Got myself an iPod this week. Earlier this year one of my students stole my iPod Mini. As you can see it is pretty small.
So I was on the lookout for a new iPod. It seems the student did me a favour. Since his mom paid me for the stolen iPod I essentially got a new Nano for 40,000 won.
I was looking for an iPod in Ulsan. But stores selling Apple products are pretty scarce on the ground in Korea. It’s not Japan or an occidental country where iPods are really popular.
I couldn’t concentrate so I went window shopping at Lotte Department store and what did I find?
All the new iPods right there on display in their basement, near the supermarket !
Bummer … I could have purchased it right here in Ulsan.
Instead I had to deal with Apple directly in Seoul over the telephone.
I was impressed with their service. The person on the other end of the line spoke excellent English and was very well informed about their products and their competitors. He even picked my accent as non American. He thought I was British, but that’s OK.
Buying stuff over the phone
If you buy something in Korea over the telephone you can’t use your credit card.
So to buy the iPod I have to transfer money from my account to Apple’s. This sort of thing is very common in Korea, but not in western countries where we tend to use credit cards for online/phone transactions.
In Korea they have a National ID card where every citizen and Alien (that’s me, not ET) has a number identifying them.
To buy something online, you use some software from your bank which encrypts the transaction based on your account info and your national id.
In western countries we don’t have National ID’s. So when we buy something over the phone or online they verify who you are by the addreess you give. The idea is if someone knows your credit card number they won’t know your address and without the address they can’t use your card.
The info asked for when you use your credit card is:
Name on credit card
Address on your credit card statement
Secret number on the back of the card above the magnetic swipe area.
The Korean system is probably more secure, but a big hassle for foreigners.
Oh! Did I mention it doesn’t work for foreigners?
When you type in your National ID it tells you that it is an invalid number. What has happened is that the computer only checks it against the range of numbers used for Korean citizens. Aliens have a different number range, so it doesn’t work.
This situation has been going on now for about two years! Back home companies would probably get sued or get in trouble with the government for discriminating against aliens. But not here!
Given time this will change, but I am not going to hold my breath.