Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Don't believe what you read - this is just the Internet

I abhor the Slovak UPC. In my book they are the most customer-unfriendly provider among the telecom/internet/cable operators I've had to deal with. They provide miserable customer service and have been doing so for the many years I've been their client. I remain a customer (and have in fact even signed up for a new two-year contract) because I presently have no choice (UPC is the only broadband provider with speed over 1.5 Mbit in my part of Bratislava).

It's not that problems arise - that happens with all sorts of service providers. It is that UPC is a mean, malicious company that likes to resolve problems by the book where its book calls for screwing you over where they can. Their behaviour draws on their local near-monopoly position - they change their prices all the time but only announce them a month in advance where it takes a month to withdraw from old contract.

I have a looong list of complaints that have been dealt with incompetently. I have been given conflicting information by different people on the same day and have been talked down to by mighty customer service reps.

Here is my latest: I wanted to transfer my old landline phone number to UPC (yes, I keep a landline for reasons I have explained before). I was told by someone from UPC (I don't know if it was by telephone or in person at their customer service centre or by the technician who installed our cable modem) that I can transfer the old number. They said UPC does not charge anything, only the old hegemon Slovak Telecom (now going by the name T-Com, I think) does. Fair enough. I checked on the internet today - the UPC's official price list for the UPC Telephone service contained no charge for transferring a number from another provider.

Today I called about the switch. Suddenly it costs SKK 1500 + VAT (about EUR 55) to transfer the number on UPC's end. Yeah, really? Why is it not in their price list? Well, because it's only on the internet. The whole 'internet' is in internet provider UPC's mind only for informative purposes, anything they publish on the internet is not binding and does not have to contain all details - you find out if you click the Legal Information link on their site. They are happy to provide more detailed (read 'correct') info in person or by telephone.

Well, I think UPC sucks, big time. I think any customer-service oriented company should stand by the prices it publishes on its internet website, especially if the company is an internet services provider. Therefore, if you are in Slovakia and have a choice, I genuinely recommend that you look at the alternatives. Of course, this internet post is only for informative purposes and does not have to contain all details - talk to me in person or by phone if you need more information.


lidija said...

You tell them, Andrej! :)
But seriously, this does suck but is so whole not unheard of in new markets where there is sudden demand, but no competition. Montenegro is an example. But I think even in markets you think are better (like here) many non-internet businesses (gyms, for example) do not put all the details on the web, esp. not prices. One is, competition (it takes more work to find out their pricing scheme, for example) and another is, well, it could be binding. And you don't want that if you didn't update the webpage in time.

Your problem is not bad service, it's high expectations :) I'm only half-kidding, but they do count on the people who have not experienced high levels of customer service... like all the people who had to deal with state-owned monopolies and their bureaucracies.