So I went through the official distributor. T-MOBILE. I decided that the easiest process would be online. That's the beauty of the first world. You can buy things like phone contracts online. I filled in the forms - the usual... address, phone number, work address, mother's maiden name, bank details, intended name(s) of unborn child(ren), the works. I also had to add ID details, which I duly did.
My registration was accepted and I received an email informing me that I could now pay them the upfront 60-euros. How very exciting, I was one step closer to getting my Kumquat iPhone!
At said time of delivery (after wasting a day waiting at home), I flew down the stairs ready with ID and open arms.
*SSSSCCCCCREEEEEEEEEEECH!* ...you knew someone was going to hit the brakes on this happy story, right?
The delivery guy (iPhone tantalisingly in hand) looked at my ID... the same details that I had submitted on my online registration... and said, "oh, but this is a residence permit. You're South African."
Yes. I did not make a secret of this. I eyeballed him warily, knowing full well what was coming and barely concealing my urge to introduce my kneecap to his overall-covered groin.
"You're South African," he repeated. (YES. WE'VE BEEN THROUGH THIS) "I have you on the system as having an EU ID. This means I can't give you the phone today. You have to go through a different order system."
I didn't argue with him. I knew it was pointless. He would only do what it said on his clipboard. Trying to keep the furious trembling to a minimum, I went back up to my flat and phoned the T-MOBILE customer non-service centre.
After being told (three times) how important I was to their organisation, I got through to a CSR. Maintaining my pitch in what I thought was a fairly even squeal, I explained what I had just gone through and friendly Fred said he would check... Five minutes later he was back. "Um, yes, there has been a bit of a mess with your ID. If you are South African, then you can get an iPhone but your order has to be under your South African passport. So what you need to do... " I'm sorry, what? What I need to do..? Your system accepted my ID and my money, and now I must fix your fuck up?
"Um, yes... so what you need to do is cancel the order and then after a few days you can start a new order again, but this time you need to point out that you are South African."
Now, you're probably wondering at this stage why I didn't just list my South African passport from the start, right? Well, here's the kicker. T-MOBILE is apparently very sporadic about which nationalities are recognised. Here is the full list as offered when ordering on www.t-mobile.nl:
America (United States of); Belgium; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Egypt; England (Great Britain); France; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Great Britain; Hungary; Ireland; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Luxembourg; Mexico; Morocco; Netherlands; Nigeria; North Ireland; Poland; Portugal; Russia; Slovenia; Somalia; Spain; Suriname; Turkey; United Kingdom (Great Britain); United States of America.
Upon reflection, I thought that maybe this sporadic list is representative of the countries that T-MOBILE is active in. Because that would sort of, almost, make sense. Maybe. But when I looked on the global locations on t-mobile.com, they have the following listed:
The mystery and intrigue continues! Because now you see some countries that are listed on the ".com" website, which are not listed on the ".nl" site. So other expats who would be similarly discriminated from this list would be Canadians, Japanese and Indians.
(Interestingly, when I was googling "t-mobile global", the first automatic entry suggestion came up as "t-mobile global outrage". This made me feel less lonely in my fury.)
So... back to me. I didn't have a choice to enter my nationality. The cruel "now you see it, now you don't" non-delivery happened a week ago.
Today I again phoned the T-MOBILE Customer Non-Service Centre. Just out of interest, wondering what the hell was being done about the fact that I had paid over two weeks ago and hadn't received anything. This time it was friendly Sally who I got through to (could've been Suzy or Fred. They all sound the same).
"Okay, yes... I can see that your order is almost cancelled.. it should be fully cancelled by the end of the week."
Almost? Should be? Apparently it takes more than an entire working week to click CANCEL. I wonder if they had to train someone up, special, for that. Or perhaps it takes longer because "it has to go through a different process" when you have a cheeky non-EU resident trying to give you money for your non-services. In that case you have to click the button that reads: "Delivery aborted due to non-listed nationality". That would probably take longer 'cos it takes longer to type.
And when can I expect my money back?
"Oh, that'll be returned within the next six weeks."
Six weeks. One day for me to make my one-way payment to you guys. Six weeks, give or take a month, to get it returned when YOU cancel the delivery. Well, Sally, I know you're only saying what's on the script, but you and I both know that that's just a pile of wank. Don't we?
So T-MOBILE... It's been short, and very frustrating. Based on this, I'll be paying another shitty mobile provider for their shitty non-service, on a monthly basis. Just thought I'd let you know.
ps. Get a fucking atlas. With the borders coloured in.