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Living In Argentina: Customer Service Is An Oxymoron

Next time you are angry with Rogers, Xfinity or whoever is your ISP, I want you to come back to this blog post, to realize how lucky you are.  While you might not like the level of customer service in your country, here in Argentina, it rarely exists.

When I lived in Palermo I had Telecentro for my Internet/Cable/IP phone provider.  I had almost no problems with them, although this is not their reputation.  Here in Buenos Aires, they are the service you love to hate.  They don't really give you any other choice.  I found that out when I moved to Caballito.  My building is small, so I only had two choices for Internet. The other choice gave no choice for TV.  It is pretty complicated here.  My building is wired for Telecentro.

Everything was love and roses when I signed up in March.  They even gave me 3 months free as a welcome back present.  I told them I didn't want the HD TV or the HBO/Cinemax package.  TV for me is background noise.  I spend all day speaking English, and the news is my way of hearing lots of Spanish when I get home.  They said I had no choice and I could cancel in 3 months.  Welcome to Argentina.  I knew the whole cancellation route was going to be a nightmare.

In April, I lost 5 days of cable and Internet.  Do you have any idea how boring life is without Internet? At that time I only had 1Gb on my phone plan. The Internet is my addiction. Next to chocolate, blueberries, and tango.  Back to reading.  I have a Kindle app on my phone and tablets, so I downloaded my books at work, and read.  Oh, and figured out how to snark Internet from the Kiosco downstairs.  Once a geek, always a geek.  

In May I was down 2 days.  Then in June, I lost my free HD TV.  It stopped working.  I tried calling. (See next paragraph) I sent an email through the "virtual office."  I contacted them on both Facebook and Twitter.  No answers, so I disconnected the decoder and just connected the basic cable.  Then they started to charge me for the nonexistent HD service.

I sent 5 emails asking to not charge me for HD service, because I did not have it. They insisted it was working fine.  I repeated the issues with the decoder, how I rebooted, changed the cables, and I still got the Error 120 code.  This code means the decoder can't communicate with the system.  I know.  I googled it.  I wish that they would have.

A month later they sent me a message to reboot my decoder.  They never bothered to read that I had done that as well as change the cables.  I told them I had done that.  They never answered again. It took 2 more months to get them to stop billing me for HD, Cinemax/HBO.  I never got any credit for any of the down time or the billing errors.  

Last month they boosted my cable speed, AND started charging me for HBO, Cinemax, and HD.  More emails and Tweets And Facebook.  All IGNORED.  I discovered a Twitter feed for people who have been screwed by Telecentro.  They were retweeting my tweets.  Bless them.

Let me clue you in to what happens when you call our beloved Telecentro.  First, they are only open from 9 - 6. Yep.  No nights.  No weekends.  They don't really care about support, they just want to sell you stuff.  They don't need to be open at midnight to sell you stuff.  They don't care if it works, as long as they can keep selling.

Then you call during their business hours.  You get a phone tree that is so long, that you have to listen to it 3 times to understand where you need to punch the button.  I tried circumventing the phone tree. It only worked when I got knee deep in their system.  You get put on hold when you finally are able to get the selection to be able to talk to a human.  The only problem is after 5 minutes, you are disconnected.  Call back.  Disconnected again.  I can't spend my life on hold.  Not even eternal hold because you get disconnected. 

Last week my basic cable stopped working. Grrr.  More Tweets.  They ignored me.  I called.  It took me two days and 6 tries to get through.  The "customer service" rep said she would stop the billing for next month, but I had to pay for this month, even though I don't have service.  She sent me to technical support.

This is a disaster.  Their people read from a script. They are all men.  Imagine that. They hear a foreign women and decide that I am not smart enough.  Good thing they don't know I am blond.  It would be worse.  I demand to talk to someone who knows more.  I get sent to Javier who is in customer service.  He is a nice guy, but he cannot help me other to insist he will give me another worthless credit.

ENACOM is is the government entity that oversees all of the communication in Argentina.  It is no secret that they are not happy with the either the quality or the pricing of cell phones, Internet, or home phones, as well as TV and the post office.  Our new president has opened the door to competition in 2018.  He believes that price fixing and lack of competition has created this nightmare of bad and overpriced services.

 I discovered on Twitter that ENACOM has an account on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.  That is all a girl like me needs.  I started a social media barrage against Telecentro copying to ENACOM.  When Telecentro said I had service, I uploaded pictures of my TV with the error codes of no signal. They kept insisting I had service.  I contacted my neighbors.  Guess what?  Two of them had no service either.  Imagine that.  I made sure that Telecentro knew that I was not the only one.

Then someone decided to actually read my tweets and posts when they noticed that they were going to ENACOM.  They changed their tone rapidly.  Apologies and that they would get on it right away.  I kept up the barrage.  At one point they told me to calm down that they were working on it, that they had found the problem. Oh, and that they would credit my account.  I won't hold my breath.

Eight days later I when I went to take Maxi out at 8:00 AM, I noticed guys with huge spools of cable and another guy with headphones on and some technological equipment to check the cables.  On the way back, I asked what they were doing.  The fellow told me that they were replacing the cables for Telecentro.  The ones on my street were in bad condition.  Imagine that.

That night, my TV service came back.  I let Telecentro know..and ENACOM.  It took 4 months to get them to acknowledge the cables for HD had problems and 7 days to acknowledge that there was a problem.  If I had not created a social media war, I am sure, that I would still be without service. 

You have no idea how much energy and time it takes to do this.  I wonder why I am tired? In addition to Telecentro, I have been fighting Edesur, the electric company for gross overbilling. That fight has been going on since January, when I found out my meter readings were from another planet.  That situation is still in the complaint department.



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