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Am I the only one perplexed by WhatsApp?

senora1

Active Member
I’m leaving soon for CP and again attempted to use what’s app without success. I was trying to call a hotel in Spain, it just rings but nothing else. A few years ago I tried using in within Spain to reach my albergue, instead I got someone in South America! I would like an inexpensive way to call ahead to let hostels/hotels know my arrival time while traveling. I’m not the most tech savvy so maybe I’m doing something wrong…I do know it works from my phone cause my brother lives in Maylasia, that’s how we communicate. Any guidance would be appreciated! Abrigada 😍
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
You haven't provided much information and that makes it very difficult to figure out what your problems might be.

A WhatsApp call may go unanswered for many reasons including you calling at a time when the person receiving your call is asleep because they are in a different time zone.

If you are getting your calls answered by someone in a different country then that might indicate that you are storing phone numbers for your contacts without a country code.

I always store phone numbers for my contacts in international format, even for contacts in my home country and this means that I can call one of my contacts correctly from anywhere in the world.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand phone numbers within the same local region, on the same network do not need a prefix and so if my phone number is 912 4556 then someone else local and on the same network as me can key in that number, call and get me.

If they are outside the local area or on another network but within ANZ then they need to add a zero prefix (to indicate out of network) and then my local network id. In my case that would become 021 912 4556.

If they are outside of ANZ then they need a different prefix (not zero) to indicate an out of country call. This prefix can be either the plus sign (+) or double zero (00). Like most people I find the plus sign to be most convenient. Given that the ANZ country code is 64 someone outside of ANZ would then need to dial +64 21 912 4556 in order to call me.

Phone networks are relatively smart and so if I store my numbers in this format + xxx xxx 9999 9999 then they always work, even if I am in the same country, on the same network and within the same local region.

While WhatsApp doesn't use the international telephone network to make voice calls it does use the same logic to identify the correct recipient of your WhatsApp call.

Given that Spain's country code is 34, all my contacts in Spain have numbers starting with +34

If the number that you have been given starts with a zero then drop the starting zero. So if the number given is 0679 4438 2299 then it would become +34 679 4438 2299.

Lastly, WhatsApp can only initiate voice calls to a device that is running the WhatsApp computer program. In general, this means that you can only make WhatsApp calls to mobile phone numbers (rather than landline phone numbers). There are exceptions but for simplicity just figure that you can only phone smartphones and so they are all going to have a mobile phone number. In Spain, mobile phone numbers start with 6 or 7 (according to Wikipedia) and so all of my WhatsApp contacts in Spain have numbers that start with +34 6xx or +34 7xx

Where a business lists more than one phone number then use the number that starts with 6 or 7 when calling with WhatsApp.

Super lastly, most albergues are small businesses, many are family owned, and so, in general, people are not waiting around for you to phone them. They are usually busy doing other things and so, often, I find that the most reliable way of contacting an albergue is to send a WhatsApp message first so that the recipient can reply when it is convenient for them. Then, if necessary, I can phone them on WhatsApp and have a voice conversation. Remembering that you are calling someone in Spain and so they are probably going to answer in Spanish and may or may not understand and speak English.

Edited to acknowledge that mobile numbers in Spain can start with either 6 or 7.
 
Last edited:
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I was trying to call a hotel in Spain, it just rings but nothing else.
My guess is they weren't near the phone. Try a text message.

A few years ago I tried using in within Spain to reach my albergue, instead I got someone in South America!
Here I suspect that somehow you had the incorrect country code after the +.

I'm still new to WhatsApp though so someone else may come up with a better response.

Edit: that looks like @DoughnutANZ who finished writing before I did.
 
Have you tried texting instead of calling on WhatsApp? When I need to reach hotels or pensions in Spain I text them on WhatsApp and normally receive a prompt reply.
That’s a great idea! Do they have to have the WhatsApp app also to receive text messages or can anyone with a smartphone use it?
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I’m leaving soon for CP and again attempted to use what’s app without success. I was trying to call a hotel in Spain, it just rings but nothing else. A few years ago I tried using in within Spain to reach my albergue, instead I got someone in South America! I would like an inexpensive way to call ahead to let hostels/hotels know my arrival time while traveling. I’m not the most tech savvy so maybe I’m doing something wrong…I do know it works from my phone cause my brother lives in Maylasia, that’s how we communicate. Any guidance would be appreciated! Abrigada 😍
I think, with all due respect, it’s just a case of you getting used to it, and going up the learning curve. We all take a while I think! As you say it has worked for you on other calls, so you are almost there. Maybe set aside an hour or so just to play around and familiarise. Call up friends! As long as you have the right number, and the recipient is on whatapps it will become easy! And save you some money.
 
You haven't provided much information and that makes it very difficult to figure out what your problems might be.

A WhatsApp call may go unanswered for many reasons including you calling at a time when the person receiving your call is asleep because they are in a different time zone.

If you are getting your calls answered by someone in a different country then that might indicate that you are storing phone numbers for your contacts without a country code.

I always store phone numbers for my contacts in international format, even for contacts in my home country and this means that I can call one of my contacts correctly from anywhere in the world.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand phone numbers within the same local region, on the same network do not need a prefix and so if my phone number is 912 4556 then someone else local and on the same network as me can key in that number, call and get me.

If they are outside the local area or on another network but within ANZ then they need to add a zero prefix (to indicate out of network) and then my local network id. In my case that would become 021 912 4556.

If they are outside of ANZ then they need a different prefix (not zero) to indicate an out of country call. This prefix can be either the plus sign (+) or double zero (00). Like most people I find the plus sign to be most convenient. Given that the ANZ country code is 64 someone outside of ANZ would then need to dial +64 21 912 4556 in order to call me.

Phone networks are relatively smart and so if I store my numbers in this format + xxx xxx 9999 9999 then they always work, even if I am in the same country, on the same network and within the same local region.

While WhatsApp doesn't use the international telephone network to make voice calls it does use the same logic to identify the correct recipient of your WhatsApp call.

Given that Spain's country code is 34, all my contacts in Spain have numbers starting with +34

If the number that you have been given starts with a zero then drop the starting zero. So if the number given is 0679 4438 2299 then it would become +34 679 4438 2299.

Lastly, WhatsApp can only initiate voice calls to a device that is running the WhatsApp computer program. In general, this means that you can only make WhatsApp calls to mobile phone numbers (rather than landline phone numbers). There are exceptions but for simplicity just figure that you can only phone smartphones and so they are all going to have a mobile phone number. In Spain, mobile phone numbers start with 6 (according to Wikipedia) and so all of my WhatsApp contacts in Spain have numbers that start with +34 6xx

Where a business lists more than one phone number then use the number that starts with 6 when calling with WhatsApp.

Super lastly, most albergues are small businesses, many are family owned, and so, in general, people are not waiting around for you to phone them. They are usually busy doing other things and so, often, I find that the most reliable way of contacting an albergue is to send a WhatsApp message first so that the recipient can reply when it is convenient for them. Then, if necessary, I can phone them on WhatsApp and have a voice conversation. Remembering that you are calling someone in Spain and so they are probably going to answer in Spanish and may or may not understand and speak English.
Doug, first of all thank you for the detailed answer. I will only try to contact people with the prefix 34 6..
I noticed trying to call using WhatsApp it prompted me to select one of my 31 contacts that apparently already have the app, but can I text anyone or do they also have to have it installed before I do??
In the case of the hotel I called I was told to invite them, I did but got no response.
I don’t actually expect them to answer in English, I always try to practice my poco espanol whilst in Spain 😍
 
I think, with all due respect, it’s just a case of you getting used to it, and going up the learning curve. We all take a while I think! As you say it has worked for you on other calls, so you are almost there. Maybe set aside an hour or so just to play around and familiarise. Call up friends! As long as you have the right number, and the recipient is on whatapps it will become easy! And save you some money.
Do you have to have the app to text? That would be much easier than calling but don’t know if a lot of people have that…
 
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That’s a great idea! Do they have to have the WhatsApp app also to receive text messages or can anyone with a smartphone use it?
Yes. You can only call or text people who have the app on their phone. That could have been a possible cause of the problems that you have had.
 
In Spain, mobile phone numbers start with 6 (according to Wikipedia) and so all of my WhatsApp contacts in Spain
Just a slight modification. Mobile numbers start with 6 or 7, land lines 8 or 9. The easiest way to see if someone uses WhatsApp is to start a new contact with the number and if it says the person is not on WhatsApp, just delete that number. I don’t think there’s any point in inviting someone who is not on it to join. I believe about 95% of Spanish cell phones are on WhatsApp, so if they’re not, it’s likely because they don’t want to be on it.
 
Hi Senora1
I think you've got useful responses above, just adding my view on top!
I think it's fairly likely that if you got a number in South America that situation is about the country code and not about WhatsApp. Secondly a proper Hotel will probably have a phone system installed and a procedure for covering that phone or transferring calls. I think it's unlikely they'd integrate the WhatsApp smartphone app into their system, unless they are quite small and a one or few person operation.
I'd definitely text rather than trying to phone an albergue, as the operator is probably really busy all day and might just want to take a planned break from, cleaning, shopping, admin etc rather than stop to answer calls every few minutes. Also I've found recently that some hospitaleras have a system whereby once they've confirmed back a reservation they also send a standard message with all their T&Cs and with the door code so you can access the building if you arrive before them (or have forgotten it when you roll back late at night...).
If you are confident about your language speaking skills and want to use them, you could always record a WhatsApp voice message - and see whether you get a response to that!
 
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I’m leaving soon for CP and again attempted to use what’s app without success. I was trying to call a hotel in Spain, it just rings but nothing else. A few years ago I tried using in within Spain to reach my albergue, instead I got someone in South America! I would like an inexpensive way to call ahead to let hostels/hotels know my arrival time while traveling. I’m not the most tech savvy so maybe I’m doing something wrong…I do know it works from my phone cause my brother lives in Maylasia, that’s how we communicate. Any guidance would be appreciated! Abrigada 😍

For phonecalls, you're best dialling the number rather than using whatsapp. Install skype and buy skype credit to call phones in Spain if your phone operator charges a lot for international calls or roaming.

Do not send text messages (sms) as usually owners cannot or will not text an international number.

If it's a smaller albergue or has a mobile number (beginning with 6) you can probably send a WhatsApp message.. save the number in your phone preceded by +34 (eg +3461234567) and WhatsApp will tell you if the person is on WhatsApp.

Some places are good at responding to WhatsApp, some ignore them.. be prepared to follow it up with a phonecall.
 
Do you have to have the app to text? That would be much easier than calling but don’t know if a lot of people have that…
Not everyone has the WA App and if you message and call to someone who hasn’t then you won’t get anywhere! You can check in the App if someone has it. Let folks know where you are at and I am sure we can push you over the line.

Don’t worry about the South America thing. The International Dialing code for Spain is +34 and the South American codes are +51, +52 etc. I reckon you dialled +54 which is Argentina. Easily done!
 
That’s a great idea! Do they have to have the WhatsApp app also to receive text messages or can anyone with a smartphone use it?
Doug, first of all thank you for the detailed answer. I will only try to contact people with the prefix 34 6..
I noticed trying to call using WhatsApp it prompted me to select one of my 31 contacts that apparently already have the app, but can I text anyone or do they also have to have it installed before I do??
In the case of the hotel I called I was told to invite them, I did but got no response.
I don’t actually expect them to answer in English, I always try to practice my poco espanol whilst in Spain 😍
WhatsApp only communicates with WhatsApp. It can’t dial a regular phone number.

It might be confusing because the mobile phone numbers are attached to WhatsApp. If you want to just direct dial phone numbers you have to go outside of the app and use a regular phone or Skype or something like that.

If you’re buying a local Sim card to use in Spain, it will be a Spanish phone number.

All Mobile phone numbers in Spain, after the +34, start with the number 6 ( or apparently sometimes 7 , but I’ve never seen that)

WhatsApp is actually the preferred method of contact for many people in Spain.

I always try WhatsApp first if they have a mobile phone number listed. You do have to add the number to your contact list for whatsapp to recognize it as a contact. But WhatsApp gives you a choice to add a new contact when you initiate a call or a text. Almost always once I input that number into WhatsApp, it shows me that it’s actually the hotel or business.

I always send a text because I don’t speak Spanish very well. And I always translate my question into Spanish using the Google translation app.

95% of the time I got a response through ‎WhatsApp. And if there’s an email listed I’ve also used that as well, with the Spanish translation.
 
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I noticed trying to call using WhatsApp it prompted me to select one of my 31 contacts that apparently already have the app, but can I text anyone or do they also have to have it installed before I do??
Yes, WhatsApp will only allow you to call someone who is already in your contacts (there are ways around this but again, for simplicity, just figure that someone that you call must already be in your list of contacts).

I am not sure if you have an Apple iPhone or an Android phone. I have an Android phone and so the next bit may be different if you have an iPhone.

When I add a new contact I wait for a minute or two and then I find that WhatsApp automatically reads the new contact and then searches its own record of who is on WhatsApp and if it recognises the number then a small WhatsApp icon appears within the contact list record for the new contact that you just added.

This is a useful way of knowing if that person/company is in WhatsApp.

Obviously, if the icon doesn't appear then I assume that they are not on WhatsApp and so either I phone them using the normal phone app or I send them an SMS txt.

As @peregrina2000 said above, WhatsApp is VERY popular in Spain and almost every smart phone in Spain seems to have it installed.

Congratulations on practising your poco Espanol 😍

Also, as a couple of people have already said, it usually is not useful to invite them to join WhatsApp if they are not already on it. Often, for Spanish numbers, when that message comes up it is because the number connects to a landline rather than a smart phone.
 
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Brace yourselves for the pro tip:

If you get tired of adding a contact only to find that they are not on WhatsApp, or just adding contacts for people you only need to chat with, this ones for you.

Open up your web browser instead and go to

wa.me/34xxxxxxxxx

Replace the x and 34 with the actual phone number and country code. It will open your WhatsApp automatically with that number as the recipient.
 
Brace yourselves for the pro tip:

If you get tired of adding a contact only to find that they are not on WhatsApp, or just adding contacts for people you only need to chat with, this ones for you.

Open up your web browser instead and go to

wa.me/34xxxxxxxxx

Replace the x and 34 with the actual phone number and country code. It will open your WhatsApp automatically with that number as the recipient.

That's convoluted.

Open WhatsApp, new chat icon, new contact, and type their number

It will either say "this person is on WhatsApp" or "this person is not on WhatsApp". Either way, you can save them to your contacts.
 
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WhatsApp only communicates with WhatsApp. It can’t dial a regular phone number.

It might be confusing because the mobile phone numbers are attached to WhatsApp. If you want to just direct dial phone numbers you have to go outside of the app and use a regular phone or Skype or something like that.

If you’re buying a local Sim card to use in Spain, it will be a Spanish phone number.

All Mobile phone numbers in Spain, after the +34, start with the number 6 ( or apparently sometimes 7 , but I’ve never seen that)

WhatsApp is actually the preferred method of contact for many people in Spain.

I always try WhatsApp first if they have a mobile phone number listed. You do have to add the number to your contact list for whatsapp to recognize it as a contact. But WhatsApp gives you a choice to add a new contact when you initiate a call or a text. Almost always once I input that number into WhatsApp, it shows me that it’s actually the hotel or business.

I always send a text because I don’t speak Spanish very well. And I always translate my question into Spanish using the Google translation app.

95% of the time I got a response through ‎WhatsApp. And if there’s an email listed I’ve also used that as well, with the Spanish translation.
Thank you Stephan for making it so much clearer. I will take your advice!
 
Brace yourselves for the pro tip:

If you get tired of adding a contact only to find that they are not on WhatsApp, or just adding contacts for people you only need to chat with, this ones for you.

Open up your web browser instead and go to

wa.me/34xxxxxxxxx

Replace the x and 34 with the actual phone number and country code. It will open your WhatsApp automatically with that number as the recipient.
Ohh that’s helpful indeed, Gracias 😊
 
Doug, first of all thank you for the detailed answer. I will only try to contact people with the prefix 34 6..
I noticed trying to call using WhatsApp it prompted me to select one of my 31 contacts that apparently already have the app, but can I text anyone or do they also have to have it installed before I do??
In the case of the hotel I called I was told to invite them, I did but got no response.
I don’t actually expect them to answer in English, I always try to practice my poco espanol whilst in Spain 😍
I’m a real newbie with WhatsApp, but I’m going to try to answer this question because I was having the same problem. (Anyone with more experience please correct me.) WhatsApp requires you to create a contact in your contact list with the number you want to message before you can message it. You can’t just enter the number while creating the message.
A possible exception is that some of the Camino apps have accommodations listed with WhatsApp numbers and you can just click on those and your phone will initiate a WhatsApp message.
 
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Hi, Senora1,

Lots of good WhatsApp tips already in this thread and maybe you’ve got all you need.

But one more thought for you.

If you really want to go native then how about you buy a cheap Spanish SIM and pop it in your phone. This will give you a Spanish phone number and you can call any other Spanish number (mobile or landline) without any country code and without using WhatsApp. You will have internet access and therefore can send and receive your emails and you can use WhatsApp too if you want. Maybe to confirm your reservation after your long chat with the albergue/hotel!

Downside is that anyone calling you on your old number will go to voicemail but you can check that by calling your own number and entering your pin when the voicemail kicks in.

Anyone contacting you by WhatsApp will still get you despite the number switch. WhatsApp is clever that way.
 
I’m leaving soon for CP and again attempted to use what’s app without success. I was trying to call a hotel in Spain, it just rings but nothing else. A few years ago I tried using in within Spain to reach my albergue, instead I got someone in South America! I would like an inexpensive way to call ahead to let hostels/hotels know my arrival time while traveling. I’m not the most tech savvy so maybe I’m doing something wrong…I do know it works from my phone cause my brother lives in Maylasia, that’s how we communicate. Any guidance would be appreciated! Abrigada 😍
Buy a Spanish SIM card, they are very cheap.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Keep in mind that not all hotels/hostels use WhatsApp. To search whether your hotel/hostel is on WhatsApp, open the app. At the top, enter the hotel/hostel’s name. WhatsApp will display whether the hotel/hostel uses WhatsApp. If they are on WhatsApp, select the phone icon to call them. If no one picks up, the reception desk may be closed or the staff stepped away. Try again later.

If WhatsApp displays that the hotel/hostel is
not on WhatsApp, you will need to use whatever method you chose for international calling. For example, I have T-Mobile, which gives me free unlimited data and texting. If I anticipate that I need to make international calls (to those not yet on WhatsApp), I buy a calling card, like the $5/24 hr that T-Mobile offers. You can find the correct phone number from the hotel’s website.

Note that if you enter a phone number, WhatsApp requires you to select the country’s calling code first. For example, select Portugal, and the country code +351 automatically appears. So I don’t see how it was possible for you to call South America?
 
As has been alluded to above by Peter, WhatsApp uses data (4G very often) as such it is not a phone and connects through a VIOP signal to speak to another person (Voice Over Internet Protocol) in effect it is a computer speaking to another computer. If the receiving computer does not have the correct software- in this case the WhatsApp app it simply will not connect.
Normal ‘phone’ and text is on 2G.
In the UK we are experiencing issues with people trying to gain help from emergency services in remote areas while they are n 4G only. They thus cannot ‘phone’ short dial emergency numbers such as 999 or 112 nor ‘phone’ people as they have no 2G.
 
Keep in mind that not all hotels/hostels use WhatsApp. To search whether your hotel/hostel is on WhatsApp, open the app. At the top, enter the hotel/hostel’s name. WhatsApp will display whether the hotel/hostel uses WhatsApp. If they are on WhatsApp, select the phone icon to call them. If no one picks up, the reception desk may be closed or the staff stepped away. Try again later.

If WhatsApp displays that the hotel/hostel is
not on WhatsApp, you will need to use whatever method you chose for international calling. For example, I have T-Mobile, which gives me free unlimited data and texting. If I anticipate that I need to make international calls (to those not yet on WhatsApp), I buy a calling card, like the $5/24 hr that T-Mobile offers. You can find the correct phone number from the hotel’s website.

Note that if you enter a phone number, WhatsApp requires you to select the country’s calling code first. For example, select Portugal, and the country code +351 automatically appears. So I don’t see how it was possible for you to call South America?
Thanks for the detailed explanation, as far as calling SA, I have no idea how I did that either 🤷‍♀️
 
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You haven't provided much information and that makes it very difficult to figure out what your problems might be.

A WhatsApp call may go unanswered for many reasons including you calling at a time when the person receiving your call is asleep because they are in a different time zone.

If you are getting your calls answered by someone in a different country then that might indicate that you are storing phone numbers for your contacts without a country code.

I always store phone numbers for my contacts in international format, even for contacts in my home country and this means that I can call one of my contacts correctly from anywhere in the world.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand phone numbers within the same local region, on the same network do not need a prefix and so if my phone number is 912 4556 then someone else local and on the same network as me can key in that number, call and get me.

If they are outside the local area or on another network but within ANZ then they need to add a zero prefix (to indicate out of network) and then my local network id. In my case that would become 021 912 4556.

If they are outside of ANZ then they need a different prefix (not zero) to indicate an out of country call. This prefix can be either the plus sign (+) or double zero (00). Like most people I find the plus sign to be most convenient. Given that the ANZ country code is 64 someone outside of ANZ would then need to dial +64 21 912 4556 in order to call me.

Phone networks are relatively smart and so if I store my numbers in this format + xxx xxx 9999 9999 then they always work, even if I am in the same country, on the same network and within the same local region.

While WhatsApp doesn't use the international telephone network to make voice calls it does use the same logic to identify the correct recipient of your WhatsApp call.

Given that Spain's country code is 34, all my contacts in Spain have numbers starting with +34

If the number that you have been given starts with a zero then drop the starting zero. So if the number given is 0679 4438 2299 then it would become +34 679 4438 2299.

Lastly, WhatsApp can only initiate voice calls to a device that is running the WhatsApp computer program. In general, this means that you can only make WhatsApp calls to mobile phone numbers (rather than landline phone numbers). There are exceptions but for simplicity just figure that you can only phone smartphones and so they are all going to have a mobile phone number. In Spain, mobile phone numbers start with 6 (according to Wikipedia) and so all of my WhatsApp contacts in Spain have numbers that start with +34 6xx

Where a business lists more than one phone number then use the number that starts with 6 when calling with WhatsApp.

Super lastly, most albergues are small businesses, many are family owned, and so, in general, people are not waiting around for you to phone them. They are usually busy doing other things and so, often, I find that the most reliable way of contacting an albergue is to send a WhatsApp message first so that the recipient can reply when it is convenient for them. Then, if necessary, I can phone them on WhatsApp and have a voice conversation. Remembering that you are calling someone in Spain and so they are probably going to answer in Spanish and may or may not understand and speak English.
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