Rumble: Living in Italy - Part 4: Customer Service

I wrote this last year, but never posted it. Here we go.

Fastweb at last

Look at this. I am now the proud owner of a Fastweb ADSL modem with a WiFi interface in my Italian home. It only took me about four months to get connected.

Back in September, I picked up a Fastweb flyer from a booth at one of the shopping centers. Fastweb is one of Italy's main Internet Providers. The salesman checked online if my area could be connected to fast ADSL, and all seemed OK. He promised it would only take three weeks to get me online, even though I did not even have a physical telephone line in the house yet.

One thing you need to know about Italy: No matter how much I love this country, its culture, its food, its climate and its people, one thing they suck at is "service provision". So I was a bit suspicious about the guy's "three weeks".

The week after I got the flyer, I called the salesman, who wrote down my address, my credit card etc, and promised to get the connection request going.
After two weeks, nothing heard.

So I called him. The sales guy said: "No problem, all is OK! We are working on your request!". I answered: "But how can you start the connection procedure, I have not even signed the contract yet?". He answered: "But you gave your credit card number, so all is OK!".

Of course, nothing happened. A week went by without any news, and I called back to insisted on a copy of the contract so I could sign it. It took me three weeks to get a barely readable faxed copy.

Two weeks after signing the contract, still no sign of "connection"-life. The sales guy did not pick up my calls anymore, so I called the company. Nobody spoke English.
Vanessa, one of our admin assistants, was so kind to take over the phone and explain what I wanted: "The status of my connection request!". After 30 minutes, she put down the phone and sighed: "They can not find your original request..".

Two days later, without warning, a guy from Fastweb showed up in our office, and had me sign a new contract. Which I did.

To make a long story short, after many phone calls, with an increasingly aggravated Vanessa, (the poor thing!) trying to hold down her temper with the provider, I got an automatic phone call from the company asking to "Push 1 if my name was Peter...", "Push 2 if my mobile telephone number was..", "Push 1 if I indeed wanted to get an ADSL connection"...

A week later another automated phone call: "Push 1 if my name was Peter...",.. These calls kept on coming, once per day. At 8 pm, like clockwork: "Push 1 if my name was Peter...". But for the rest, not a peep from the company.

Vanessa started to call them again requesting for a status. And she called. And she called.

Six weeks later, out of the blue, a human being called me for an appointment to connect the telephone line. You have no idea of surprise and happiness. Even better: the guy actually showed up on the agreed day and time, and my telephone line was connected in a matter of minutes.

Five days later, someone else showed up to install the actual ADSL modem, and.. I was online...! In five months only!

I just tested the speed with this gimmick and I got 4,500 kbps download and 300-400 kbps upload. Not bad, if you realize I live in a pretty rural area... I am a happy camper! Have Internet, Will Blog!!

Customer Service

Update 1 - One day after getting connected: Fastweb called "to make an appointment to connect my telephone line". I answered: "But you guys installed it yesterday!". They insisted this was not possible and wanted to come by to install the telephone line...
It turned out I now had TWO contracts with the company. And they kept on calling me..

Update 2 - One week after getting connected, Vanessa calls them to cancel one of the two contracts. Panic: they can't find the first contract anymore.

Update 3 - One month after getting connected: They call me. Vanessa is not around. In broken English, they ask me if I am connected. "Si!", I answer. If they can cancel one of the two contracts. "Si! Si!", I begged.

Update 4 - Six weeks after getting connected: An automated phone call at 8 pm: "Push 1 if my name was Peter...",..

What do you think? Should I install a second ADSL modem, just in case? :-)))

PS: Vanessa: I can not thank you enough for your help! Mmmmwah!

More posts on The Road about Living in Italy

Cartoon courtesy


Anonymous,  16 November, 2008 23:17  

same has happened here in Belgium with a a Belgium provider 2 months ago (... I live in Antwerpen)...Same happened in the UK when I was based there.... so, welcome to the club!

Voegtli 17 November, 2008 05:07  

Swisscom/Bluewin in Switzerland (who is my provider) is as bad. When I subscribed ADSL, they said it would take 3 days to be active. IT TOOK 4 DAYS!!

Seriously, Swisscom is really great. I have everything with them. Fixed line, mobile phone, ADSL, WIFI and TV.

Peter 17 November, 2008 07:21  

There's the difference between the Italians, English, Belgians .... and the Swiss for you! ;-)

@freedom: When I got connected with Telenet in Belgium, it was different though: they from the start it would take 3 months for someone to come and check if I could get connected, and another three months to actually get connected.. So all in all, it took about the same time as in Italy. Only here, they promised to do it in 3 weeks. Ha!

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