Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Keep me hangin' on the telephone"

I have no idea what it is about Spain and its citizen’s endemic lethargy that means anything even slightly bureaucratic is turned in to a mammoth journey in to the unknown maze of Spanish administration. Let me explain. Currently we have no internet. None whatsoever, nada. It’s one of things you really don’t realise how dependant you are upon it until it is taken away. And that is how I am seeing it. It has been taken away from me by incompetent fools. Seems harsh? Read this first, then comment.

Of course when you have no net, the first thing you do is quickly check everything is OK your end and your cat hasn’t chewed through the cable. So you check. Nothing is out of the ordinary, no viruses, firewall working OK and not blocking, and so on. Of course the next step is to call your service provider to find out what is going on. Now in the UK, service generally from callcentre helplines etc is pretty good. Yes the systems that provide services such as these have a lot of problems and sometimes there are problems. Nothing like in Spain though, wow.

One thing I would like to point out is that it is thought by some that if you are in a foreign country you should speak their language. I agree. I have basic Spanish (as I work in Gibraltar all day long I speak mainly English) but my wifes Spanish is much better due to her being at home and having to do the day to day operations in Spain, and as such, has picked up the language well. My 9 year old is completely fluent. Even so, when calling to speak about technical stuff, it’s difficult even though we do make the effort to try and speak/learn Spanish. Because of this, we always opt to speak to the English speaking staff there for ease of resolving the problem.

So, here is how the conversation went when Ema rang them.

Dial 1004, Moviestar/Telefonica helpline for customers.

Ema: “Hola, habla usted Ingles?”

M/T: “No” – tone symbolising being transferred.

Ema: “Hello, do you speak English?”

M/T: “Yes. What is your name and phone number”

Ema: [provides details]

M/T: “What can we do for you?”

Ema: “This is about the third time I have rang. Our internet has been broken for over three days now”

M/T “I’ll transfer you to the technical department”

Ema: “Wait, they don’t speak Englsih. I’ve tried before”

M/T: “Oh. OK, but I can’t help with an internet issue”

Ema: “But cxan you talk to the technical department for me and explain our problem?”

M/T: “Sorry. No.”

Ema: “You can’t speak to them or won’t?”

M/T: “We’re not allowed”

Ema: “So your internal departments are not allowed to speak to each other?”

M/T “Yes, we are”

Ema; [exasperation] “Then can you please speak to them for me?”

M/T: “I can’t do that”

Ema: “What is your name?”

M/T: “Why?”

Ema: “Because I am the customer and I am asking”

M/T: “David Davies [made up name!]

Ema: “Can I speak to your supervisor please”

M/T: “No, sorry”

Ema: “Why?”

M/T: “He's not allowed to talk to customers”

Ema: “So the supervisor of the customer help centre is not allowed to speak to customers?”

M/T: “That’s right”

Ema: “So what’s their name then?”

M/T: “I can’t tell you that”

Ema [severe exasperation]”Erm, why can you not tell me?”

M/T: “You’ll have to ask him yourself”

Ema; “So I can speak to him then?” [are we getting somewhere here?]

M/T: “No, you can’t”

Ema; “Then how the hell can I ask his name? What’s his name?”

M/T: “I can’t tell you”

Ema: “This is a joke”

Voltaan in background overhearing conversation: “Babe? Are you sure that’s Telefonica? Are you sure you’ve not called The Secret Service?”.

Ema: “Nope, I rang the shite service”

M/T: hangs up.

So, that’s how our conversations have been going with our ISP. Fun huh? It’s now been five days and one of our fluent Spanish friends has been in touch with them and we are supposed to be having a technician round today. They’ll call us when they are on their way round. It’s nearly 4pm and no sign of them yet and they haven’t called either. Our frustration continues.

As a little light hearted fun, the Spanish themselves have made the below video about their bureaucracy. It's absolutely spot on. I think it's really great. At least the Spanish have a great sense of humour about themselves. Just as an fyi, I LOVE the Spanish, I LOVE living here, you just have to get used to some damn frustrating administration.

Be well.


  1. My name is Ema ~ and Telefonica can suck my D**k :)

    That is all....

  2. Kind of feel bad for you but that did make me laugh! I thought BT were bad, but that's shocking!

  3. We're back on! Although Mere will attest to the fact that it's really really patchy..sorry mate, didn't mean to keep dropping group :( Hope you didn't get mobbed.

    Hey Jahf buddy, good to see you man :)