Sunday, February 24, 2013

Optical fibre

I don’t actually want a fibre-optic cable into the Crumbling Villa to deliver internets, telephone, and cable TV. When Beloved Wife and I first moved in over five years ago, the only telephone service available was through the execrable Itisalot. Getting a telephone landline presented little difficulty, but internet was more of a challenge owing, apparently, to a lack of capacity at the telephone exchange.

In fact, the Head of Customer Service at Itisalot’s Deira branch had promised internet within two weeks of the application. He subsequently hung up or was otherwise not available whenever I phoned him. This is Head of Customer service; just as well he wasn’t some disincentivised minion.

We got a wireless internet eventually, and it works fine except when the cheapo wire from the squaerial on the roof to a box in the study perishes in the sunshine and has to be replaced with more of the same. Tropical grade co-ax is apparently Not Coming In Dubai.

But leaving well alone isn’t in Itisalot’s business model, it seems. I’d been putting off random “You should migrate to our all-singing and all-dancing eLife service” phone calls for over a year until in October 2012 when, under threat of having the existing connection cut off, I finally said, “OK, you want to install a fibre-optic cable for eLife? Make it so.”

Sadly, Itisalot’s technicians have had extreme difficulty in making it so.

Sometime in October 2012, a team arrived and put new optical fibre cable from the junction box in the street up to a hole in the skirting board under the stairs of the Crumbling Villa. A second team arrived and advised that there was no signal from the telephone exchange. This would be fixed, and then someone would come and fix the modem, and we’d have our eLife.
  • Itisalot phoned to make an appointment for 3rd November 2012, but nobody turned up.
  • Itisalot phoned and made an appointment for 12th November, and nobody turned up.
  •  I phoned Itisalot on 29th November to find out what had happened, and got a vague apology.
  •  Itisalot rang on 28th January 2013 to make an appointment to fix the eLife cable. Never mind that the cable was already fixed, and the problem was at the exchange.
  • Nobody turned up on 29th January. So much for the appointment.
  •  Itisalot rang on 4th February, demanding to know why no-one was at home. We were in Cyprus; I got the technician to make an appointment for 7th February.
  • Nobody came on 7th February.
  •  On 9th February, a technician rolled up and declared that the problem was at the exchange, not in the Crumbling Villa. Thanks, but we knew this in October.
  •  Finally, on 20th February, an Itislalot technician got a signal from the exchange. He fitted a box to the wall at a jaunty angle, and then disappeared, promising that the modem would be fitted by another team ‘tomorrow.’
  • Tomorrow never comes. On 24th February a different team phoned, promising that they’d come today at 2pm. At 2:30pm they rolled up and declared that a different team would come “Later today without fail” to fix the modem. Exactly the same story spun the previous week.
Here is where I lost my rag. I tried to complain, but was first told that I’d have to give the technician’s phone number to the Itisalot call centre. When I called back, I was transferred to Complaints. Here, they declared that they had no record of my eLife application. This is weird, as the previous call person I’d been talking to had found the details on the same computer database. I’m forced to conclude that lying to customers is endemic and not limited to technicians.

Aside from the repeated lying and theft of my life days at a time, why should I worry? I neither want nor need cable television, and the current internet and telephone systems work adequately. OK, eLife would marginally reduce the monthly payment, and I can buy a Scotch egg with the monthly saving.

So the telecom company can continue on their inefficient way as far as I’m concerned. Phone and make appointments if you must, but I’m past staying at home to await your non-arrival. If you can’t arrange and then keep your own appointments, there’s little reason why I should hold up my side of the bargain. It is surely not in Itisalot’s financial interest to pay contractors to make repeated visits to customers’ houses to undertake the same task. And it certainly flies in the face of customer satisfaction to employ people who lie to customers.

Edited 2nd March to add that: Itisalot rocked up at 1150 today, having phoned me at 9am. Just over two hours later they've gone, leaving me with a working internet (q.v.) and a landline and cable TV decoder that will come on line 'in 24 hours.' Now I have to visit Itisalot to get my old connection cancelled or I'll be paying for both. Oh, and while the guys were here I received an SMS to say that they'd be arriving on 9th March. I wonder if anyone will turn up?


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