I did the research before traveling to Europe this year, and found that my RW phone would not work outside the US, except on wifi, and for US calls only. Our trip included a lot of driving and staying at AirB&B’s, so we needed cell service and data. I considered the cost of buying a new phone and foreign SIM card or renting an international phone from another company. I opted for the rental, mostly because I like my phone, and because the bottom line was cheaper. The company I chose seemed legit, and reviews were mostly positive. The phone came as promised along with paper instructions, adapters, and a travel case. There was no charging cable, so I brought my own. I tested the phone to make sure I knew how it worked, being different than my own. Everything seemed all set up and ready to go. The rest of this post is of my disappointing experience with the phone rental company. My recommendation now is to go ahead and purchase an RW phone that will work in other countries (GSM cellular ability), and purchase a local SIM card and the service you need for the trip.
Upon arriving in Europe, I was able to access free wifi and since I am accustomed to doing that with my RW phone, I thought everything was good. However, once we were out of wifi range, I realized that I couldn’t use the cell data that I had purchased with the phone. I only had email communication with our AB&B (should have put their phone # on the rental phone) and was unable to contact our host to be let into our apartment. I borrowed a stranger’s phone to email our host, and once we were safely inside our apartment, I contacted the rental phone company (Cellular Abroad) for help. I spoke to one person, who didn’t seem to understand my problem, or at least didn’t know how to fix it. He told me he would talk to his tech person and get back to me in 10 minutes. I waited for nearly an hour and called customer service back. I tried calling back several times but no one answered.
Honestly, I felt like a sucker. The phone had no cell service, and now we had no way to use maps or contact our lodging hosts (except on wifi). Our trip included much driving and we were relying on using google maps on the road, so this was a huge disappointment and left me worried about the rest of our trip. On our second day, we met with a local friend who suggested going to the local cell company and purchasing a SIM card. We did as he suggested, and it worked!! The cost was less than I expected, as well. I don’t know how our trip would have gone if it hadn’t.
The customer service I “received” from Cellular Abroad was very poor, and unprofessional. When we arrived home, I sent the rental phone and all components back to the company. I didn’t even receive a thank you from them! I intended to write a review or file a complaint right away, but I really wanted to put it all behind me. A few months later, I wrote a review on the BBB website and was surprised to see Cellular Abroad respond with their own comments. They claimed that I used up all my data in the first few days of service (before we left US) and proposed scenarios, which were not true, to explain why the phone didn’t work. Cellular Abroad spent more time blaming the customer in a public review than they spent assisting me at the time I most needed help. Other customer reviews reveal the same pattern.
I have had a wonderful experience with Republic Wireless over the past 4 years and am looking forward to purchasing a phone from them that is compatible with European cell providers. I hope this post can prevent others from having the unfortunate experience I did with Cellular Abroad.