SIM Saga Continues
International SIM cards for Travel: What I wish I knew (Part 2)
Everything worked out with AT&T, so then the fun begins with Viettel (the Vietnamese SIM card company). The smiling face at the Hanoi airport, or “V” as he likes to be called, helps us out with currency exchange, noodle recommendations, and SIM cards. The little sign on the desk of his booth reads: “Unlimited 4G/LTE - $9 per month”. Seems like a great deal, since I don’t need calling (or if I do need it, I have “Wifi calling” enabled). My phone isn’t unlocked at the time, so I buy the SIM, and I’ll just activate later.
The day after I activate, there is an obvious drop in data speed. I can’t even load the Google homepage. As I get frustrated trying to navigate the Viettel website (which is primarily in Vietnamese), I call Customer Support and say “English'“ until I finally get a rep who speaks some broken English. From what I’m able to understand: the package I purchased includes 3gb’s of LTE, then unlimited data at a MUCH slower speed. Now my options are: pay for more high-speed, or agree to the new snail-speed… I try to sweet talk her into a third option, but communication is still difficult at best.
I hang up the phone and go to a brick and mortar Viettel store instead. Much easier. The woman here explains that V was not entirely truthful with me, and what I was told over the phone is accurate. Consistency is nice, even when it’s the details of how you got screwed over. I pay $15 for 30gb over 30 days. Still a sweet deal compared to back home, but I’m mostly stoked to be able to actually use my phone again.
Fingers crossed there’s no Part 3!
TL;DR - If you buy an international SIM from a 3rd party, make sure you are getting what you pay for.