Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ordered my Mineo SIM, my first MNVO connection


This is a long post.

It is confirmed: I'm finally leaving Japan for good in December. That means, I have to terminate my mobile phone contracts. Since I'll be terminating the contract earlier than 2 years, I have to pay the early termination fee. There is no escape from this. If you somehow avoid paying this (by letting the connection get terminated by not paying the bills for example), there is the risk of litigation. Since they have a copy of my passport, there is no way to hide. At least there is no "very early termination" penalty imposed by AU, at least not for my contract.

So I looked at my options of how to recover or at least minimize this cost. I, of course, will be selling the iPhones before I leave because they are locked to AU, but that plan was there from the beginning. So I wanted more than that. I checked if there were any connections where I could switch to and then terminate  but still recover the cost of early termination and other overheads by selling the phones. There weren't any! Apparently the mobile phone companies have come to senses.  They all ask for a huge penalty when terminating the phone within the first year, if they initially charged a discounted price for the phones. This penalty is much larger than the price I can make by selling the phones.

It was possible to change to a cheaper plan from AU than the one I was using. But there is one problem. I wanted to sell the phones before I leave Japan, obviously, but then I would not have a phone that would work with an AU SIM (the Nexus 5 doesn't work with the AU SIM) until I leave Japan. Even if the Nexus supported the AU SIM, I would have to terminate the connections on the previous day the latest. That is not a safe thing to do because I would need the phone to check the transit information and map on the day of the departure. And it would be difficult to sell the phones on the day before we leave Japan. There is loads of work to do: packing and cleaning etc. Not to mention, it will be the winter too.

So I searched the Internet for a connection that I could switch to which also didn't ask for the early termination fee. It was almost impossible to find one for on the major carriers. Finally I turned to the Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) and at first they were also a no go. They all offered data only connections that could be terminated at any time without paying a fee but if you also wanted a voice connection, they wanted to trap you for a year or two. Luckily I had somehow come across the MVNO called Mineo and they had a chat service from which I learned that they didn't ask for a early termination fee even for voice connections, if you didn't use MNP. There is a charge if you want to use MNP to switch to another service within the first 12 months. And the most amazing thing was that the connection could be terminated over the Internet. So I don't have to worry about terminating the connection before leaving Japan.

While it would not be ideal to lose the phone number that I had been using for the last 5 and a half years, I decided to go ahead and register for a new connection with Mineo. They had AU and DoCoMo plans and since I was going to use the Nexus 5, I went with the DoCoMo plan. My wife and I both decided to go with THE 3GB data plans 

But they were asking for JPY 3,240 for registration. But luckily, they were selling a Entry Package on Amazon for JPY 1,600 where they would send a code to use when applying for the connection to waive this registration fee off. I quickly bought it and it arrived the next day. I went into the link given in the starter pack to register, inserted the code and proceeded to register for the 3GB data plus voice plans. The total fixed price per connection would be JPY 1,728 after tax which is less than half the price of what I would b paying for AU. The only issue would be that the calls between my wife and I won't be free. Hopefully Viber won't let us down. The phone feature will only be used in an emergency or when I have to give my contact number to someone or some office where I would expect a call from them.

I registered both connections under my name because it was convenient thing. Besides, my wife cannot talk in Japanese should the need for calling their customer center arises. I had to upload a photo of my Resident card as proof of details that I submitted and input the details of the credit card which I would be using to make the payments. I received an email with the reference number and the application details once I submitted the applications.

According to the Mineo staff person that I talked via their chat support, it would take 7 to 10 days for the SIMs to arrive. The day I submitted the applications was October 22 and I was hoping that I would receive the SIMs on November 1 because I would be terminating the AU connection on October 31 as AU's billing period is 1st to end of the month, which is exactly the same as Mineo. I was worried what would happen if I received the SIM before the start of November and according to that staff person, the month would start of from the point we would start using the phone. So if I would want to skip October altogether, I should start using the phone from November 1. We shall see how things go. I hope they didn't make a mistake in this regard.

A couple of days after, I received a call from Mineo telling me that the names I submitted in the application was I  Japanese and the name on my Residence card was in English. They wanted to use the same name as on the Residence card and they asked me if it is OK for them to do it from their end. I was glad that I didn't have to do it myself, so I quickly told them that it was OK.

I received an email from them the next day saying that the investigation was a success and they had already sent out the SIM cards. The mail further said that it should arrive in 2 to 3 days. This was on October 26th. Sadly, the SIMs did not arrive even by 31st. But I had to terminate AU connections on that day. I was hopeful that the SIMs would arrive on the next day. That first impression was NOT great.

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