Monday, December 7, 2009

The probability that professional courtesy will be shown in any given business transaction

In response to a comment on MFT.

Curzon, I too am often surprised at my lack of understanding of how business works. While I do not expect individuals to show, as Sublight says, "professional courtesy," I was under the naive impression that corporate entities would. I have now revised my thinking with respect to business and posit the following:

Letters from Readers: "Yeah, Softbank does suck" and "How not to get a 7 man phone bill with Softbank"

Yeah, Softbank does suck

We receive on occasion emails from readers with general questions about using android in Japan, questions about how to use a non-Japanese android phone in Japan, or stories about softbank sucking.  Here is an email from a French Guy in Tokyo with a similar story as ours.  A few notes: as far as we understand, you can indeed get the discount price on the iPhone even if you have to pay up front.  The emailer was told the exact opposite at the softbank store, however.  Your bill is discounted such that, in the end, you pay the same amount as someone who was allowed to pay in installments.  Also, we don't believe it is possible to use a bank statement when applying.

(By the way, if you want to use a non-Japanese Android phone (such as the G1) in Japan, it is impossible with Docomo because they do not allow non-Docomo IMEIs access to their biz-hodai APN, meaning in short that you will end up with a MASSIVE data bill to the tune of ¥100,000 or so.  Interestingly, softbank does allow this, which is pleasantly non-sucking of them, but you must be careful.)


I'm a French guy living in Tokyo. I heard about your blog following links from Engadget. I relate to your articles easily since, well, it's my story. Mostly. I even blogged about it there []. Sadly, it's in French. Maybe I should provide a translation, if only for the satisfaction of making bad publicity, not out of spite but just because it's deserved.

Here's a summary to my story:

  • I went to Softbank to get an iPhone. I knew everything there was to know about the offer and then some, prices, limit dates, requirements, specs, etc. I met a great guy (Chinese actually, but he's been in Japan since he was 4, he doesn't even speak Chinese, but he lost his residency on a technicality while traveling abroad, so he now has the same visa as me, Japan immigration sucks too) who gave me plenty of useful advice. I had my gaijin card, but not my passport, and apparently I need both. Also, since I don't have a driving license or bills (they're included in the rent), I had to go back home to get my passport and my french credit card. 
  • Went there again, 90 minutes later roughly. Chinese employee had finished his shift, I met a narrow-minded Japanese guy (the usual "it's normal you're discriminated since I was discriminated once when I went to Australia" and "you chose to come here, if you don't like it you can go back") who wasn't helpful at all and gave up at the first issue. Apparently my French card was not good enough for them. One of the things he said was that they wanted a card where they "could withdraw money even if there was no money on my account", which actually is possible on my card (would get me in deep trouble though). I had to suggest myself the alternatives mentioned by the Chinese employee since the Japanese guy wouldn't even make suggestions. They all failed for various obscure reasons. I left one hour later, without an iPhone (that he actually picked up from storage and placed on the counter, centimeters from my hand, how frustrating) and seriously pissed at them.

I don't walk in front of a Softbank shop anymore without mentioning the story to whoever I'm walking with. Some additional details:

  • That story happened to me a couple of months back. I have been a Softbank customer for almost 3 years but that doesn't seem to count. 
  • Every foreigner I know who got an iPhone has a driver's license and is engaged to a Japanese person. (As you know, the requirements are not the same depending on the ID showed.) 
  • Every Japanese I know got an iPhone if they asked for one, painlessly, within 20 minutes, even students / unemployed broke people. 
  • I know some foreigners other than me who got rejected. 
  • Paying cash up front is apparently possible, but it bans you from getting the iPhone offer, which means that you have to pay roughly 8 times more than anyone else.

I wonder if I could have used my health insurance card with my bank report as a proof of address, since it does have my address on it, and more to the point it has enough zeros to pay for a whole bunch of iPhones, it might have shut them up. Probably not.

The worst part of it is that I have trouble finding acceptable phones in Japan (I really wish I could get a Nokia N900, should tell you a lot about my personality), so I'll probably get another prepaid waiting for something better. Since nobody offers prepaids except Softbank, that means giving them more money, like it or not.

Anyway, don't feel bad about not getting an iPhone, you probably saved yourself a lot of trouble. (Also blogged about that [] but didn't even start covering the technical issues or the lack of support.) Good luck with everything, in particular  finding a usable phone.

Regarding the use of a bank statement in lieu of a utility bill, this is definitely not possible.  The credit check is done by a centralized processing center, such as CIC perhaps, and softbank has specified exactly the terms of the examination.  A bank statement cannot be substituted for a Utility bill.  The peons at the store are exactly that, peons.  They have absolutely no power or authority (or means for that matter) to influence the outcome of the examination.  Yes, some may be more helpful in suggesting what to do if you are denied, (and some may flat out give you incorrect information) but that is about all they can do.

How not to get a 7 man phone bill with Softbank

We got an email from a guy who used a non-Japanese android phone on softbank and ended up with a nearly ¥100,000 bill for 1 week of data usage.  It would appear he had two issues: 1) using the wrong APN and 2) not being subscribed to the plan needed for the correct APN.  We provided him this link and a translation (as aways without warranty ;-)) and suggested he subscribe to the "packet flat-rate full" plan.  We hope it worked out for him.  And we hope this post is useful for anyone else trying the same thing.


"I unlocked my HT-03A [Magic/Mytouch] and am using it on Softbank.  I confirmed this month that I am being charged for the "packet flat-rate full" data plan.

There are rumors that you cannot get the "packet flat-rate full" data plan, but I confirmed that I was charged for the capped plan on my bill.  Of course, you have to be signed up for the "packet flat-rate full" plan.

You also don't need an email provider with softbank [softbanksucks note: you don't with docomo either].


Create a new APN
Call it Open softbank
username: opensoftbank
password:  "See the image"
MMS port: 8080
Settings are finished, go back and set the APN to Open softbank

If you do it correctly, you'll have the 3G icon displayed.  From now on, it should be possible to use the available android phones with the full data plan.

*Doing this is beyond the scope of softbanks support, so you are fully [finacially] responsible for any trouble accessing the APN that at worst may result in you not accessing the capped plan but being charged a crap ton of money like the guy who emailed us.


1. Nice to meet you.
I learned a whole lot from what you wrote.  I followed you directions and was able to use my ht-03a on softbank.  However, I can't do MMS.  Do you know of a fix?

2. Thanks for the comment.  Sorry, but MMS is not possible because the ht-03a doesn't support it.  Let me know if you have any info.

[softbanksucks note: It is possible to do MMS with the ht-03a, but you have to find and install mms.apk, which doesn't come with the docomo rom.]

3. Nice to meet you.  Thanks for the information.  By the way, do you know if Gmail is properly pushed?

4. Sorry, I'm a total noob.  The other day, I bought this handset, unlocked, and tried a "silver sim" card, but no matter what I do, I can't get the 3G icon to display.  Help."