27 March, 2007

Like a 3 Stooges sketch. But then more painful.

Yesterday was a black day. So cursed, so foul, that someone should have been merciful and put it out of its misery early on.

It was a day filled with mishaps that included iceballs thrown by treacherous second graders, fresh scratches on my bumper, stale sandwiches and forced small talk. Not a day to be taken lightly. And certainly not a day for straightening out billing problems with my nefarious internet provider, the three-headed guardian to the gates of hell.

The reason for my call was simple: I was charged an astronomical sum for 10,000+ minutes of Internet usage. We have broadband which is a flat rate anyway, so I assumed this would be an easy error to correct.

I called the billing department, entered in my client number numerous times and suffered various menus before I finally got to speak to a real, live person. But unfortunately she wasn't-- she was the undead. And she couldn't help me. This was a matter for the technical department. No, she couldn't switch me. Could I please just call back AT THE SAME NUMBER and choose "Technical problem" from the third menu.

So I called again. again the client number, again the menus. and again the undead. This time I was advised that someone else has apparently hacked into my modem and that I need to change my password. "OK, fine, how about the charge?" "Sorry, can't do anything about that-- I'm the technical guy. Call this number back again and choose "billing" from the fourth menu."

Dialed for a third time. entered in my client number (twice), 3 different menus, etc. (and I'm paying 14 cents a minute for the pleasure!) Finally I'm connected with yet another zombie in "Billing". A zombie whose brain has apparently been appropriated for another department.

After an exhausting conversation he informs me that they will be happy to refund me the money they've debited from my account. As soon as I've contacted the police and filled out a report with them. Because in the eyes of my internet provider this time has effectively been stolen.

On another day I might have laughed. "You're joking, right?" He wasn't. And he didn't appreciate me asking if he thought the police might have better things to do than spend their time sifting through my Internet records. (Never mind that the Internet provider has all the necessary information including IP address, times / dates accessed etc. I have no access to the details so I have nothing to pass on to the police!)

His retort: "Well maybe you don't care, but if it were my money and my account I'd probably make an effort to get it back." And with a cheery: "Have a nice day" he ended the conversation.

I'm not even going to try to describe my mood when I got off the phone. Let's just say it was dangerous and leave it at that.

Oh, and I called the police today and their reaction was: "You're kidding, right?" I actually have to go down to the station to file the report on Friday. This should be good...


Carol said...

I feel your pain! I'd rather get teeth pulled than endure "customer service -- HA! -- tirture"!


goofball said...

Oh I feel for you....we had some pretty bad customer service experiences with telecome providers ourselves. They can drive you nuts. I was so angry and there is nothing you can do against it :(



Anonymous said...

I made a voodoo doll under my bed out of wax for you - complete with automated phone menu...

Sheila said...


what I don't get is if you have a broadband flat rate, why are you being charged for 10,000 minutes? Shouldn't they be included in the flat rate? Obviously I'm missing something...

Betsy said...

Good question, Shiela. That's something I can't really figure out either! Especially since we're allowed to have up to 4 computers in our household connected at any given time. (We only have 2 computers anyway!)

And now 1&1 is saying that someone other than myself is using the connection and logged on last month for 10,125 minutes. So since they're not members of my household they're technically not covered under my flatrate and I'm being charged for the minutes they spend online. I guess it's to discourage people from sharing their service with the neighbors.

But really-- if I've got a 4 computer budet anyway what does it matter? It's not like it's draining 1&1 of any additional resources.

You certainly wouldn't think that something like this would be worth losing a client over!

The whole situation is really rediculous!

I don't know if you're visiting me from Baden Wuerttemburg but if so, and if you're shopping for a new provider, whatever you do STAY AWAY FROM 1&1!!!!!!!!

Sheila said...


I assume you've done the obvious such as change the password on your router?! I'm assuming you've got a wireless LAN set up in your house.

Couldn't you tell 1&1 that you had a guest last month, and they brought their notebook with them, and that is why a previously not registered computer was using the 3rd slot on your 4 slots allowed network?!

I don't get it, but it's a prime example of customer service in Germany, unfortunately.

Betsy said...

Yeah, I changed the passwords. But because my provider won't give me any information I have no idea if this person is somehow still accessing my account. Basically they've told me that I have to wait until the next bill. Which will be automatically debited from my account. They've really got me hamstrung.

And according to their records someone has been continuously accessing my account so it won't help me to tell them that a friend did it a few times because it's something that's been going on for a while.

I'm planning to go down to the police station and file the report tomorrow. I'd rather not have to deal with it, of course, but apparently that's the only way to get my money back...

Sheila said...

Betsy - obvious things first - who lives close enough to access your router? What a mess...

Betsy said...

Crazy thing is, as far as I know they all have their own wireless internet. I can see their routers on my list when I log on.

Our immediate neighbors are good friends-- I've already discussed the situation with them anyway just to make sure that there hasn't been some sort of misunderstanding.

Other than that I'm clueless as to who it could be. And it sucks to have to get the police involved, because someone's going to be REALLY embarrassed, but the fact is that this money has already been debited from my account and I can't get it back unless I file a report... It's all very annoying.

Runaway Rubber Duckie said...

Do they realize 10,000 minutes isn't even feasible?????? It's like 7 days of straight internet usage .Geessh!
Anyways, that kind of time would cost me 1,600 US around here..