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Purchasing a SIM card at Venice Airport

I am reporting my experience of purchasing a SIM card at the Venice Airport around September 1, 2019.
Arrived at Venice Airport, picked up my luggage, and find the window to purchase a SIM card. There are two prices. I bought the more expensive one at 50euro for 600 minutes of calling, 30G of data in 4g, and no texting. The contract says, I quote, "iMessage is NOT included". Note that the contract does not say iMessage is not allowed or prohibited and if used all credits will be used up. The contract only says "iMessage is NOT included", which means to me that if I send a text message, the message will not be delivered.
Later while I was walking and sightseeing in Venice, a text message came in and I replied without much thinking. Of course, the message was not delivered. Then bad thing happened. Because of my reply, all my 50euro credit was used up. I have no minutes to call any number and no data to send/receive. My phone is pretty much locked up unless I add more money to the phone.
I complained my experience to the customer service email, cs@tuttogroup.com, after I came back to the States. The customer service lady kept saying I must not use the text, but I insist that nowhere on the contract such restriction is written.
So, the takeaway is that when you buy a SIM card, be very careful. Something may be lost in the translation, which is the best case in my opinion. Or things may be worse which I don't really want to speculate.
@spyts10000.

Posted by
1173 posts

Sorry to hear this happened to you. I agree that it’s frustrating to have the whole plan shutdown. Like you I would have thought the text would not go through and the data and calls would still be usable.

There have been sporadic reports of this happening. I tried researching this and it appears that there’s a nuance with iMessage. Using iMessage to text other iOS devices uses data. Either through WiFi or cellular. These messages appear with the blue background. Using iMessage to text non Apple devices uses carrier based sms service. These will appear with the green background.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207006

Do you recall what carrier you used in Italy? Perhaps TIM? And was the text “green” so a carrier based sms?

Thanks for posting your experience.

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Rocket,
The message was green because the sender used the restaurant's wifi also in Venice just a few blocks away. She bought the same SIM card at the same location in Venice Airport. The carrier was Vodafone, not TIM. One local guy told me that TIM was better with wider coverage.

Posted by
2163 posts

Not included does not mean not working, it means that iMessage is not included in the services (texts, minute and data) you paid for in advance. You are free to buy more credit and use it for iMessage texts if you really want, otherwise you go negative and block the SIM.

Nothing is free, it's like purchasing a travel pass that can be used only on local trains and then complaining because you got on an high speed train and you were forced to buy a ticket on board.

Posted by
5 posts

What did you say, Dario? Not included does not mean not allowed or prohibited.

50euro I paid for is for 600 minutes of calling and 30GB of data. I can't use texting because I didn't pay for the texting. This is all understandable. Why did my calling and data money go to zero? What I do on iMessage should not affect the 50euro I paid for the callings and data.

Your analogy of high speed or local train is a great one. Even if I get on a high speed train (used iMessage), my local train ticket (600 minutes of calling and 30GB of data) should not expire.

Do I make any sense?
So, my experience is that do not buy any SIM card at Venice Airport. It is a rip off business and a scammer.
This is my conclusion PERIOD!

Posted by
4700 posts

Where did you actually buy the SIM - from a corporate TIM store? 50 Euros is very expensive - I would not have bought one at that price. Would have been about 20 Euros cheaper elsewhere.

There is no way you could wipe out your SIM's 50 Euro credit with one text message. Something else must have happened.

Did you take the SIM to a TIM store to ask what was going on?

Posted by
2163 posts

You went negative using iMessage, you blocked the SIM. Minutes and data did not go to zero.
The SIM will Remain blocked up to the moment you pay your debt. SiMs with zero or negative credit stop working.

What's included in the plan you have bought? Not iMessage so if you use it you must pay for it in another way. If you do not pay they block your SIM. The moment you pay you have your minute and data back.

Tim and Vodafone always add 5 € of complimentary credit to their SIMs, to avoid most of these problems. It seems the unknown company you picked at the airport has a different policy. Not nice, but fair.

There is no way you could wipe out your SIM's 50 Euro credit with one text message.

Andrew he did not have 50 € of credit. He used 50 € to buy 600 minutes and 30 gb. The moment he did something not included in that package he went negative and blocked the SIM.

This is my conclusion PERIOD!

and it's s quite a stupid one. PERIOD!!
I added 2 exclamation marks to prove I'm right, did it work? No? PERIOD !!!

There are many other companies selling sims in the same airport, why would you tell the world not to trust all of them? It's like eating a pizza in Chicago and telling people not to eat pizza all over the US. PERIOD !!!!

Posted by
5 posts

To Andrew H. and Dario,
I bought the SIM card inside the Venice Airport where you can also buy any transportation tickets. Sounds crazy, but what had happened to me is true. I bought 50euro of calling and 30GB data. There is no option to buy iMessage. I am back to the States and I didn't bother to find a Vodafone (not TIM) store when I was in Italy since WIFI is pretty much everywhere.
My text to the income text didn't even go through. So, Dario, you can't say I used the text and should pay.
I believe the merchant should warn the customer like "if you attempt to send any iMessage, your phone will be locked up until you pay a minimum of 5euro to unlock". Other than that, I can't see how it is fair to lock my phone.
I have contact my credit company to file a dispute for this transaction. I will report to this thread when I have the result.

Hi Dario,
I did have close to 50euro credit. I bought the SIM card around noon and the texting happened around 7pm the same day. From noon to 7pm, I didn't make any phone calls and used very little data. Basically, the texting ate all the credit causing the balance be negative.

BTW, there is only one SIM window inside the Venice Airport near the exit, where there are many windows for transportation tickets.

Posted by
4700 posts

Pyson, I would be very upset if I paid 50 euros for a SIM that stopped working almost immediately.

But...in the future, I would probably make sure you buy a SIM at an official store, not just from some vendor at the airport. If you have some problem with the SIM, visit another official store to ask for help. Some of these mobile companies also offer free chat support, in English. (Vodafone does - not sure about TIM.)

And because you are from the US, you can (next time) install Google Voice on your phone, so you can send text messages with that for free without worrying about whether the SIM includes texting or not. Google Voice uses mobile data or WiFi to send texts - and make voice calls. (Voice calls to US numbers are free from Europe with Google Voice, even to US landlines.) In any event, if you use Google Voice to text, then you won't ever have to worry about losing your ability to text someone or empty your SIM's credit just by sending one text message, if that's what happened.

Posted by
2163 posts

Hi Dario,
I did have close to 50 euro credit. I bought the SIM card around noon and the texting happened around 7pm the same day. From noon to 7pm, I didn't make any phone calls and used very little data. Basically, the texting ate all the credit causing the balance be negative

Believe what you want, but you purchased 600 minutes of talking time and 30 giga with those 50 €. The texting didn't ate anything, it blocked the sim. If you had paid your debts and topped up with a couple of Euro you would have got back all the remaining minutes and giga.