I'm currently enjoying the last few days of my vacation in Germany at my mother's house. It's been a fun 2 weeks and has been a welcome, relaxing change to the daily hussle of the past 6 months.
Of course my mother wouldn't be my mother with a "Johannes' To-Do" when I arrive. The two main items on the list were/are:
- Switch Internet from 1&1 back to Deutsche Telekom
- Change cell contract to cheaper rate and upgrade phone
I've got one word to describe both of the seemingly easy tasks: WayTooMuchFail.
Switching ISPs in Germany
When I switched my TV/Internet bundle from Sasktel to Shaw a few years ago it was surprisingly simple. A Shaw tech came over, hooked up the new boxes, did some fiddling around, and that was that. A call later I had cancelled SaskTel and dropped off their equipment. Within a day everything was done. (Sure, I got stuck with a bit of pro-ration between switching providers, but meh)
A bit of history. The Deutsche Telekom was privatized in 1996 and has now expanded to a huge international communications company offering both consumer and business services spanning internet (T-Online), home phone / IPTV (T-Home), mobile (T-Mobile) and various other non-consumer services (T-Systems).
When the Telekom was slow on the ball offering DSL in our area many neighbours went with 1&1. The Telekom finally has a presence here now and is fighting to get customers back with cheaper phone/internet bundles. So we're switching back to bundle our fax/homephone with DSL to make things about 50% cheaper. Now here's the ridiculous part:
If we switch to the Telekom, 1&1 reserves the right to keep the DSL port blocked for up to 7 days while we switch. 7 days of no connectivity during the period that Telekom is trying to reconnect our house to the internet. There was no valid explanation about this from any reps either 1&1 or Telekom's side.
It's a 7 day blackout for my mom, but in the end bundling her homephone and internet with only the Telekom instead of Telekom and 1&1 is going to save her alot of money per month.
Dealing with Wireless Carriers in Germany
I've heard a few gems about dealing with Rogers Wireless, my favourite by Saskatoon local Jeff Read. While the following wireless woes can not compete with Jeff's customer service troubles I would like to lay upon you the following idea.
What if your wireless carrier's phone hotline was useless. Litereally in the sense of the word: useless. The people are friendly, know their material, but literally, are useless. They answer your questions and that's all they can do. (e-plus)
I've called 5 times today explaining that the online portal is down and I can not change my mother's contract nor can I upgrade her phone and was wondering if I could quickly do this over the phone as I am leaving for Canada on Monday.
All 5 times I was told that no rep can no longer change contracts and hardware over the phone. The "Online Kundencenter", or customer portal, was the sole place to do that. Even if the portal has now been for close to 36 hours, they can't help me with contract ugprades or hardware upgrades, they can only assist me in changing account details, solving billing problems, checking the status of my hardware upgrade or contract upgrade or telling me about the newest promotions.
For a guy that usually likes the idea of everything being online I am quite appalled that I literally can't get anything done with this company until someone fixes the customer service portal and this magical "Change Contract Details" button reappears in the control panel.