Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Avoid Cegetel!

Phone companies are notoriously bad in France. Their customer services are terrible, they make you pay through the nose while speaking to them to sort out problems, often of their making, and are as stingy as hell with compensation.

In 2004 I spent a fortune on calls to Wanadoo trying to sort out my broadband line. I had no connection in my new house and their system refused to work. They accused France Telecom's lines of being defective. France Telecom replied the problem came from Wanadoo. What was really weird was that the whole thing worked perfectly for 5 whole days, then stopped working completely. No one could explain that, or cared. I got irate and the ladies at France Telecom hung up on me. I sent the whole thing back.

Last year I tried Cegetel. I had to wait months before I got the system as they kept getting the order wrong. I was conned into signing up with them in the December, assured of a super fast connection and told I would be connected by Christmas.

Just before Christmas I was told my phone line was, in fact, not eligible for the loadsa megas line, but a measily 256k or whatever it is. They also got the price wrong. I got the system early February, 2 months after ordering it. Guess what? It didn't work.

I then spent over 100€ on calls to their technical centre trying to fix the problem. Level one technicians couldn't fix it, so I was told I needed to go to level two, but each time, my 30mins ran out as they count the time you are hanging on waiting for someone to answer the call as part of your total call time restriction. So, I never got to level two. Either I ran out of time, or the computers were down, or there were no technicians available. Over 100€ on crap service.

Livid, I sent the whole thing back and thought that was the end of that.

In fact, it wasn't. Although I had told them the system didn't work and I wanted to stop the contract, apparently I didn't send a letter to the right place. I sent it with the modem. Mistake! I should have sent it to an entirely different address probably somewhere in Inner Mongolia. I also requested that they reimburse me the 100€ I spent on a service that didn't work because of their equipment/line. I think they made a commercial gesture of 10€. When I heard that, having rung them to find out what had happened to the reimbursement, I burst out laughing and asked if the Cegetel girl was really serious. She was!

Despite this being the age of computers where the whole world is connected up via the internet, Cegetel, that phone and internet company ARE NOT CONNECTED between services. You have to send the modem back to one place Accuse de Reception and the letter to a different place A/R. Does that sound ridiculous? It certainly does to me. Do I want to deal with a ridiculous company? Absolutely not.

It gets worse. Divorcing, not all my mail arrived to me. Cegetel apparently was sending me invoices by email, but they looked like junk and went straight to my junk mail. When I tried to open them, I couldn't because I didn't have a customer number. It didn't occur to me that I was still paying for a service I was not using.

Then I moved house and the old phone line was cancelled. I was still paying for the service I was not using on a line which no longer existed.

Eventually, I get some bank statements and discover that the money being taken out of the account is not for my ex-h at his new place, but for a service I have never ever used.

I ring up and am told I need to write a letter Accuse de Reception to request a cancellation and to explain the situation. This I do and ask to be reimbursed for the money I've been paying for a year for a service I haven't been using on a line that doesn't exist.

Recently I get a reminder for the bill for Feburary because the bank had refused to pay the direct debit. I ring up and explain. Cegetel says tough shit, mate, we are cancelling your line from March only, you have to cough up the dosh. I explain the situation again, and say I was expecting to be reimbursed money, not paying it. Not a chance.

I get, justifiably I believe, irate and the customer service girl hangs up on me. I've just taken the bill and scrawled in red all over it that the line is cancelled since March 2005.

So, a word to the wise. If you are thinking of subscribing to an internet or phone company, AVOID CEGETEL LIKE THE PLAGUE. Their customer service does not care about you, their system is user-unfriendly, and likely to cost you a lot of money.

Spread the word, it's the only way to make them change their behaviour - mass exodus from their 'services'.

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