Traveling with the Pre: Good Phone, Weak Support

About my experiences traveling to Canada with the Palm Pre.

Catherine Gouge
4 min read
About my experiences traveling to Canada with the Palm Pre.

Because it is summer and I work on an academic calendar, I have been traveling a good bit for fun since I got the Pre. In the short time since I purchased my first Pre, I have been to Toronto, Canada; Washington, DC; and Bethany Beach, Delaware. The trips to DC and DE have so far been uneventful phone-wise. I may have more to report in a few days.

The trip to Canada, however, was a bit more complicated.

Going to Canada. Taken with my Pre. Catherine Gouge
Traveling to Canada

I got my first Pre three days before driving to Canada and wanted to figure out if and how best I could set things up to use the phone as much as possible while there. To get this info, I posted to the Pre Central forum to see if anyone who frequented there could give me the 411 on the service add-ons I would need to maximize my usage (texting, phone, and data). I also called Sprint customer service reps (CSRs) and visited my local Sprint store.

In spite of my (and others' on the Pre Central forum) best attempts, finding clear information about how to set things up for this trip was virtually impossible. Others on the forums were also trying to figure this out, so we all started trying to find info and posting what we were told/what we found. Unfortunately, very little of it matched up.

After adding "Canada Roaming" myself via Sprint's website, my first/follow-up call to a Sprint CSR yielded the following info:

1. $2.99 Canada Roaming service I had just added online was activated immediately (correct).

2. Text msgs sent and received while in Canada only are a flat fee of .20/message (wrong). No extra add-on necessary (correct).

3. THERE IS NO ADD-ON FOR DATA ROAMING SERVICE FOR THE PALM PRE (also wrong). Any data roaming done on Palm Pre in Canada will incur a .59/KB charge (??).

Unsatisfied with this info, I stopped by my Sprint store where they told me they really just didn't know and gave me the direct number to a Sprint "international" support specialist (888-226-7212 Option #2)--who they call when they have a question. I called twice to verify the info I received. Both times, I was told that the $40 international data roaming add-on was only for Blackberry users (wrong). And the fine print on Sprint's website said the following (also wrong):

Texting is not yet available while roaming outside of the US. Although you may receive a free welcome message upon arrival in a country, all other messages will be held for 48 hours to be delivered upon returning to the Sprint network. Messages that can not be delivered will be deleted after 48 hours. Messages that go through will be rated based on your texting plan or $0.20 per message if you do not have texting plan.

Toronto at Night. Taken with My Pre. Catherine Gouge
What Actually Happened?

Still having no real clue what my options were and at what cost, I set "Data Roaming" to off and set my Gmail to "Get Email" -> "Manual" so that I would not accidentally and unknowingly incur huge data charges.

I received three calls and two messages while I was there but ignored them because they were not important. I listened to no messages and called no one while in Canada. My hotel had free Wifi, so I connected and used it a few times just to see what would happen on my bill. I sent and received many texts while there, and they appeared to come and go through immediately.

Here's what showed/didn't show up on my bill:

1. I was able to receive and send multiple text messages @ no extra charge.

2. The only charge showing up on my account as of the day after I returned was the following: Sprint Data Roaming charge of $0.45.

3. I saw no charge for the two voice messages I received (but did not listen to) while I was there.

And here's the language that can now be found on the Sprint website:

Data Worldwide -- $40/mo.

With this great add-on, you have the ultimate travel companion. Take your PDA with you overseas, including countries like Canada, Mexico, China, India and more. For use with Windows Mobile or Palm operating system devices, this add-on includes unlimited international web access and email. You can find the nearest piazza on the go, reply while relaxing and keep up with your inbox beyond the borders.

This comprehensive coverage also includes access to your corporate email account with Microsoft Direct Push Technology via ActiveSync. Pair it with the Samsung ACETM, and you can connect to the widely used overseas GSM/GPRS networks in more than 110 countries.

Final Verdict: The Pre is a pretty good phone to have with you on the road, but Sprint customer service reps could have been more clear/knowledgeable about my options. I would have loved to use the Pre more while I was there (pics above were taken with the Pre) and would have gladly paid for international roaming if I had known it was an option.