I must begin by detailing this wonderful purchase on Ebay. A Samsung SGH-C300.
$16 for a phone that cost $100 new. Not bad at all. I have only been watching items for what seems like 2 years but I finally got one. Now, the phone was locked to Telstra so I decided that the price of unlocking (around$30) added to the price of the phone did not make the cost prohibitive.
So, it was simple. I go to the Telstra shop at a local shopping centre. The wait was excruciating and for anyone who has dealt with Telstra over the phone, you will know what I am talking about. So I waited, and waited.
Suddenly a strange man appeared. He was gnarled with yellow teeth and a strange hangnail growth of some sort. I am not joking. He looked quite a bit like this guy:
Although similar in looks to Lo-Pan from "Big Trouble In Little China" the similarity ended here. He was not all-seeing, powerful, flame throwing or supernaturally gifted in any way.
In fact, he couldn't even unlock my phone.
"Can I help you?"
He seemed to appear from nowhere and was suddenly standing to my left.
"Oh, yes. I want to get this phone unlocked. It's locked to Telstra and I have another type of SIM card." I showed him the phone.
"How long have you had it?"
"Uh, just got it."
"Excuse me? I thought it was around thirty dollars."
"FIFTY DOLLARS." The room seemed to shake with the force of his words.
"But...this isn't a new phone. It's quite old. Look." I showed him the phone again, scratches all over the face of the screen indicated a very used phone.
"It might be new."
"How?" I was growing tired of him.
"I can't tell if it's new. You can't tell if a phone is new by looking at it."
"Well I can." I'd had it now. What did he think I had, a custom scratching machine for scratching new phones so I could save twenty bucks?
"Hmmmm." He looked at me suspiciously.
My cortisol levels were rising and he seemed to be enjoying it. What he didn't seem to realise was that I was two seconds and bad judgement away from grabbing his neck and throttling him over the desk.
"This phone ok? If not, I unlock it and it doesn't work, you just wasted your money." He cackled at me.
He spent what seemed like hours trying to find the serial number. He absent-mindedly removed the battery and laid his elbow over it.
"Uh, shouldn't you be turning the phone off before pulling the battery out?"
"You have sim card?"
I handed it to him.
He then proceeded to dangle his sleeve and buttons over my sim card and went back to resting his elbow on my battery.
He spent another five minutes looking up a code. I was mortified to find out it was the same code I had seen on the internet this morning. For free. But no, I wanted to be a responsible citizen and do everything properly.
So, he finally punches in the code he spent five to ten minutes finding in an official Telstra mobile phone shop. This is the same code I spent two point five seconds finding on the internet.
Oh god, I just want to get out of here.
Then he spent another five minutes (that seemed like twenty) scratching his head and tapping the keyboard with the rather disturbing long nail of his. He still wouldn't look at me.
"Is there something wrong?"
"Come over here." He bundled me over to a desk with a computer screen and a phone. He called a number and while he was calling said I'd have to talk to them.
"Can't someone here do it? I mean, unlock my phone. That's what you do isn't it?"
He mumbled something about the code not working and handed me the phone, leaving me in the middle of a noisy shop with an electronic voice for company.
"If you are ready to continue say, 'continue'".
"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that. Would you mind repeating it?"
Why do computer simulated voices try to sound human? They're not fooling anybody! Even if it said to me "nahwarries mate got a bloody good code ere for ya ang on I'm just gunna get a beer" I still wouldn't believe it.
So I repeat 'continue' and it stops dead. Nothing.
"Hello? Um, 'continue'. Uh, 'repeat'"
I called out to the Lo-Pan guy who was off 'helping another customer', his feet on a desk.
By now, most of the people in the shop were looking at me. One of Lo-Pan's coworkers got his attention and motioned to me.
"It stopped working." I told him.
He pressed a couple of buttons and now I was back to an earlier menu.
"Here is the code. After you enter the code, wait for further instructions."
I tried it. I was not really astounded to find out it didn't work.
"Did this code work? Say yes or no."
"NO!!!" I yelled into the mouthpiece, causing more people to look in my direction. By now had I access to cigarettes I would have lit one up in the shop, smoking laws be damned.
"Please hold while we put you through to an operator."
Oh now I get to talk to a person. Lucky lucky me.
"Hoiy, what soims to be the problem?" This are not typos, this is her diction.
I took a deep breath.
"I came to this Telstra shop to get my phone unlocked and now the guy hasn't unlocked it and put me on this phone and the code didn't work."
"Orh, right. What's your oymeee?"
"I heard you, I just don't understand what you're talking about."
"When you open your phone there's an oymeee."
I opened the phone, searching around. "Is it some kind of number?"
"Yeah, an oymeee."
Oh for f@%$@k's sake. I spotted something. "Hang on. You mean this? An I-M-E-I number!"
I felt like I had cracked the DaVinci code.
"Yeah, oymeee." she sighed like I was an idiot.
I read it out.
"Okay, hold on...(silence)... I can't get you the code for three to four working days. Can I get your number and someone will call you back."
"Can't you find out now? I'm in the Telstra shop. I have already paid and the guy hasn't done anything. I don't want to leave a shop after paying for something I haven't received. Do you understand this logic?"
"So if I leave now and I get a call in a few days and then THAT code doesn't work, what happens then?"
"Um, you get a refund."
"I get a refund"
"Yeah..." she said tentatively.
I gave her the number, left the store and went to buy hardware supplies, possibly for later use when I return to the Telstra shop.