Too Good to be True Rental Phones

Shortly before my recent trip to Israel, I was made aware of TalknSave, a company that rents phones to tourists for an unbelievable [to me] price of $5 per day. That $5 per day provides unlimited calls to/from phones in Israel, Canada and the United States.

Having lived as long as I did in Israel, I was skeptical of the offer as being too good to be true. However, rather than dismiss it altogether, I contacted the company and started an interesting “you gotta prove it” relationship with Elie Mamann, the company rep.

I explained my reluctance, which was based on typical Israeli marketing of large promises followed by zero customer service. Eli had heard the same reluctance by others, and he confided that he, too, was skeptical before he began working with this company. He assured me that the service was everything promised or he would not work there. Of course, that sounds like all the other “trust me” sales pitches I have heard in Israel. However, he said one thing that gave me enough confidence to give it a try: “I’m from North America, so I know what you have in mind regarding customer service.”

He convinced me, … sorta. I’m afraid I’ll be eternally skeptical of salesmen from that region. But, I told Elie that I would give him a try … and if the service is all he’s made it out to be, I promised to be his biggest supporter. On the other hand, if the service was fluff, I would be a megaphone warning others to stay away.

The result of our group’s use of TalknSave was total satisfaction. Elie provided all the personal service he promised, including meeting the group at the airport to deliver the phones at the bus. They also provide pre-paid mailer envelopes and a drop box at the airport for ease of return on the way out of the country.

We had 15-18 people rent the phones (a few different plans), and all were completely satisfied. We also had a few bring their home plans for various reasons. Some were happy with the home plan decision, even though they likely paid more. Those that brought Verizon service were sorely disappointed. Verizon agents may tell you that they provide service in Israel, but members of my group (and a previous one, too) found out that isn’t true.

I know that some will wonder, “what’s the use/need of having a mobile phone while touring Israel?” Here are some of the benefits:

  1. A growing number of tourists are on vacation, but still managing things back at the office because of the instant contact culture (calling, texting, surfing) that we are moving toward. These phones offer unlimited, instant contact at a very low price.
  2. Most tourists’ families are unaware that when they hear news of rockets coming into Israel, those rockets aren’t landing in every location. These phones offer unlimited calls that might be helpful in assuring folks back home that things are okay.
  3. In the case that something serious – like war, or the Arab Spring, or hospitalization – happens, these phones are an inexpensive way to be in touch with people back home. That might be helpful for the tourist and their families.
  4. As the group leader, my phone gave me an inexpensive way to be in touch with the guide, driver, and other people I needed to reach.
  5. Tourists aren’t always where they are supposed to be. Those that had phones were easily located. 

Be aware that there are different plans available, including data and text plans. For those that want to take their own “Smart Phone,” a SIM card is available in this plan. Also, groups (10 or more) get some perks that singles don’t, so it’s wise to order the service under a group name, which can be arranged by calling Elie prior to ordering.

If this recommendation interests you at all, whether you are a single or group traveler, please call Elie Mamann at 212-444-1503 or 1-800-941-4909. Tell him that Craig Dunning recommended you do so.

Repost: A Way to Help Those Without Clean Water

This post was originally published on October 5, 2009, but the Haiti earthquake has given me reason to re-post it and add some additional information.

(The additional information comes first, the original post with a demo video comes last.)

For those looking for a way to help the people in Haiti, Lifesaver Systems is currently offering a buy one donate one special. The USA distributor site is down at the moment, but may be back up shortly. They currently offer 4000 and 6000 liter bottles and 10,000 and 20,000 liter Jerrycans. (Note: Some have been confused about the size of these items: they produce the designated amount, they do not hold that amount.)

The end cost to produce clean water ranges from $0.14 per gallon for the smaller 4000 liter filter unit to only $0.08 per gallon for the larger capacity 20,000 liter (5,283 gallons) Jerrycan.

Here is Lifesaver Systems Frequently Asked Questions page, which is well worth browsing. (Note: there is a separate page for bottles and Jerrycans.)

Michael Pritchard has invented a water filter system that is inexpensive, easily transportable, and apparently very effective. For those living in developed areas, potable water isn’t a daily issue for you. However, in most of the undeveloped world, drinkable water is a matter of life and death. A number of organizations have become involved in sponsoring water wells in various parts of the world. This water filter system should not be over looked if you are interested in helping provide potable water for those that don’t have easy access to such.

Jimmy Swaggart in Jerusalem

I saw Jimmy Swaggart in Jerusalem this morning . . . on television. As I was sitting in the coffee shop, I noticed that Jimmy Swaggart was being broadcast on the large, flat screen television.

He and other preachers were being beamed in from Cyprus via Middle East Television’s satelite broadcast. No one but me noticed since the sound was turned down and the subtitles were in Arabic.

Hello, God?

During Succot prayers, I noticed this father and son team. The son was praying in the more traditional way: prayer shawl in place, prayer book in front, and facing the Western Wall. The father, on the other hand, appeared to be phoning in his prayer.

Shouldn’t it have been the other way around? 

A Way to Help Those Without Clean Water

Michael Pritchard has invented a water filter system that is inexpensive, easily transportable, and apparently very effective. For those living in developed areas, potable water isn’t a daily issue for you. However, in most of the undeveloped world, drinkable water is a matter of life and death. A number of organizations have become involved in sponsoring water wells in various parts of the world. This water filter system should not be over looked if you are interested in helping provide potable water for those that don’t have easy access to such.

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