Right now, I’m desperately trying to get ISDN and DSL set up in my new home. But for reasons unknown to me, no one seems to be willing to give me a telephone extension.
When it comes to getting connected to the internet outside of the metropolitan areas in Germany, all alternatives usually boil down to two or three providers: You can stick with the former state-owned Telekom or you could try your luck using Arcor (part of the Vodaphone family) or Freenet.
Trying to get in touch with the Telekom salespeople is hard. Their web-site just sucks, for some reasons it is just a huge shopping system, without any hope to get any decent information out of it. It may be OK for the mainstream user, but once you have a specific question (as specific as “how to get additional numbers” or as simple as “what is the maximum speed you can offer to me”) you are left alone. Shop or die.
They give a call-in number so that you can use the phone to order. But sadly no one answers the phone. Is everyone out to lunch?
Nex try: Arcor. I experienced the funny and chaotic service department of Arcor years ago, when I lived in Nuremberg. Their efforts in getting new customers must be huge: During the last year I got more visits from Arcor Sales-people than from Jehova’s Witnesses.
Swallow your fear, lets call Arcor. Their web-site greets you with a overloaded news-portal, and the actual product information is as bad as the Telekom’s. So let’s forget the internet, lets try to talk to a human being.
Call-in time. First you get greeted by an automated voice asking you, whether you are a new customer or an existing one. (Existing ones are not allowed to use the free hotline, they have to use a paid one. This already gives you the extra feeling of being welcome as customer, doesn’t it?)
So I am connected now, lets try the questions. The first one is simple: My mother already is an Arcor customer, and the company offers to pay for referring new customers to them. We dont have money to waste, so my first question just asks, how we can get the credit for the referral. And there the sales-hell broke loose. No, you cant use this line to get a referred contract. You have to use the (expensive) customer support line or the (confusing and unusable) internet service to do this.
Nice – pay us to become a customer? But wait, it gets better. Not wanting to let a potential customer go without a sale, the nice sales-person told me that if I order now, without using the referral, I would have everything set-up in 10 to 14 days. But if I order through the service-center for existing customers, this would properly take longer.
This really sheds a bad light on the company. Either the service for existing customers is still as bad as 5 years ago, degrading existing customers to second-class citizens, or the sales people are using deception to try to get new sales. And there they are again, my bad feelings. I better trust my intuition here and stay away from them.
(And no, I do not seriously consider Freenet – a customer support line that costs 1.29 per minute is a good indicator how they think about their customers. So whenever there is something wrong with their service, then *I* should have to pay to get it fixed? No, thanks.)
Now, lets try again to get in touch with the Telekom sales people…