Thursday, October 16, 2008

Everything you heard about Telefonica hell....

... is true!

Last year, I contracted Telefonica ADSL and home phone services. I had read horror stories in various forums and blogs about the trials and tribulations of trying to cancel phone/Internet services in Spain. Not just with Telefonica, of course, but also with Terra, Jazztel, ONO, Orange... you name it. People were charged for services for months or even years after initially trying to cancel their phone or Internet accounts in Spain. Some of my friends shared stories of their own, reminding me that in Spain it is often very easy to open an account, but next to impossible to close it.

The Real Decreto 424/2005 was supposed to solve some of the problems mobile phone, home phone, and Internet users had relating to contracts and service. Since I didn't have a telephone or Internet contract prior to the establishment of that law, I can't say whether things are better. All I can say is that my experience trying to dar de baja my home phone and Internet service was (and continues to be) a disaster.

A summary of my problems with Telefonica:

1. After almost an hour of searching on the actual Telefonica site for information on how to cancel my account, I gave up. I managed to find a Spanish-law related site that said you must inform the company at least 15 days before you want the services to end. Since I was leaving my flat on October 1, I called 1004 (Telefonica customer service) on September 17 to cancel my account.

2. Amazing -- it was so easy!!! Or at least that's how it seemed at the time. The customer service agent told me she was sending me a letter at that very moment that would give me instructions on how to "finalize" the cancellation of my account. She informed me that if I didn't receive the letter or follow the instructions, the account would automatically be canceled as of October 2. If I did receive the letter and follow through with it, I could cancel the services earlier.

3. Since I wanted service through my final day in the flat, I didn't worry too much about the fact that the letter hadn't arrived. I mean, it is Spain, after all... mail service is not always reliable. Plus, I had a secret weapon -- a friend who works at Telefonica! She told me not to worry -- we would call 1004 on October 1 and confirm the baja.

4. On October 1, we called 1004. Guess what? They had no record of my call from September 17. My account was still open, and they had already sent out a bill for the next month's service! I started freaking out. On the positive side, I had canceled my bank account a month earlier, so at least they couldn't get the money from there. But the bad news was that I was leaving the country a few days later and needed to make sure everything was closed and paid up before leaving. The last thing I want is to go back to Spain some day and find out I owe hundreds or thousands of euros to Telefonica for an account that I thought had been closed! Not to mention the possibility that the new tenants could hook up a phone and start calling everyone they knew on my account.

5. Here's where the all-important Spanish enchufe comes in. The people at 1004 were completely unhelpful. They basically said I could try to do the baja thing again, to have the account cancelled 15 days later (supposedly). Well, that wasn't going to work. So my friend used some of her own enchufes at Telefonica. Having often dealt with service issues for her bosses and friends of her bosses, she knew someone in the special complaints department. She called up, explained my problem, and the account was closed within 15 minutes. Closed. Confirmed. Never to be charged again. Hallelujah. And that letter I was supposed to receive? My friend's colleague said it's all a big scam -- the letter is just full of offers to tempt the user not to cancel the account. Apparently, when you call 1004 to cancel your account, they give you this spiel about the letter and then immediately forward your account info to the sales department.

6. So the account is canceled, this time for real. That's the good news. The bad news? I still had a bill outstanding, since my bank account was closed. I tried to just pay it over the phone, but they said I'd have to do it online to pay with a credit card. "And how am I supposed to do that, if I no longer have Internet service?" I asked. She told me to go to Correos and pay the bill there. I went. I waited 45 minutes for my turn. I tried to pay the bill -- and they wouldn't let me!!! Why? Because I don't have a NIF. I explained to her that, as a foreigner, my passport number was used instead of a NIF. She just wouldn't accept it. "There's no letter," she kept telling me. "I know -- because it's not a Spanish NIF or NIE. It's an American passport number. Just numbers! No letters!" But she refused. I then went to a Telefonica store and asked if I could pay there. They told me to go to Correos or call 1004. I told them I already had, and neither worked. They told me to deposit the money directly at a bank. I asked for the bank account number. They told me to call 1004. HOW STUPID IS THIS COMPANY? I am trying to give them money, and they won't take it!!!

In the end, I had to leave the cash for my friend. We have to wait for my former bank to send notice to Telefonica that the payment could not be processed. Then we have to wait for Telefonica to notify me of this, even though I had already notified Telefonica almost a month ago that it was going to happen. Then I have to notify my friend, so she can take time out of her busy day to go pay a bill that isn't even hers.

Thank goodness for good friends and enchufes!


LucĂ­a said...

oh Lord! I'm moving to Spain next month! after this I don't know if I really need an internet and phone service LOL :D that's crazy! good luck!

eslhell said...

Haha... Don't worry, just give yourself some extra time before you cancel...

Good luck with your move to Spain!

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Valencia Property said...

I just love telefonica. Can I link to this post at my Google reader account so others can have a laugh at your frustration too.

musica said...

Valencia Property:

Of course! My story's there for all to share...

(By the way, I never got my refund. Must have gotten lost in the mail... )