These past weeks I’ve been more silent than I wanted. Yes, as you probably imagined, a move takes a lot of your time: there’s the part when you have to look for a new apartment; the part when you go and visit several possible candidates; the part when you start packing your stuff (which overlaps with the search, of course); the part when you begin moving stuff to the new place (we took a ‘slow and steady’ approach for this, making one or two trips per day over a period of three weeks and a half); the part when you finally start unpacking and ‘rebuilding’ your spaces in the new place; and then of course the least fun part — dealing with all the bureaucracy related to a change of residence.
This last aspect includes transferring our phone landline and Internet services from the old address to the new one. Given that the last Internet package update from our ISP included the purchase of the router (as opposed to its rental), switching the service from the old apartment to the new one — where the necessary hardware and cabling from the same ISP is already present, mind you — should have just been a matter of plugging the router in, notifying the ISP of the change of address, requesting a rerouting of the services and waiting for that ‘Online’ LED light on the router to finally stop blinking. In a reasonable (not even ideal) world, that would take 48 hours tops. In reality, it’s taking more than two weeks, dozens of calls to the ISP’s customer service, and the final solution of actually changing ISP to be hopefully back online next Tuesday or Wednesday. We never had problems with this provider in 12 years (it was ONO before, and Vodafone/ONO now), but our experience has certainly affected this provider’s credibility and reliability in our eyes.
A few highlights of this little saga of cluelessness and customer-care-or-lack-thereof:
- When we first called to request the phone line and Internet service transfer, on 27 March, the ISP’s Pawn №1 told us they would send a technician at the new address on 31 March, between 4 and 7 PM. No one came.
- When we called a second time, Pawn №2 told us that no, no technician was necessary, because since we have our own router and there’s already an installation in place, ours is simply an ‘auto-installation’, and we should have Internet in 48 hours, tops. Just plug everything in and wait. Days passed, nothing happened. Maybe Pawn №2 meant we should wait for Godot?
- We called many more times, and talked to other Pawns (some more difficult to understand than others — certain South American accents are hard to understand if you’re accustomed to European Spanish) but for a while the song appeared to remain the same: ‘You should have Internet in n hours’ (where n was a number ranging from 3 to 48). Of course, nothing happened.
- One night, just for kicks, I tried calling our phone landline from my iPhone. I thought, If there’s a transfer in progress, surely they’ll have temporarily deactivated the line, and I’ll get an alert when I try calling my home number. What I got, instead, was the sound of a phone ringing without answer. Around 12 April, Pawn №10 (or something, I was already losing count), told us that in fact our line and services were still active at the old address, and that there was some unspecified ‘technical failure’ preventing the switch from one installation to the other.
- What Pawn №10 told us reminded me of what another Pawn said some calls before: that there was a ‘conflict of orders’ (‘send a technician’ and ‘auto-installation’) preventing things from progressing.
- Basically, every Pawn we have been speaking with has either told us a different thing from the previous Pawn, or failed to mention things another Pawn had told us, or made promises he/she clearly could not deliver. The overall impression has been that we’ve been fed an appreciable amount of bullshit. Generated more by incompetence rather than malice I’m sure, but sadly with the same outcome: no services, and nothing done. Even the visit to an actual brick-and-mortar shop was ineffectual. Pawn №12 (or something) told us that usually such a transfer “isn’t a quick process” (I wonder why, though. Is there some plumbing involved? Do several workers have to physically push the data to the new location? Who knows), and that everything was proceeding correctly. “Things should be in motion by tomorrow. I’ll personally check the situation and send you a message. I’ll personally try and speed up things,” she said. We received no message and nothing happened, of course. The only thing that got moved around was some more bullshit.
- So we decided to ask for a complete cancellation of all services, and of course the ‘customer care’ tactics came into gear. Calls got longer, my wife got transferred and bounced from one department to another, every time having to identifying herself to yet another Pawn and explain the reasons why we were asking for a cancellation. Some Pawns said that at this stage a cancellation was not possible because there was a ‘service transfer pending’, while another Pawn appeared to proceed with the cancellation without asking questions.
- When we decided this was frankly enough, we went to another ISP (Movistar) and asked for a complete number/service portability. Let the two providers sort things out between themselves. As soon as we signed the new contract, my wife started receiving calls and messages with the usual, shameless offers (“We’ll give you our firstborn, a huge discount, and a new phone if you stay with us!”). Meanwhile we also received the bill charging us for the whole month of April; because, you know, both the phone line and Internet service are still active — or “pending a service transfer” maybe, or… whatever — at the old address.
- The award for Most Moronic Behaviour and Customer Carelessness must go to Pawn №15 (or something, I lost count). She asked my wife why we wanted to cancel everything. My wife — understandably fed up with all this — bitterly answered: “Are you really interested in knowing why?” This seemed to upset the Pawn, who replied: “Of course! It’s my job to care about these things!” My wife then, with the patience of a saint, started recounting our misadventures… and the Pawn hung up on her. No comment.
Since I need some Internet connectivity for work, I’ve been using my iPhone as a personal hotspot these days, but in less than 10 days I’ve already consumed 97% of the data allowed by my mobile provider’s data plan. I thought speed would simply be reduced after I reached the limit, but an alert from the provider said that they charge for all traffic in excess instead of reducing speed. My readers know that I’m all for disconnecting every now and then and lead a less Internet-dependent life, but being disconnected not by choice is a whole other matter. These 18 days (so far) without Internet at home have had a serious impact in different ways, and this matter is actually starting to cost us money, not just time lost and a bad mood.
I really miss writing, updating this place more frequently, and generally being more present socially online. I also have several (tech- and fiction-related) projects on hold due to the combination of this move and being without Internet at home. I’ve basically ‘lost’ three months of 2017, and I look forward to the ending of this kind of unwelcome disruption in my routines and tech life. Meanwhile, thank you for your patience and understanding, and a huge thank you to all those who have been supportive during this unpleasant period.