I have been trying to activate the roaming service for my MTel mobile phone number. However I have been told by them that I have to give them a deposit of 500 leva because I am a foreigner. Bulgarian nationals don't have to do this.

This practice seems to be a case of dual pricing which I understood had been outlawed. How would you see it?

Andrew, Sofia

VAGABOND: They didn't consider you trustworthy enough, Andrew – or perhaps you generated “untypical traffic”, whatever that means. Before you read what kind of explanations the three mobile telephone operators - MTel, Globul and Vivatel gave us, please bear in mind that very often the best strategy to get things done in Bulgaria is not to leave the office until people get things done for you. Ask them their names, they are obliged to give them to you albeit reluctantly, demand to see their superiors etc. Faced with situations like this most Bulgarians will leave, and then try to find someone who knows someone who knows someone in MTel who can help. But we don't want to do that, do we. Just badger them with what you want until they give it to you.

Nikolay Kanchev of MTel's PR Department gave us his company's official statement:

Post-pay subscribers, if foreigners, should prove their status in Bulgaria through a relevant paper issued by the Interior Ministry. Those who don't have this kind of document can buy a pre-paid card. The monthly credit limit, which also covers international roaming service, will vary depending on the tariff plan. The standard credit limit is 200 leva.

Under MTel's general terms and conditions, MTel is entitled to require the other party to provide a bank guarantee or a deposit. The guarantee amount may be required by MTel from subscribers who have exhausted their credit limit; whose access has been discontinued because of failure to pay any amounts due; based on the credit assessment of the subscriber and the type of the subscription plan used by him; in case of generation of untypical traffic.

A 500 leva deposit may be asked to secure any debts arising from the international roaming service by a foreigner who may never come back to Bulgaria, and is refundable upon payment of the amount due.

Globul Customer Service Centre, Vasil (no surname, company rule) told us roaming can be activated without a deposit, provided the subscriber has four monthly invoices paid on time. Otherwise, you have to pay 120 leva.

Vivatel Call Centre (someone who wouldn't give his name on the phone), told us that prepaid customers are automatically subscribed to their international roaming service, no need for a preliminary deposit.

For post-pay customers a deposit might be required, usually 100-120 leva.

An Issue of Identity


I have chosento live in Bulgaria, and I found my old Bulgarian ID card very adequate indeed. However, with Bulgaria in the EU now, a new type of card was introduced for EU citizens. I have found out that it does nothing, it gives me no identity - even when used in conjunction with my drivers license! Banks, notaries and change bureaus accepted the old card, but will not accept this new one.

I opened a bank account with my old lichna karta, but now I can't draw money from my account - the details on the new card were missing and I am unable to use this account.

So I thought I would open another account – I could not do this using this new card!

My family sent me a moneygram – which I could not receive using this new card.

I have a working business here in Varna, all my company details contain the information from my original lichna karta – I could not give a simple power of attorney to my staff for business matters!

Does that mean we must carry our passport at all times? I for one object, since I have had my handbag stolen twice complete with passport. I will find it very difficult indeed should, have to apply for a third passport!

Coral Taylor, Varna

VAGABOND: Bulgarians, like everyone else, need time to get used to new things. Please, be patient. We are told by the people who issue lichna karta that everything should be in order now. Most businesses etc will have got used to the new cards.


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