French Cell Phone Advice

Oct 4th, 2007, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,194
<< ...or you use the many far cheaper cellphone alternatives you have. >>

<< Care to elaborate, logos? >>


Okay, well this is a whole lot more elaborating than I anticipated, and I see now that there is a whole third-party market (not exactly "gray market", but kinda has that feeling) of inexpensive unlocked phones, and (much) less expensive pre-paid calling (SIM) choices.

I am not convinced that advising the rest of the Fodors community... to use eBay phones, and airtime (SIM) providers based on little-known companies in the Channel Islands... should/can be called "clearly preferable" to buying from a company like France Telecome, which is on every corner in every medium-sized town, in case you have a problem.

But speaking of eBay phones, I did some looking with a very non-specific search criteria (simply "GSM unlocked"), and I was astonished to see the spectrum of products and prices - - including MANY under $2 USD (yes, under TWO, or even under ONE - - I typed that correctly). And many from vendors with thousands of sales, and 99.8% positive eBay ratings. How can this be? Doesn't seem analogous to the Ryanair .01 GBP come-ons (how many repeat buyers will they get, for refurbished cell phones?) Some do have $10+ shipping charges, but that hardly seems very inflated. Are cell phones now such vanity items, that no one wants last year's model? A lot of Blackberry listings, too - - how can they sell those for ONE dollar?

What am I not getting? Are they stolen/fenced? Even so, I would think that market forces would jack the prices up higher than a dollar!

What am I not grasping here?

rex is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 09:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,326
There is a glut of unused phones on the market, mainly because of the way handsets are sold. In many countries, service providers offer new phone free or at a heavily subsidised price (or pay their dealers a big sales incentive) to entice consumers to sign up to a year's or longer contract. They hope that line rentals they pay, and charges they rack up (not just calls and messages, but internet, TV, video, multimedia etc) will more than offset the outlay. After a year, many sign up to another contract with a new phone thrown in, and the cycle is repeated. Many phone users have a drawer full of phones in a working condition (I probably have around 10), which many sell off at any price (they were 'free' to start with) for pure profit.
In some countries, there is less handset subsidy (Italy, for example), so people tend to hang on to their phones longer.
Alec is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 09:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Many phones are used or simply older models. Maybe you just underestimate the sheer amount of 900/1800 Mhz phones that are on the market. It's basically every country on the planet (except very few) that use this standard. They're available for a very long time now, the US moved to that standard VERY late and didn't even adopt the "world frequencies". If you ever go to China, have a look at the local markets (maybe in Shenzhen) and you'll notice those are cheapo items, (just like digital watches) where most people have several and "throw them away" (= sell them) after a short time. I don't know anybody over here that owns less than 3 or 4 phones. It's just like shoes ;-). A new phone for 10€ (9.99) is rather common in Germany.
logos999 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
> little-known companies in the Channel Islands..
So get a cheap German international SIM and those "problems" are solved as well. . They work!
logos999 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 09:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
>I probably have around 10
I have a lot more . Couldn't resist buying a bunch of brand new "Boschs" at 5€ each a while ago ;-)
logos999 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 11:19 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,357
For you very knowledgeable ones..what is wrong with someone going the route of this Roam Simple outfit wherre you purchase a Motorola quad V180 for $40 along with a France Sim for $9. Have your number and all so you are ready to use it when you land. You are billed for the calls when/if you use. No other charges. Rates appear comparable for calls.
Are their negatives to this???
gracejoan3 is offline  

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