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Vodafone vs Orange

camster

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés 2023
I'm researching on sim cards and I would like to know which provider has the quickest data/internet connection.
If some of you have used both before and can help me compare, I would appreciate it.
 
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I can’t compare but I have an Orange prepaid ‘go walk’ sim in my phone. I’ve got the 50 GB for four weeks, €15 option and I’m now in month two. Speed has been fine. Occasionally my signal is blocked but I presume that would happen with all carriers.. The unused GB were carried over into the second month as I had prepaid for the second month.

No text messages included but with Whatapp, texting isn’t needed. It’ll work in the rest of Europe as well.

I did not know at the time I bought it that there was a €10, 25GB option; it would have been enough.
 
I have always used Orange and never had any complaints regarding service or ease to refill. I used Vodaphone once, several years ago, and had a big problem refilling minutes.
 
Last year I used Vodafone on the Camino Francés and this year Orange on the Portuguese and both worked very well without any problems. I would suggest you choose a data and cell plan that works for you. To me, it seems important to have a cell plan and access to a carrier. Some pensions now use a phone call from a carrier to open the front doors. Total contactless check in into your room.
 
Last year I used Vodafone on the Camino Francés and this year Orange on the Portuguese and both worked very well without any problems. I would suggest you choose a data and cell plan that works for you. To me, it seems important to have a cell plan and access to a carrier. Some pensions now use a phone call from a carrier to open the front doors. Total contactless check in into your room.
How different is the process to renew or top up on data and minutes with both? Is one more tedious than the other?
 
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I can’t compare but I have an Orange prepaid ‘go walk’ sim in my phone. I’ve got the 50 GB for four weeks, €15 option and I’m now in month two. Speed has been fine. Occasionally my signal is blocked but I presume that would happen with all carriers.. The unused GB were carried over into the second month as I had prepaid for the second month.

No text messages included but with Whatapp, texting isn’t needed. It’ll work in the rest of Europe as well.

I did not know at the time I bought it that there was a €10, 25GB option; it would have been enough.
To be clear, this is a physical SIM card, correct? If coming from North America would one purchase the SIM card and then choose the Go Walk plan?
 
How different is the process to renew or top up on data and minutes with both? Is one more tedious than the other?
I used Vodaphone once, several years ago, and had a big problem refilling minutes.
There is a website that I saw that showed the coverage and speed of Orange, Vodafone and Moviestar and if memory served me correctly Movistar actually came out on top. But they were all excellent. What @estoriidon is a perfect example of two people using the same service and having very different results. I have used Orange and like them but I switched to Vodafone. I walk long caminos and do have to recharge and I have found Vodafone is by far the easiest. I get a message when my 28 days are up with a link to recharge. Once you open it you can change the language to English and in about 60 seconds you put in the information required and you are recharged. I haven't used Orange in about 5 years so I can't say that they have not improved on their recharging. I also stay with Vodafone as they have plans that suit my needs better. The value of the different cell phone planes will change with every person.
 
Don't use Orange. I paid 80 euros for four months' service. Worked for a month, then never again. On the account the 80 euro payment and the one month's deduction showed, but no, I have to pay more to get it working. I've been onto a helpline. They say the money is there, to show the receipt for 80 euros, but, having finally encountered an open Orange shop, no. I need to pay more.

And they won't refund money, just say go to an Ornge shop and they'll fix it.
Others have had similar experiences. They take your money, then tough.
 
I walked into a vodafone shop and bought 2 prepago sims. It cost €20 (€10 per card). The first month I had 25GB of data, but when I topped up, I got 50GB and the same every subsequent month since November - every month I pay €10 and get 50GB.
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
To be clear, this is a physical SIM card, correct? If coming from North America would one purchase the SIM card and then choose the Go Walk plan?
Yes, a physical sim card. I went into an Orange shop at the 3 week usage point, just to confirm some details, and discovered that I had accidentally sent a couple of texts, which aren’t free. (I was trying to send whatsapp messages but I erred somehow.) These had dropped my balance to below €15 which meant I had to top up before the four weeks were up, or else it would not roll over. Their minimum top up is €5.

Still cheaper than Canada.
 
I have always gotten physical SIM cards when traveling around Europe. This is the first time I will have a e-sim card in my iPhone . Anyone have any experience with getting these? Hoping it will not be a problem.
Thank you for everyone's help.
Karen
(FYI: I am walking the Camino Del Norte if that makes any difference, June 12)
 
There is a website that I saw that showed the coverage and speed of Orange, Vodafone and Moviestar and if memory served me correctly Movistar actually came out on top. But they were all excellent. What @estoriidon is a perfect example of two people using the same service and having very different results. I have used Orange and like them but I switched to Vodafone. I walk long caminos and do have to recharge and I have found Vodafone is by far the easiest. I get a message when my 28 days are up with a link to recharge. Once you open it you can change the language to English and in about 60 seconds you put in the information required and you are recharged. I haven't used Orange in about 5 years so I can't say that they have not improved on their recharging. I also stay with Vodafone as they have plans that suit my needs better. The value of the different cell phone planes will change with every person.
I didn't know about Moviestar, it looks really good. Thanks!
 
FYI I just finished the Camino Frances, and my friend used Orange. it was 20e for the entire month with plenty of service as mentioned above. She had no problems and would recommend it.
 
I have just finished a month with Orange and needed to recharge for another 2 weeks. My one complaint is that they had sent me several messages in Spanish that I couldn’t understand. One concerned a password that I needed to input in order to receive calls (which I hadn’t done). I finally went into an Orange shop in Ourense to sort it all out. The three girls there couldn’t speak English! A customer who did came over to help! Moral of the story: make sure you get a proper explanation from Day One!
 
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How different is the process to renew or top up on data and minutes with both? Is one more tedious than the other?
I find Vodafone very easy. I normally just use their website but I am good at tech stuff.

If you want a simple solution then just put extra credit into the account when you buy the SIM card. Almost all Vodafone pre-pay plans will automatically renew if there is enough credit in the account. This would be my advice to anyone who knows how long they need the SIM for. This then becomes set and forget.
 
I didn't know about Moviestar, it looks really good. Thanks!
Movistar is the local Spanish incumbent network provider. They are a typical incumbent, they have the best network coverage across all of Spain (but not necessarily the Camino Frances) and the worst customer service. Like most large incumbents they tend to be arrogant.
 
How different is the process to renew or top up on data and minutes with both? Is one more tedious than the other?
A particular pre-pay plan usually comes with both data and minutes and sometimes SMS txts as well. Although each plan is different and some will be only data or only minutes. Please check at the time that you buy it.

You renew the plan, not each individual service. So if you have a plan with data and minutes then you will get a new supply of both when you renew.

The only slightly tricky bit is if you, for example, use all your data before your plan renews. Then you need to buy more data (on its own) to get you through until your plan renews.

Usually Vodafone has package deals where if you need more data, for instance, then you can buy a package of X Gigabytes rather than buying extra data as you need it as this can get expensive.

All Vodafone prepay plans are for 28 days, not a month. So your plan will need to renew after 28 days.

I have never run out of data on a Camino.
 
I'm researching on sim cards and I would like to know which provider has the quickest data/internet connection.
If some of you have used both before and can help me compare, I would appreciate it.
If you’re looking for data only, I love Airalo, eSIM. I set it up on my phone before I left and switched over to it right from my phone when I landed in Madrid. Then did the reverse coming back home. Also super easy to top off right from the App if you need more data while on the Camino.
 
I have always gotten physical SIM cards when traveling around Europe. This is the first time I will have a e-sim card in my iPhone . Anyone have any experience with getting these? Hoping it will not be a problem.
Thank you for everyone's help.
Karen
(FYI: I am walking the Camino Del Norte if that makes any difference, June 12)
If you’re looking for data only, I love Airalo, eSIM. I set it up on my phone before I left and switched over to it right from my phone when I landed in Madrid. Then did the reverse coming back home. Also super easy to top off right from the App if you need more data while on the Camino.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
A particular pre-pay plan usually comes with both data and minutes and sometimes SMS txts as well. Although each plan is different and some will be only data or only minutes. Please check at the time that you buy it.

You renew the plan, not each individual service. So if you have a plan with data and minutes then you will get a new supply of both when you renew.

The only slightly tricky bit is if you, for example, use all your data before your plan renews. Then you need to buy more data (on its own) to get you through until your plan renews.

Usually Vodafone has package deals where if you need more data, for instance, then you can buy a package of X Gigabytes rather than buying extra data as you need it as this can get expensive.

All Vodafone prepay plans are for 28 days, not a month. So your plan will need to renew after 28 days.

I have never run out of data on a Camino.
How much data do you usually use?
 
If you’re looking for data only, I love Airalo, eSIM. I set it up on my phone before I left and switched over to it right from my phone when I landed in Madrid. Then did the reverse coming back home. Also super easy to top off right from the App if you need more data while on the Camino.
My phone doesn't support eSIM 😕
 
A particular pre-pay plan usually comes with both data and minutes and sometimes SMS txts as well. Although each plan is different and some will be only data or only minutes. Please check at the time that you buy it.

You renew the plan, not each individual service. So if you have a plan with data and minutes then you will get a new supply of both when you renew.

The only slightly tricky bit is if you, for example, use all your data before your plan renews. Then you need to buy more data (on its own) to get you through until your plan renews.

Usually Vodafone has package deals where if you need more data, for instance, then you can buy a package of X Gigabytes rather than buying extra data as you need it as this can get expensive.

All Vodafone prepay plans are for 28 days, not a month. So your plan will need to renew after 28 days.

I have never run out of data on a Camino.
I'm using a vodafone plan, if I use up all my data I just renew the plan early and I get all my monthly allowance starting from that date. It's only €10 a month, so not a big deal. (And yes, it is a bit annoying that it's 28 days and not a month).
 
My phone doesn't support eSIM 😕
I had the opposite. Bought a new phone before my Camino, basically for the fabulous camera, but it was eSIM only!

On past trips to Europe, for physical SIM, I have used both Orange and Vodaphone. Both have worked well. I always stop at the kiosk, or store, in the airport and the clerk installs the SIM for me and then gives me the tool to open the tray because I will have to put the SIM back in on my own! If you plan to install, and not have the clerk do it, make sure you take the little tool to open your SIM tray, or a paper clip, but tool works best. Also, take a very secure container to keep "and guard with your life" your SIM card upon removal!

P.S. Make sure your phone is unlocked and also practice removing and reinserting your SIM card before you leave for your trip. Makes it easier to do while on the plane back home!
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.
I had the opposite. Bought a new phone before my Camino, basically for the fabulous camera, but it was eSIM only!

On past trips to Europe, for physical SIM, I have used both Orange and Vodaphone. Both have worked well. I always stop at the kiosk, or store, in the airport and the clerk installs the SIM for me and then gives me the tool to open the tray because I will have to put the SIM back in on my own! If you plan to install, and not have the clerk do it, make sure you take the little tool to open your SIM tray, or a paper clip, but tool works best. Also, take a very secure container to keep "and guard with your life" your SIM card upon removal!

P.S. Make sure your phone is unlocked and also practice removing and reinserting your SIM card before you leave for your trip. Makes it easier to do while on the plane back home!
I was thinking about hitting 2 birds with 1 stone and getting a new phone with a better camera that would be eSIM compatible too. What phone did you get?
 
I was thinking about hitting 2 birds with 1 stone and getting a new phone with a better camera that would be eSIM compatible too. What phone did you get?
iPhone 14 Pro and I have to say, the photos and video quality are amazing! Of course that's coming from 2 years with the 12-mini! I chose Pro over Max, because Pro was a little smaller in size.
 
I'm researching on sim cards and I would like to know which provider has the quickest data/internet connection.
If some of you have used both before and can help me compare, I would appreciate it.
I’m using Orange and have had one problem after another. Latest one involved topping it up after my initial 28 days. They sent a link to use, but it wouldn’t let me pay with a foreign credit card. The program said it would send me an email to use to set up an account with a foreign credit card. (Mind you, when I first bought the initial one in Madrid, they told me they’d done that and all I’d have to do is a click.) No link ever arrived to my email, which meant another phone call to them. THEN they told me that an email couldn’t be sent because I hadn’t set up an account attached to my email. (So why did the message from them tell me they’d just sent an email?) The woman had to manually enter my email address into the system on her end, and finally I could complete the process.

I added 10E on their GoWalk plan yesterday. Got a message confirming that and congratulating me. The charge is on my credit card. Then I wake up this morning to a message saying that since my balance has expired, my speed is being reduced and every phone call will cost a certain amount, etc. Then just a little while ago,I got another message from Orange telling me that my balance is now 5.62, and inviting me to add more. Since yesterday’s purchase of another month of 25 gigs of data and supposedly unlimited calls, I have received exactly one brief phone call just confirming a reservation. In my whole month here, I’ve used 6 gigs of data, so I am at a loss as to how my 10E balance from yesterday has now been reduced by half.

So I’ve had it with Orange. I’ve used them before when I’ve been in Spain, but I’m really fed up. They don’t even have real people to talk to at reasonable hours reliably. I was directed to their chat robot and told to leave a time they could call me back. This was at around 9 a.m. After you enter a bunch of stuff into their form, they tell you no one is available.

No more Orange for me. I’m done.
 
How different is the process to renew or top up on data and minutes with both? Is one more tedious than the other?
I used Vodaphone. I paid about 15 euros for a plan that had 50 GB of monthly data. You can get a Vodaphone Sim either in a Vodaphone shop or in general phone stores that sell a variety of Sims. I found those shops more helpful, although usually you pay a 5 Euro premium.

Once you're in Spain, or perhaps before, you're able to download the Spanish Vodafone app. On that app there's an option to top up your plan each month with a credit card. It is in Spanish, but it's simple to use and/or translate.

 
Don't use Orange. I paid 80 euros for four months' service. Worked for a month, then never again. On the account the 80 euro payment and the one month's deduction showed, but no, I have to pay more to get it working. I've been onto a helpline. They say the money is there, to show the receipt for 80 euros, but, having finally encountered an open Orange shop, no. I need to pay more.

And they won't refund money, just say go to an Ornge shop and they'll fix it.
Others have had similar experiences. They take your money, then tough.
What I have figured out is that they’ve been charging all these texts THEY send me against my balance, which is what draws it down and results in them throwing me onto really slow internet speeds. Their texts are about silly promotions and multiple reminders. I haven’t sent any texts. I feel like I’ve been scammed.
 
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I used Vodaphone. I paid about 15 euros for a plan that had 50 GB of monthly data. You can get a Vodaphone Sim either in a Vodaphone shop or in general phone stores that sell a variety of Sims. I found those shops more helpful, although usually you pay a 5 Euro premium.

Once you're in Spain, or perhaps before, you're able to download the Spanish Vodafone app. On that app there's an option to top up your plan each month with a credit card. It is in Spanish, but it's simple to use and/or translate.

That’s a good difference to note. I’m in Spain and can’t download Orange’s app. I get a message saying it’s not available in my country. I have several apps working, plus the clock, all of which know I’m in Spain.
 
That’s a good difference to note. I’m in Spain and can’t download Orange’s app. I get a message saying it’s not available in my country. I have several apps working, plus the clock, all of which know I’m in Spain.
I had the same problem. Actually with the city of Pamplona bicycle rental app. For some reason, some apps are country-specific, and you can't download them unless you are a resident.

I got around this on my iPhone by changing my country in my apple id using the address of a local business. When I got home, I changed it back. Not sure how you would do this on Android, but something similar perhaps.
 
On Android, my experience is that it is the nationality (as it were) of the sim card that determines whether I can download apps. There is nothing in the phone that records my residence location. If I am in Spain, with a Spanish sim, I can definitely get all Spanish apps.
 
On Android, my experience is that it is the nationality (as it were) of the sim card that determines whether I can download apps. There is nothing in the phone that records my residence location. If I am in Spain, with a Spanish sim, I can definitely get all Spanish apps.
I AM using a Spanish sim!
 
I’m using Orange and have had one problem after another. Latest one involved topping it up after my initial 28 days. They sent a link to use, but it wouldn’t let me pay with a foreign credit card. The program said it would send me an email to use to set up an account with a foreign credit card. (Mind you, when I first bought the initial one in Madrid, they told me they’d done that and all I’d have to do is a click.) No link ever arrived to my email, which meant another phone call to them. THEN they told me that an email couldn’t be sent because I hadn’t set up an account attached to my email. (So why did the message from them tell me they’d just sent an email?) The woman had to manually enter my email address into the system on her end, and finally I could complete the process.

I added 10E on their GoWalk plan yesterday. Got a message confirming that and congratulating me. The charge is on my credit card. Then I wake up this morning to a message saying that since my balance has expired, my speed is being reduced and every phone call will cost a certain amount, etc. Then just a little while ago,I got another message from Orange telling me that my balance is now 5.62, and inviting me to add more. Since yesterday’s purchase of another month of 25 gigs of data and supposedly unlimited calls, I have received exactly one brief phone call just confirming a reservation. In my whole month here, I’ve used 6 gigs of data, so I am at a loss as to how my 10E balance from yesterday has now been reduced by half.

So I’ve had it with Orange. I’ve used them before when I’ve been in Spain, but I’m really fed up. They don’t even have real people to talk to at reasonable hours reliably. I was directed to their chat robot and told to leave a time they could call me back. This was at around 9 a.m. After you enter a bunch of stuff into their form, they tell you no one is available.

No more Orange for me. I’m done.
Crap, I don't want to have to deal with this on camino. Thank you for sharing!
 
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I have Go Walk, too. My balance keeps depleting, and then they tell me it’s too low to have decent internet speeds. I couldn’t figure out how this could be happening, but it dawned on me that they’re charging me for every single promotional text they send me. I haven’t sent a single text, and that’s the only thing that could be depleting my balance. So this morning I remembered that my phone can have more than one esim in it, so I bought one from Airalo and am using that for data needs. So now Orange has no way to force me to keep buying more from them. I’ll use the phone number from Orange and the data from Airalo.
 
Consider Movistar. Last year I bought Movistar “data only” sim in Pamplona. It was one month prepaid and previous experience told me not to expect to be able to top it up online a month later. As it happened I was able to top up in the Movistar store in Astorga. The best news is that their service was strong and consistent even in the most remote places where my brother’s Orange service was flaky. Although data only it gave me free local calls, excellent WhatsApp voice access, and enough data speed to transfer 600+ photos to a blog.
 
I used Vodafone on the Portuguese (sim purchased from Portugal) last year and it was great. This year when I went on the Frances, I bought a Vodafone sim from Spain and I had alot of times where I was left without any signal.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Don't use Orange. ….

And they won't refund money, just say go to an Ornge shop and they'll fix it.
Others have had similar experiences. They take your money, then tough.
The moment I entered an Orange shop in Burgos, the person nearest the door snapped "take a number" in a grumpy tone. After a glance noting that she and two other employees apparently had no customers, I turned around and walked out.
 
That’s a good difference to note. I’m in Spain and can’t download Orange’s app. I get a message saying it’s not available in my country. I have several apps working, plus the clock, all of which know I’m in Spain.
I had the same problem with the Vodafone app when I was in Spain. I'm Canadian. I am home now, and just went into settings in the Play Store app. It shows my country is Canada. I believe this is what you have to change to Spain in order to download the Spanish phone apps.
 
I had the same problem with the Vodafone app when I was in Spain. I'm Canadian. I am home now, and just went into settings in the Play Store app. It shows my country is Canada. I believe this is what you have to change to Spain in order to download the Spanish phone apps.
I am guessing that you have an Apple phone. I know nothing about Apple phones and the following advice may not apply.

You are correct that the country setting, in Android phones, is in the play store settings. However, do not change it unless you understand how this affects your phone.

On an Android phone, once you change it you can not change it again for 12 months and so you won't be able to change it back when you get home. Also, if you do want to change it then the IP address of the device that you are using to make the change must be from the country that you are changing it to.
 
I am in Madrid now. On Tuesday I purchased a Vodafone pre-pay plan with a local SIM card.

I am a highly technical person with fifty years of relevant experience with computers and telephone systems.

I have a dual SIM phone and I have previously purchased a Vodafone pre-pay plan in Spain with out any issues.

My latest purchase has been a disaster.

I purchased a plan with 140 Gigabytes of data, unlimited free calling within Spain, 300 minutes of International calling and free roaming in the EU and UK for €20.

My data works perfectly and here in Madrid is as fast as some slower fibre plans. However my phone refused to make or accept calls on the Spanish SIM card but I can use my Aotearoa New Zealand SIM card to make and receive calls at considerable cost.

At first I thought that the issue lay between my not speaking Spanish and the inexperienced Vodafone staff member who set up the plan for me and who didn't speak English.

My policy is not to leave the store until I have proved to myself that my phone is working correctly. So I stayed in the Vodafone store for two hours trying to get my phone to work and trying to get the staff to help me fix it. They were extremely busy on Tuesday night with long queues of people waiting for service and so eventually they gave up, said it was not fixable and that if I wished to make calls then I should install WhatsApp and call that way. They then refused to talk to me any more and so I went back to my accommodation.

At my accommodation I searched the internet and found that there is an issue with some dual SIM smartphones at the moment that has symptoms similar to my own. There were various remedies suggested and I tried most of the sensible ones but nothing helped.

The following day I went to a different Vodafone store and asked for help from the single person on duty, who was not busy. On learning that I didn't speak Spanish she told me that she couldn't help and suggested that I go back to where I purchased it.

Then I went to the Vodafone store in Sol. It was very busy with queues of people and so I stood in line for an hour waiting to be seen. I was eventually seen by a helpful woman but who said that it was beyond her knowledge. She then took me upstairs to the area for On Account customers who were not at all busy and said that although it wasn't usually allowed she would ask one on the techies to help me.

The Vodafone techie worked on the problem for an hour without success then put my SIM in his phone and was able to call using it. He then said that the problem must be with my phone and that he could not help any more.

I then asked for a refund so that I could try another system provider but he said that he couldn't refund me because I had already used lots of data (searching for solutions to the problem).

Learnings:

In Madrid the Vodafone Sol store has helpful and knowledgeable staff.

Sometimes things just don't work even if you have lots of knowledge and experience.

Data let's me do most things that I need to do.

Never, ever buy a SIM card from a convenience store unless you are happy to throw it away if it doesn't work. Note: not really a learning from this particular experience but reinforced by the current experience.
 
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I’m in León right now and had so many problems with Orange that I’ve been looking forward to getting here and finding an alternative. I ended up at a Vodaphone store, where they were extremely helpful (possibly facilitated by the fact that I do speak Spanish). Even though I’d preferred to use an esim rather than remove my physical card and risk losing it, I did end up deciding to just get a physical sim at Vodaphone, and they installed it. 15E for 50 gigs of data for 28 days, unlimited phone calls in Spain, and 800 minutes I can even use to call the US. It’s working great, and I am now a happy camper.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.
On an Android phone, once you change it you can not change it again for 12 months and so you won't be able to change it back when you get home. Also, if you do want to change it then the IP address of the device that you are using to make the change must be from the country that you are changing it to.
Thanks for that information! I will continue going to a Vodafone store when I need to make a payment. I have an Android phone and cannot download the Vodafone app as it is not available in Canada.
 
I am in Madrid now. On Tuesday I purchased a Vodafone pre-pay plan with a local SIM card.

I am a highly technical person with fifty years of relevant experience with computers and telephone systems.

I have a dual SIM phone and I have previously purchased a Vodafone pre-pay plan in Spain with out any issues.

My latest purchase has been a disaster.

I purchased a plan with 140 Gigabytes of data, unlimited free calling within Spain, 300 minutes of International calling and free roaming in the EU and UK for €20.

My data works perfectly and here in Madrid is as fast as some slower fibre plans. However my phone refused to make or accept calls on the Spanish SIM card but I can use my Aotearoa New Zealand SIM card to make and receive calls at considerable cost.

At first I thought that the issue lay between my not speaking Spanish and the inexperienced Vodafone staff member who set up the plan for me and who didn't speak English.

My policy is not to leave the store until I have proved to myself that my phone is working correctly. So I stayed in the Vodafone store for two hours trying to get my phone to work and trying to get the staff to help me fix it. They were extremely busy on Tuesday night with long queues of people waiting for service and so eventually they gave up, said it was not fixable and that if I wished to make calls then I should install WhatsApp and call that way. They then refused to talk to me any more and so I went back to my accommodation.

At my accommodation I searched the internet and found that there is an issue with some dual SIM smartphones at the moment that has symptoms similar to my own. There were various remedies suggested and I tried most of the sensible ones but nothing helped.

The following day I went to a different Vodafone store and asked for help from the single person on duty, who was not busy. On learning that I didn't speak Spanish she told me that she couldn't help and suggested that I go back to where I purchased it.

Then I went to the Vodafone store in Sol. It was very busy with queues of people and so I stood in line for an hour waiting to be seen. I was eventually seen by a helpful woman but who said that it was beyond her knowledge. She then took me upstairs to the area for On Account customers who were not at all busy and said that although it wasn't usually allowed she would ask one on the techies to help me.

The Vodafone techie worked on the problem for an hour without success then put my SIM in his phone and was able to call using it. He then said that the problem must be with my phone and that he could not help any more.

I then asked for a refund so that I could try another system provider but he said that he couldn't refund me because I had already used lots of data (searching for solutions to the problem).

Learnings:

In Madrid the Vodafone Sol store has helpful and knowledgeable staff.

Sometimes things just don't work even if you have lots of knowledge and experience.

Data let's me do most things that I need to do.

Never, ever buy a SIM card from a convenience store unless you are happy to throw it away if it doesn't work. Note: not really a learning from this particular experience but reinforced by the current experience.
At first my phone didn’t let me make calls on the Vodaphone sim, either. But I was able to go into Settings > Cellular and click to make the phone use the Vodaphone for calls, and now it works.
 
I used Vodafone on the Portuguese (sim purchased from Portugal) last year and it was great. This year when I went on the Frances, I bought a Vodafone sim from Spain and I had alot of times where I was left without any signal.
Oh, great. Just bought a Vodaphone sim in León and have been loving how great it works, but of course I’m in the city now. I really hope it doesn’t quit working when I’m in more remote places!
 
FYI for users of Orange Travel mobile phone accounts: Today when I logged into my Orange Travel account that I use when in Spain, something that appeared to be someone else's Orange Travel account appeared on my screen. The person's name, email address, U.S. phone number, and some account recharge information was on my screen. I do not know that person and have never previously interacted with that person. That obviously should not have occurred.

I took a screenshot and emailed it with a report of my findings to the other person, who confirmed that it was his account and stated that he is pursuing the matter with Orange.

My own Orange Travel account is currently dysfunctional too.
 
I used Vodafone on the Portuguese (sim purchased from Portugal) last year and it was great. This year when I went on the Frances, I bought a Vodafone sim from Spain and I had alot of times where I was left without any signal.
Oh no. I had made my mind up and was going to use Vodafone.. But now..
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Thanks for that information! I will continue going to a Vodafone store when I need to make a payment. I have an Android phone and cannot download the Vodafone app as it is not available in Canada.
You can also use the web to top up, this is what I have done in the past, see https://www.vodafone.es/c/particulares/es/productos-y-servicios/movil/top-up-online/

They also have a new service where you can top up using WhatsApp. This is mentioned on the link page above. I have not used it so I don't know how simple it is.
 

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