Last week I reported about poor customer service by Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Telekom. I didn’t need to speak to the bank again yet, but the Telekom story evolved. And not for good. The current state of affairs is:
This morning our internet connection was gone. That wasn’t one of the usual Airport or Ethernet failures my MacBook has but the router said it couldn’t connect to the DSL. So they at least cancelled something. The phone line still worked though. Strangely it was picked up immediately without any jingle and of course I ended up in the sales department for some reason. But the person on the phone tried to be helpful anyway. She looked up the record, agreed that things looked wrong and that nothing should have been cancelled but said that we needed to re-register everything with our DSL provider.
Just in case that isn’t clear: When you get your phone line from Deutsche Telekom, they will also run your DSL line. But (thanks to regulation perhaps?) you don’t have to buy your DSL from them you can buy it through cheaper or more efficient resellers. Which we did. So you need a contract for the phone line and a separate contract for the internet connection with a different company which relies on the contract with the phone line.
Now the whole point about this exercise was that our DSL provider, 1&1, sucks and we wanted a different one whose prices reflect the current ones and which lets you cancel the service on a monthly basis. If there’s one thing I don’t want to do is sorting out anything with the DSL provider. Their service is hopelessly bad, their phone lines are €1 a minute or so and I’m sure they’ll be even less interested in helping us when our contract has been cancelled and will run out in a few weeks. I explained that to the hotline person and she at least seemed to understand and said she’ll try to sort this out for me.
I have a bad feeling that this story isn’t quite over yet. I also wonder whether anybody over at Deutsche Telekom has a good idea about what they are doing. Many of their staff actually appear to be friendly and helpful (for real? or just part of their training?) which, especially for Germany, may actually be above average (I don’t think I ever spoke to a person who wasn’t at least one of clueless, unhelpful or a liar at German AppleCare, say), but it’s just not good enough. We wanted to change a trivial formal detail, something that should be nothing but changing a few fields in a database. Now we have had many phone calls, apparently a new customer number, only a single name (the new one at least) in our contract and no working internet connection.
1 day later: still no DSL - although they hinted in the phone call a day earlier that DSL will be back ‘at midnight’. Another call to their customer service (no stupid ad this time!) gave yet a different story. Now they seem to have gotten the name change all right in their own system (not in the website I can access, though) but the person didn’t really try to be helpful. In particular she didn’t get the
we only told you to change the name, so W[hy]TF did the DSL stop working? aspect of the problem. Rather she tried to do ‘service’ the
your internet provider is a different company, this is not our problem… way. I made her promise to have a technician look into this who may or may not call me back.
2 days later: still no DSL, another call to their hotline. And this one confirmed that we now have two customer numbers. It’s still not really clear to me which of those numbers is the proper one (because no matter which one you tell them on the phone, they seem to be happy) but today the change in customer number was the culprit for things going wrong. So Deutsche Telekom changed our customer number without really telling us and this caused the DSL to stop working. Now, by their logic it’s my problem to tell this to our DSL provider. Somehow my logic they should just do whatever it takes to make our DSL work again because they fucked things up. And they should do it NOW. The unhelpful person on the phone today completely didn’t get that point. She again announced that somebody will look into it (like on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) and I told her great I’ll call back tomorrow and ask how they’re doing. Of course it’s Sunday tomorrow, so they won’t move anything by then, but they should know I’m not giving up. She told me that it’ll take them two weeks to do anything. Which I find rather ridiculous. They managed to break my DSL connection within a day in the middle of the night, so they should do the same to fix it again. I also start feeling like I deserve some compensation… (as the hotline people never seem to know anything anyway and the process by which they are working seems different everyday we started wondering whether it may help to tell a few lies like
yesterday your colleague said this would just need a few clicks on the computer, so just do them please. As they don’t know what they are doing anyway that might just get some of them to do the right steps. I also told the hotline person that by inquiring on the state of things every day I would make this failure more expensive for them, thus possible encouraging them to solve it quickly. Unfortunately she was a bit dumb as well and told me that this doesn’t cost them anything. So perhaps the next time I should ask for their name, whether they know what they are doing and, if not, for a connection to someone who does before proceeding. Let’s hope they have an ‘annoying customer’ flag on their screen…
3 days later I gave them a break and sent a message to our DSL provider instead, asking whether they can readjust things more quickly from their side. I have a slightly bad feeling about this because we might end up with both sides ‘fixing’ things and nothing working in the end.
4 days later: I found a reply by the DSL people in my inbox. Apparently they really know about some change made by Deutsche Telekom (thanks to both party for not letting us know!) and provided a number we can call to sort things out. At a mere 14 cents per minute that may be worth trying.
5 days later: Our DSL provider were surprisingly helpful and friendly in their reply. They informed us that Deutsche Telekom cancelled our line with them and offered to re-apply for that. But that will take one to two weeks. Not exactly the solution we had in mind - we were thinking about NOW - particularly as we want a new DSL provider in around three weeks. Argh! I think Deutsche Telekom should refund the lost DSL days for it and we’ll just use that money to switch to the new provider a month early. But I wonder what kind of fight it would be to make that happen. In particular I really don’t think I should be paying for their incompetence.
End of story: Our web server also broke down soon after this, so live updates didn’t happen. After two weeks we decided to just let go the remaining paid-for time of our old DSL contract and sign up for the new one to streamline progress. It took another week for that to go live and initially it didn’t work. But after another call to the new DSL provider it seemed that they knew how to kick Telekom in the right places and we had DSL again after another day or two. I applied - in a paper letter! - for a refund of the DSL for the period where the line couldn’t be used. And we received €20 for that after a few weeks. However, we technically have a ‘new’ phone line now. With all the possible inconveniences you can imagine. We had to re-apply for itemised billing, we had to turn off some crappy answering machine ‘service’ and so on. Nothing we ever had, asked for or wanted.
This sort of matches my experience with Deutsche Telekom… the technical side of service ususlly just works. But whenever you want the slightest organisational aspect of the service to be changed, they’ll screw it up, sure as hell. “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
My experience with AppleCare service has been better than yours, though, apart from a bumpy start with my Pismo.
We’ll see how the Telekom thing develops. I’ll just call them when having breakfast every day until the problem is solved. That should make a quick solution of the problem the cheaper way out for them.
I’ll update the progress and non-progress here.
Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.