November 22, 2002  ·  Lessig

Insanely destructive problems with my machine here in Japan, so I apologize for the silence and unanswered emails. To my pleasant surprise, however, I discover that my Powerbook G4 has a world wide warranty. So after finding a number of the Apple Japan website, I called to get support. The Apple Store helpfully gave me an English speaking “toll free” number to call. At this point, of course, I didn’t care squat about the toll; I wanted a voice that could fix the problem. I dialed the number. Couldn’t connect. Over and over again, no luck. So I called the Apple Store back. “Are you trying to call this number from a business or university?” “Yes,” I told her. “You can’t call this number from most businesses or universities. You’ll have to go to a payphone on the street and call from there.” “Isn’t there another number, maybe a non-toll free number I could call?” “No, only the toll-free number. We don’t want to charge for support.”

Yes, it is true, like America at the beginning of the last century, you can’t call all numbers from every phone in Japan. (For a great historical account of that, see Mueller’s Universal Service). End-to-end neutrality not yet a concept here. And while, after explaining that it would be a bit inconvenient to troubleshoot a technical problem standing at a phone booth, I was able to convince the Apple Store people to have the Support Center call me, you begin to understand something of why this interesting and beautiful place is not more Mac. (I’ve often wondered what those guys standing outside of office buildings at payphones with PowerMacs were doing….)

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