August 03, 2010
Yesterday I got a text from Verizon informing me that I'd incurred over a hundred dollars in roaming charges.
I shut the phone down and called Verizon...and got put on hold. Since my total phone time in Japan has been under 6 minutes and 4 texts time on hold was really disturbing, so I turned off the phone, then called my folks to have them go to the Verizon store and find out what was up. 2 dollars a minute and 50 cents for texts does not =100 bucks. It turns out that although I'd gotten the phone switched over to an overseas plan, this did not cover internet or E-mail. Everytime I recieved an E-Mail I was incurring large roaming fees. I did get my plan changed but later in the day I recieved a text to the effect that I had exceeded 200 dollars in roaming fees before the new plan kicked in.
I'm currently in a ManBoo Internet cafe in Ueno, charging my Blackberry via USB and trying (in vain thus far) to get at its pictures.
While purchasing the time, I was informed that Tokyo has passed a new law covering internet cafes. All internet cafe customers must now get membership cards and provide contact information to be turned over to the government. I'd missed this at N-Cafe because it was one of the few that had always required a membership and ID. I had a membership already and when they asked for ID to issue me a new card I'd just assumed it as because my 4 year old card was ragged.
All foreigners using internet cafes now have to provide their passport number!
Internet cafes used to be a neat way to travel on the cheap as you could get a 6 or 8 hour time block and sleep, for far cheaper than you could a hotel room. Now, I'm just going to avoid them as my passport# is not something I wasnt floating around in multiple sketchy establishments.
This is a large hassle aside from the privacy issues, one used to be able to duck into i-cafes to avoid rain, upload pictures or make quick blog posts, now one has to deal with filling out a rather intrusive form for each one, even though one may never visit there again. I gather that this card will not be good at any other ManBoo.
I also note that several internet websites are blocked at both cafes I've been to on this trip are blocked and this is particularly true of thumbnail links, that is you can look at an art site but clicking on the thumbnail gives you the BLOCKED SITE page.
I assume this is in preparation for a crackdown on pirates, but given Japans sliding obcenity scale of late, the potential for abuse is great. The potential for identity related woes is really worrisome as well.
In other news, I made sure that my ATM Visa would work in Japan before I left. Yet every time I've attempted to use it I get "SERVICE TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE". This is also worrisome but on a personal level only.
Finally, the inscrutable apostrophe problem seems to have been limited to those two keyboards at N-Cafe. (Seats 33 and 6) I have no apostrophe problems on this machine as shift+7 works just like the Japanese keyboard says it should.
Food wise I had a Sailsbury steak and salad at a Jonathans and I ordered a 450 yen tempura bowl from a tempura shack outside Taiteshi station.
I'm back to trying to get my Blackberry to let go of its photos.
When I tried to use ATM's I frequently got the same messages after banking hours. I think it has to do with foreign ie non Japanese bank cards. If you still have problems, try the Citibank machines at Ikebukuro Station. They are in the Tobu mall section on the West side of the station. I think that next time I go I'm just going to draw 100,000 yen here in the states and keep it in my wallet.
Posted by: Jcarlton at Sat Aug 7 07:37:45 2010 (mKHVN)
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