Apr 07 2006


Our nearly two-week sentence of no broadband connection was *supposed* to be up on Wednesday, and when the “active” light on the modem was still dark at 5 p.m., Dr. Darling called our provider (Telia) to check on the status. (And you know the situation MUST be quite dire for my phone-phobic Swede to take such bold action.)

Our broadband company is the same firm  that handles our landline phone, and their customer service line is open quite late. But the service rep Dr. Darling spoke to said there was no information about moving the broadband on the account status screen she had access to (which was a major red flag to me), and she couldn’t transfer us to the broadband department because they’d already gone home for the day. Would we like them to call us back tomorrow?  Of course we would.

Telia still hadn’t called by 2 p.m. yesterday so Dr. Darling called them, and when she finally got through to someone who could provide some answers, she was told that no order to move our broadband had been put into their system. WTF?!!!

Our request to move it had been made (via an extensive conversation with a Telia service rep on March 4) at the same that we’d asked for the phone to be moved, but evidently only the phone switch was properly processed. So not only have we been without broadband at The Penthouse – Nordic since moving in on March 25…we’re still paying for the live connection at our old apartment!  Adding insult to injury was the fact that it would take another 8 business days before we would be connected at the new place.

Initially, the service rep’s attitude seemed to be that WE were at fault, until Dr. Darling asked her why we would choose to pay for a broadband connection at a place where we were no longer living? Since the only answer to that question could be, “Because you’re idiots,” the service rep reluctantly admitted that they were the ones who screwed up and once they got us connected they’d give us a month of free service for the inconvenience. Whoop-di-frickin-do.

So Dr. Darling calls me at work immediately after hanging up with the service rep who obviously didn’t care that the call may have been recorded “for customer service training purposes,” and she is fuming and ready to cancel our account with Telia and just go with another provider.  Not only that, but we need to pay bills via internet banking and I’ve got a doctoral dissertation to proofread electronically over the next week and both require that we be able to get online from home. Suddenly this is more than just an inconvenience … both our credit rating and my freelance income could be adversely impacted because of their mistake.

I asked the Swede if they had at least given her a dial-up number we can use until the broadband is turned on.  This was something they had offered to me when I called them the Monday after our move to ask why our broadband wasn’t activated on March 25 as requested. I said “thanks but no thanks” at that time because I knew Dr. Darling would not want to pay the per minute charge, but now that we were going to have to wait another 8 business days for broadband, I knew we would need the option regardless of the cost.

Well, the service rep had not shared this number, and Dr. Darling was too angry and upset to call back at that point … so I said I’d try to do it before I left the office for my Swedish class. In addition to getting the dial-up number, I wanted to confirm that the change order had been properly recorded THIS TIME since it obviously hadn’t been during any of the three previous conversations we’d had with Telia about it. Before I hung up with Dr. Darling, she made an unusual request … she wanted me to speak English with the Telia rep when I called.

So I rang Telia a few minutes later, and asked the rep (in my best Swedish) if she would be willing to speak English with me.  She said of course and I proceeded to tell her what I wanted to know and why I wanted to know it.  Evidently some kind of flag had been put on our account between the time Dr. Darling had talked to them and the time I called, because this woman was clearly aware of the problem and very apologetic from the get-go. She asked if she could put me on hold so that she could check directly with the technical service people about exactly when we could expect out broadband connection to be active. This was already better service than Dr. Darling had received, so I said I’d be happy to hold.

Unfortunately the news was not good … rather than 8 business days, it would be two full weeks before they would get us connected. I was polite but not at all shy about expressing my disappointment over this development. She responded by volunteering to waive the switching fee (which is about 800 SEK) since it was their mistake in the first place. I said I appreciated that but it still wasn’t going to get the broadband connection hooked up any faster. She then offered two days of service for every day we went without … which by the time it’s installed is going to be almost a full month.

Finally, she brought up the dial-up number, which I said I would be willing to use in an emergency (like for getting our bills paid) but I was not happy about having to pay the per minute charge … it’s the whole reason we went to a fixed-rate broadband account in the first place. She then said she could arrange it so that we would not be charged for calls made to the dial-up number while we were waiting for our broadband to be connected. Clearly she was trying to do everything she could to make this situation right, which was way more than the Swede speaking Swedish had been offered earlier in the afternoon.

So I thanked her for her help and called the Dr. Darling back with the list of concessions Telia was willing to make to keep our business, still assuming that we would be switching to different provider because surely there was another company that could get us up an running in less than two weeks. But the always thrifty Swede was suddenly back-pedalling on the issue.

“Between them waiving the switching fee and giving us two free months of service, we’re going to be saving almost 1400 SEK ($182 and some change) by sticking with Telia, ” she quickly pointed out.  “Maybe we can live without the broadband for another two weeks? Especially if the dial-up minutes are going to be free.”

I could almost see the adding machine running in the back of her head.

Later in the evening  we were talking about how this Telia episode provided more anecdotal evidence that speaking English with customer service personnel seems to produce far better results than speaking Swedish with them … a phenomenon that has been noted by a lot of my peers in the ex-pat community here. The conversation went something like this:

Dr. D: I can’t believe how much more you got out of them than me. I’m kind of offended.

Shazz:  I know.  And I didn’t even ask for any of it.  The longer we talked, the more she kept offering.

Dr. D:  Just by speaking English.

Shazz:  Well, that and my natural charm.

Dr. D:  You’re not THAT charming.

Shazz: By Telia’s calculations, I have at least 1400 SEK worth of charm.

Dr. D: Yeah, and we know how high their standards are.


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Feed my ego!

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