Misleading Hunt for Optus Card

{Previous Post: Sydney: Day 1 Flight and Arrival}

This story happened shortly after we arrived at Mercure Hotel in Sydney, to search for our prepaid SIM card:

As we didn’t manage to get our Optus $2/day prepaid SIM card at Sydney International Airport, we decided it would be our first task after we have settled down in our hotel. A 3G/4G connectivity on our phones is important to help us in navigating quickly and conveniently from one point to another using Google Maps, checking important information on places of interests and eateries, and making phone calls when necessary.

We approached the Concierge counter of the hotel and asked for the nearest place to get the prepaid card in the vicinity. Taking out and showing us a map, he advised us to head to the Broadway Shopping Centre, which according to him, was just a short 15-minute walk from the hotel.

Trusting his words, we began our walk towards the destination, only to be welcomed with strong chilly wind the moment we stepped out of the hotel’s exit. “Woooo… Didn’t expect it to be so cold.” We quickly zipped up our jackets further and walked in the direction that he had pointed out.

Along the way, we passed by some interesting buildings, though most parts of what we saw are similar to Singapore.


“Why ain’t we there yet?” All of us started to ponder 15 minutes later, as there was still no sign of this so-called Broadway Shopping Centre anywhere. Shouldn’t it be about time that we arrived? Or perhaps the ’15-minute’ journey was measured in terms of the longer legs of Australians and not tailored to our shorter, Asian legs? (Plus we have a pair of even shorter legs of Dar, though he actually makes up for it often by keeping in pace with us)

Finally, after crossing a traffic junction, we saw a sign with the words “Broadway: A Mirvac Shopping Centre” hanging under the building in front of us. It was a 20-min walk, not that near… (we should have just taken a bus there)


Maybe due to our urgency of wanting to move on to our next destination Circular Quay after spending so much time getting here, or also due to the frustration of walking so long to reach here, my mind wasn’t thinking properly…

The moment we saw a convenience store with a sign saying “SIM Cards Sold Here”, I just instinctively went into the shop to ask for the Optus prepaid SIM card.

There was only an Indian lady staff in the shop, and she immediately nodded and brought us to a shelf where she had the A$2.00 SIM cards that we wanted.

I asked her questions about the compatibility with our phones and on how we could too up the cards. She then confidently replied they were definitely compatible and that she would help us do the topping up. I was still a little worried so I asked her a few times if there was any Yes! Optus shops around here so that we could get them to do this for us instead. She kept insisting there isn’t.

Rushing for time, we trusted her and bought two cards from her, each with a different packaging. According to her, one was for Cat’s iPhone 5’s Nano SIM cards, while the other was for my iPhone 4’s Micro SIM card. On my packaging however, I noticed that they mentioned that they were Nano SIM cards instead. I posed this question to her but she insisted that there was a Micro SIM Card in it.

Despite still a little doubtful, we trusted her and paid her for both packages. We then opened up the first package and inserted the Nano SIM card into Cat’s phone. After that, we asked the staff how she could help activate our card.

Instead of keeping her promise that she would help us with the top-up, she quickly shooed us away and said she was busy and needed to attend to her other customers! What? So she went back on her words the moment she got our money? 🙁

Despite still feeling confused and overwhelmed by the happenings, I opened up the second package (which should contain a Micro SIM card according to the staff) and found only a Nano SIM card in it! (Thinking back, I shouldn’t have even opened up the package at all but as I mentioned earlier, my mind wasn’t working rationally then…)

I immediately brought the card to the lady to clarify, who was serving another customer at the counter. When the customer saw what we were trying to buy, she told us that we should just go the Yes! Optus shop beside this building instead, which is the Broadway Shopping Centre!

“What?” I exclaimed upon hearing that. So this isn’t the Broadway Shopping Centre after all? And there IS an Optus shop just next door? So… this lady staff has been lying to us all this time!?

Realising what the staff had done to us, I felt so angry and cheated, demanding her to return us the A$2.00 for my package, which did not contain the Micro SIM card as she had assured (I didn’t ask for Cat’s refund since it was a working Nano SIM card for her). Besides being dishonest to her customers, she didn’t even know the products she was selling!

She was still very hesitant and only after my insistence, she finally returned us our money and we left the shop in a fury.

We then made a left turn towards the Broadway Shopping Centre sign we spotted earlier and saw it was referring to the adjacent building instead! How misleading the sign was!

Fortunately, things began to work well for us from here onwards, after the nightmarish encounter with that unethical staff at the convenience shop.


The staff serving us at the Yes! Optus shop was very friendly and professional. Seeing that we had already bought and installed the SIM card into Cat’s phone from that convenience shop, we decided to just get one prepaid SIM card and we could share the broadband accessibility via Personal Hotspot, seeing that we didn’t really need that much bandwidth.

The staff then helped us with the registration and topping up of A$20, which turned out to be a complex and tedious process, involving entering of personal and accommodation details via the computer! There was NO way that lady staff earlier was going to help us through this, since she had lied to us that it was a very quick and easy registration process! I wondered how many tourists had she cheated just to clinch those measly A$2.00 deals?

After this was completed, we thanked the staff for his help. We were starting to feel hungry after the long walk and asked for food recommendations. We then had our late lunch at the Ziggly’s Cafe just opposite the shop, which served delicious food at reasonable pricing. Looks like our first day at Sydney didn’t turn out to be so bad after all!

[CAT ] : Our original itinerary to go to Circular Quay right after the flight and take a ferry to Watsons Bay had to be shelved due to all this time wasted! We didn’t manage to explore the Opera House area fully too. -_-

{ Next Post: Sydney: Food – Western / Japanese }

  1. pc May 22, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Sorry to hear about the unhappiness experience over the Optus. Your picture of Central Park caught my attention, btw. I get to see the completion of the world’s first cantilevered sky garden from you;), from the bottom though.

    1. Vin May 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      Hi pc,

      Thanks for the concerns; it was indeed a bad start to our Sydney trip.

      We didn’t know this building is so famous (it has just been ranked the world’s Top 5 Skyscrapers) until you mentioned it! We just found the structure unique and took notice of it as we walked past it. ^^

      1. pc May 23, 2014 at 11:28 pm

        Yup! It caught my attention too when we passed by last year. it was still under construction. So, I’m very much exciting to learn its completion fr you:).

        Must show you my pic of it: http://scrapmumloft.blogspot.sg/2013/08/nsw-2013-sydney-here-and-there.html?m=1 -smugly;).

        1. Vin May 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm

          Hi pc,

          Thanks for sharing! Looks like we took the photo from almost the same perspective!

  2. Tommy May 25, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Wow..what a start to your holidays!

    Didn’t remember seeing this Broadway Shopping Centre while we were staying at Mercure Sydney though..

    1. Vin May 25, 2014 at 5:15 pm


      Indeed, we had an ‘unforgettable’ start to our Sydney trip…

      The shopping centre isn’t obvious from the main road at all; but is one big mall with many shops.

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