Monday, November 10, 2008

Soap box time!

It's been a little while since I posted anything on our blog, I guess that this is probably because I am going through my annual post-harvest depression, or perhaps it's simply that there's not much going on at the moment. So, as we await the first tasting of our 2008 wines, I thought I would fill the time by having a moan!

Now, anyone and everyone who lives in Spain will have his or her own horror story about working/dealing with Telefonica (Spain's largest telecom provider) , so my own recent experience will probably ring true with many - every pun intended.

Each summer we add a new ADSL connection to one of our existing telephone lines, and disconnect it in the autumn (no need for details). A simple exercise one would think, and indeed it used to be, but now the rules have been changed, surprisingly enough to the benefit of Telefonica. To connect is easy - a simple telephone call 'et voila' you have your new ADSL line within a matter of hours. Disconnection is however, another story, and this is where the rules have changed.

On previous occasions a simple fax confirming your desire to disconnect was enough, and subsequently your connection would be cut within a couple of days, but now..... The first step is a call to Telefonica who in turn send you the official disconnection form, by post! This, they remind you, can take up to 14 days - and guess what - it always does! Infact, after two weeks, when you have almost certainly not received anything, you are obliged to call them back so that they have to send you a second letter.

The first year when our letter 'went missing', we simply put this down to bad luck, but then, when it happened again a second time, we realised that it was simply a scam. Of course, by delaying the disconnection as long as possible the company benefits from the additional line rental. (By the way, I forgot to mention that Telefonica already has possibly the most expensive ISP charges in Europe, and whilst many European providers are reducing their fees in the face of stiff competition, Telefonica have just increased theirs!)

So why not move to another ISP? Well, to be honest Telefonica is simply the best of a bad bunch, and doesn't face too much serious competition.

In truth this small scam is simply the tip of the iceberg. Almost every month there is some small but mysterious charge that will appear on your phone bill - it may only be a few cents or an odd euro, but then imagine that this small 'mistake' appears on every customer's bill, multiply by a couple of million, and presto, how many cents will that add up to? Of course Telefonica make the assumption that only a handful of customers will take the time and trouble to complain - and the result of few people complaining?...... more profit in their end of year accounts!

One recent example of this - Telefonica suddenly started to bill for their 'caller ID' service, which had been offered without charge since it's inception a few years earlier. Fair enough, you may say - well, maybe not, as they will now simply charge you an additional fee should you decide to opt out of the service. I think this is known as a win, win situation, or perhaps put more simply, yet another creative way to fleece your customers.

Telefonica - Spain's favourite telecom supplier...... not!

1 comment:

  1. This is a favourite trick of many telcos and ISPs right around the world. For Telstra, the major telco in Australia, this is standard practice and you have to expect to get shafted when you do anything with them. A sorry state of affairs really.