Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Phone Company Hell

I keep hearing about companies that are "too big to fail." It seems clear that there is a second category of companies that are "too big to function." It seems there is an easy solution to this: make them smaller and let them die.

I met an anti-trust lawyer once, extremely nice guy, we had dinner together back in 2000 or 2001 I think. He told me that he spent most of his time arguing in court that breaking up companies was unneccesary, that the market would take care of itself. I found this very odd but I didn't say anything, after all, he and his wife were treating me to dinner. Well, we all know how that turned out.

I generally figure that corporations are fine until something goes wrong, and then watch out. Trying to get a corporation to make good on a fuckup is like a dinosaur searching for a tiny splinter in its ass.

Believe it or not I try to keep the complaining posts to a minimum on this blog, but I have to vent a little bit. I'll keep it short.

I just got off the phone, for the fourth time, with the big Brazilian telephone behemoth Telemar. I have been trying to cancel my previous plan with them as I transferred to a new company in search of better service. Well, the new company hasn't been tested yet for it's level of competence, but Telemar continues to prove itself utterly useless. They didn't cancel my rather expensive plan that covered my land line, my DSL, and two cell phones, and today they charged me, in full, for the entire plan. I have tried four times to cancel this account and every time they express surprise and tell me there's an error in the system, and nothing happens.

And now I have to argue over money with these people.

To add insult to injury, yesterday I received a bill for a modem that they claimed was not returned: luckily, I have a signed piece of paper with 'Receipt for Return of Modem' writ large across the top. With my last broadband provider, I realized they had been billing me for a much more expensive modem than they had given me- despite my returning the modem and getting the technician to sign a form that the fancier modem was not returned to him, they stubbornly insisted that 'it was in the computer' and I must be wrong. I don't do business with them anymore.

The other thing that I find really ironic about this whole thing is that every time I call, every time, invariably I get transfered three or four times and the last person I speak to sounds like they are talking on a cell phone, while walking down a busy street, with the phone held at arm's length from their head. Okay, it happens, but we're talking about the biggest phone company in Brazil. Don't you think they'd at least have their in-house phone lines in order? Or give their staff working headsets?

I will take these people to court if I have to. I am completely fed up with this crap.

Okay, I'm done now. I feel better. I really wanted my next post to be about Lucas' birthday, which was on Monday. I'll write that one too, I promise. But be warned, I'll probably complain some in that one too.


lovelydharma said...


Are you trying to cancel/break up your Oi Total?

We just went through FOUR months of the same thing. SAME THING. They just plain refused to cancel it. We had the velox/2 cell phones/home line and it wasn't working for us. All we wanted to do was keep the home line and transfer the cell numbers to a new company. We already had a new internet company contracted. Every single time it was the three or four transfers followed by a disconnect. Again and again and again.
They charged us the whole bill from December through last month when it finally got resolved.
Every time we got to the right department to cancel - the cancellations people would hang up on us when they realized they couldn't convince us to stay.


I'm laughing as I read this because it was such a huge pain in the ASS for us and I can't believe you are going through the same thing.

Go to pro-con immediately. I wish we had sooner. They have someone with a designated line that goes straight through to Telemar. They cancelled it immediately for us.

We still have to take them to court however to try to get back the four months of phone bills...

markuza said...

Argh. That's exactly what we're trying to do- except in our case we want to keep the cell phones and already have switched to GVT for the land line/internet. Since I posted this (an hour ago or so), I received another bill for the _other_ modem that I returned... Thanks for the advice, I'm going to call ProCom (or however you spell it) tomorrow. Did you have to keep paying the bills? At least in my case I have 'protocolos' for all my calls, although it took a while to get them.

I feel your pain. Truly I do.

Corinne said...

I had a simila problem when I switched over to Net. They offered me all kinds of deals to keep the service and it took many calls. Their people are trained to try and keep you. The guy kept asking for a reason why I was cancelling and "because I want to" was not good enough. I finall said I was leaving the country and that finally worked to get the ordr through. Sometimes just THREATENING to go to Procon is enough. Although Procon has no legal bite (you need to go to Juizado Especial for that), it is effective in a lot of cases and has worked a lot for my husband.

markuza said...

Thanks for that- I'm gonna give it a try shortly. Oddly, they let me go pretty easily- probably because I told them they'd made some past mistakes that had left me an angry and bitter customer.

lovelydharma said...

Well we threatened a lot on the phone about Procon but it did nothing. Not only are they trained to keep you, but they are trained to hang up on you if they can't. That happened at least 10 times. And was resolved at Procon in 5 minutes. I know that place is a pain in the azz and you often have to wait in line forever (we get a ticket go out to lunch and come back) but they get more complaints about Telemar than ANY other company in Brazil. So they have a special hotline set up that can get it resolved.
We've had good luck resolving other problems with Procom too (Net, for example - god all the companies are so corrupt!)
But to get the bills refunded, Corrine is right, it'll have to be through the Juizado Especial. That's where we are headed next. Unfortunately we couldn't stop paying because we couldn't loose Carlos's cell number. 95% of his business calls come in on that number. grrr...
I thought New York Time Warner Cable was the devil's spawn. We just found it's sister!

markuza said...

Good to know. I went to Oi Atende today and started to get the same runaround (nope, can't cancel that bill here, your conta total is already cancelled) and I only had to say 'Procon' once and all of a sudden they could help me- go figure. If they have no bite why is Telemar scared of them?

I reserve my harshest words for Net- I have never made more purple-faced-with-fury phone calls to any other company in my life. If I'd known about Procon earlier I might have skipped a couple of them. But I played them along for quite a while- I'd call and threaten to cancel and they'd upgrade my cable package for a few months- a small degree of payback :)

Corinne said...

Procon releases data on complaints and perhaps it is the bad publicity that makes the companies buckle. Plus, I suppose that if you are already going to Procon, the JEC is not too far a stretch and they want to avoid the legal fees (even though the JEC is free, these companies have lawyers on retainer that always represent them and that can´t be cheap).

AkuTyger said...

Every other day I get an automated call from Oi asking us to pay our account bill for an account we canceled two months ago.

markuza said...

Oh no. Most of the calls we get are wrong numbers anyways... I can't handle robocalls!