AJITPAL, that is my pal, went for his honeymoon in Cambodia recently. The marriage was going great and everything went well except for one thing.
When the fella came home, he hit the roof. The telephone company had billed him RM10.10 for a 21-second call from some person.
It seemed phony as Ajitpal swore he didn't speak to anyone from Malaysia over the phone when he was in Cambodia.
Actually, the culprit, so to speak, was me. Being the caring friend that I am, I had phoned Ajitpal to ask whether he was having a good time.
But I hung up after hearing some crackling noises over the line. The thing is, telcos will happily ring up the charges whether people pick up the phone or not when the roaming service is activated.
Fortunately for Ajitpal, I was the only one who cared about him. Imagine if he had 100 good friends phoning him. He would have to pay at least RM1,000 to the telephone company.
Ajitpal admitted he had made a mistake before leaving for his honeymoon.
While he remembered to turn off the lights and lock the doors, he forgot to tell the telephone company to deactivate his roaming service.
The other thing he could have done was to call his friends -- prior to departure, of course -- and tell them not to phone him unless it's a matter of life and death.
There were times I unwittingly made long-distance calls to friends. They treated me as if I were an Ah Long, telling me to keep it short.
People in Europe had complained about the unfairness of roaming charges for mobile phones in their region. And the powers-that-be, the European Union, had listened.
As a result, with effect from last Sunday, roaming charges for mobile phones in many European countries were slashed.
Thanks to new EU rules, making and receiving calls, checking e-mails and surfing the web while on holiday has become cheaper for people in Europe.
It will be music to our ears if the telcos in our region are willing to reduce the roaming charges in Asia, or even Southeast Asia.
More and more Malaysians are journeying overseas for holidays and business in this era of cheap flights.
These travellers would feel immobilised without a mobile phone.
Telephone companies should cut their profits a little and not charge us an arm or a leg or an ear when we call our loved ones at home, and vice-versa. firstname.lastname@example.org