August 4, 2008

Case closed, start again

Every day, I try to take care of at least one unpleasant or annoying new-to-Amsterdam task. Today that task was call Telfort and figure out exactly why they can't hook up my internet service at home. The reason is ridiculous.

All around me this afternoon, my (foreign) colleagues were on the phone with their internet providers and their doctors and insurance companies, arguing charges or waiting on hold or trying to get answers to questions without success. I decided to join the club and put in a call to Telfort.

The back story is: over a month ago (I'm guessing the 25th of June, or around there), a friend of mine helped me set up my internet service online - I needed the help because the website is all in Dutch. Once everything was translated and explained, the process seemed very easy and logical, and all I had to do was wait... up to eight weeks... for my home internet service. The eight-week wait is common and I knew to expect it. Luckily I found an open wireless network somewhere in my apartment building that is almost always on, so I didn't mind the wait so much.

Sometime in mid-July I received a letter from Telfort, obviously in Dutch, and from what little Dutch I understand I could gather that they weren't going to hook up the service. It was a really vague letter (I had a colleague translate) that basically said "we can't set up your service, and it could be for any one of the reasons listed below, sorry." The only way to get a real answer was to call, so I did that today (putting it off because it just seemed like such a pain in the ass). Navigated my way through several Dutch-language menus (mostly just taking educated guesses), waited on hold for about 15 minutes (and by the way, that phone call cost something like 30 cents a minute, but luckily I called from work), and finally talked to a friendly enough guy who explained that yes, my order had been canceled.


Because I told Telfort (at the time of signing up) that I live in apartment 77-B. This is the address on my rental contract, this is the address where I'm registered with the city of Amsterdam, this is the address on my paystub, my mail, etc.

Yet according to Telfort, there is no 77B on my street. There's 77-1 and 77-2. "You must be in 77-2," the man says to me.

"Yes, I suppose that's the case."

"Anything else?"

"I'm guessing this means I have to start all over again, and wait another 4-8 weeks?"

"That's correct."


There's no point in arguing with them, really. The order I placed (over a month ago!) was canceled, done, finito. All I can really do at this point is double-check with my bank that Telfort hasn't taken any money out of my account yet and start over. The most important lesson I learned, should this happen again, is to call right away.


Breigh said...

Oh man that really blows. It's soooo typical here in NL though. If you want your internet really badly I'd keep calling. You have to make a huge stink and lie too if you want to get things done here. It's a squeaky wheel gets the grease type thing.

I'd call your city hall and ask them what the official number is of your house to make sure. Then call up Telfort and go on about how you are an expat here to work, that you need internet from home because you work from home, this is their mistake. Keep calling and getting names of who you talk to, asking for managers etc.

You'll be a giant pain in the ass, but eventually you'll be one they want to get rid of so they'll do what is needed sooner. I've done it many many times and it's annoying having to go through all the people who blow you off but eventually there will be someone who is willing to take the extra steps to get things done for you, it's just a matter of finding that needle in the haystack of useless customer service agents. :P

Jolien said...

Hi Tami, that really sucks! I've encountered a similar problem with getting internet in the past. In my previous house I wanted wireless with a provider. I received the wireless modem but it didn't work. After many calls and having repair men visiting my house several times, they explained that I lived in some sort of twilight zone (honestly!) where for some unknown reason I couldn't get wireless. So I was stuck with an ugly wire running through my living room. In my new house I decided to switch to UPC, getting internet through my tv-cable (and signed up for digital tv at the same time). It was done in a second, never had any problems so far. But I agree, it sucks and I can't understand why it always has to take so long. And I agree with Breigh: keep calling them, there is no reason why this should take so long and instead of flat out cancelling your order they could have called you to check your exact address and hook you up anyway. All in all I think you're doing amazingly well with sorting stuff out and blending in here, well done to you!

Another American Expat said...

thanks for the comments. I've got to say, every place I've ever lived has had its problems with stuff like this. My internet and phone service would go down randomly in Paris for days at a time. Getting internet service in Brooklyn was a NIGHTMARE that involved wasting days and days of peoples lives and involved threats. The city of Philadelphia was chasing me for years to pay a bill for heating I didn't use.

So... this Telfort thing is annoying, of course. But at least there's this free wireless connection to help me stay in touch in the meantime. :)

Jenny said...

I get what you mean.. I have waited for over a month for an order I placed and no news came. Then I emailed and asked what of it. The reply:

Have you read the latest update? We have decided to require 50% downpayment.

I get why they needed to do that, but I was not informed! They should have personally contacted their clients rather than relying on web-blog updates..

So I declined the offer. I was no longer interested. A month wasted!

Eve said...

Isn't it ridiculous when you have to beg companies to do precisely what they are in business to do? It happens all the time.

Try dealing with taxing agencies. (Maybe you do.) They're even worse than private companies.

But the assumption that you're reading an internet provider's web site on a regular basis is a new height of arrogance and lunacy, IMO.

Good luck, Tami. I hope you get the service before all the equipment becomes obsolete.