Posts Tagged ‘mobile phones’

Only chumps recharge their cell phones at home

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

A popular and long-running theme on variety shows is zero-en seikatsu (no-yen living), an idea that goes beyond mere frugality to embrace a sort of charismatic philosophy. Since the March 11 earthquake and the attendant electrical power crisis, adherents of the zero-en lifestyle have been promoting the fact that sales outlets for the major mobile phone carriers all offer free battery-charging services to customers. Recently TV Tokyo’s “Sunday Big Variety” profiled a female office worker who makes a fairly good side living clipping coupons and taking part in product promotional lotteries, but the aspect of her no-spending lifestyle she was most proud of was the fact that for the last five years she hadn’t spent a single yen to recharge her phone.

DoCoMo recharger with locker.

Some people have to recharge their phones every day. How much does that normally cost if you do it at home? A number of Japanese bloggers have wondered the same thing. Apparently, it requires up to 10 watts of electricity per hour to recharge a cell phone, and the fee for household electricity is about ¥20 for 1 kilowatt per hour. Therefore, if it takes, say, four hours a day to recharge your phone, you will end up spending between ¥2 and ¥3 a month to do so. So that means the zero-en woman on the TV Tokyo show has, over five years, saved about ¥180.

To most people that won’t mean much, and for sure the providers don’t offer the recharging service for that reason. It’s mainly for busy people who need an emergency recharge when they’re not at home, and in that regard it’s a real life saver since the alternative is buying one of those clunky, expensive supplemental batteries in a convenience store. Nevertheless, the employees of the service providers don’t seem to know exactly how long it takes to recharge a cell phone. We went to several service centers that offer recharging and asked the employees how long it takes to recharge from zero, and only the DoCoMo staff was able to come up with a consistent, credible number: 2 hours. An au representative told us she didn’t know how long it took but most customers spent 30 minutes; while Softbank said only 20 minutes.

DoCoMo’s recharging service is slightly more elaborate in that it even offers juice for Mova models, which have been discontinued. They also have little “lockers”: If you can’t hang around while your phone is recharging, you can place it in a locker with a combination lock while it’s doing so and come back later. And if you want to copy data from one phone to another, or from your phone to another storage medium, like a CD, they have devices that will do that for free, too. Some service centers of DoCoMo and Softbank even have free beverage services while you wait. I’m sure that’s a big lure for zero-en tribe; even if the coffee tastes like mud, it doesn’t cost a thing.

Kids are all right at Softbank

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

What? No iPhone for Taro Junior?

What? No iPhone for Taro Junior?

Softbank Corp. announced on Tuesday that its profits for the first three quarters of the current fiscal year rose 63 percent over the same period in fiscal 2008. Nice going in this particular environment; which automatically raises the question: What is the company going to do with all that money in terms of the people who work for them?

Actually, Softbank and its group companies — Softbank Mobile, Softbank BB and Softbank Telecom — have a corporate policy that stresses the importance of its employees’ lives while addressing social problems such as the declining birthrate. That’s why Softbank introduced the shussan iwai-kin (birth celebration money) system some years ago and even upgraded it in April 2007. With this system, full-time employees who have worked for the company at least one year are given a bonus of ¥50,000 when they have their first child, ¥100,000 when they have their second child, ¥1,000,000 for the third, ¥3,000,000 for the fourth, and ¥5,000,000 for the fifth.

So far there has only been one employee who has scored the jackpot with a fifth kid, but since 2007 there have been 12 who have claimed the ¥3,000,000 bonus with their respective fourth offsprings. There are other companies that also offer bonuses for babies, but I can’t find any that provide these big payouts for fourth and fifth births.

Pretty sweet, and certainly a good reason to stay with Softbank if you’re planning a big family. But how is Softbank in terms of maternity and paternity leaves, which is another gauge of corporate concern for employee welfare? A closer look at the company’s home page revealed this:

Continue reading about family-raising perks at Softbank →

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