Call In Europe - Cell Phone in France

May 14th, 2008, 11:34 AM
  #1  
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Call In Europe - Cell Phone in France

"France Today" magazine advertised a cell phone program in France called "Call in Europe". Through "France Today", the Motorola phone and activation fee are free (normally $99). It costs $12 to ship the phone to me with the SIM card in the phone.

www.callineurope.com

Costs are:
$60 per year
$.39 per min outgoing calls to Europe and US. Free incoming calls.

The $.39 per min "eats up" the yearly $60 fee. So if you call 100 mins in a year ($39 in calls) the total cost that year is $60. If you call 200 mins ($78 in calls) the total cost that year is $78.

Charges are billed to your Credit Card (in Dollars)

You get a French phone number. At the end of the year, they will call you and ask if you want to keep the phone & number, and if so they will charge another $60.

Two years ago, we purchased a SIM card in France for our cell phone. The costs were something like 25E purchase cost, plus about .54E per min for calls. Unless we "recharged" the SIM by purchasing new minutes, the phone number is given to someone else in 6 months (or something like that).

Has anyone used this program? Anything I'm overlooking or forgetting to ask?

This is in no way less expensive than phone cards, but you have to locate a land line to make phone card calls.

We spend 2 months in France almost every year. We are infrequent cell phone users - except in France when we need to call sites to verify opening hours/days of sites, make dinner reservations, etc. We are not cell phone "chatters". We stay in Gites (houses) not hotels while in France

Stu Dudley
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May 14th, 2008, 11:47 AM
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Stu,

I just got back from 10 days in Greece and my Call in Europe phone worked flawlessly. I phoned my wife and the call clarity was better than when I use my much more expensive phone when in Canada.

I opted for their call forwarding feature which allows you to call a US number and your phone rings in Europe.

The phone got more use from people I met who were amazed their North American phones wouldn't work in Europe. Doh! So I felt sorry for
them and several people used mine for short calls.

All in all I'm very pleased and would recommend Call in Europe to
anyone.

Rob
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Thanks, Rob

My fear is that I'll encounter something similar to what was reported by a Fodrite a few years back - $1,200 in phone charges when she got home - due to some "small print" on the contract.

Stu Dudley
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May 14th, 2008, 11:59 AM
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I don't think you need worry. I haven't seen my credit card statement yet. But Mariam at CallnEurope is a pleasure to deal with and I'm sure she hasn't led me astray!

Rob
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May 14th, 2008, 01:19 PM
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I actually spoke with the representative from this company during the New York Times Travel Show in February.

You really are not missing anything.

As I remember, their per minute charges were reasonable in France But I was only interested in a SIM card as I already have two dual band phones and now with T-Mobile service two quad band phones.

The phone could be used in other countries but the cost was high per minute.

Since you do travel often to France for prolonged periods, I would just buy a quad band phone on Ebay for about $50.

Of course, as you say, the number would change with the SIM, but you would own the phone and you wouldn't have to pay $60 each year. That amount would still be used towards new cards when you purchase a new SIM.
Sher is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Stu, compare to Roam Simple as well, espec. if you buy an unlocked phone somewhere and just want a SIM.

Roam Simple's SIM is renewable each year for $29. If you choose a SIM for France:
- free incoming calls
- calling North America $0.79
- calling within France $0.59
Usage is billed to your credit card.
Travelnut is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 02:11 PM
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Hi Stu: There was a thread a few months ago entitled something like "Cell phones in Paris" that talked about callineuropre with pluses and minuses. Think the 60 yearly was the ONLY minus.

I have just received a SIM card from them, since my wife and I go to france for 2-3 weeks once a year (want to get that time period up.) Because I work, wnated to have a phone number to leave on my voicemail for client "emergencies."

Figure that the 60 won't be an issue, as figure will have about 60 in calls. Also, for 50cents a day plus KBs, you can have blackberry and internet capability. Will probably use our laptop for internet, but for quick email back and forth, this is a good price.

And, I talked with them, and they are very pleasant to deal with. Good luck.

Steve
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May 14th, 2008, 02:20 PM
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Thanks sher.

I actually have a Cingular cell that worked fine in France with a SFR SIM card I purchased there.

In '06 when I used the SFR SIM, the rates were .54E/$.80 then vs. the Call In Europe rate today of $.39 - so it's half the price per minute. The Call in Europe phone will cost me $12 to obtain. The zinger for the SFR SIM I purchased in '06 was the recharge and it's expiration if I did not re-charge or use the phone. If I didn't recharge, I had to purchase a new SIM - which was 30E/$45. I could have done a 6 month recharge for 95E/$150 just to keep the SIM active, but I would be purchasing minutes that I could not use since I would be in the US.

Programs change all the time. It seems like the Call in Europe is a lot better than the SFR SIM I had in '06 - but that was 2 years ago.

What's reasonable today??

Stu Dudley
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May 14th, 2008, 02:35 PM
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Thanks Travelnut. Seems like Roam Simple is about the same, depending on how many calls you make - lower initial, but higher per call.

bococpa - thanks. I'm probably in the same boat as you with the number of calls, etc. I just wanted to make sure that there was not a BIG change/reduced cost in France purchased SIM cards lately - and that there are no "hidden" surprises in Call in Europe.

Stu Dudley
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May 14th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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Stu,
I have a question about your cingular phone that you used before- I am planning on unlocking my razor and bringing that for a week this summer... how much does the French SIM card cost- do you buy one loaded with however many minutes you decide, or are they in certain amounts? And did you say that the cost per minute is about $.80? Is it just for local calls? thanks!
nvl325 is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 07:06 PM
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In the past I have us my Cingular / AT&T phone in Europe, paying the $6 per month fee for the discount plan which brings the cost per minute down to .99 US for all incoming or outgoing.

Call in Europe seems a better deal all around. No need for a new phone (have one that is quad GSM unlocked) so just the $29 activation fee. Per minute is .39 with free incoming., saving .60/min on outgoing and .99/min on incoming. Even if I go for the keep you number incoming are only .29/min, still .70/min less than AT&T. Incoming text is free, outgoing to France is .19 and to US .39 - also well below AT&T. I am thinking this is a no brainer.
Seamus is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 07:19 PM
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Stu. Let me say that the rates within France seemed particularly attractive with Call in Europe.

I didn't realize that French SIM cards had such a high per minute cost.

I think I will reconsider purchasing a SIM from them because I hope to go to France later this Summer.

T-Mobile unlocked my home phone so I can just get a SIM and use my own phone.

We usually stay in apartments and gites also and we usually do not have a land line available. So having a cell phone is great.

And I like to call all of my friends and my family when I am away. I like to do it at a reasonable cost, but I am still going to do it.
Sher is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 09:15 PM
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Has anyone used Rebtel? I guess I should test it with my in-laws in France. Sounds similar to Call in Europe except cheaper.

If I test it I'll report back.
christycruz is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 05:05 AM
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Stu: I shouold have added that the SIM that callineurope sent me was a SFR SIM card. They must have bought in volume and gotten out a special arrangement for "their" cards not to expire. In prior years had bought an Orange SIM card upon landing, and fees were high, around 1euro per minute - and they expired. What a pain.

About the only negative for callineurope was (to me) the high shipping price $12. It was disclosed upfront - but it made the 29 SIM card 29 + 12 for $41. But, if it is only a one-time charge, its worth it.

Steve
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May 15th, 2008, 06:07 AM
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nv1325

This are '06 rates - and things change all the time.

We purchased a "package" that contained a SFR SIM card plus some call minutes (actually, Euros). The call Euros are used up at .55E/$.80 per minute. I forgot how many minutes were included in this initial "charge" (the term they use), but if you subtract the value of the calls (if they don't expire before you use them all) from the price we paid, the SIM card itself came to 30E/$45.

I no longer have the documentation that came with the SFR "package", but you could buy additional minutes in increments of:
10E which expire in 15 days
15E which expires in 30 days
25E which expires in 60 days
etc
this is from notes that I wrote then, but I did not write down how many minutes were in each.

Another major headache is that you can't go to the store where you purchased the SIM to buy more minutes. You must buy the minutes from a Tabac, through the internet, or call someone. I think if you buy through the Tabac, you must call someone to activate the minutes. This seemed like a major pain. Plus - after years of vacationing in France & dealing with their way of doing business - I don't have a lot of confidence with things like "recharges" on the internet or using the phone, to work properly or easy for me to understand.

When we called about the Call in Europe program, they said that it would cost us $60 to renew the plan for an additional year (which is really $60 worth of calls). However, I could not find this on their web site - it was only conveyed to us verbally. I'll have to do a little more investigating to see if this is "waived" the first year, or exists at all. Seems like they would have to do a once-per-year "charge" to make this profitable for them.

This program & Roam Simple seem to be MUCH less expensive and MUCH less hassle than purchasing a French SIM card.

When examining the Call in Europe program, I did not stumble on anything that said I could just buy a SIM card - and not the phone with SIM included. However, I was not looking for a "SIM only". The offer for phone & SIM was from France Today magazine and the only cost was for the $12 shipping. If I can get an additional phone at no cost to me, seems like that would be a plus. I'll have to look at their site more today to find out about the $60 cost plus the "SIM only".

Stu Dudley
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May 15th, 2008, 06:16 AM
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I went to Berlin in March and used Rebtel, it was my first time to take/use a cell phone and I was a little unsure how it would work.

I bought a Vodaphone SIM (I have an unlocked quad-band phone), the clerk installed it and showed me how to call . . . I called the Berlin Rebtel operator and gave her the number and voila! It worked great!

Incoming calls were free from Vodaphone and my family who called me in Berlin only paid a few cents per minute for the long-distance part. My Vodaphone calls out were about 39/min. (same as in the US if you aren't on a plan) and by using Rebtel, the long-distance charges again were just pennies. I started w/$20 credit with Rebtel, used my phone a lot, was gone 8 days, and I still have over $16 left.

I'm planning on taking my phone to Israel in July and will certainly use Rebtel. The rates in Israel are even cheaper than Berlin, I think only 2/min.

Sandy (in Denton)

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May 15th, 2008, 06:29 AM
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The roam simple seems the most hassle free but it's still a bit pricey to call back to North America and other international calls (incidentally when Ifirst heard of them several months ago here they were using SFR, now they're using Orange FR...however...

You can open up an account with a callback service such as enlinea...I must admit I've had some problems using enlinea with my regular Orange FR sim card sporadically..I don't know if they block calls..however...

Enlinea is a callback service (it is similar to another operation called callbackworld)...the way it works is you sign up for free...they then give you a USA direct dial number...you dial the USA number and get a busy signal..you hang up..no charge as the call has not been completed...you then get a callback from their computer..while in France no charge as you are receiving a call..a female voice will say, "Please enter phone number followed by the number sign key now", you do that and the call goes through..it goes through one of the those internet voip providers so call quality is not awesome but it is passable...in any event you pay 28/minute billed in 6 second increments...lthey will also give you for $1.50/month a USA toll free number for people to call you on...you will be charged the same 28/minute for calls made to your French sim (you pay nothing as you will be receiving...similar low prices for other international calls (check out their rates at www.enlinea.com)....

As noted, unlike their UK counterparts, getting a local sim card in France is not a great deal; the most onerous part of the deal being they steal your credit after very limited periods of time...as noted if you top up with a voucher from a tabac for €10, the credit is only valid for 15 days...after 15 days any used credit is stolen from you and six months later they de-activate the sim card...with UK sim cards, the cards are valid for at least 120 days, in some cases 6 months, in some cases 1 year but you can always simply send a text message from wherever you are to extend the validity. Also, you can't use a non French credit card to top up on the internet...if you want to retain your number before the six month expires, you have to buy recharge slips before you leave France and recharge say from the USA...with the roam simple deal, apparently what happens is every year they renew it for the same fee (it had been $9 and is now $19)...like I said, can't guarantee enlinea will work, it should but have had trouble with international sim cards and enlinea while roaming on Orange FR.....
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May 15th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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Stu -
I looked up that offer and it requires a subscription to France Today. It values the phone w/SIM and activation at $99, but on the CIE site the Motorola phone (which, BTW is a dual band GSM model that does not work in the US) is $19, activation $29 for a total of $48 (plus $12 shipping). So, with the $45 annual subscription, the net "premium" is $3. Of course, you also get the year's subscription.

I also called CIE with questions and the agent was absolutely delightful and quite responsive. I think we will go with this for our upcoming trip, and will report back.
Seamus is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 07:27 AM
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Thanks Seamus

It's my experience that these "$99 value" claims are rarely (if ever) accurate. I'm not surprised at all that the actual value is far less. I've subscribed to France Today for many years, so it's no "new" cost to me - but would be for you.

I mentioned the annual $60 fee. My wife actually did most of the research and told me just now that at the end of the first year, CIE will call us and ask if we want to "up" for another year at $60. So my first year initial cost to start the service is only $12 if I'm understanding everything accuratly. The $60 is like the SFR "recharge" except the CIE recharge expires in 1 year instead of only a few months with SFR.

Thanks for the info about the phone being useless in the US. I'll just use it in Europe.

Stu Dudley
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