2007 / january / 03

Last dispatch from smalltown Italy (5)

Last dispatch from Italy - and actually written back home, as I've just returned after a very stressful trip. Note to self: do not travel in Italy on the 2nd of january - all means of transport are totally clogged up. The trains, the autostrada, the provincial roads... all packed to the brim with people, more than a few of which are also yielding skis and snowboards. I missed my train connection, getting stuck in a 10km traffic jam on the way out from the valley.
Flickr photo of an ETR 470 Cisalino Pendolino Anyway, I made it to Bergamo airport, with the last possible connection, for which I had to take a Pendolino between Verona and Brescia. Very nice, chic, quiet, comfortable, clean - hey, that train better be! The surcharge was more than the price I paid for the entire train journey. I was just in time for the check-in.
Flying to Bergamo is not bad, by the way - the connection from the station to the airport is both cheaper and faster than Verona. Though I don't think the bus would also make it in eight minutes in the afternoon rush-hour.

Alora, the last rant about Italy... a real WTF. How the hell is it possible that in the country where mobile phone use is through the roof, only topped by Finland, it is so incredibly expensive? It's pure extortion! Vodafone may call it life is now (in their commercials, partially spoken by Gattuso, whose accent cracks me up every time I hear it. But I digress) but they really mean is your money or your life, now!
I'm not talking about roaming, that's robbery wherever you go, I'm talking using an Italian SIM for use inside Italy. First of all, prepaid dominates - in the Netherlands, this is much less so. Subscription prices are incredible, only worthwile when you call *lots*. Some small businesses run their phones with prepaid cards!
So, prepaid then. You compare prices, come down to a carrier and a plan where calling is such and such cents a minute. All fine and dandy. Except that, of the €10,- card you buy, you pay €2,- for activating! So effectively, the price per minute is 25% more than the company states in its tariffs, and same for text messsages.
And it hardly gets less when you buy larger prepaid amounts: activating €20,- costs four bucks, effectively the same... only buying €50,- costs 'only' five to activate. For your average Italian caller, that may be enough for a week, but for me that'd last three visits. Were it not that it expires in, whatsit, six months? It's a license to print money. Ladies and gentlemen, a big hand to the Italian mobile phone companies and their cartel! Bastardi. Hope the EU regulator on free markets starts investigating this scam soon. That lady can take them on, I hope...

A dispatch from smalltown Italy (4) | main | Isn't she lovely





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