Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 09:21:30 AM EST
A couple of months ago I was in the process of moving apartments. I figured it would probably be a good idea to call well in advance to my phone company and ISP to let them know of my impending address change. As is typical with customer service, I had to wait a good 20 minutes before my turn came up. Oh well, it's just a minor nuisance. Well, at least I thought it to be a minor nuisance when I still had the utterly naive notion that registering an address change would be a simple task requiring merely one phone call.
My phone company used to be a fairly small and local company, before being swallowed whole by the behemoth multinational company that used to be a state run institution, but currently is a...well, behemoth multinational private company.
An all too familiar story... promoted by DoDo
Back to the story.
I tell the customer service person about my new address. Despite my calling well in advance, she claims I might have to live a week without a phone connection. Okay, fine, no problem. As it turns out, in phone company parlance, a week is actually a month. But I didn't know this at the time, so I raise no objections. As she repeats my new address back to me, I realize she misheard the apartment number - 17 instead of 70. I correct her, and she indicates that she's aware her mistake. I also make it clear that I want to move both my phone line and my ADSL connection to the new address, and that my billing information should of course also be changed.
And that was that. I moved into my new place, a week or so later the phone started working, as well as my Internet connection. A month later, the phone bill came in the mail, correctly addressed, and although I thought it was a bit expensive, I paid it gladly, content in the knowledge that my phone company's customer service would work so smoothly. For once, privatization works in the interest of the consumer!
No, no, no. Wait a minute. Back up. That's not how the story ends at all.
Here's what actually happened:
A couple of days after my first phone call I decide to log in to their online customer service, in order to check whether they had modified my address. They had. Unfortunately, they had changed it to the wrong address, having entered the wrong apartment number, even after I had specifically alerted the customer service rep to the error. I can't change the address from their online service, so I have to call in again. After a 40 minute wait, I finally get a hold of someone, who seems to think it's my fault that their customer service personnel are unaware of the difference between 17 and 70. He changes the address, and I assume that would be that. I assume incorrectly.
A couple of weeks later I move into my new apartment, and as expected I have no phone or Internet connection. A week later, nothing. A week after that, still nothing. A week passes by, and another heap of nothingness. I decide to call customer service (by mobile phone) yet again to figure out what the hold-up is. 25 minutes on hold later, I politely inform the gentleman at the other end of the line that his employer should kindly get off its butt and reconnect my phone line. And lo - a mere week later my phone connection is back!
Unfortunately, my ADSL connection is still down. A couple of days later, a technician from the phone company shows up, does some tests, claims the ADSL connection should be back up, and leaves. I connect my ADSL modem, and I'm off surfing at the blistering speed of 0.000000 Mbps.
At this point, I am slightly annoyed. Just slightly. I call customer service; after a new record waiting time of 45 minutes, they simply hang up on me. I am slightly less not annoyed. After a second waiting session that lasts a paltry 30 minutes, the customer service rep informs me my ADSL modem is too old. That's rather interesting. In the weeks since I moved from my old apartment, they have made such advancements in ADSL technology that all equipment has been rendered obsolete. My sarcasm is lost upon the customer service rep, so I hang up and grudgingly head out and buy a new ADSL modem, which does work. Splendid! This all took a bit more time than I thought it would, but finally it's all resolved. Not.
When I moved, I had been smart enough to order mail forwarding for a couple of months. Apparently it was a very bright idea indeed, as a couple of days after what I thought would be the end of my dealings with the phone company, the ADSL bill shows up. Unfortunately, it's not addressed to my new apartment at all, but to my old apartment. Apparently they haven't changed my billing address. After yet another 25 minutes on hold, I explain the situation as politely as I could possibly muster to the customer service rep. He changes the addresses yet again, and I hope it would stick this time. Given that I had already informed them that my billing address should also be changed, given that I explicitly said that it should also be changed, I am a bit upset with the fact that they've completely ignored my fairly easy-to-comprehend instructions in the matter. But now, at long last! the matter is resolved. The mail forwarding is about to expire, so it's about time too that all my mail is addressed correctly. The next ADSL bill shows up, with the right address. Excellent! There couldn't possibly be any more problems, could there?
Today I show up at work as usual at 9am. Turns out I've received some mail. Peculiar, as I wasn't expecting any. Well, guess what! I've received my phone bill from the phone company! Is the bill still addressed to my old apartment? Yes, of course! It would have been too good to be true if the phone company had used the same billing system for all their services, it would have been too good to be true if, when instructed to do so, they would have changed the billing address for all my bloody connections when I've told them again and again and again that I'm moving and will no longer be available on my old address! But no! Instead my bills are now apparently sent to my place of work!
You would think it wouldn't be so god damn hard to change a frickin' address. You would think it would amount to simply entering the new address into their database. But no! Apparently you need a doctorate in technology from a prestigious university on the American east coast to figure it out!
Things would be soo
much better and soo
much easier when the phone company is privatized, they said! Government can't run anything efficiently, let the private sector handle it!
Well, I have to ask, does it work? Does it fucking work? No, it does not bloody work! They don't have to give a rat's ass about customer service, because no one else provides adequate customer service either, so there's no friggin' point to changing companies!
Is this capitalism in action? Will waiting times decrease from 20 minutes to 15 minutes if the state sell off its remaining share in the phone company?
Am I blaming all the ills of the world, including the rather minor one that is the subject of this diary, on privatization? No, of course not. But am I, as a customer, better off? Apparently not! I'm still but an entry in a database somewhere. With my old god damn address I changed months ago still attached to my name!
Hey, what's that over there? It's the invisible hand of the market giving you the finger!