Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Adventures in Murphy and His Dumb Law...

Most of the time, my experiences with the service industry in Korea have been quite pleasant. These past couple of weeks though have sent my angry "Grrrrrr-o-Meter" soaring.

Episode 1:
I went downtown to Cell-Phone Alley with my friend HeeJin to get a new cell phone. It's a whole street lined with shops that sell cells. They all look pretty much the same, and sell exactly the same phones. The first shop we entered showed me a model with the features I wanted (English menu, Korean-English dictionary) and told me it would cost $192. The second shop we entered flatly said they wouldn't sell a phone to a foreigner. The third shop said they could terminate my contract with my current company (even though the phone was in a Korean friend's name), sign me up with a new company, and give me a new (very sweet) phone for free!

Competition between the 3 major cell phone companies is so stiff, that they're giving new phones away for free if people change carriers. Needless to say, I switched carriers, got a snazzy new phone...and discovered the next day that it didn't have a dictionary. Since that was the only feature I'd actually asked for, HeeJin called the shop to report the problem. We were told to bring it back sometime that week and exchange it, so we made the 1.5 hour trip (one-way) on Wednesday night, only to have the guy tell us the promotion was over for the month, and he couldn't do anything about it until June. Luckily, June started on Friday. We made the trip again on Saturday, only to discover that in order to get another phone, I'd have to switch carriers a company that won't let a foreigner have a phone in their own name.

To make a loooooong, frustrating story short, I now have another new phone, with the company I started with, and still not in my name.

Whew, that story took longer than I thought. Episode 2 will have to wait. (Episode 2 is also not resolved yet, so I might wait until the story has an ending.)