D.R. Telecoms and the Ins and Outs of "Recarga."

Lucas61

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Jun 13, 2014
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Hello All,

(1) The first item is a technical matter. Probably no one here will be able to explain it unless you’ve had the same problem. With an Altice account and SIM card I deposited RD$ 500. Every time I bought a plan, “a paquetico,” from the app on my iPhone, even though the plan purchase was successful, the internet always failed. For example, this morning, I bought 5 GB for five days but, again, no internet. I then found a technician and paid him a small fee, $150.00. He worked on my phone for 20 minutes, and I was up and running with Altice—my first time on the net! (At home, using Altice wi-fi, a Triple Play package, there is never a problem). He explained that there were two issues: one with my configuration (my lack of understanding) and the other a problem with Altice where, for some customers, when you buy a plan from the app, that it creates problems. To avoid these problems, he said I should uninstall the app and buy “recarga” directly. Does anyone have experience with this specific problem related to Altice and the app?
(2) This second item should be more germane to members here. To me, buying “recarga” is a black box—I don’t understand it. Everyone I speak to repeats the same mantra: “Pay 150 for five days.” There seems to not exist any document, a data sheet, a piece of paper, that explains the relationship between how much you pay, how much data your receive, and the time limit on the data. Beyond that “Pay 150 for five days,” I’m lost and everyone I speak with cannot explain more. For example: a. When I go to the Altice office on El Conde, they tell me that they don’t sell “recarga”! What the hell? They sell Altice “recarga” at a Jumbo cash register but Altice doesn’t sell Altice? That seems preposterous, b. This morning, as a test, I bought 50 pesos of “recarga.” Then I receive a text message that I’ve used 80%. Does that mean that even though I bought a plan for one day, then when I reach 100%, my plan ends just hours after I bought it? And what to do then? (3) It’d be great if someone could explain the different amounts of money I could pay at a cash register (or wherever they sell “recarga”) and how those amounts of money correspond to time and data. Why there is not some piece of paper that explains this critical information is beyond me. And if you go to the Altice office, they don't know!
(3) I only use internet data for my smartphone once per week.. If I pay for five days, I may only use it once. On the other hand, if I pay for more time, I can just forget about it and not worry when I need to buy. What do you think is my best option?
(4) This is for other "gotchas" or solutions to problems that you might want to mention that can help other members here.
 

CristoRey

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When I go to the Altice office on El Conde, they tell me that they don’t sell “recarga”! What the hell? They sell Altice “recarga” at a Jumbo cash register but Altice doesn’t sell Altice? That seems preposterous...
Welcome To Wonderland.
 
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Joseph NY2STI

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To me, buying “recarga” is a black box—

I have a Claro sim card. If I'm out of the country for more than a month it no longer works unless I get a recarga - even though I have money "on account". It seems like it's a re-activation fee more than it is a re-charge. No one can explain why and I've given up asking ("no se amor"). The 5 day unlimited plan lasts for about 4 days and 1 minute, and I can recharge by text.

On a related note, I had to get a different sim card in Costa Rica even though it was also Claro. Using my D.R. card would have cost a fortune in roaming fees, just like my regular U.S. carrier.
 

Lucas61

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I have a Claro sim card. If I'm out of the country for more than a month it no longer works unless I get a recarga - even though I have money "on account". It seems like it's a re-activation fee more than it is a re-charge. No one can explain why and I've given up asking ("no se amor"). The 5 day unlimited plan lasts for about 4 days and 1 minute, and I can recharge by text.

On a related note, I had to get a different sim card in Costa Rica even though it was also Claro. Using my D.R. card would have cost a fortune in roaming fees, just like my regular U.S. carrier.
In response to the "black box" aspect of your reply, yes, it seems bizarre that you can have money in your account but zero functionality when you reach a time limit. For Altice, I also have a plan for my dumbphone. Buying "recarga" of say 50 pesos (I only use this phone for "back-in-the-day" types of calls, such as telling my wife that I'm on my way home), I would find out that my phone would stop working at 72 hours! What?? Even if some balance remained.. That balance would be restored once I bought more "recarga." My "plan" was rendered non-functional so frequently that now I go to the office and pay around RD$ 685 for one month and that works fine. BTW, the last time I left the country, I used an e-SIM for the first time. It was a godsend but a major hassle to set up.
 

Lucas61

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O.P. Update:

First, some general stuff: Whichever your telecom choice, your option is between a kiosk or the main office. As a general rule, kiosks are pretty much limited to taking money for plans. They generally cannot troubleshoot, cannot provide a SIM card for new customers. For that, you need to go to the main office. In Sto. Dom. those offices are few and far between. Unless you are lucky enough to live near one, figure two hours "la ida y vuelta." Bring your passport, take a ticket, and wait in line . . .

Today I learned something important that many of you probably already know. Don't laugh, please! For newcomers, this is a "heads-up." If you buy "recarga" it is for phone calls only, NOT internet. If you want to buy data for the internet, you have to ask for "paquetico de internet." And it appears that there is no documentation available that explains the various plans as a function of data, time, and mbps. However, it appears that the telecoms do have set values although they do not publish them. Here, I am NOT referring to the apps, where this detailed information is available (but for me and Altice the app fails and I am forced to use the informal method). It seems that there is a way to infer this information and that is what I am sorting out now. As a general rule (YMMV): 50 pesos gives you one day; 100 gives you three days; 150 or 200 (depending on who you speak to) gives you five days. So I'm going to start going to the colmados where there are machines for this purpose and/or staff who can process this transaction. Then I (or you) will receive an SMS message. This is useful because it is documentation for what you are purchasing. I'm going to try different amounts and see how it plays out.

By the way, I learned this stuff (new or me) at a kiosk where the staff were especially helpful. In fact, a staff person converted my "recarga," which I bought by mistake, to an internet plan even though she was not an Altice employee. Thankfully, in the D.R. there are exceptions to the generally poor service that one commonly receives.
 

cavok

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I have Altice. I really don't understand what you're doing, but it sounds like you're overcomplicating things, so I'm not surprised you're confused and it's not working out. Here's what I do. I get a "recarga" anywhere - supermarket, farmacia, banca, or "recharghe.com" on the internet for, say, 250 pesos.

You then go on your phone and "call" #100#. That takes you to a menu where you can select the internet paquetico and how many days you want. Be sure to choose "data libre". The menu is confusing - you'll probably need help the first time. I usually only need it for one day, also, and it cost 49 pesos. It's really pretty simple - never needed a technician or to go to the Altice office or even the kiosks(they don't know anything anyway).
 

malko

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Exactly what Cavok said.

You buy 500 pesos of recarga. You now have a portfolio of 500 pesos with that particular operator on an account associated with your phone number.

You can phone normally and it will deduct the cost from your portfolio.
You can also buy a " service" . You can get internet service for a day ( 50 pesos with claro ), 3 days ( 90 pesos with claro ), etc ... The cost/price of the service will be deducted from your portfolio.

Your portfolio has a limited time span. It will say so on the text message when you buy the recarga. So you may still have remaining funds, but you can NOT use them.
However you do not lose the remaining of your portfolio after the time is up.
Say you used 200 pesos of your 500, and the time span has run out.
You buy a 50 pesos recarga and you then have access to 50 + 300 again
 

josh2203

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I agree with others that the OP is somehow making this too complicated... Granted, I have not dealt with prepaid cellular services for years, but unless something has changed: You buy recargas for the amount you want to be put on your account or number. Then you purchase whatever service you want to purchase from the operator (Altice in this case). You do this via their app or via SMS or website. That's all.

Also, in my opinion you're listening or chatting about this with way too many people, as everyone will just mention what they're most used to using. At least with Claro it was so in the past, that you could send an SMS requesting what packages are available, and then you sent another SMS to buy that package. I have never spoken with anyone what package I want to buy. I just went to a Claro office, Claro POS or a pharmacy or whatever that sold recargas for Claro, and then I SMSd Claro directly what plan I want to buy. End of story...
 

JLSawmam

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Sep 8, 2018
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For the OP: you mention using two phones. If both are pay-as-you-go, and if Altice is the same as Claro on this aspect, you can transfer from the balance on your main phone to the balance on your "old school" phone. When I used to have an old pay-as-you-go, I always accumulated a balance because I rarely needed to use the minutes. So, I would transfer minutes to others occasionally.
 

AlaPlaya

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Jan 7, 2021
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I have a Claro sim card. If I'm out of the country for more than a month it no longer works unless I get a recarga - even though I have money "on account". It seems like it's a re-activation fee more than it is a re-charge. No one can explain why and I've given up asking ("no se amor"). The 5 day unlimited plan lasts for about 4 days and 1 minute, and I can recharge by text.

On a related note, I had to get a different sim card in Costa Rica even though it was also Claro. Using my D.R. card would have cost a fortune in roaming fees, just like my regular U.S. carrier.
If you top up with more money on Claro you can get a longer period before it expires. I think I've had it up to two months when I topped up with 2000 pesos. And I don't need to use the 2000 pesos in that time frame, it will sit in my account for like a year, although periodically I need to buy the 150 pesos/5 day top up to keep it active (but I can pull from the 2000 pesos).
 

Lucas61

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Jun 13, 2014
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I have Altice. I really don't understand what you're doing, but it sounds like you're overcomplicating things, so I'm not surprised you're confused and it's not working out. Here's what I do. I get a "recarga" anywhere - supermarket, farmacia, banca, or "recharghe.com" on the internet for, say, 250 pesos.

You then go on your phone and "call" #100#. That takes you to a menu where you can select the internet paquetico and how many days you want. Be sure to choose "data libre". The menu is confusing - you'll probably need help the first time. I usually only need it for one day, also, and it cost 49 pesos. It's really pretty simple - never needed a technician or to go to the Altice office or even the kiosks(they don't know anything anyway).
Thanks for this. It could be that I'm over-complicating things. It doesn't help that stuff is broken. For example, I went to an Altice office and paid RD$ 500 on my account to buy packages from my phone as needed. All the packages I bought did not function and I had no internet and lost my money. Was that my fault that the system didn't work? So a technician for only RD$150 configured my settings properly and also explained that the Alticie app causes problems and that it's better not to use but to buy plans directly. Then I buy "recarga" and I find out that this is for phone calls which I don't need. Then an employee converts this to an internet plan. So I'm being buffetted about by these various situations of stuff being broken or no one explaining the difference between "recarga" and "paquetico de internet." So I'm kind of facing a complicated mess. Therefore, is it me who's complicating things?? Meanwhile, I think I see a way forward: (1) I use one phone for phone calls (no issues there on Altice with a monthly package) and the other for internet, (2) My phone is working for the first time, (3) I'll experiment with different packages, purchasing from the machines or over the counter, get my SMS messages, and I think this is going to work out.
 

Lucas61

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Jun 13, 2014
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Exactly what Cavok said.

You buy 500 pesos of recarga. You now have a portfolio of 500 pesos with that particular operator on an account associated with your phone number.

You can phone normally and it will deduct the cost from your portfolio.
You can also buy a " service" . You can get internet service for a day ( 50 pesos with claro ), 3 days ( 90 pesos with claro ), etc ... The cost/price of the service will be deducted from your portfolio.

Your portfolio has a limited time span. It will say so on the text message when you buy the recarga. So you may still have remaining funds, but you can NOT use them.
However you do not lose the remaining of your portfolio after the time is up.
Say you used 200 pesos of your 500, and the time span has run out.
You buy a 50 pesos recarga and you then have access to 50 + 300 again
I've done all this. It didn't work. I lost my money. At least in my case, Altice as an app is broken. Everything is "easy" if it works properly and difficult if it doesn't. It's not me whose overcomplicating things, it's broken stuff that doesn't work as it's supposed to and confusions between terms like "recarga" and "paquetico de internet" which many people conflate, as if they are the same thing, when, in fact, they are completely different.
 

Lucas61

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@cavok @malko Claro, LOL! I used Claro for years successfully until I found out they were stealing my money. I'd pay money down on my account to keep in reserve for when I wanted to buy a specific plan. Then I found, multiple times, my money disappearing, either stolen or just lost my incompetence. Then I switch to Altice and two things happen: (1) I buy Alta Gama, say a package of 1 GB. I do nothing more than read the news or email--no data intensive streaming--and my data disappears in 30 minutes. That's either stealing or incompetence, (2) Then, as I continue along, I find that many times after I buy a package, that the internet does not function and I lose my money. A techninician resolves the problem and warns me not to use the app but to buy plans directly. Hopefull, I'll sort it now. So what's "complicated"? Me or a messy situation of confusion, incompetence, and stolen money?
 

josh2203

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@cavok @malko Claro, LOL! I used Claro for years successfully until I found out they were stealing my money. I'd pay money down on my account to keep in reserve for when I wanted to buy a specific plan. Then I found, multiple times, my money disappearing, either stolen or just lost my incompetence. Then I switch to Altice and two things happen: (1) I buy Alta Gama, say a package of 1 GB. I do nothing more than read the news or email--no data intensive streaming--and my data disappears in 30 minutes. That's either stealing or incompetence, (2) Then, as I continue along, I find that many times after I buy a package, that the internet does not function and I lose my money. A techninician resolves the problem and warns me not to use the app but to buy plans directly. Hopefull, I'll sort it now. So what's "complicated"? Me or a messy situation of confusion, incompetence, and stolen money?
Does Altice offer a way (for example, via the app) to track your data usage? Basically a meter showing how much you have used data and when?

We had a mobile connection from Claro with 10GB assigned monthly, and Claro also had a tracking feature where I could see the data usage in real time. There were never surprises...

EDIT: I don't know if this helps, but I've heard of this "trick" to check your mobile device for apps that might use the connection without you knowing, and therefore using up the data... 1GB in 30 minutes is a lot, but perhaps this is worth checking...
 

cavok

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@cavok @malko Claro, LOL! I used Claro for years successfully until I found out they were stealing my money. I'd pay money down on my account to keep in reserve for when I wanted to buy a specific plan. Then I found, multiple times, my money disappearing, either stolen or just lost my incompetence. Then I switch to Altice and two things happen: (1) I buy Alta Gama, say a package of 1 GB. I do nothing more than read the news or email--no data intensive streaming--and my data disappears in 30 minutes. That's either stealing or incompetence, (2) Then, as I continue along, I find that many times after I buy a package, that the internet does not function and I lose my money. A techninician resolves the problem and warns me not to use the app but to buy plans directly. Hopefull, I'll sort it now. So what's "complicated"? Me or a messy situation of confusion, incompetence, and stolen money?
Don't go to the Altice office to buy packages as you said in post #12, no need to use the Altice app(that could be the problem), and don't buy GB - buy "data libre".
 

Lucas61

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2014
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Does Altice offer a way (for example, via the app) to track your data usage? Basically a meter showing how much you have used data and when?

We had a mobile connection from Claro with 10GB assigned monthly, and Claro also had a tracking feature where I could see the data usage in real time. There were never surprises...

EDIT: I don't know if this helps, but I've heard of this "trick" to check your mobile device for apps that might use the connection without you knowing, and therefore using up the data... 1GB in 30 minutes is a lot, but perhaps this is worth checking...
Thanks for this. Re: Altice offering a way to track my data usage . . . unfortunately, that's irrelevant because, after paying, I cannot connect to the internet and I lose my money. A technician tells me that the Altice app often fails and that I must buy directly. When I complain to Altice, a main store on El Conde, where the employee seems knowledgeable, she tells me that Altice has problems and that there's nothing she can do. Meanwhile, I pay monthly for a plan for phone calls on my dumbphone and I have no problem. And we pay monthly for Altice "triple play" with both a cable and internet modem in the house and we have no problems except for the occassional signal lapse. And there are members here who have no problems with their D.R. telecom and say I am making things complicated. The reality is that much stuff is broken, confusion and incompetence rule the day, and when that's not the case, you are lucky. Situations are different between individuals and even different for one individual as is my case with Altice: some stuff works great; some stuff is broken. Ditto for banking. For many years I had a Banreservas debit cart and never had issues. Until my balance was wiped out even though I didn't use my card. I know three people whose Banreservas accounts were cleaned out, one for RD$ 60,000. He obtained an attorney to no avail. Yet there are members here who say they've never had a problem . No telling when a random negative event will strike you . . .
 

cavok

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There are "dead spots" in Altice's coverage. Concrete walls between you and the cellphone tower will block the signal. You do have to go into "settings" and turn on "cellular data". I sometimes have to completely shut down my phone and restart it to get the internet to connect. Try not using the app and buy "data libre".
 

Jan

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So what is data on the phone? I switch on data when I don't have wifi. I turn it off when I don't need it. I'm not always connected to the internet when away from wifi. I connect data as needed and it uses my basic minutes. No idea the cost of using data.
 

cavok

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So what is data on the phone? I switch on data when I don't have wifi. I turn it off when I don't need it. I'm not always connected to the internet when away from wifi. I connect data as needed and it uses my basic minutes. No idea the cost of using data.
It sort of depends on whether you have a plan or use recargas. When you turn on/off cellular data, you begin/stop using data on your cellphone"s carrier internet connection. If you have wifi in your house, you receive data through your wifi connection.