Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cheap calls home

Ok, so in this day and age EVERYONE has a mobile phone, and it's also almost a certainty to make sure you have roaming activated when you go abroad - you know it's going to cost you an arm and a leg, but hey, you can use your beloved mobile to phone home at the push of a button - and what's more comforting than that (even if it is just to ask how the weather is and what time it is!! Ricky Gervais eat your heart out).

However, there is a very cool concept in Barcelona which can save you many Euro cents. If you live here you'll know that (my estimate) 90% of Telefonica public phone booths don't work or swallow your money (further proof can be seen by savvy drunks walking around bashing public phones waiting for the fruit machine to "drop").

Solution? Welcome to the "locutorio". In Barcelona there are loads of locutorios (not it's no reference to madmen), and none more so than in Cuitat Vella - the highest population of immigrants need to be able to call home right?! Some immigrants have not enough money for a mobile/papers to get one, so in steps the locutorios.
I have no idea how the system works, and I'm fairly convinced that it involves line tapping on the part of telefonica (but they have such a huge monopoly here, that they don't care) but the idea is based around a shop with various little talk booths. You go in, make the call, talk for as long as you need to/want to without franticly hearing the "beep beep beep" and dropping all your coins before the line cuts out, and then pay when you leave - which comes the pleasant surprise. The rates are normally advertised on the window - but even so, who times a call?! Most mobile phones are fitted with a call time function - probably the least used function! The price is very cheap indeed. The locutorios are on a winner - they're always full, and always with long distance calls. It's like "low-cost" spread to other sectors.

I say good on them, and especially if telefonica loses out on it (although in the long run I'm sure they don't!) and I love the multi-cultural feel of a locutorio. How many languages can you hear in 20m2?!

Barcelona apartments for groups and Cheap barcelona apartments.


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