After traveling over, 5400km across Portugal, Spain, England and France plus two ferry crossings and five weeks away the “Grandparents Tour of Europe” (as our friends aptly named it) is over and we are now home! Exhausted we must now return to the treadmill of normality, whatever “normal” is here in this la la land of sunshine and bureaucracy.
On arriving home and before the car was even unpacked I ran round the garden like a woman possessed to check my plants were still alive and then into the house to turn on the PC and catch up on my emails and blog – no internet. I tried all methods of persuasion. Nothing! I pick up the telephone and the line was dead, my heart sunk.
I detest ringing our telephone provider PT (Portugal Telecom) from a mobile phone as it is such a long-winded process. It’s bad enough ringing companies and listening to the numerous options on the recorded message press 1 for this, 2 for that and 3 for the other etc in English, but in a foreign language no chance. Goodbye 20 euros of pay-as-you go mobile credit! After several attempts I finally spoke to an operator who could speak English. Yay, result!
“Possivel Fala Ingles?”
“Yes, a little if you speak slowly”
“Our telephone line is not working. The line is “dead”…errr not working”
“May I have the telephone number you are calling from?”
I give him my mobile number and he gave me our landline number. Scary!
“Do you have a TV?”
“Do you have a TV?”
Yes, I had heard correctly. What the heck has my TV got to do with my telephone? I thought.
“Two” Be nice Piglet. Patience!
“My telephone line is dead and I can’t get internet” I repeated hopefully.
“What channels do you receive?”
Am I being a bit slow here?
“I don’t know Portuguese channels. Why, is this relevant?” I have now been on the line 10 minutes and I’m feeling frustrated.
“I am ringing from a pay-as-you-go mobile phone; please can you ring me back as I don’t have much credit?”
“No, that is not possible”
“Why? It is your line that is not working and I am paying a fortune to report it”
“I am sorry but we are unable to call you back”
“OK, I need to report a fault on the line”
“How many telephones do you have?”
“Can you unplug it?” I now need super human strength to move a cabinet so I can reach the socket. More minutes tick by and more of my precious credit. Mr. Piglet arrives to help and starts issuing warnings about how long I’ve been on the line. “Can PT ring you back?” “NO!”
Further huffing and puffing. “The phone is now unplugged” I triumphantly report to the operator.
“OK, please leave for 30 seconds and plug back in as it may reset itself”
I start counting. Then a further two minutes lapse as we have a domestic trying to get the plug back in the socket. Success!
“Is the line working?”
“It is ringing this end so it must be your ADSL”
“But it’s not ringing this end and if we have no telephone line how can it be the internet? Surely, you need a line before you can have internet”
Was I stating the obvious or has technology moved on and I am mistaken? Sensing I was being fobbed off I tried again. Despite my protestations the operator was adamant it was my ADSL.
“Who is your internet provider?”
“You must ring them to report the fault”
I sensed the futility of the argument as Mr. Piglet was now doing a war dance beside me pointing at his watch and frantically waving his arms like a windmill in a hurricane
“Which number do I have to ring?”
“Yes, I know but what’s their number?” Eventually, I extract the number and exasperated passed the phone to Mr. Piglet. I pour myself a glass of wine and sit in the sunshine to unwind.
Twenty minutes later Mr. Piglet reports the really helpful guy at SAPO confirms the fault is down to an unstable telephone line and it could be 36 hours before it is fixed. He has reported the fault to PT. I may have seen the funny side of the above situation had I not driven over 1000 km plus detour due to road works.
However, I am still intrigued as to the relevance of TVs and the channels you receive if you phone line that is not working.
Has anyone had a similar experience?
Thirty six hours elapse and still no phone connection. I ring SAPO again from my mobile.
I hold for what seems an eternity and I am then connected to an English-speaking operator.
“Please can you help me, thirty-six hours have elapsed since I reported the fault and I still don’t have a phone line or internet.”
“Can you connect to the internet?”
“No” “Can you connect to the internet I want to test the router”
“But I have no telephone line”
At this point, frustrated, I thrust the mobile at Mr. Piglet who was hovering in the background. “You deal with it!”
The type of router identified, unplugged and plugged in. A new IP address is typed in the browser box, and Mr. Piglet relays the contents on the screen. Silence Apparently our username did not match our telephone line. Mr. Piglet then volunteered the house opposite had a telephone line installed sometime during our absence. The operator, who I have to say must have the patience of Jobe, concluded we had a cross line. He would report it. It is now my turn to start “bouncing off the walls”.
“How long, please ask him how long before the fault is rectified. We have been without internet now for over 36 hours”
I hear Mr. Piglet thank the guy for his patience and reiterate the engineer will call us sometime today.
It’s incredible how reliant we have become on the internet for information, emails and VOIP as a cheap and easy way to communicate with family and friends back home. Did we have a life before the internet? How on earth did we manage? Another day passes, still no phone line, no internet and no call from engineer. Mr Piglet rings PT who still maintains it’s an internet problem and a call for an engineer has been logged. There is nothing further they can do. At this point I want to drive down to our nearest PT shop about 25km away to make a complaint. Mr. Piglet is not keen as we have a problem with the car and does not want to journey far from home and create another problem should the car break down.
Another two days pass and still no internet or phone line and no call from engineer. We try our local internet café in desperation, but it is shut! I try a friend but she is away in England and her husband who is Portuguese informed me that a refuse collection lorry had knocked down one of the telephone poles last week and several people had lost connection.
Frustrated, Mr Piglet rings Sapo (Internet provider) again and is put through to a really helpful guy. He tells Mr Piglet it’s a problem with router and as in previous calls wants to test the router. Mr. Piglet then completely looses the plot and his cool “You deal with it!” and throws the phone at me.
“Bom dia” I coo hoping to keep the operator on side but at the same time I need to now take control of the situation.
“Our complaint has dragged on long enough. This is our third call and I would like to speak to a Manager please”
“There is no English speaking manager here at the moment. Please let me see if I can help”
Checkmate! I can’t speak Portuguese. My assertive moment crumbles and I sense defeat.
“Are you on the internet?” The operator asks politely.
“No, that’s why I am calling you. We have not had internet or a phone line since Monday, it’s now Friday!” My voice rising and only just suppressing the anger I am feeling inside.
“Please clear your browser and type in xx xxxxxx x x” He gives me an IP address to type in. This is the third time we have typed this in but I comply. We now access the router. Silence!
He then gives me a series of instructions and to relay to him what I see on screen. It tells me I am connected! But I’m not connected!
“I think the problem is your router”
“No, I was previously told the problem was a cross line. We are registering as connected but we are not!” Close to tears and feeling we are going round in ever decreasing circles, I beg!
“Please help me, my Mother is in hospital (this is actually true) and our only method of contact is through Skype and our phone line. Mobile phone calls to the UK/Portugal are so expensive. We have been without internet and phone since Monday. This is the third time I have rang and we are no nearer resolving the problem than we were on Monday”
I hear him tapping at his keyboard.
“I have logged your complaint”
“Please can you ask someone to call us back today?”
“I will try”
“No, I need someone to call me back today….please”
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“No, I just want my internet and phone line. I await the call from the technician”
Niceties and formalities over, we end the call. Two hours later we receive a call on the mobile. Mr. Piglet takes the call from a confident/cocky operator who insists he WILL resolve the problem. He starts going through the “router procedure” again. Mr. Piglet loses his cool and passes me the mobile phone mid sentence. I humor the guy while Mr. Piglet makes rude gestures.
I introduce myself. The operator continues “
Please clear your browser and type in xx xxxxxx x x” He gives me an IP address to type in (the same as before).
“But, this is the fourth time I have tried this”
“The problem is with your router”
“But we do not have a telephone line”
“I don’t deal with telephone lines only the internet”
“OK, I have typed in the IP address and logged into my router”
“We need to reset the router”
I comply with his various requests and the router is eventually reset. We still have a problem. Silence…
“Hello, what seems to be the problem?”
“Please can you hold the line a moment”
Five minutes pass and I listen to soothing music.
“Sorry to keep you do you mind holding?” “No”
After all he is paying for the call why would I? I would hold until Christmas if he could fix the internet. More music, I continue to hold, and more apologies. Finally!
“We will send a technician” I wait
“Yes, can you be in for the technician between 9am and 13.00pm on the 25th?”
“What, I can’t wait that long. We have had a problem since Monday and no one has taken it seriously. I want a technician today or Monday”
“It is not possivel if I could make an earlier appointment I would. There is no technician in your area until Tuesday”
I repeat the date and time in confirmation. As they say a “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” At this point Mr. Piglet re enters the room and I sense he is about to expire in anger as he realizes we have to wait another 5 days. He explodes! I cover the phone while frantically waving Mr. Piglet away. I confirm the appointment.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?” The operator asks, sensing there was a domestic brewing in the background. I was tempted to reply, “Yes, you can peel my husband off the ceiling” but English humour does not always translate!
“Yes, I assume SAPO will not have the audacity to charge me for a month’s internet, plus who will pay for all our mobile telephone calls?”
“You need to speak to finance support. Their telephone number is 16200 and your ticket number is xxxx”
I note the number along with the ticket number which he thought may be useful to support our claim.
“OK, thank you and Bom fim da semana”
I end the call and silence Mr. Piglet with a menacing glare. Until Tuesday!
It’s Saturday evening and I pick up the phone to see if by some miracle we have a dial-tone. Nothing! “What are you doing?” Mr. Piglet enquired. “Checking the line to see if it is working” “hummmph, fat chance” “Yes, but I am an optimist!” I reply. Well you have to remain positive don’t you? Stranger things do happen and this is Portugal, after all.
Monday afternoon we hit the jackpot. Our mobile phones rings and a lady from Sapo asked if the engineer could come this afternoon. “YaY!” Two hours later the mobile rings again.
“This is the engineer from SAPO don’t you answer your home phone?”
Mr. Piglet turns three different shades of purple before he replies. (Hovering in the background I the background I wonder what on earth is being said?)
“NO, it’s not working. We have been trying to TELL your call centre that all week but no one will listen!”
“Yes, I will meet you at the hotel in 10 minutes”
Forty minutes later for what should have been a two-minute drive Mr. Piglet returns with engineer in tow. They are late because the engineer had a “brainwave” en route, went to the telephone control centre and twiddled a few wires. Mr. Piglet picks up the phone and we now have a telephone line. I could have wept for joy! Apparently, and this may have been lost in translation, we had a crossed line.
I show the engineer the router which he re-programs and departs.
It was not an ADSL problem after just a simple line fault.
Next stop “billing” to extract a rebate on our line rental and internet!
10/10 to SAPO for taking responsibility for the fault and seeing it through to its conclusion!
Internet restored life returns to normal. Whatever “normal” is!
Dealing with phone and internet providers is probably the same the world over, but adding a foreign language to the mix certainly takes frustration and increased blood pressure readings to a new level!