Having lived as long as I did in Israel, I was skeptical of the offer as being too good to be true. However, rather than dismiss it altogether, I contacted the company and started an interesting "you gotta prove it" relationship with Elie Mamann, the company rep.
I explained my reluctance, which was based on typical Israeli marketing of large promises followed by zero customer service. Eli had heard the same reluctance by others, and he confided that he, too, was skeptical before he began working with this company. He assured me that the service was everything promised or he would not work there. Of course, that sounds like all the other "trust me" sales pitches I have heard in Israel. However, he said one thing that gave me enough confidence to give it a try: "I'm from North America, so I know what you have in mind regarding customer service."
He convinced me, ... sorta. I'm afraid I'll be eternally skeptical of salesmen from that region. But, I told Elie that I would give him a try ... and if the service is all he's made it out to be, I promised to be his biggest supporter. On the other hand, if the service was fluff, I would be a megaphone warning others to stay away.
The result of our group's use of TalknSave was total satisfaction. Elie provided all the personal service he promised, including meeting the group at the airport to deliver the phones at the bus. They also provide pre-paid mailer envelopes and a drop box at the airport for ease of return on the way out of the country.
We had 15-18 people rent the phones (a few different plans), and all were completely satisfied. We also had a few bring their home plans for various reasons. Some were happy with the home plan decision, even though they likely paid more. Those that brought Verizon service were sorely disappointed. Verizon agents may tell you that they provide service in Israel, but members of my group (and a previous one, too) found out that isn't true.
I know that some will wonder, "what's the use/need of having a mobile phone while touring Israel?" Here are some of the benefits:
- A growing number of tourists are on vacation, but still managing things back at the office because of the instant contact culture (calling, texting, surfing) that we are moving toward. These phones offer unlimited, instant contact at a very low price.
- Most tourists' families are unaware that when they hear news of rockets coming into Israel, those rockets aren't landing in every location. These phones offer unlimited calls that might be helpful in assuring folks back home that things are okay.
- In the case that something serious - like war, or the Arab Spring, or hospitalization - happens, these phones are an inexpensive way to be in touch with people back home. That might be helpful for the tourist and their families.
- As the group leader, my phone gave me an inexpensive way to be in touch with the guide, driver, and other people I needed to reach.
- Tourists aren't always where they are supposed to be. Those that had phones were easily located.
If this recommendation interests you at all, whether you are a single or group traveler, please call Elie Mamann at 212-444-1503 or 1-800-941-4909. Tell him that Craig Dunning recommended you do so.