While we were in Indonesia, we didn’t bother getting internet service in our apartment. It was a pain, the procedures were confusing, and we decided to just walk to the closest mall if we needed it. Here in Malaysia, we’re trying to get something hooked up for our swanky new place. The problem is that Malaysian internet service providers (ISPs, you non-techie people) have weird requirements. To get DSL, you need, of course, a phone line. To get that, you need to make a $600 deposit and sign up for an expensive 1 year contract. That’s dumb, because it prices people like us out of the market. (They’ll keep the security deposit for the whole year even if you leave the country after six months, and who knows if we’d get it back.) Then you have to contact the DSL people and get that worked up, which also requires an expensive 1 year contract. Again, it prices us out of the market for no reason. You think they’d at least make an option for monthly service, maybe for more money per month but cheap enough to get more customers. There are tons of foreigners in KL, after all.
What is so weird is the cost of the phone deposit. Not the DSL router or the cable modem, the phone itself. $600 for a stupid phone? You could a phone of equal quality for $12 at Wal-mart. In Indonesia, it was the same way–our phone deposit was $400–but it was compulsory with the cost of the apartment. Here we were happy to avoid it, but now we have to deal with the phone company if we want to get this done. We think that what these security deposits do is provide capital liquidity for these companies, which are probably pretty poorly run. Or, maybe they take the money, invest it in a 12-month US government bond, and then keep the profit. Jerks.
What this means is that it’s been a real pain to get to blog lately. Wish us luck on getting this all sorted out.
James February 23, 2005
Welcome to my world! There’s not phone line in my apartment, and no real prospect of my getting one, for all the reasons you outlined. The only way for me to post is to log on in the local cyber cafe. I burn CDs with photos and data to move back and forth from my laptop and the computers here. Inefficient, but the only way. Then again, in London I had to buy a cable modem for the house I was living in to get service. The things I do for those little ones and zeroes, Marty!
Josh February 23, 2005
Don’t worry, Tom, I’m sure the cost of the phone deposit is being used to subsidize phone service for the less fortunate.
Tom February 24, 2005
I never even considered how hard it must be in Mauritius. Does private in-home internet service even exist?
What’s funny is that the cost of the phone deposit probably IS being used to subsidize someone, but just not the less fortunate. Probably the ruling “party,” the United Malays National Organisation.
When the Malaysian government wishes to subsidize the less fortunate (and here, that always means ethnic Malays), they just expropriate from the more fortunate (that means ethnic Chinese). There’s no sneaky market pricing mechanism. The veiled threat is “try to resist this and see what happens.”
James February 24, 2005
Yeah, I think it does, but you can’t get service for a short period, like, say the 2 months that I’m here. So I’m screwed. But that’s life. So I deal. The beach makes up for it.