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Well ICE ALMOST Got It Right!

March 20th, 2008

So it was maybe 5:30AM, my normal get-up time, and I am “sleeping in” with my bride. Today is a feriado (holiday) and I figure maybe 7:30 is lookin’ good.

Then, my mind starts thinking… “After so many years in Costa Rica, when has ICE (our friendly local telecommunications monopoly) EVER gotten something right the first time!”. So I reach over to the bed side table and make a test phone call.

Sure enough, ICE has done it AGAIN! They switched to the new calling plan 24 hours early!!!! I have web sites to update, both my customers and my own… notification calls… all originally scheduled for tomorrow morning. Sheesh!


This is NOT good and I kissed off all plans for a little extra z-time with ML.

Why in the WORLD would I ever presume that the employees at ICE could tell time?? I LIVE here. I KNOW to trust NOTHING that ICE says. I hear Bugs Bunny yelling to me…. “Whatta maroon!”, and he is right. To all of us who live here, we know that ICE is like a United States lawyer! If their (its?) lips are moving, it is a lie!

I occasionally lapse like this, and later figure I have the intelligence of a radish. Here I am writing a blog that a ton of people depend on for accuracy…

…But now I am thinking maybe it was ME who made an error, so I go check the ICE web site, download the FAQ and announcement .PDF files (available in last week’s Post if you wish to verify), and sure enough, there it is:

1. What is the established date for the change in numeration?
On Thursday, March 20, 2008.

2. At what time will the change in numeration take place?
The change has been programmed to take place at midnight of March 20, 2008.

Liar Liar pants on fire…. those clever souls programmed it to take place at midnight but on March 19, 2008. Last Night!

The good news is that apparently the new system DOES work OK, so anyone reading this today, just put in place any plans made for tomorrow morning. If you dial wrong, you get a high speed Ricky Ricardo message telling you the new system. Helpful only if you speak Ricky!

For those reading this who plan to move here someday, get used to this crap now… and if you are a Type A, get therapy before arriving.

For those of you living here and now laughing at me (and wondering whatever possessed me to trust an announcement by ICE) , yeah yeah and the same to you!



12 Responses to “Well ICE ALMOST Got It Right!”

  1. Erin on March 20, 2008 3:02 pm

    The message is now a woman who speaks in both Spanish and English, which may be helpful for some readers.

    Also, I don’t understand… the change was always planned to happen last night, so that on March 20, all numbers would be different, right?

  2. Tim on March 20, 2008 8:04 pm

    Ummm no.

    As copied and pasted from their web site:

    “2. At what time will the change in numeration take place?
    The change has been programmed to take place at midnight of March 20, 2008.”

    Midnight of March 20th is TONIGHT at midnight, not last night. Midnight of last night would be Midnight, March 19th. Midnight is the END o9f the day, not the beginning.

  3. Chuck on March 20, 2008 9:19 pm

    I wonder if it’s a cultural difference? Maybe they attach midnight to the beginning of the following day? E.g., and apropos to Easter weekend, I always used to wonder in Sunday School how they said Jesus rose after three days. I’d count Friday to Saturday (1), Saturday to Sunday (2)–that’s only 2 days! It’s a mistake! Then some years later I learned that they count the first day of the time period as 1 in that culture, whereas in the U.S. of A. (at least) we tend to count the number of elapsed 24-hour periods. Have you asked a local how they interpreted the announcement?

    Of course, I’d bet that are you’re right and somebody just goofed!

    …Chuck

  4. Chuck on March 20, 2008 9:30 pm

    P.S. Just for grins, I went and tried to read the Spanish version of the FAQ, and it may just be a translation problem (plus a little cultural difference in talking about time). The Spanish version says it’ll happen: “de las 00 horas del 20 de marzo del año 2008.” So I read that as “it’ll happen at 0 hours on the 20th” which seems to fit with what actually happened.

  5. Tim on March 21, 2008 6:55 am

    Chuck… I think have a point! As the vast majority of my readers are non Spanish speakers, I used the English version from ICE including the .PDF files. Publishing the files in English seemed better for my readers. I never checked the original in Spanish! In retrospect, I should have done the translation myself rather than depend on ICE’s version.

    “de las 00 horas del 20 de marzo del año 2008.” would indeed indicate the change would take place at midnight 19 March (in English-speak), so clearly the person who made the translation was not clear on how those NOT using military time actually tell time. There is no “midnight” using military time. Day starts at 0000 and ends at 2400.

  6. Michelle Hogan on March 21, 2008 8:00 am

    Why did ICE go to 8 digits at this time? Costa Rica has roughly 4 million people (many of whom do not have a single telephone – a small percentage have more than 1) , 7 digit phone numbers will give you in the range of 7 – 8 million number possibilities (8 digits 80 million, more or less, depending on restrictions) — so why, and why now? Also, how do people fill out online forms when only 3 are allowed for area code, 7 digits for telephone numbers? In service, ICE is behind the times; with the 8-digit, is it WAY ahead of its time? Or is there some motivation at work that is hidden?

  7. Tim on March 21, 2008 10:55 am

    LOL!! You’re asking ME how and why ICE does things. With THAT knowledge, I could be rich. I am guessing that while you are correct mathematically, cell phones all start with 3, 8, or 9 as that is how the cell system was designed… so THAT limits the math. Also numbers cannot begin with 0, 00, etc. The 900 range is limited by service as is 800. etc etc

    Anyway, if planning and logic are important to you, you may wish to rethink Costa Rica. When I got here, it took a year before I stopped thinking how a little planning and organization would help. I have learned. A-types do not do well here. San Jose is now a 11 hour per day traffic jam for lack of planning and it worsens daily.

    While here permanently and legally, I am still a guest so I try to act like one and not tell them how much better is MY way 🙂 I find I also do not drive myself batty.

  8. Steve R. on March 23, 2008 8:26 pm

    Just wanna say I enjoy reading this blog and the website. I’m planning a move to CR or PR in the future, this is a great resource – thanks to the proprietors.

    I’d like to ask a question of the readers: If one were to invest in Costa Rica in the sub-200K commercial market, what would be some good options?

    Other than of course starting a telecommunications company 🙂

  9. Erin on March 25, 2008 1:53 pm

    I had read about the change in Spanish, so I guess that I just subconsciously translated the “midnight on March 20” to 12 a.m. on March 20, which is basically late night March 19th. Now I see why it could be confusing.

  10. Leo on June 12, 2008 1:05 pm

    I have a novia in San Jose and the system worked first time . Trust me here in the states you would not have been so lucky with MA BEll

  11. Gustavo Coronado on June 23, 2008 1:06 am

    The reason for the change? Well believe it or not there is a National Plan for Communications (not done by ICE) but by the Ministry that does Planning. It was announced since 2007 in the webpage and ICE started a publicity campaign in banners all over the country and there was insisting news in T.V. and newspapers for at least a month prior to the change. Actually they did a test during a couple of hours like a month before in certain parts of the country to test how it would work with the diferent cell networks and the 3 digit numbers (911, 112, etc) and the 800 and 900 numbers. The system is really, really simple. Just add a 2 in front of fixed lines phone numbers and add a 8 in front of mobile phone numbers. You can imagine as we have now two area codes one for fixed likes and one for mobile networks. Its really simple.

  12. PlantCrone on September 15, 2008 9:23 am

    I’ve been reading blogs about Costa Rica, as I have plans to spend some time there in the near future. I especially enjoy reading norteamericanos take on ICE, as I am a retiree of Ma Bell and all her daughters.
    We used to call ourselves (in the days of ATT), a ‘benevolent monopoly’. Sounds almost like a religion doesn’t it?
    I think I could handle the Costa Rica lifestyle….nothing changed slower than the old farts who ran the telephone company and associated companies. They (ok Western Electric did) invented the transistor, but since “nothing is ever going to replace tubes”, they just sorta gave it away.
    Back in the day, as we retirees are wont to say, a due date-such as March 20th, was “just a number on a piece of paper, and quality and safety always comes first”. Good concept but not a practical way to keep customers happy.
    So ICE sounds just like MA did-maybe I could get a job there.

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