The Catamaran Adventures of Noel and Ceu
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Internet Woes

So far we have traveled through eight Mediterranean countries, and in every single one of them we have had problems with buying internet services.

I don’t mind paying for the service. But when I do, I expect it to work. So why is it that every single time there is a problem? In Spain we spent EIGHT HOURS on the phone to Vodafone customer support trying to get it sorted out.

In Italy we could only buy a 5 Gb / 1 month SIM and dongle. When it was used up before the month was finished (again, where did all the data go?) we could not recharge it. We had to buy another SIM and another dongle!

In Croatia we had to buy an ‘airbox’ type thing too. But at least we were there for 4 months. But after buying it, it never got activated. So we had to wait until the weeken was over before making a special trip back to Dubrovnik where it took 2 hours to get it sorted out.

In Turkey we were sold a dongle which they guy never activated properly, so all our credit was used up in 2 days. “Too bad!”. So we had to buy another one – and again got ripped off. But three times is a charm and eventually we got one that gave us what they promised.

In France last week we waited in line for a hour in the Orange shop (SFR had the same busyness). Eventually they told us they were out of SIM cards and we would have to go to a different store. We did. There we waited about 10 minutes before giving up.

In Marseille we found another Orange store, and waited another hour to get served. Apparently they no longer sell or support the USB dongles, so we had to buy a wifi “airbox” which was supposed to come bundled with 2 Gb of data. After 500Mb it said it was finished.

In St. Raphael we found another Orange store. After a half hour wait we were finally seen, and they promptly told us we had used up our allocation on Skype video. This made no sense to us and, in any case, where were the other 1500Mb we were promised.

After TWO HOURS bugging them, they finally got an answer from their head office. Apparently we had been given a 500 Mb SIM instead of the 2 Gb. Finally they gave us a new SIM card wich has 5 GB on it.

And so it goes on.

Why is it so complicated? Why can’t we buy as much bandwidth as we want? Why is the customer service so poor?  And even then, once it is all working, why is the internet connection often so poor?

As I said, I don’t mind paying for it, but at least give us what we pay for, without all the hassle.


2 days later we were preparing for our crossing of the Golf du Lyon. This is tricky, as the wind can be blowing force 7 to 8 from the north one minute and then an hour later it is blowing the same strength from the south, each time kicking up short steep waves. Not nice. And the forecast keeps changing too.

So we were watching the weather every day and finally spotted what looked like a weather window. Calms instead of strong winds, but that is better than gales on the nose.

Then, the night before we intended to set out, our internet connection (supposed to be 5Gb) informed us that we had run out (after 3Gb) and would we like to top up?  I was soooo mad. We didn’t do it.

In the morning the weather looked like it was doing what the forecast said, so we set off. An hour later, somehow, we had our internet connection back again!  We got the weather, did the crossing, and are now in Collioure. And still have internet! So what was all that about, wanting us to recharge our credit???

Well, let’s hope it last a couple more days, by which time we will be in Spain and have to start the whole process all over again.

4 Responses to “Internet Woes”

  • heidi swanson:

    Sorry about all your problems. Life can be very frustrating. A parcel arrived for you today. What do you want done with it. Mitzi and us are considering your proposlton re property.

    Love, Mum

  • Marlene Boehm:

    Oh the stories you have to tell Noel. When you two are finished your traveling and retire, you should probably write a book!!!

    • Noel:

      I have been bugging Ceu to right the story of her childhood, but it hasn’t happened yet! One day, who knows?

  • Noel and Ceu,
    We feel your pain as we have faced similar situations crossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Mary Margaret has suggested that we create a couple of shadow boxes filled with the various dongles we have had to buy. However, we now have a smart phone which we load with a SIM card and use it as a hot spot to connect our computer to the Internet. We assume we should be able to do that throughout the Med. Even so, I am sure we will face our share of your horror stories in just trying to get the SIM card and have it loaded.

    Thanks for sharing.

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