Dec 1, 2002, 12:23 PM
Post #3 of 3
As Esperanza indicates, payphones are ubiquitous in Mexico. Don't freak out, either, if the first unit you encounter doesn't work - in even modestly urbanized areas if you continue walking for half a block or so you'll find another (a joke with friends is that you just need to do is look for an idling bus or truck and you'll always find the phone directly in the plume. The same goes for any noise source....). Despite at least the card-reading Telmex and Telnor Ladatel units being built like M1 tanks they get hard use and both the switchhooks and card readers seem to go on the fritz, rendering the phone inoperative.
A couple of tips, since it's pretty clear that you haven't dealt with the Mexican phone system before are:
- When using a card reading Ladatel unit, insert the card before you take the receiver off the hook or the card doesn't get read. Don't start dialing until the balance on the card is read and displayed on the LCD display (the display will prompt you in Spanish to go ahead). Don't listen to the tones the phone is generating in the handset, as they don't always match the keys you're pressing, either in timing, or if you recognize them, key tones.
- If you're calling to the US make sure you figure out how you're going to route your calls before you leave. Just like in the US, and particularly with the proliferation of "funny phones" (those operated by independents and some of the smaller companies) you'll get buggered so hard your eyeballs will pop out if you just insert the card, pick up the receiver, and dial. Even the major Mexican telecommunications players will nail you if you go for the "call the US using your credit card" signs on their phones.
- If you're using your US LD carrier's network and a calling card make sure that you have current and up-to-date instructions on which phones to use, and what network access numbers to call. As alliances change, so do the phones and network access numbers, and if you use an outdated number, your call will still frequently get routed, but via some evil third party provider (on a recent bill MCI just did that to me, with the billing coming through "Zero Plus Dialing on behalf of MCI" (ZPD is a MCI owned company which specializes in extremely high markup calls - it worked out to about $20/minute, which I'm still fighting).
- Depending on what carrier (and network type) your cellular phone uses, pricing is dropping on international roaming calls. You need to investigate what your carrier offers and what your phone is capable of for details, as it can get quite complicated.