Help for U.S. Moto G smartphone in Europe
May 7, 2016 9:24 AM   Subscribe

My parents are in France right now, with this cell phone, Motorola Moto G 2nd Generation Cell Phone Unlocked US Version Black. I bought them a Vodafone Ireland microSIM off eBay and had the seller add 20 euros credit… but they're not getting any service.

They’re not getting mobile web, which is what they mainly need. No voice or text is fine. The microSIM seller said the rate would be 1.99 euro per day in UK and rest of Europe is 2.99 euro per day. The microSIM seller, who has been very responsive, said the card was debited once for 1.99, when my parents arrived in the UK, and has had no activity since.

My parent say the phone is set to receive cellular data and data roaming is on. Judging from what I’ve seen online, it looks like a US Moto G can still work in Europe, just that speeds will be slower.

Can anyone help troubleshoot/offer a resolution? Thanks!
posted by Borborygmus to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Looks like Vodafone uses LTE bands 3 and 20 in Ireland, and the 2nd Generation Moto G supports those bands. So they should even be getting fast speeds from it. I have no idea why it wouldn't work.
posted by zsazsa at 9:56 AM on May 7, 2016

I'm afraid it could well have been blocked, according to section 5.4 of Vodafone's terms and conditions:
Services are supplied for domestic use in the Republic of Ireland. From 4th Aug 2011 Vodafone will monitor the use of any newly activated SIM cards on its network to ensure that the SIM cards are being used in Ireland. In circumstances where there is no usage in Ireland following activation and/or there is only roaming usage in more than one calendar month, Vodafone reserves the right to deactivate the SIM card without further notice and the customer shall forfeit all credit on the account in such circumstances.
posted by ambrosen at 10:08 AM on May 7, 2016

Thanks ambrosen, that seems to be the most likely explanation, but the SIM seller says he called the number and it rang, so he thinks that mean it's not blocked. He's sent the same number a text and asked me to check with my parents to see if they got it.
posted by Borborygmus at 11:41 AM on May 7, 2016

Sounds like it might be an APN issue (I haven't double-checked that link, it might be wrong). Ask them to go to
Settings | Wireless & Networks| More | Mobile Networks | APNs
and report what they see.

Sorry, got to rush, but hopefully someone will be along soon with more details.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:21 PM on May 7, 2016

I'm dubious of a third party involvement here. I'm a vodafone user and I don't recognise that pricing scheme at all. It's certainly way, way more expensive than what you would pay for a normal, non-roaming vodafone prepaid SIM. What, and how, and why is this third party seller calling and texting to them?

My advice is to forget that SIM and have them just go into a Vodafone store, or any phone store, and get a "real" SIM the proper way. The store can explain how to use the phone and how to roam if necessary.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:35 AM on May 8, 2016

Thanks everyone. I think Busy Old Fool's solution may have worked, I sent my folks those instructions and got a cryptic "it works now" from my dad, so I assume that's it. When he confirms, I'll mark as best answer.

For humboldt32, thanks for your curiosity! The pricing scheme apparently belongs to Vodafone Ireland. I was going to do Vodafone UK, but because my parents are traveling to 3 countries, I assumed the seller recommended Ireland since they're on the Euro and the pricing would be more consistent. The pricing does not seem that far off from what I saw here for Vodafone UK - 1.5£ per day up to 100 MB, and then 3€ otherwise.

Nor is it very different from what my parents pay for a T-Mobile PAYG in the U.S. When they travel, they buy data for about $10 for a week.

I'd certainly be interested in a better pricing scheme if you can suggest one though!

"What, and how, and why is this third party seller calling and texting to them?"

The third party seller tried to text and call them. He has the number because he sold the SIM to me, and when I bought credit from him, he had the number to add the money to that account. Is there any danger in doing it this way? He did it to confirm that the account was not shut off, as ambrosen feared.

All told, this cost me 11€ for the card and 20€ for the credit, was there a cheaper way to do this? It seemed like a great deal to my inexperienced eyes.

posted by Borborygmus at 9:02 AM on May 8, 2016

Thanks Busy Old Fool, not so foolish after all!
posted by Borborygmus at 12:56 PM on May 8, 2016

There are phone stores in every European city and you then buy directly from the provider, or an outlet selling directly from the provider. You can also have free SIMs sent (in some cases) by going directly to the provider's website. The SIMs are free and often you'll get more credit than you pay for on your first top-up and sometimes a bit of extra credit if you register the SIM. You paid €11 for an item you can easily get for free.

Purchasing from a third party who has the ability to see your charges and balances isn't normal, if you will. Why would someone resell SIMs without making a bit on it (€11 a pop), and then passing that cost on to the end user. You also didn't seem to get much assistance from them for that extra cost. "...he had the number to add the money to that account." You have that number too. Anyway, point is, the middleman is totally unnecessary.

My Dutch Vodafone prepaid SIM has several options but €10 gives you 500MB and 50min/sms. €15 gives you 1GB and 100mins/sms. These are good for 30 days.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:26 PM on May 8, 2016

Vodaphone Ireland charges you 10 Euro for a SIM that has new phone number. On the Red Roaming plan, you pay $1.99 per day in the UK and $2.99 per day in France (yes it is listed as dollars when visiting that page from the US). I don't think the OP is overpaying.
posted by soelo at 8:03 AM on May 9, 2016

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