Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sometimes things go right

Since the separation, I've been looking at cell phone plans.  I've been disgusted by Canadian plans, and drooling over American plans.  I'm moving back to Atlanta, and have known I'd need a US cell phone.  My plan was to order it a month before leaving, and have it set up on my old iPhone 5.  It's still a workhorse, and there really isn't anything wrong with it other than it was a bit slow for some apps I was using, which prompted my upgrade to the 6S.

My mother's really been advising T-Mobile, as she's very happy with them.  They have an all-you-can-eat plan, including data, long distance, texting, and Canada/Mexico roaming.  While the Canada/Mexico roaming sounds perfect, it's limited to 6GB of LTE every month.  Not really an issue for me, since I only use a ton of data when I'm actually travelling.

After months of investigation, I found a reseller called Teltik.  They are a reseller of T-Mobile accounts, but for businesses only.  Apparently they are the same people who did Harbor Mobile.  For those of you who don't know, Harbor Mobile was much the same thing, a reseller of AT&T and T-Mobile accounts.  Their relationships were dissolved, and while the reasons are a bit murky, ostensibly it was because they weren't doing a very good job of verifying that people had businesses, and they got caught.  The biggest issue in the entire thing was that people had 2 days of warning.  That's right, forty-eight hours to either convert to t-mobile accounts directly, or port their numbers to other carriers.

Thirty bucks for a 6GB plan, which can later be changed to all-you-can-eat at 60, as opposed to 75 for the same plan. The only catch is you cannot port an existing T-Mobile number.  That's right, if you're already with T-Mobile, you cannot port your number to Teltik and take advantage of this plan.

Uh, math anyone?

But then there's that concern, what happens if T-Mobile severs the relationship?

I put some thought into it, and since it's already a T-Mobile service, and I was looking to go T-Mobile anyway, for me, it's not a big deal.  The plan is a bargain, and if that relationship gets severed, I can simply call T-Mobile and have the account changed over.

OK, so decision made.  Now, Teltik told me I would need to go into the US to actually activate my account.  I needed to either a T-Mobile chip from them ($10USD + $2USD pickup), get one from T-Mobile online (again, $10USD), order one from Amazon ($10USD + $2 pickup) or get it from Amazon Canada ($12CDN).  Math again.  The Canadian dollar is in the crapper and has been for a while.  Cheaper ordering it from Amazon Canada, and I don't need to worry about a trip down there to pick it up, so I did.

Shockingly enough, the chip arrived next day.  Shipping was supposed to take four days. That was unexpected, but OK, didn't change any of my plans, and Yay! It was early!

Then I got to thinking about other unexpected things.  What could go wrong in getting this set up?  Their ordering only allows US addresses, and while I have US addresses, my credit cards are all attached to Canadian addresses.  Was this going to be the hiccup that would prevent me from getting this set up?  Was my old iPhone unlocked so I could even use the chip in it as planned? What if I sold the car before I could get it activated in the states?

All minor things, but just enough to cause me some stress.  I went ahead to the Teltik site and ordered the account.  Holy crap!  It took my credit card, I was surprised, but very happy.  I took the chip and put it in the iPhone 5 and patiently waited for it to boot.  Crap!  the iPhone 5 was locked to Rogers.  I couldn't get to the IMEI number on it, so I swapped the chips between my 6S and the 5.  I then called them, and they unlocked it for me (unlocking has been free since December 2017 for those who don't know).

While I was on the phone with Rogers (their customer service has always been amazing for me) I looked at my 6S and noticed it was on Telus.

OMG.  I didn't need to go to the US to get it activated?!?!?

Made my test call by calling mom, and it worked!!!  The only issue is it looks like I may be at the range for T-Mobile, because it switched over to the Bell network and the call dropped.  Boo!  I can work around that though, no problem.

From ordering the service, to activation took about 30 minutes.

It was completely unexpected that it went so smoothly.  I was sure there would be some massive hiccup preventing me from getting it done quickly.  I'm still in a bit of shock at how easily this one was accomplished, and that's one stress off my mind now.

For those wondering about the receiver I use in the States, they've been great.  It's 5D Packages, located about 5 minutes from the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine.  You set up an account with them, and when your package arrives, they notify (via SMS, Email or Phone) you as soon as it's been processed, which usually only takes a few hours.  You walk in, give them your customer number, they check your ID, and bring out your package.  They are pretty cheap, 2 bucks for every package.  You can pay as packages are received, or prepay into your account.  I highly recommend pre-paying as you can be in and out of there very quickly.

Prior to 5D I was using Letterlock in Sumas.  Also pretty great, they were 3 bucks to receive, but way out in Abbotsford, which is quite the drive for me.  Letterlock is also able to bring your packages across the border for you so you can pick it up in Abbotsford.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Best Laid Plans

For months, plans were made for my move back to Atlanta.  I was going to take a cross-country road trip, see some sights, and meander my way there.  Looking into the costs of camping (when did camping get so expensive!?) I ended up revising my plans.  Five days from Vancouver to Atlanta, a short road trip with my mother.  Hotels and the flight for my mother booked, travel plans made, route mapped out.  All ready to go!

Then the snag.  I received my letter from my car's manufacturer and it turns out my car can't be imported to the USA.  Why you may ask?  Surely a car that has been driven back and forth across the border any number of times, much like any other car in Canada, would meet the requirements for importation, right?

You'd think that.  I certainly thought that.  Apparently back in 2007, the US passed a law requiring all new vehicles sold to have TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System).  Canada has no such law, so many manufacturers chose not to install it on the cars shipped to Canada.

OK, so what's the big deal?  Just get it installed, right?  Much easier said than done.  I called the different dealerships (both in the US and Canada), spoke to two supervisors at the border, and talked to a registered importer.  The answer?  It can't be done.  Why?  Not only do you need TPMS, it has to be installed with OEM parts.  This means you can't just get a kit off Amazon or go to the dealership and have after-market TMPS installed on your system.  The manufacturer of my car says this can only be done at the factory.  They can't do it at the dealership, and even if they could, they'd have to rip out the computer, all the wiring, and completely redo those systems.

Wow.  OK.  So I guess I'm selling my car.  If I had known about this a year ago, I could have traded it in, had the year of ownership, and everything would have been fine.  Except I didn't.  I waited until closer to moving.  Thank goodness I didn't wait until the last minute though.

I'm pretty upset that I have to sell my amazing car, the car I planned to drive until the engine fell out.  My perfectly good-has-never-had-an-issue car, but at least I have time to do it.

Luckily, carsharing is widely available here in Vancouver. should I actually end up needing a car.  I can rent a car for a day if need be, for about thirty bucks.  I don't anticipate needing a car as the transit here isn't that bad, and it's pretty easy to get around as long as I'm staying within Vancouver or near the Skytrain.

What a PITA though.