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Changing phone service

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Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:05 pm    Post subject: Changing phone service Reply with quote

So Avea which has been ever more blatantly ripping me off, to the point that the last time I paid 20 lira for a GB of data, the entire thing vanished after I turned my phone on data mode for five minutes to check email and Google Maps. This goes takes it from "random charges for more data than I used" into the realm of paying them money for data that magically evaporates before I get the chance to use it.

Now Avea's been ripping me off for some time, though it used to be only charging me about five times what I was supposed to pay, and I sucked it up because it's remarkably hard, at least as a foreigner, to change phone companies in this country. I don't trust Turkcell for reasons I'll explain in a moment, and every Vodafone branch near me has for some reason has persistently refused to sell me a SIM card (except one which quoted me 58 lira for a new SIM, which being twice the standard price seems to be a blatant case of "try to rip off the yabanci," and calls that store's trustworthiness into question).

But since sucking it up's no longer an option, I went back and argued with one of the Vodafone stores, who finally texted something from my phone, wrote down a number, and then told me something in Turkish, which I had her write down. Near as I can make out, it's this:

Vodafone lady wrote:
telefon pasaport kaydi yapilmasi lazim sonra yeni sim kart verilmesi gerekiyor

Google Translate wrote:
phone sim card must be given a new passport after registration can be done

The first time I came into this particular store (which the most of the other stores keep directing me to as the store that deals with foreigners) she grabbed a man off the street who spoke some English, and told me that I needed to get a new passport stamp to register my phone with Vodafone, and I assume it's the same thing she's trying to say here.

However my phone was already registered when I got an Avea SIM card, and I thought that once the phone was registered, it was registered in a government database, and it was this possible to switch providers without leaving and reentering the country or going through the hassle of getting a government waiver.

I could try Turkcell, but when I got to this country they sold me a card without registering the card or my phone, which meant that after a month my service was cut off and I not only had to buy a new card (which I unfortunately did with Avea) but I had to go to the government office and get a special waiver. So it's possible that Turkcell will sell me a card, it's also possible that if the Vodafone lady's right, if Turkcell does sell me a card my phone will revert to being unregistered and in a month I'll be cut off.

Can anybody help me?
Has anybody ever successfully switched providers while keeping the same phone (it's my phone dammit, I bought it unlocked in the United States), and knows what process I have to go through?
Do I really need to get a special waiver (or exit and enter the country) and register my phone anew merely to change providers, or is the Vodafone lady talking out her rear?

Thanks for any help in this matter,
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Joined: 06 Jun 2008
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's terrible. I can't help, but I assumed you could just pop into a shop and get a SIM card with a # and start using a phone. Naive of me, yes.
But, I've done it in many other countries before without registering
a name, passport or address. I'm in for an awakening very soon, I suspect.
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Joined: 20 Apr 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Qaaolchoura,

I have been watching your troubles with the phone services over here. At first with humour, but now I feel so sad for you that I will offer you all the help I can. Please pm me and I promise to solve all your issues for you.

If you are in Istanbul, I'd even offer to take you there myself.


I can assure you, you don't need a waiver or to leave the country.
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La Reve

Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 68
Location: Ici

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:03 am    Post subject: Phone Service Reply with quote

PMs are great for individuals, but I was wondering if you could be so kind as to provide your opinion about which phone company is the best?

I will be arriving in Turkey with a bit of an old smart phone and would like to immediately register it as well as get a Turkish sim card.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

La Reve: I'm still waiting for soldiarnosc to PM me back.

That said, I can tell you that most Turks use Turkcell, but I think this is in part due to being Turks, and thus navigate Turkcell's plans. Turkcell are notorious for ripping off foreigners by not registering the SIM card, but if you go to a Turkcell store and demand they do it you might get around them.

Avea seem to have the friendliest representatives and are traditionally considered the cheapest if you get unlimited data, but I haven't been able to get them to give me unlimited data even with a residency permit and they've gone and doubled the book cost of pre-paid plans, in addition to being notorious for random additional charges and mismetering their data plans.

Vodafone is the only one I haven't used, and that's because I can't get them to sell me a new SIM card (see opening post). Still I've never heard any complaints, and I know a few Turks who've bought Vodafone cards when they've been abroad.

My advice: go with Vodafone if they'll sell you a card. OTOH, if you'll be in Istanbul, Turkcell does have some English-speaking employees at some of its larger branches. But I'd still say go with Vodafone, since even though they're the least foreigner-friendly company, one thing you'll discover about Turks is that those who are friendliest to you often want to rip you off.

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