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Tumbit's take on Spain : Mr Grumpy

Mr Grumpy has lived and worked in Spain for 6 Years. He is self-employed and has a 3 year old Daughter that speaks better Spanish than he does. Despite the occasional moan about 'Spanish Bureaucracy' he enjoys the Spanish lifestyle and the warmth and friendliness of the Spanish people.

The joy of dealing with Telefonica !
13 July 2010 @ 17:28

Anybody who has been living in Spain for more than a few weeks will know that Telefonica is a dirty word. Even my Spanish friends know that they are a fantastic example of how not to run a company and how to alienate your customers.

After living in Spain for a number of years, and relying on mobile phones, we felt that it was time to get a land line – more for the benefits of having an Internet connection than anything else. My neighbour has an office at the bottom of my garden with 6 telephone lines, and as he only uses 2 of them he said that I could take one of them on for myself ( “Why not get your own line ?” - you might rightly ask – apparently the number of lines permissible at our local exchange is finite and has long since reached full capacity, and as such asking for a new line would be a no-no - at least not until the exchange was upgraded, and they couldn't tell me when that was likely to be ! ).

So with a length of 2 core cable and some hose pipe to sleeve it through I ran the connection across my garden, and with a quick call to Telefonica to tell them to change the payment details on that particular number, everything was up and running.So far so good.

The issue became complicated when after a couple of years I wanted to upgrade my line and get Broadband. My first step was to visit the Telefonica website ( which is not in English ) to see if my Number was able to be upgraded so it could receive broadband ( It was ! ) and so I applied for the upgrade on-line. After going through the 5 or 6 steps to apply, the system kept throwing me back out and telling me to call customer services to resolve this. Telefonica provide an English speaking service, and simply by repeating the word “ English “ the automated system recognises this and forwards your call to an appropriate operator. Or at least that is the theory - In practise anybody requesting this service gets sent to the back of the queue and eventually their call is responded to by somebody who more often than not does not speak much English and seems surprised that the client is even requesting to be dealt with in English.( I'm not saying that English people living in Spain should always have the option to be serviced in their own language - just that Telefonica should either offer the service, or not – not a halfway house ) After a number of attempts and still not getting any joy I decided to try to speak to a Customer Services Operator in Spanglish, with a little bit more success, however I ran into 2 Problems :

Firstly, I was unable to upgrade because apparently my Number did not exist. Having made and received numerous calls over the last 12 Months ( And Indeed been paying the Bill ) I stated that I was pretty certain that it did. She went away, calling me back several hours later stating that yes, ok, maybe it did exist - just that my address did not exist. Again , I felt pretty sure that it did having lived their for the previous couple of years. Once again, away she went to check the details and came back a couple of days later to advise me that the address listed was actually the exchange and not my house, and by simply correcting my address then yes, I could upgrade.

Secondly, when the bill came through it was completely different to what I had been advised on the website, so naturally I called up to query this. You can imagine my surprise at being told that the price advertised on the web was a special offer for those who applied on the web, rather than made a call through to the customer services department. Fine, I said, but the system would not allow me to apply on-line and referred me to call the customer services department instead ! - But such rationale is frowned upon at Telefonica and as such I either had to Pay the sum demanded or cancel the service !

Since July of last year Telefonica have lost their status of having total exclusivity in Spain ( As did BT in the UK in the late 80's ) and it doesn't seem to have dawned on them just yet that the vast majority of their clients ( Spanish and English ) will vote with their feet as soon as the various other Telecomms providers make themselves , and their offers known to the public. Perhaps when they have lost 50% of their business they will start to up their game by improving their customer services, and cutting their costs to regain or even keep some of their clients.

I'm a great believer in the saying “ Better the devil you know ... “ , but in this case anybody with a half an idea about customer services and fair spread of reasonably priced products gets my thumbs up !

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Mark said:
13 July 2010 @ 17:18

I have to be honest, my dealings with Telefonica have been okay so far (will find out when it comes to re- negotiate my adsl contract when it expires in Feb '11). I contracted my phone line and adsl from the local Movistar shop on a Friday afternoon, by the following Monday afternoon the line was installed and adsl activated with my free router and 6Mbps line. Any problems I have had, I have emailed Telefonica and asked for a reply in simple Spanish as mine is not good. I have always received a response the next day, at my ability to understand as well.

With regards your adsl, I would wonder how well it would work. I would suggest changing your 2 wire cable from next door to a cat5 ethernet cable. The adsl signal degrades, especially on internal home wiring which is only flat 2 wire and not a twisted pair.

Mr Grumpy said:
13 July 2010 @ 20:51

It's good to hear that there are some positive experiences concerning Telefonica - I don't doubt for a minute that there are some, just that I have never had the good fortune to hear of any ! With regards to the ADSL being rigged up on a 'Bodgit and Scarper' system - it is working fine, and has been for almost 3 years now (touching wood as I type) - and I live by the Spanish mantra of 'If it ain't broke don't try and fix it' - meaning that if I do try and get a permenant line with Telefonica I know it will result in a headache !

dave said:
09 January 2011 @ 16:57

we rranged a telfonica line but there were 2 bank holidays following that day
on the first working day they phoned me and within half an hour the man was in the house everything done free router which he set up for me and worked right away. BT wont do that for you!!

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