So we got to Chile alright. And we got the dogs. It took about three hours and a lot of shuttling of paperwork around between the Aduana, SAG and the freight company at the airport (and a trip to the pharmacy) but we did it. Getting a functioning SIM card was… different. Read on for a brief how to guide.
Bear in mind that I did this before when I visited last year, so I thought I was prepared and marched merrily off to the Costanera Shopping Centre where all the required shops are near each other. But I had clearly forgotten just how difficult it can be for someone used to logical sales systems and ordinary service. Welcome to Chile….
1. Choose your network. There is an Entel mast where I am going to live so I chose them. They are one of the main providers with plenty of shops and stalls everywhere.
2. Go to the Entel shop to buy SIM card. No! Wrong move, Entel only deal with contracts, if you want a prepay or pay as you go (prepago) SIM, you have to go to an electronics store.
3. Go to Casa Royal and buy the SIM card. Ask if you can buy some credit at the same time. No! You have to go to a pharmacy to do that….
4. Go to Cruz Verde and ask to buy some credit. They ask you for your phone number but of course it isn’t isn’t on the SIM or in the pack that came with it when you bought it. You can’t call the cashier’s phone because it won’t register on the network.
5. Go to the Samsung shop and ask what the problem is. They do a diagnostic test and shrug their shoulders guessing that it is probably an international block. Who can help get a code to unblock it? Entel.
6. Cry into a burger and build up strength for whatever may be to come.
7. Go to the Entel shop and ask about a code. They say they can’t help, it would have to come from the phone company in the UK, the best thing to do is to buy a new phone… at an electronics store.
8. Go to Casa Royal (see a pattern emerging here?) and ask to buy a phone because the SIM you just bought won’t work. The lady behind the counter asks to look at the phone and manages to register the SIM card, it wasn’t blocked after all. But without credit it is still useless. At least you can now recieve calls.
9. Go to Cruz Verde and ask to buy some credit. Cashier doesn’t have a phone so you have to text a Chilean friend and ask them to send you back your own number. Buy credit for your phone once he replies.
10. Try to make a phone call. You now need to register your number online (with a RUT) and buy a ‘bolsa’ with your credit as adding credit to your number only puts it onto your account, you need to specify how you want to use that credit, i.e., how many Mb, texts and call minutes.
11. Make the phone call. By now the person you wanted to call has gone to bed.
12. Bang your head against the wall and go out for a beer and some salchipapas.
Simple, right? Makes bringing live animals into the country look like a piece of cake. And I still haven’t worked out what happens with how to give your number as an international number. Or how to call landlines….