of legal extortion - charges $40 for a freaking SIM card! I have to control myself here, because I could go into a lengthy diatribe on the morally reprehensible activites of the evil Rogers Empire, but I'll spare you the details.

When I got back into the car, I was pontificating on my discovery to the driver, who told me his cell phone cost 85 riyals. And that he has to buy cheap ones because his daughter likes to chew on them. I guess the reason I never knew was because all our friends have iPhones or brought their cell phones with them from home!

Well now we ALL know!


Tara Umm Omar said...
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Adnan said...

OOh I hate Rogers! And I hated Fido once they got bought by Rogers! lol.

Never liked the blood sucking contracts! I was a manager at Future Shop for many years and you wouldn't believe the number of upset customers I used to get when they realised what the terms of the contract really were and how to get out of them, they'd have to shell out an arm and a leg!

I enjoyed my Fido line since I got 50% off my bill as an dealer's discount. But that still wasn't good enough for me to hate Rogers for screwing with customers. Heck, not only Rogers, Bell and Telus were no better!


The difference here is that you have a bigger selection of phones, no contracts to sign, and freedom to take your phone to any of the 3 providers because your phone isn't locked to any of them :D

Orchidthief said...

Tara, I wish I had known. If I had only known!!! Oh well...lesson learned. I can't believe it took me so long to figure out how cheap cell phones are here.

Adnan, now you have just stirred the pot! ha oh man...locking cell phones is anticompetitive - I don't know why they do it! Everything about the Canadian cell phone market just reeks of monopoly and abuse of consumers. I too know lots of people who have been casualties of those evil contracts, myself included... cheap and easy cell phone use in Riyadh is one of the things I truly LOVE about this city!

Tara Umm Omar said...
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Orchidthief said...

Yeah, I'm right there with you guys on that. Locking cell phones should be illegal!! Grr... Anytime I go home I have to constantly keep track of how many daytime and evening minutes I'm using on my cellphone and have had to hang up on people to conserve my funds because there's a set minimum with Rogers to recharge! It's like these companies are running amok, making up all kinds of arbitrary rules to suit their agendas, and we can all be sure some of those profits go to line the pockets of the politicians and lobbyists to keep it that way!

Well there you have it! It's an official ranting comment section!!

Tara Umm Omar said...
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Andrew said...

I too hate locked phones Buy unlocked phones at Cheap Cell Phones

Marti LaReux said...

I'm coming from China and I'd like to bring my Android phone with me. Will it work in Saudi?