Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Telco. in Israel and dirty tricks

I've been thinking about this post for quite some time, and it just keeps expanding in my mind, so it's time to write it down. Warning: this one is off-topic, and has nothing to do with technology, so some readers might want to stop reading now.

In the last year I was tricked by at least three media and telco. providers in Israel. In our little market, no one wants to be the "fra'yer", and it's a matter of principle. This is why I'm disposing my experience here, so some of you might avoid it. I know that using this blog would bring me more audience then I could reach otherwise.

This is still the largest phone company in Israel, and it used to be considered a monopoly until not many years ago. Seems like they have a habit of forcing users to upgrade their Internet connection speed, unwillingly, or the user would have to face a huge bureaucracy blockade. I know this trick was pulled on some friends as well, so it has to be systematic. Here's how it goes:
  1. Happy user gets a phone call from a Bezeq's sales representative, offering him to upgrade his Internet connection speed at price of 10 NIS. Cheap, right?
  2. User agrees, and as directed, calls to the ISP in order to upgrade the speed it provides. Such upgrades usually require 12-18 months commitments, otherwise, higher (unreasonable) price will be charged.
  3. User is doing a speed test and discovers the speed remains as it was before - no upgrade was done. 2 phone calls are required (first to ISP, second to Bezeq) just to discover that Bezeq hadn't upgrade the speed. Support guy (or girl) says (quote): "It's impossible we offered you such price, as we don't have such offering at the moment. I can upgrade your speed at X NIS, though" (X >> 10).
  4. Case a: user agrees, and now he has upgraded Internet connection at a price higher then he was willing to pay in the first place. -> Bezeq wins.
    Case b: user disagrees. The support guy interprets the "disagree" to "agree" and starts charging the user with the higher price, without any user conformation (such as 4 last digits of credit card, or ID number). This the user will discover only at the next month's bill. Canceling that will cost the user a lot of time and phone calls. -> Bezeq wins.
    Case c: user argues with support guy, and gets a new price, Y NIS(Y < X, Y >> 10). -> Bezeq wins.
In my own private case, I managed to confront the Bezeq dude with the ISP dude, which convinced my nice ISP that Bezeq was pulling dirty tricks on me, and my ISP price remained as the old one. No extra charge. Nice. Also, I left Bezeq. Bezeq lose.
If you get such upgrade call from Bezeq, beware. It's gonna cost you alot more then you think.
Also, this proves another lesson: always record support phone calls. This might prove useful.

Last year I moved to Orange as part of a consolidation of my cell phones providers (had too many). With my private bill I am very satisfied, and all is OK. But with my parents' bill (which moved to Orange along with me), I'm very upset.

When signing with Orange, we asked them to block all paid content (3G Internet, international calls, etc.), since my parents don't want those, and never intend to use those. Just for the record, my parents barely know how to dial a number, and doesn't even know how to send SMS.
On the first bill they got, we had our first surprise - 2 SMS were sent to Denmark. The support guy (or girl...) insisted these SMS were indeed sent, and only after quite a while they convinced there's no way my parents would send such messages, and gave the money back.

One month later, a new bill came, this time we found out my parents were watching 20 minutes of streaming TV in their cell phones (these costs more than a few NIS). Again a call to support, which insisted the media was indeed watched. It took me over 30 minutes of arguing and insisting some technician who has access to antenna logs, would check those - just to prove my point: the antenna which allegedly sent the streaming media, never hosted my parent's phones.

Few months ago, another extra charge - this time, some ringtones were downloaded.
If you read carefully, you would know that such services were completely blocked in the service agreement. Again, 20 minutes phone call, and the charge is cancelled.

The most annoying thing in Israel is the fact that "the competition is no better". The Hot incident is not as complicated as those above, but yet very annoying.

I admit it, I download TV serieses which doesn't show in Israel, or shows in a long delay (what's the point in the delay, when all of the Internet is filled with spoilers, right?). When I heard Hot will broadcast the new Lost season in a 3 day delay I said to myself (and to some of my friends) I will pay for the cable company, and watch it on TV, instead of downloading it.
The Hot web site mentioned that if I missed the chapter, I will be able to watch it on VOD. Since I'm paying 10 NIS for the VOD service, I was happy with the thought I'll be able to watch it whenever I want, right on my TV.

Wrong. I started watching the first chapter 30 minutes late, so I used the cool Start-Over trick they provide. Half-way through the chapter, I got a message saying "Too many people are trying to watch the chapter, please try again later.". Later? I cannot Start-Over a chapter which already ended? What kind of service is that?

So I opted for the VOD option later that night, and to my surprise I found out that I will have to pay 5 NIS for each chapter. WTF? Why didn't you say that in the first place? Did you drop my Start-Over session just so you could extra-charge me for the VOD? Grrr...
Good thing they provide fast Internet (if you know what I mean)...

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