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Considering CallinEurope and RoamSimple; Any RebelFone Users?

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I apologize what is close to a duplicate post. With the posting problems over the last weekend, I don't know if the lack of response was due to my unclear post (it was really unclear) or to the log-in problems.

To review, I am going to update my GSM phone collection plus purchase some SIMs. I plan to buy at least two phones--would prefer a quad phone--and will buy at least three SIMs, too, for our upcoming trip to The Netherlands and Belgium. We will return to Europe, but with our economy, I don't know if our return will be within a year.

I have read recommendations by several here for CallinEurope and RoamSimple services. I also have been looking at Rebelfone. Most of the blogs where RebelFone has been mentioned appear to be shills for the company, so I'm intrigued as to whether or not any Fodor's forum users (who also tend to sniff out fraud within minutes)have tried it.

Again, I apologize for any duplication of effort! And I thank you.

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    rebelfone seems like a big scam to me - their site is down today. How can i trust a company when their site is down? Also, it seems they have copied different sites and made it their own...hmmm. I have not used callineurope but i have used Roam Simple one time for my Germany trip = was very pleased with their service and knowledge. Best of all - i loved not having to prepay for minutes...so much better and so very convenient

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    oh many this is funny - i saw responses to this Ethan character on other forums and he's a rebelfone employee...ha what a joke! i checked out rebelfone and its a poor excuse for a company - i called and its a bunch of people sounds lke a cell center from India. anyways i'm a business user and their product are not for me but good luck

    Rebelfone is a sad play for a company non professional and i will never recommend this from what i view on the web nothing but bad responses...so good luck Ethan or whomever you are!

    I don't know callineurope or roamsimple but from their websites both have pretty good offers - will get back to you all if hear more

    Frank

    Fodors check out

    http://www.aardvarktravel.net/chat/viewtopic.php?t=41163

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    My Rebelfone Experience

    When I travelled abroad this year to Europe, I needed a better solution for my cell phone. I go on a trip every year and when I come back, I’m always faced with huge roaming charges on my cell phone bill. Deciding to try another route, I soon heard about Rebelfone, a company that provides temporary cellular service for those who are traveling. Unfortunately, that’s all I knew about the company and I didn’t bother with researching any more about them before I packed my bags. I soon found out that the 35 networks they say are in partnership with don’t cover even the most populated areas of service. And if you have a problem and want to talk to the people at Rebelfone, I wouldn’t bother. They are either unavailable or rude.

    When you sign up with Rebelfone, you are given the option of either renting an international cell phone for $1 day or buying a cell phone from them. Of course, if you already have a cell phone that will work internationally, you also have the choice of just buying a SIM card from them. Because I have lots of contacts and emails in my phone, I chose this option so I didn’t have to fuss with two different phones while I was away. With the SIM card that I bought for $9.99, this is what I received (or rather, what they said I would receive): one SIM card that would work in 44 European countries, unlimited free incoming calls while in the UK, 24 x 7 global support, and simple and accurate billing that would be billed right to my credit card. Other than the SIM card, which didn’t work in many of the places I was in, I didn’t receive any of this.

    I don’t know what European countries that Rebelfone does work in but it didn’t work in two of the three that I was in. Those were the France and Italy. Luckily, I was traveling with a good friend that had brought her cell phone, that wasn’t one she bought from Rebelfone. I used that to call the support line they had given me for the fabulous all-time customer service they also promised. The man I finally spoke to on the phone after calling several times with no luck, told me that he didn’t know what was wrong and that the SIM card should be working perfectly. When I became upset and said that obviously it wasn’t, he actually suggested that it was my fault! The phone did work while I was in the United Kingdom but I honestly found the dialing instructions too much of a hassle.

    When I did get home, I got my bill from Rebelfone for the calls I had made. And the calls I had received!! What happened to the free incoming calls I wanted to know. Reluctantly calling Rebelfone again, I asked why I was charged for these calls. They told me that was their policy. When I asked about the free incoming calls, they told me that wasn’t the plan I had signed up for and that I was responsible for all the charges on the bill.

    I wish I had done more extensive research on Rebelfone before I decided to give them a try. If I had, I might have found out that the Better Business Bureau has given them a rating of D-. This means that not only does the BBB find nothing of value in this company but that they also strongly advise using caution when choosing them. I might have also found out that there were customers just like myself who had the exact, or worse, experiences. I’m sure there are other companies available that can help reduce the cost of roaming cell phone charges while you’re abroad. But Rebelfone certainly isn’t one of them.

    http://rebelfonereview.wordpress.com/

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    I used Call in Europe with great success and was very happy with their over all customer service. We had two phones, which we purchased from them and the service (in Paris) was excellent (reception was not an issue any place). Billing was as promised.

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    I'm going to be posting--about a year later!--a query about another SIM card and saw that my old post asking about Rebelfone had received a very informative long answer.

    We ended up going with RoamSimple Europe SIMs with mixed results about a year ago. In Amsterdam, everything worked somewhat OK. In Brussels, we were out of luck. When I got home and talked to the RoamSimple about our difficulties, they very kindly told me that they had switched providers over there and they'd switch out our cards for the next trip, which happened to be Italy. Sadly, we didn't have great luck there, either--every time we tried to call each other (we tested them in the same room!) we got some Italian message.

    But financially, RoamSimple lived up to their word with every part of their contract, and I feel that had I been more aggressive in straightening out problems with their support people or just by asking people at the hotel desk to tell me what that darn Italian operator was saying, I could have received resolution on the spot. I think it was more of an attitude problem on my part--I HATE wasting vacation time trying to solve technical problems.

    I'm going to go back to a one-country SIM card with our next trip.

    Normally, I'm fine without a phone. For business purposes, giving the office an itinerary with hotel FAX/phone numbers and buying a calling card to check in back home makes sure we actually get away from work and that someone can reach us in an emergency. But this will be another bike trip, and I like having that ability to call for help or find out where everyone is on the road. So again, I'll be going with a one-country SIM.

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    It seems Roam Simple is in trouble. I cannot connect on line and calls to them go unanswered. I used them occasionally for 2 trips to Europe without and problem -- but now not sure if they are out of business or what? June 2012

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    None of these get your SIM in advance companies make much sense anymore... Roam Simple, Rebel, or even Call in Europe who I have used in years gone by with no problems.

    Pick up a local SIM in each country you visit or even just from one country and use it in others. In Europe roaming rates are capped at about 41 euro cents a minute which is less than you'd likely pay any of the aforementioned companies. And of course the rates while in the country are pretty well unbeatable. Check lebara.fr, lebara.ne etc for example.

  • Comment has been removed by Fodor's moderators

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    Today (and yesterday) it's Call in Europe's website which is down with a "server error." Roam Simple's site is working. There was some obsolete information on their cost to have a US number, which is $9.99 now but was still listed at $19 on the page regarding it. I emailed them on that and they promptly responded. That feature is worth it for me, since it can enable me to transparently forward calls to my existing US numbers.

    At $30 to Amazon for a simple quad-band phone, plus $29 to Roam Simple, without having to buy sim cards along the way and probably leave money stranded on them, this doesn't look too pricey. Especially because I have people who need to reach me on business, not just friends and family.

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    Rebelfone was a disaster.

    In late July, my family and I went to London and Paris for a vacation. I wanted us to be able to use our phones while we were out, so I went online to find a European equivalent of b-mobile (which is Japan-only). I found a site called Rebelfone, which offered wireless hotspot devices for under $40 each, with 1GB data. I ordered two for the UK and two for France -- that way we could be in touch with each other if we split up.

    As it turned out, the Rebelfone experience was an F- failure. They are one of the most screwed up companies I've ever had the displeasure of doing business with. At every point where something could go wrong, Rebelfone did the wrong thing. The devices didn't work and they customer support was poor. I spent many hours of my vacation in the futile attempt to try to get the devices to work.

    Here is a list of the ways that Rebelfone failed:

    1. Deception. I took a survey on Rebelfone's website and was promised a “50% discount on your purchased items.” However, the only discount I received was for the shipping costs. When I brought this to Rebelfone’s attention via email, I was told that the discount did not apply to the activation fee ($10 per device), or the data ($39 per France Mi-Fi device and $30 per UK device). In other words, the only thing the discount applied to was the shipping. On a $197.96 order I saved $10. This is deceptive advertising. I should have been tipped off at this point that Rebelfone was a company to stay away from.

    2. No information was supplied with the equipment. Also, there was no marking to tell which Mi-Fi devices were for France and which ones were for the UK. I received nothing more than four little black boxes and 4 USB cables, and a card that had the return address printed on it.

    3. Incompetence. Incorrect user guides were emailed to me. I was emailed instructions for phones, not Mi-Fi devices.

    4. Failure to provide passwords. Upon arriving in England, I tried the devices, but discovered that I needed a password to connect to the Wi-Fi, which was not provided.

    5. Slow-to-respond customer service. I emailed Rebelfone on Sun, Jul 28, 2013 at 9:45 AM and asked for the password. I received a reply on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 7:18 AM, with the password for the Wi-Fi signal.

    6. Incorrect documentation. The password allowed me to connect to the Wi-Fi, but none of the units worked. The instructions that Rebelfone emailed me told me to use the password 123456789 to access the administration features at 192.168.1.1 but it wasn’t a valid password. I emailed Rebelfone about this, and was told that the admin password was actually “password.” In other words, Rebelfone’s instructions were incorrect.

    7. Improperly configured or defective hardware. One of the UK Mi-Fi devices didn’t even broadcast an SSID.

    8. Slow-to-respond customer service, part 2. I tried changing the Internet setting to UK as specified in the instructions but the device still didn’t connect. I emailed Rebelfone about the problem on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 6:35 PM. I didn’t receive a reply until Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 3:01 PM, which read:

    I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. I have escalated the issue to the network team, however it may about 12 hours to rectify the issue. A detailed description of any error messages or other anomalous behavior when you attempted to use the data services will assist in locating the source the problem and to resolve it quickly.
    On Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 8:05 AM, I received the following email from Rebelfone:

    I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. The network has confirmed the line active, Please turn off the MiFi device and remove the SIM card, reinsert the SIM card in the device and turn it on and try using the data.
    Following these instructions, I was able to get one of the devices to work. The other didn’t work.

    9. Poor Internet service. Service on the one working unit was spotty and required frequent resets.

    10. Improperly configured or defective hardware, part 2. When I arrived in France, I discovered that the France Mi-Fi units did not work at all. The units found the mobile signal but would not connect to it.

    11. Slow-to-respond customer service, part 3. On Sat, Aug 3, 2013 at 2:28 PM I emailed Rebelfone to let them know the the France units did not work. I didn’t receive a reply for two days. On Mon, Aug 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM, Rebelfone emailed:

    I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. Upon receipt of the items(s) our team will assess the devices to see what was the issue and shortly afterwards, we will escalate the matter to management to seek their review. Once again we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused.
    12. Conflicting return instructions. Rebelfone's email told me to return the units to an address in California but the cases for the units told me to return them to an address in Colorado.

    I emailed Rebelfone with the above list. I asked for a refund. Rebelfone politely told me, "No way in hell are we going to refund your money." I won't do business with them again.

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    Sort of an update and a recap since I was the original 2009 poster:
    I never did end up using Rebelfone. The reviews I checked over and over looked more like shills. I went back to using Call in Europe or buying country-based SIMS.

    Those of us who had used Call in Europe were sad to learn that they more or less were out of business a year or two ago.

    The company served us reliably when my daughter spent four months in France. I had wanted to make sure my daughter never ran out of minutes in some dicey situation, and since one never had to "top off" service with Call in Europe, the plan worked like a charm.

    Alas, that ended. Since then, unless we are on a biking trip where I'm likely to end up in a ditch somewhere by myself, we've been making do with just using wifi hotspots throughout our trips.

    I just received word via email of a Global Data Only SIM from RoamSimple. As reviewed above, I thought that using the Roam Simple phone system was stodgy and difficult. But this seems to be a different animal--it's merely a data card so that you could check, let's say, your MAPS app with your smartphone in the middle of the street without waiting to find a wifi hot spot.



    I have no idea what their rates are, though.

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