How to Save Money in Brazil
(Short Answer Below)
1. Sign up for a cool phone line service called Livre -- the phone has land line rates but can be carried around like a cell phone within city limits.
2. Receive your cell-phone-like landline the day you sign up.
3. Drop your phone numerous times over the course of two years.
4. Decide to replace your phone.
5. Go to the store in the mall, only to be informed that they don't sell the actual phones -- only their sales kiosk at another place in the mall can sell them.
6. Cross the mall and go to the kiosk, only to have it be closed. Perhaps the single employee is at lunch?
7. Go back to the mall another day.
8. Find an employee at the kiosk. Tell him you are interested in replacing your phone. You don't need to change anything with your account or your line -- you just want a new device to replace the old one.
9. Listen patiently as the employee tells you that you can't buy a cell-phone-style phone, only a cordless phone that plugs into the wall and stays in your house. Remind him that the whole point of the Livre service is to be livre -- free -- to use your phone around town. Ask if he's sure he can't sell your a cell-phone-style phone. He will say he is, and then he will say, "well, you can probably use this cordless phone around town, I imagine." Sigh a lot and walk away.
10. While in another mall, notice another kiosk from the same company. Stop and ask the employee about switching your phone. Try not to grind your teeth as this employee explains that, in order to switch your device (not to change anything in your account), you need to fill out a personal information form and bring it back with certified copies of your ID documents and proof of address. Ask the employee if he's sure, since the company already has all of your information on file. He will say he's sure. For laughs, ask the employee if you can bring in a copy of your bill FROM HIS COMPANY to prove your address. Chuckle to yourself as he says, "that sounds fine."
11. Try not to laugh out loud when the employee asks to see your phone and says, "why do you want to replace this one? I've never even seen it before. It's cool! I mean, it seems good enough." Explain to him that he has never seen it before because it's so old. Refrain from asking whether he receives commission or suggesting that perhaps he should reconsider a job in sales. Take the personal information form and leave, frustrated.
12. When you get your bill in the mail the next month, read the little sales flyers that come in the envelope, and notice that the company says you can switch out your old phone for a new one at a discounted price if you buy the new phone online. Try not to get your hopes up.
13. Go onto the website on the flyer. Ignore the pictures of all the different phones on the flyer -- there's actually only one for sale.
14. Fill out the pages and pages of personal information on the website, including your account number, your ID numbers, and your mother's full name, just to replace a cell phone without changing anything else in your account.
15. Click "pay with barcode" so you can print out a barcode that you can scan at an ATM in order to avoid paying with a credit card online. Go ahead and let yourself feel some good feelings at the thought of the convenient barcode system. Shrug off the thought that it would be far easier if you could use your debit card as a Visa credit card online, or if you could add the charge to your next bill, and focus on the positive side of the barcode sytem.
16. Wait for the page to load. Wait some more.
17. Sigh audibly as you receive a message saying "error in processing your request". Click ten more times like a rat on cocaine, hoping a window with a printable barcode will decide to appear.
18. Click on the "Chat Live with a Customer Service Rep" button on the website. Nod approvingly at the fact that the company has a live customer service chat system.
19. Type in all of your personal information in order to sign into the chat. Briefly explain your problem to "Flavia No.0485096460". Wait so Flavia No.0485096460 can transfer you to the appropriate representative.
20. Even though the chat window says, "Eduardo No. 93759937597 has entered the room," do not assume that Eduardo can read what you already typed out to Flavia. When he asks you what the problem seems to be, save yourself some time -- copy and paste.
21. Be patient as Eduardo asks you for all of the same data that you gave to sign into the chat, as well as all the stuff from the pages and pages of personal information on the sales website, including
your account number, your ID numbers, and your mother's full name. It's not worth reminding Eduardo that you already put all that into the system, or asking Eduardo how he's going to get the barcode to you, since he's clearly just doing what you did.
22. Try not to type a series of profanities when Eduardo No. 93759937597 tells you that their system is "offline" (fancy that, a telecommunications company with an unreliable computer system or internet connection), and that you'll have to sign into the chat again in an hour and give the agent all of your information again. Ask Eduardo if the system's offline status would explain why you weren't able to buy the phone from the sales page. He will say "I don't know." Sign out of the chat without bothering to say thank you as a tiny act of vengeful rebellion.
23. Give the company 2 hours to put the system "back online," just to be safe.
24. Try to open their website and to go through the process again. Click on the "exchange device" button. Watch the screen say "just a moment" and then freeze, over and over. Go ahead and try clicking on other things, only to have your browser say "waiting for [company's website].com" forever and ever.
25. Give up and stick to your broken phone with the distorted sound until you can muster up the patience to beg the company to take your money again.
So, in summary: The answer to the question of how to save money in Brazil is simply to try to spend money in Brazil. You can try all kinds of creative ways to give your money to a company, but they probably won't be interested in taking it from you. Before you know it, your piggy bank will be overflowing!