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Know Before Your Go!

Know Before You Go!
by Gary Woods

As I mentioned a few columns back we went on Vacation at the end of June and start of July. The first part of our time away from June 20th to the 27th was in Canada. Now I don't know why it didn't occur to me, but Canada is not part of Verizon's coverage area so the first thing I noticed upon setting down in Calgary was the dreaded "Roaming" sign at the top of my phone instead of the friendly "Verizon" sign.

I of course checked my email walking off the plane and discovered that I had to turn on Roaming for both Voice and Data to get that feature and texting working. After about 10 minutes I got a notification that what I'd done so far had cost me $50. But, there was a phone number along with the message which I called when I got to the Hotel. The nice lady at the other end informed me that she would turn on the International feature which would mean that voice calls would be 89 cents a minute and data was $25 for 100 megabytes. She also offered to pro-rate the service so I'd only pay for the time I was in Canada. She said that it would cost me roughly $10 for the time I was Canada which all sounded cool but at that point I hadn't done much calling or used much data so as they say "your results may vary."

In the States we use the shared data plan which breaks down to $40 per smart phone per month and $20 per month for my ZTE WiFi Hotspot so that's $100 per month for our 2 iPhones and the Hot Spot. Then, we pay $60 per month for 2 GBs of Data which means our monthly bill comes in at about $165 per month.

With our new International calling plan in place I went to sleep only to wake up to a Text stating I'd used about $25 worth of data and $25 worth of voice. My wife also got the same message which started me to thinking. Back in the States our bill and data is bundled but evidently when you're out of the States each device is on its own.

I don't know if you were following events in Calgary but about the 20th there was a 100 year flood and we were being evacuated on a bus. Some vacation, hey? I knew I was going to be away from a land line for a while so as I stepped on the bus I emailed Alan Gold at Santa Barbara Auto Stereo and Wireless and asked him to get both of our cell phones as well as the Hot Spot on the International Plan. By the time I'd gotten to a place where there was cell coverage Alan emailed me that the "Awesome Kevin" the store manager had made that happen for me.

Now for the shocker, just as we were leaving Canada my cell bill came in and it was about $540. That breaks down to our usual $165 per month and another $375 or roughly $45 per day for the 8 days in Canada. That's a lot of money but during that time I was able to arrange for 10 property showings interfacing with clients, listings agents and lenders and I even wrote up an offer when we spent the night in Kamloops, British Columbia.

I think the cost was a little high but for what I got accomplished, not entirely unreasonable. So, the moral of the story is if you're with Verizon go by an see Alan before you go to see what your options and costs will be or just give a call to Verizon International at (909) 559-4899. Finally, make sure and call them when you get back or they're more than happy to leave the feature on and keep charging you.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc