On Friday I landed in Vienna, enroute to a weekend in the Austrian wine region near Krems in the town of Langelois. As I left Vienna I stopped in the T-Mobile company store that is on the ground floor of the Austrian HQ just a few minutes from the Autobahn I would be taking as I headed out of town.
I picked up a Pre-Paid SIM with some credit, and added a bit more, but as I knew I’d be on the phone a lot and using data on the E71, I figured 20 Euros would last me until Monday when I’d be back in Vienna for meetings. WRONG.
This morning after checking the balance I saw I had .04 cents left of balance. Now, in the UK with T-Mobile that’s not an issue as my credit card is registered and I simply go to the web site and add credit. Not so here in Austria as even after using Google Translate the need to register your debit or credit card requires a visit to the T-Mobile store. But being Sunday, the nearest store in Krems is closed, but realizing that in the rest of Europe you can find a Top Up or as they call it here in Austria, Auto-Load, at many supermarkets and convenience stores, it was more a matter of finding one that had the E-SERVE top up system.
After about 15 minutes and three stops, the third was the charm, and even with my limited 5th grade era German and some gesturing with my phone and the holding of money up, the clerk quickly figured out what I wanted, said “Auto Load, followed by “10, 20, 40 Euro.”
Within another 30 seconds I had entered the 14 digit code and the special *105* that precedes it and voila, another 40 Euros on my Nokia E71.
I might be a stranger in a strange land, but with a local number, and a quick learning of how things work, makes me feel, well, Local.
P.S. Another interesting thing, the convenience store was selling the Tele.Ring Willi data card with credit at the counter. Try and find a 3G stick in a convenience store in the USA or Canada.