A little while ago the daily wash and spin cycle did for my cheap phone and I went mad when I got another - tactile screen, Internet, mp3, GPS - the works. I took out the very cheapest contract though at just 9€ per month.
I just got my third bill. The first bill was for zero because in transferring from a pay as you go I had credit in hand, the second was 11€, around the figure I'd expect. I tried to check the (paperless) bill online but the Movistar website was having none of it. The third bill was for 25€. Now for someone without any pals this seemed a bit high. Persevering I beat the Movistar website and got to see the breakdown. The problem is that they are charging me a monthly fee for Internet access rather than the "pay as you go" option I asked for.
I went back to the shop where I bought the phone. Movistar logos and stickers everywhere but the young woman behind the desk said I'd have to phone Movistar direct. Seeing my dejected expression she relented, "OK, come back when I'm not about to close (it was 8.25, closing time 8.30) and I'll make the call." I did, I waited patiently for the 25 minutes it took her to sell someone a dongle. She made the call. "They want your ID number" she said, passing me the phone, and then set about the next paying customer.
"Computers are down," said the man on the phone, "ring back later." Computers down? Good Lord! I haven't heard that for years. Obviously I was on my own so I abandoned the shop and came back to the flat.
It's sticky here in Cartagena. I stick to our leather sofa, my hands are sticky, the phone is sticky and with the windows open the traffic noise is frightening the cat. I phoned billing. I had to do that thing of saying which department I wanted and I was amazed when it understood me. The woman was patient with me for a while but basically said the shop had made the mistake so it wasn't anything to do with her. I persisted in deteriorating Spanish, she spoke slowly to the idiot on the phone. "But I don't want Internet, I want it cancelling" "Ah, then you need contracts not me - hang on I'll put you through." She couldn't though, all their lines were busy. I tried again and phoned contracts via the robot interrogation. The man who spoke to me had a strong South American accent and appeared to be at a music festival from the background noise level at his end. "Not me," he said, "I'm new contracts, you want cancelling contracts - hang on I'll put you through - aah, all the lines are busy, you just wait, they'll answer eventually." I put the phone on speaker and unpeeled myself from the sofa. Twenty minutes later it was still "Please hold, our friendly and consummately trained operators will be with you in the merest twinkling of an eye." I gave up after about twenty minutes on hold.
If you've stuck with me so far I'm amazed. You must have a high tolerance for tedium. I know that speech recognition software, difficult accents, serpentine call circles and ultimate failure are part of dealing with customer services in every country in the World but we're back on that old language chestnut of having to screw up the courage to make the call in the first place and I just wanted to share that with someone.