Thursday, 19 June 2008

The Wonderful Telefonica

OK, whingeing Brit time. I wrote about our earlier trials and tribulations in getting a landline and Internet installed: purely down to our lack of linguistic ability, of course - once they actually had the application, the installation swiftly followed (probably because we are only two blocks away from Telefonica's HQ - I believe that in some rural areas you have to apply in your previous life in order to get anything installed before you die).

Now we have a problem: the account is registered in MamaDuck's name (because she had a local bank account and a job, etc). Since we got our Foreigner's Identity Numbers (NIEs), we've both had to change our bank accounts from 'foreigner' to 'resident'. And this means that Telefonica no longer enjoy the privilege of whipping money out of MamaDuck's account any more, because that account has been closed. We have been trying to inform Telefonica of the new account details for the last few months, but bloody hell, they do not make it easy. Well, actually, they do: if our Spanish was up-to-snuff we could just dial 1004 ('Atencion al Cliente') and get it changed in a matter of minutes.

I know I shouldn't be moaning about this: I very much doubt that British Telecom offer customer support in anything but English. Someone told me that if you dial 1004 and don't respond to any of the numerous call-centre options, you'll eventually be spoken to by a living, breathing person, and you can ask them to put you through to an English-speaking operator. Well, that hasn't happened for the last three days: after a while the machine gets fed up and hangs up on you.

Then I had a brainwave, again. Try the website: there at least I can sit and ponder the questions for as long as it takes for understanding to take place. So, you first of all have to sign up. I got through the first page ok, but stumbled fatally at the second. For security reasons it asks you for the number and amount of your last bill. No problem, got it here, slap it in. 'Wrong', it says. Try it again. Still wrong. I'm almost in tears. All I want to do is give the buggers money and stop them cutting off my Internet. OK, gonna try speaking on the phone now. Wish me luck.

There is a God. Me loins were all girded up for trying it in Spanish. When I got through to an agent, I said, in Spanish 'I'm English and my Spanish is rubbish.'
'Wait one second,' she said, in English.
'You speak English!' I said.
'No, please wait', she said, in English.

And then a guy came on the line. He spoke extremely good English. I gave him the new account details, checked that they had received a cash payment I made through the Post Office a few weeks ago (yes, they had), and wondered why the landline was not reconnected after that payment. He said it wasn't disconnected, it must be a line fault and he'll send an engineer. And, according to their system, we are up-to-date on payments (despite me sitting here looking at a bill for an incredible 128 Euros), and would I like to sign up for cable TV and/or cheap calls to the UK?

I don't think I'll ever understand a Spanish phone bill: I hardly use the landline - we only have it because we need it for the Internet. The bills never actually tell you what you've paid, only what you're being billed for. I almost had a heart attack when I saw the last bill: one international call, to HSBC bank in Dubai. I remember it well. It was me trying to get them to transfer some of my money to my Spanish account. It took the guy 46 minutes and twenty seven seconds to wade through the problem. I have been charged a stupendous €49 for that call. I remember asking him if this was a free call - he said no, but it was a 'special' rate. Damn right. Thieving bastards.

Anyway, good on Telefonica. If I could just have a direct line to that English-speaking dude, life would be a whole lot easier.

1 comment:

Graeme said...

I do all my international calls on Skype now - much cheaper than Telefonica although I am paying them for the internet connection anyway.