So I’m in Europe at the moment with an Google Nexus 4 and my wife carrying a 5. Of course they are both unlocked from a service provider, as all phones purchased from Google are, and GSM pentaband so we can go with every mobile provider in Europe.
When we first arrived in France, things were pretty hectic: we were all tired and ready to get into Paris, proper. All of the SIM card options I had researched weren’t available at the Relay store we visited so, with the help of Sly, I opted for a “Tourist sim” which offered a flat two hours of international calling, 1 gig of data and 2000 text messages, all of which would expire after a month. This cost me an exhorbitant 39.95 Euro. But it was definitely convenient and got me what I needed, and more.
Fast forward a week and we’re on the Chunnel train to London. I’m leafing through the train’s monthly magazine and find an offer from Lebara for a free SIM card; I would just have to pick it up on arrival in London St. Pancras Station. Thinking this would be just another way to fleece travelers, I pocketed the voucher I would need to trade for a SIM with a shrug and thought little more of it.
Arriving at St. Pancras, I happened upon the location mentioned on the voucher so I walked up, pulled out my wallet for the inevitable ask and pushed the voucher under the window. The location was a currency exchange outlet, one of the more notorious businesses that savvy travelers tend to avoid. The cashier smiled, looked at the voucher and handed me a package containing a SIM card and instructions on how to top up the account. I tossed the package in a pocket and forgot about it until we found our hotel.
After settling-in, I jumped on the Wi-Fi and setup an account, purchased a data plan (only no need for minutes) and then put 5 quid into the prepay section so I could make the occasional call and text my wife (as she was using the SIM from France). And that’s it. In under 10 minutes I was up and running with a phone that could be used anywhere in the UK for only 10 quid.
No hassle, no walking into a store, no setting up a post paid account. Using only an internet connection I was up and running within 10 minutes with very little monetary investment.
I don’t even want to compare the process for someone that needs to do it in Canada as that whole fucking process just sucks.
This is what happens when a dozen or so competitors (yes, real competition) are vying for your money.
I’ll be using Lebara again if ever I find myself in the UK again simply due to the ease of use.