Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tele2 or Tele666?

Tele2 is a telecommunications company that advertises itself as being, "The Company that Brings You Small Bills." But after the last couple of months of trying to deal with Tele2 (which became our internet service provider after Zonnet was bought out by Versatel which was bought out by Tele2), I feel that a more appropriate slogan would be, "Tele2: The Company that Brings You Big Hassles." And truth be told, the bills brought to us by Tele2 have been far from small...

To date, in fact, Tele2 has stolen almost €2000 from our personal bank account (to which they'd been granted access for automatic withdrawal of our monthly €20 subscription for ADSL service). And despite my best efforts to resolve the situation over the last month of seemingly endless telephone calls and e-mails (including over an hour on the telephone on Friday), Tele2 has refused to give in to my two simple demands:

(1) Terminate our business relationship by 1 April 2006, if not sooner, and (2) Immediately return all money that has been inappropriately drawn from our bank account.

I certainly feel that my demands are reasonable. Back in November, our family was erroneously signed up for a new contract with Tele2 that somehow designated them as both our internet service provider and our telephone service provider. We never consented to this agreement, nor did we sign any kind of contract -- yet we are being held to this date as the beginning of our current business relationship with Tele2, and thus are being told that we cannot leave our "contract" until November of 2006! For whatever reason, the company seems intent on desperately clinging to our €19.95/month subscription for the next six months -- yet given the level of suspicious business practices that have taken place over the last several months, we just want out. Doesn't that seem reasonable?

Beyond the "contract" situation, we're more than a little bit concerned about getting back the money that has been inappropriately withdrawn (or let's just say it: "stolen") from our bank account. Over the last three months, Tele2 has egregiously abused its access to our bank account information to make ridiculously large withdrawals. At the end of December, we were charged €471,80. And at the end of January, we were charged €813,18. So of course, we called Tele2 customer service at the beginning of February to bring the matter to their attention (and to ask for the termination of our account). Yet incredibly, at the end of February, we were charged another €641,99. Imagine my surprise at the latest incident of abuse, when I tried to purchase €6 train tickets on Friday morning and was unceremoniously informed that our account had been overdrawn!

To the credit of Tele2, when I’ve drawn attention these mistakes, customer service representatives have acted appropriately shocked and dismayed. I’ve been verbally promised a refund of these funds on a number of occasions and further assured by e-mail that a refund would be restored to our account… Yet nothing has yet been received. Every call (and there have been many) seems to present a new obstacle to refunding our money and a new date -- always a few weeks out -- for everything to be accomplished. In the meantime, I am being forced to lose interest earning potential and pay overdraft charges for the money that has effectively been stolen by Tele2!

So can anyone blame me for my two basic demands? (1) Terminate our business relationship by 1 April 2006, if not sooner, and (2) Immediately return all money that has been inappropriately drawn from our bank account.

What else can a victim of corporate abuse do? I've decided to give Tele2 one more week to set things right. If the money is not returned by Friday, I will file a formal complaint through ABN-AMRO (my bank) and go through the process to have these funds legally restored to my account. I have already instructed ABN-AMRO to stop payment on the most recent withdrawal, and Tele2 has been restricted from any further access to my bank account. But what else can I do? Call the Consumentenbond (Better Business Bureau)? File a report with the police? Obtain the services of a lawyer?

It can be a bit of an intimidating process, as a small cog in a very large factory. Especially trying to navigate these waters in my second culture, I often feel frustrated and ineffective. It seems ridiculous that customer service representatives cannot transfer an unsatisfied customer to a manager or some person with decision-making power. They've told me that they can't even provide the customer with a different telephone number that can be used for establishing direct contact. Especially for a telecommunications company, it is absurd to be directed to present my complaints through writing a simple letter sent through the postal system...

Yet I will not give up, and I will not be silent. Is it useless to write my rantings and ravings on a web log that with minimal exposure to potential customers or Tele2 company representatives? Yes. Is it immature and assinine to make a devilish caricature of the company logo to accompany my rantings and ravings? Yes. But does it make me feel better to get all of these emotions out of my system? Yes.

7 Comments:

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Jonas said...

So then... you wouldn't recomend Tele2 as a ISP? I saw one of their latest ads the other day at a bus stop and though, "huh, that's interesting 19.95 per month for internet and phone, I should sign up!" Your post makes me think otherwise...

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger Eric Asp said...

Caveat emptor! Let the buyer beware! Of course, everyone is free to choose for himself or herself where to take their business... But I would definitely advise against Tele2. Other companies -- like KPN or UPC -- are offering similarly good package deals (usually with a free wireless modem, no data limit, and even free professional installation at your home!), so I would shop around.

We're hoping to go with KPN, if we can ever get out of our "contract" with Tele2...

 
At 11:53 PM, Blogger Bryan's Blog said...

I am extremely mad for you!!!

 
At 1:42 AM, Blogger Sander Chan said...

Als je wil kan ik een boos telefoontje plegen. Misschien kan ik net doen alsof ik van de redactie ben van een of ander consumentenprogramma. Dat schijnt nog wel eens te helpen.

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Eric Asp said...

Misschien is dat een goed idee, Sander... Bedankt voor je offer om ons te helpen. Eerst zullen we wachten om het reactie van mijn brief een mijn laatse boos telefoontje te horen (voor vrijdag) -- dan als het lukt niet, kunnen we een verder plan maken!

 
At 7:54 AM, Anonymous jenni lafferty said...

i dig the modified logo. we're all rooting for you!

 
At 10:41 AM, Blogger ardy said...

Got to this blog from google, i want to quit Tele2 as well :(
Be careful with taking Digital television from Tele2 as well as ur ADSL connection.

The ADSL says that its a one year contract, BUT if you add Digital TV it will automatically be a TWO years contract which is not stated clearly.

at least it was a year ago :( now i am stuck with tele2 for another year promising 20Mbit connection but only giving me tops 8Mbit connection :(

For Gamers out there, NEVER EVER take Tele2

 

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