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Can (and Will) ICE Cellular Survive?

April 12th, 2011

ICE Offices - Cost RicaOver history, I suppose most monopolies were not good for their customers…. certainly some of the early ones in the US were not. One exception we old folks remember was AT&T and their technical arm, Bell Laboratories.  They provided world class telephone service and technology that most certainly allowed the USA to become a worldwide business and technological powerhouse.  They offered excellent services, excellent customer support, excellent technology and all at an excellent price.

However…  The thing about being a monopoly is that, if you want to,  you can pretty much give the finger to your customers every day for years and know they must just accept the insult.  There is no option. You own the marbles and anyone who wants to play must play by your rules.  You set the (cellular) rates (which, by the way and in the case of ICE are REALLY very good!), and make all the rules your customers must obey if they want to have cell phone service.

Now in some cases, the customers do not know they are being maltreated because there is no other option, so they believe this is as good as it gets! Let the learning curve begin!

The bad things about being a monopoly, though, is that for good or bad, your monopoly can end, in this case as a result of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).  The bigger bad thing is that a lot of those customers that you mistreated and abused for many years have long memories.

Interested in this topic? Read on!

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ICE and Apple! Now THIS should be good!

April 8th, 2011

Many years ago in a universe far, far away, I was one of the very early Apple dealers in the US.  In fact, it was so many years ago that Apple did not even sell directly to its dealers.  It used distributors. Yeah, I am that old… ugh. I was also a dealer when Apple fired its distributors and took all dealer sales direct. Now the one thing that has not materially changed in all those many years is Apple’s position toward technical support and customer service. They do NOT screw around.  It is a huge priority at Apple and regardless of whether you by an iPad, Mac, an iPhone or any Apple branded product, you will get the best support and service available on earth.  Don’t believe me?  Try a web search for something like “Best & worst computer tech support” or “Best & worst (technical) customer service”.  You’ll see.

So you can imagine my surprise when I open Costa Rica’s major newspaper, LA NACIÓN, this morning to be greeted by a couple of articles telling me how Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the state telephone and Internet monopoly, is telling everyone that ICE will soon be authorized to sell the iPhone 4 by Apple.

Interested in my two cents?  Read on!

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Leaked Wikileaks Embassy Cable – Costa Rica

April 7th, 2011

I am sure one of the jobs of any United States Embassy regardless of location is to constantly evaluate the host country in terms of  law, infrastructure, political persuasion, stability, attitude towards the USA, geographical considerations and probably a bunch of other stuff of which I have no idea…. like maybe the cool spy stuff! They likely collect info in many ways, but I am not at all sure of the accuracy of their sources.

In fact, one of my favorite sources for pretty excellent info regarding Costa Rica is the good ol’ CIA!  Their World Factbook Costa Rica is handy and is quite accurate. A lot of the info can be really useful to folks studying Costa Rica, planning to move or relocate here, considering opening or moving  a business operation to the country and for many other reasons.

Costa Rica newspaper La Nacion recently made a deal with those idiots at Wikileaks to get copies of various cables sent by various US diplomats to the State Department that pertain to Costa Rica.  If you wish to download a copy of the cable I will be discussing, just click here. Now when you do that, you will supposed see the actual document submitted 4 April 2007, by Laurie Weitzenkorn, an official of Public Affairs U.S. Embassy, but other news sources (La Nacion etc)  have published  lists of comments that do not appear on that document and while I am pretty sure they are accurate, I have not been able to track down the actual Wikileaks document.  All have been published in various online or actual newspapers. The comments by Weitzenkorn and others are a few years old, and perhaps my readers would like to know my thoughts as to whether some of these issues are still valid. Cables like these give the viewpoint of a single person whom we do not know. Did they live here for a a few weeks. months or years? Where did they get their info?  Was/is it biased?  Quien sabe?

Anyway, here are excerpts… some topics I think might be of the most general interest.  If interested, read on!

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Stand Proud America

July 10th, 2008

Must be just that kind of week!

I received another comment yesterday and again I have decided to reply here as I think more people read the posts than the comments. OK OK… it is sort of another rant and probably should have been posted on July 4th, but here it is. It started out as a simply enough reply… then grew. However as my readers know, at times my self control fails me…which might be why I am not exactly thin!

Ohhh. Haters of the USA or those embarrassed to be an American will probably find this post not to their liking.

Below is a comment sent in yesterday and the stimulous for this reply. If my response might interest you… read on!

I don’t want to come off as a conspiracy theorist, but I do find it to be interesting that this is a problem for you now. My point, a lot of people are disenchanted, to say the least, regarding the current political, economic, etc… here in the US, and are hoping to relocate. Well maybe the powers that be prefer this not to be so easy to do. And therefore prefer not to have someone help make this possible, meaning you. You provide us with the much appreciated, and needed info. Seems as though with the recent CAFTA activity, that Costa Rica wanting to do trade with the US, is going to be pressured to do whatever Uncle Sam asks of them. Remember the disintegration of the middle class, means the corporate big wigs need all the slaves to stay here and consume in order for them to continue to make a profit. Now if we want to live elswhere, we are not here to keep them nice and fat. Ok, after previewing my post, I have to admit I do sound like a nut, or do I? (twilight zone music plays in background).

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A Reader Asks About the Effects of CAFTA

July 9th, 2008

Tonight I received a comment from a reader… and it pushed my rant button. I may be completely reading the comment incorrectly and assuming a wrong tone or meaning… and if I am, I apologize now… but the rant is still coming as I am replying to many others who I am sure I read correctly!

Here is her email, and if the topic interests you (and you can deal with my rant)… read on!

My family plans to relocate to Costa Rica, and I would like to know what your thoughts are regarding the recent activity by the Costa Rican Congress ending it’s 84 year old insurance, and telecom monopoly (CAFTA). How do you think this is going to effect the citizens of Costa Rica that have enjoyed a universal health care system, and what do you think the implications are for Americans residig in Costa Rica, that have been able to partake in this system?.

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TLC Si! TLC wins 51.7% to 48.3%

October 7th, 2007

Costa Rica has decided. The answer is SI – YES to the TLC. I am so proud to be living here during this time.

Turnout was about 60% of eligible voters.

Is this good for Costa Rica? Probably, but certainly not perfect. It has always been my opinion that Costa Rica had to vote yes for the country to continue to prosper. To say no would place her in a difficult, perhaps untenable position indeed as Costa Rica must be able to compete against other`Latin American Countries.

So now the process will begin with various parts of the TLC being phased in over`the next dozen years. For sure this will not go smoothly as many will continue to fight the process to the detriment of Costa Rica and her people.

But this is an enlightened government and the leadership is strong.

Costa Rican will benefit because of the competition. The big business monopolies of ICE, CAJA and the INS will no longer be able to asset themelves to the detriment of the people.

Viva Costa Rica!

TLC – A Civics Lesson

October 7th, 2007

Today is the Big Day.

Today the citizens of Costa Rica go to the polls to vote for or against approval of the Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) or in English, the Free Trade Agreement with the USA.

Copies of the TLC are currently available online, but only the brave need download and read entirely this document. It is mammoth and confusing and requires a huge amount of cross referencing to other places within the document. I admit that I tried, got through maybe 30% of it, then spent a little more time looking only for certain things like the effect on ICE (communications) and insurance. Thus here is my disclaimer that I am not an expert.

This is the first public referendum in the history of Costa Rica, and I will say that I am very impressed! They did this right and all Costa Ricans should be very proud of themselves and their country.

There have been debates, presentations and countless meetings given almost daily by both sides in all parts of Costa Rica. What has to be clear to all who live here is that any Costa Rican who wanted to learn about this document has had almost unlimited resources at their disposal to do so. The point is… if you wanted to learn, you could.

Some did. Some did not. Here is what I found.

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