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Vodafone Germany wrap-up May 14, 2010

Posted by CK in Networking, Personal.
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Update: Today I found out that they charged me ~112 euros for early contract cancellation. I don’t know how to react and remain politically correct.

First things first: AVOID THIS COMPANY AT ALL COSTS. I received notoriously bad service, and eventually a disconnection that wasn’t my fault, at the most critical time for me — when I’m writing my doctoral thesis.

First, it was their incompetence providing me with a working phone, until I solved the problem for them.

Then, I asked them in writing to cancel my contract on August, and they replied they will cancel it in November, although their salesmen had told me I can quit whenever I wanted.

Then I wrote them that I am a university student leaving the country, and therefore I want them to cancel it in August, not November. They replied they will cancel it in May, in a week’s time after their notification.

I spoke to their customer care this last Monday, the guy said he’d try to roll it back because it was clearly a Vodafone mistake, and we should check back on Wednesday about the status of the rollback request. These requests go to Deutsche Telekom and once in, you never know if you can do something about it.

On Wednesday, the lady I (well, my German-speaking colleague) spoke to said she couldn’t see anything about such a request, and I should send a fax to describe the problem. I did, then someone called me (which is really a rare thing), said again he would try to roll back the cancellation request and call me back to notify me what is the status of things. Needless to say, he never called me back.

An hour ago, my connection disappeared. I have no ADSL anymore, it’s not my fault, and according to the latest Vodafone representative I spoke to today, there is nothing I can do about it. Her advice was to buy a 3G USB stick.

If anyone knows what I can do to kick them, please tell me. This is disaster. I was disconnected 3 months before the time I asked, and they pretend it’s my fault.

Should I laugh or should I cry? May 10, 2010

Posted by CK in Networking, Personal.
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Readers of this blog are already familiar with my bitter experience with Vodafone Germany (details here and here). Long story short, in the latest episode of this series I asked for my connection to be interrupted at the end of the summer, giving them a good lead time for that (typically, contracts require a 3-month notice). On Friday, I got a letter from Vodafone stating that my phone/internet connection will be cancelled at the end of this week. At this point in time, this would be pure disaster, my thesis’ Titanic. Calling them on the phone, they recognized their mistake, apologized, and said they don’t know if they can do something because they have already asked Deutsche Telecom to disconnect me on Friday.

Seriously, Vodafone, how difficult is it to get your act together and be professional? Are you really amateurs? I really wish I had never made that contract.

My vodafone.de bitter saga April 14, 2010

Posted by CK in Miscellaneous, Personal.
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On August 19, 2008, I wrote an article under the title “Vodafone service in Germany“. In there I was complaining about not having a phone for months after my contract started. I also wrote very explicitly, that I chose Vodafone on the grounds that they offer real landline service (not VoIP), and that I could cancel anytime without penalties. This was information I received from two different Vodafone representatives, in two different stores. As I was surprised back then by this information, I asked them both repeatedly about these two points, and they both insisted that this is the case. As a matter of fact, I went to the second store only because I got this surprising information at the first one.

As it turned out, the phone was VoIP. Although I wasn’t too excited to find out, I could live with that. At one next visit to one of the Vodafone stores, I told the salesman about it, and he insisted that no, it’s not VoIP, because you don’t need a computer to use the phone. Sigh.

Today, I found out the bitter way that if I cancel before the two years end, THERE ARE PENALTIES. So the second reason I chose Vodafone over a cheaper provider, was also a blunt LIE. I can accept that a salesman is clueless and technically incompetent (see VoIP), but I can’t accept that they are unaware of the contract’s terms. I can only assume they lied on purpose, to sign me up. Unfortunately, I didn’t get this on writing back then, and I could not read any German at all (not that I can now, but anyways) so I didn’t know what exactly I was signing. I guess my blog post is not proof enough.

It’s fortunate that, as I am enrolled here for the PhD, I can declare a student and avoid penalties due to leaving the country. Yet, if I did not have this special status I’d have to pay 3 months for nothing, only because some representatives lied to me. I am frustrated, disappointed, and angry. And I hope many prospective customers of Vodafone Germany read this.

Vodafone service in Germany August 19, 2008

Posted by CK in Miscellaneous, Networking, Personal.
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25/08/2008 update: At long last, just a few hours before I go and cancel my contract, I found someone in the customer care who could understand I know what I am talking about, would not try to take me through the “check your cables, check your settings, reset your router” process, and just translated to an engineer. They reset my SIP password according to my likings, and voila! I have a working telephone at home, with my own router.

To the unknown customer care representative @Vodafone, thank you.

Now if only I could make it work with Eyebeam… (PEBKAC)

Everything written below is real.

When I moved to Germany, one of the first things I did was to get a DSL/phone contract. I did a lot of searching before I chose a provider, and eventually I ended up with Vodafone on the following grounds:

  1. In two different Vodafone stores they told that their telephone service is not VoIP. This, however, is not true (they are using SIP on their DSL routers). Funnily enough, last Saturday that I went to at the store where I signed the contract, the salesman still insisted that they sell normal (i.e. not VoIP) telephony connections, because I don’t need a computer to use my phone. I was not amused by his ignorance.
  2. I can cancel my contract at any point without penalties (I expect to find out in the next couple of days if it’s true or not).

My connection was delivered in time, and I was quite enthusiastic about that. Having Internet connectivity so fast, when all colleagues were telling me that delivering the service takes a long time, was really great. I had already bought a different router which I attached and had Internet available immediately. Sweet.

Then I tried to use the phone. It was dead. I tried various “festnetz” configurations, nothing. I started wondering if my router has a problem. Then I connected a typical, old, analog telephone to the wall socket. Nothing. It wasn’t working. At that point, I got suspicious about it. Could they have misinformed me about the TDM-basis of their telephony solution? Could it be VoIP, contrary to their reassurances that “my phone will work without electrical power, with a broken router, or by just plugging my analogue telephone onto the wall socket”? I connected the Vodafone (Arcor, really) router provided with the contract. Still, no phone. I logged into it from the web interface and provided the “modem installation code”. It went through, to an interface which informed me (among other things) that SIP registration had failed. It was VoIP, after all.

The story with this service goes like this: They provide you with this “modem installation code”, which you enter by phone or through the web interface. Then the router automatically gets the necessary credentials (apparently, the ADSL username/password is somehow encoded within this installation code), registers for ADSL, then retrieves SIP credentials over the internet (I guess), and connects to the SIP service. Somewhere along the path, this fails for me.

Ever since, I am trying to resolve it and eventually get telephone working. In the last two months:

  • Two times they arranged an appointment and asked me to be at home to check the problem. They never called me back on my mobile.
  • One time they did. The polite and otherwise smart english-speaking lady at the other end promised me that if I enter the installation code through the attached phone (not the web interface) everything would work like a charm. I did, and when she heard the automated voice coming from my analogue phone and saying in German “there has been a problem, please try again later” she was convinced and opened a ticket. My many requests for my SIP credentials were not fulfilled, she insisted that I do not need them and that technicians will check the problem for me.
  • One or two days later, engineers from T-Com came by my house to check the wires. Of course this was totally unnecessary, as ADSL works (as I told her multiple times). Not surprisingly, they found no problem whatsoever. Someone then called me from Vodafone and said that when I return from my vacation (I was leaving on the next day), a Vodafone technician would come by to check my (otherwise working) router. I provided them with my vacation schedule. Noone ever called back since I returned.
  • Last Saturday I went to a Vodafone store. The salesman insisted that they do not sell VoIP, but rather “normal telephony service”. I went to another store, where the salesman was clearly more knowledgeable. He admitted it’s VoIP, and patiently listened to my problem and complaints. He made a note on their CRM so that someone calls me about this (noone did so far, it’s Tuesday evening).
  • Today I called again, and without talking about any telephony problems, I just asked for my telephony credentials. The kind gentleman on the other end opened (one more) case, and said they will call me back about this. At least he was straightforward from the beginning, saying he’s providing tech support for mobile telephony so he wasn’t aware of how he could help me about this.

In total, I must have 4 open tickets for my problem in Vodafone. After 2+ months, I still have no phone. Maybe if I was speaking German I would be able to eventually speak to someone from the Arcor IP telephony section who would actually understand what I’m talking about (Arcor was bought by Vodafone and is practically providing all technical services for DSL+telephony). If I wasn’t thinking of the 15+ days without Internet, I would have cancelled already and moved to one of the other guys.