Another one bytes the dust

Getting a home internet connection in Germany is notoriously painful. I’ve known bloggers who moved flat, said they’d be back, and were never heard from again.

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People have died waiting for wifi (probably). In fact, someone told me that you had to wait for someone to die in order to take over their connection. But, with German healthcare being what it is (i.e. excellent), I wasn’t willing to wait that long.

My company of choice was Kabel Deutschland; I teach there so I already know half of the customer service department, which could come in handy if any problems arose. This, unfortunately, was not to be as they require a minimum contract of two years. With my temporarily permanent living arrangement, I needed something a bit more flexible. Having scoured a few free advice websites, I came across 1 & 1 Internet. As they’re an internet company, I figured emailing was a viable option, and I did just that a week before I moved flat.

The (probably) lovely Marco got back to me within a day, recommending the best package for my needs. Sounded good. I then muddled over the form for a day or so and sent it back. Cue a shitload lot of very confusing emails, of which I could understand around 10%. I’m a Luddite in English so this was way beyond my German capabilities. An angry-sounding German (not as common as you’d think) called me to shout incomprehensible things at me, while I trotted out “baby’s first words” in response. Anyway, I got through it and managed to get an appointment for only 19 days after I moved in. (You might think the “only” is sarcastic but this is Germany so…)

The modem arrived in the post, I’d arranged to have the day off work, and was dutifully sitting on my sofa at 8am, prepared to wait for up to five hours for the technician to arrive and work his magic. At 9.14, I received a text message saying that the technician had been unable to access the apartment and that I would have to arrange another appointment. Um, WHAT? I immediately called 1 & 1 but the customer service rep’s English was the equivalent of my German so that conversation was a non-starter. Someone else would have to call me back. Nobody did.

I wondered if I could squeeze in beside Frederick the Great. He has spuds and everything.
I wondered if I could squeeze in beside Frederick the Great. He has spuds and everything.

But the day wasn’t a total loss. That afternoon, I was off to meet the American Ambassador and family for a Berliner Unterwelten tour of the Humboldthain Flak Tower and “Myth of Germania” exhibition. Sometimes it pays to be the token English-speaking person. The family turned out to be lovely, they had a great time, and I got to watch scary security men say “Clear” into walkie-talkies and be ferried across the street in a super-vehicle with blacked-out windows. Click here to see hi-larious images of me in a shower cap and hard hat –

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Anyway, after that life went back to normal. On Friday morning, I was leaving a lesson and on my way to my other job when the phone rang.

Me: Hello, Linda speaking.

Körbl: Hallo, you need new appointment with Internet Techniker.

Me: YES! Yes, I do! When is it? 

Körbl: 10 minutes.

Me: 10 minutes past what? On what day? 

Körbl: (Sigh) NEIN, 10 minutes from now.

Me: But, but… I’m not at home! I’m on the other side of the city!

I briefly scanned Schlesisches Straße to see if a helicopter pad had magically appeared since the last time I’d been there. It hadn’t.

Körbl: OK, we make new appointment. I call you later. 

Me: (sinking to my knees) NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!

This time, however, someone did call me and I managed to get an appointment only 14 days after the first one. (Again, not sarcastic.) Yesterday saw me dutifully sitting on my sofa at 8am in my favourite “Carpe that fucking diem” t-shirt, though I was more ready to “carpe” someone by the throat if nobody showed up this time. At 9.30, the doorbell rang. I’m not sure if the poor “Techniker” had ever had a woman so happy to see him, but he’s a German internet provider so he probably has women (and men) throwing themselves at his feet all the time. He stopped outside the door to put surgeon’s slippers on over his boots while I chuckled and thought, “German”.

I gleefully danced around after him as he tugged at cables, and made Star Trek noises with his “device”. I trailed happily after him down to the basement and back upstairs again, while shouting inane things like, “It’s a green light! Green lights are good, right?” I was like the puppy he’d never had – and probably never wanted. Finally, he announced that everything was working. I managed to refrain from flinging myself at his surgical slippers, but only just.

GREEN LIGHTS!
GREEN LIGHTS!

So, I now have wifi in my flat. I didn’t die, nobody else had to die, and the whole process only (that word again) took two attempts and around a  month and a half. Basically, I am gewinning at life. So come on, Germany, what else have you got? (Probably shouldn’t ask that question…)

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69 thoughts on “Another one bytes the dust”

  1. I was with Kabel BW and managed to get it set up quickly, although yes 2 year contract. I did get out of my contract early when I left Germany though – all I had to do was prove they don’t cover my new address. Since it’s in another country it’s fairly certain that they don’t 😉

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      1. The first time it took 2 weeks, I think? When I moved and took my contract with me I filled in the form online on the Saturday and got a call on the Monday morning saying they wanted to send a technician round the next day! He then turned up at 9 a.m.

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  2. Haha – I remember those days. Even more annoying when your so-called ‘housemate/ friend’ takes your money for the internet and then doesn’t pay the company. Suddenly you have no money AND the internet is cut off… at least there’s tons of cafes here with free wifi 🙂 I have 1&1 and they were fast and reliable 🙂

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    1. Yep, now that I actually have it, it’s working great (hopes this comment doesn’t jinx it!). 1&1 have an ad on TV at the moment that says you order one day and ‘ding dong!’ it’s set up the next – hmm. 😉

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  3. So funny!
    Ah yes, the technology of trying to get a piece of technology!

    I remember when I tried to get connected in my old completely and utterly empty apartment, but that’s another story..! Anyway, the technician who eventually came to my home (was 2 hours late, and got the date wrong) didn’t have a clue and I had to tell him where everything was and what I expected him to do! In the end, he just put on a switch and I was charged €60.00 for the benefit.
    I refused to pay!
    After writing letters back and forth, the offending communication provider agreed to charge me a third of the price instead. We shook virtual hands and that was that!

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  4. Hooray! The booties are a nice touch.

    Installation here is quick — just a phone call to turn on service. Then you’re up and running. (I think this is because they’re very eager to get your monthly service fee.) But woe be to you if your service isn’t working well and you need a repairman to come take a look. Fredrick the Great would still be on the waiting list…

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  5. Month and a half sounds about right, but maybe that’s because I live in a small town in the sticks, and about a 20 Minute Moped ride from the German border. I was pleasantly surprised when their basic service provided better speeds than the premium service I had in the U.S., so all is forgiven. 🙂 Glad your back on line. Tschüss!

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  6. German service industries… I learned the hard way too – about two years ago, the chimney sweep came to visit. He said there were “Abgasen” which needed to be fixed immediately or we would die eventually. Called the Therme people who gave us an appointment in “21 days at earliest”. Oh-kay. Anothday day off work, perhaps imminent death. This year, same thing, ‘cept I rang and said there was “Gas”. Appointment approx 2 hrs 15 min later! I played the “innocent foreigner” shite for very Mad Therme Man, and chimney sweep was v impressed when he came back later that day to check that we hadn’t died! Result! 😇😈

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  7. Yeah Linda!!!

    So… just to compare with good ol Mumbai… Multiple requests, multiple missed appointments, days later, screaming escalations. However can be done in days not a month or so.

    Now.. the reliability of the internet is an entirely different matter. Let’s just say we have three between two people. And today I’ve been jumping between all three as not one has been consistent for more than 15 minutes!

    Oh – and no booties are added but shoes come off… frequently with the feet being dirtier than the shoes. 🙂

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    1. I’d rather someone wore their shoes in my flat – I hate bare feet! Mumbai sounds like a total drama fest! I can’t imagine screaming at a German down the phone – though according to my Kabel Deutschland students, it happens a lot! Mine is reliable so far – but it’s only been 2 days 😉

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  8. This. Is. Insane. In Moscow you can buy annual portable WiFi service at any mobile store (which are everywhere), and you will have high-speed internet on your laptop even if you’re in a bunker or on a boat. If you need it for the house (like I do, because with the family there are simultaneously up to 6 devices using Internet, incl 4 laptops), then you go to the provider, they recommend you several WiFi modem options to buy, any of which you can buy right there, you select a subscription service (from 1 month to 12), pay, service is activated and you get printed instructions on how to set it up at home in about 20 min. If your home has no internet cable at all, the installation takes about 2 hrs and usually the person comes the next day (sometimes the same day). Then you do the modem thing after (or if you only have one computer, you plug the cable right in and pay for subscription and good to go). The German way is RIDICULOUS. And it’s not like you’re in the mountains somewhere!

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    1. Ha, I know! Capital city! Who’d have thunk it! Moscow sounds like the dream set up! I think in LV I had to wait a week – I was horrified at that at the time. Can’t remember how long I had to wait in Ireland…

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    1. I know! It took him like 10 minutes once he got there! How it took a month to get to that point is beyond me! And why can’t they give a more accurate time? I’m sure the technicians plan out their day in advance – and don’t just hop around the city randomly!

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    1. I think everyone remembers that fun! Just heard a rumble but this is Germany, not Italy 😉 Although I did come home on Tuesday night to find half of my town (my half) suffering a total blackout. By the time I’d gone to the supermarket and back, everything was fixed 🙂

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      1. my neighbour told me they had an electric blackout in the winter of 2009 due to heavy snow and it was just over 2 weeks before the power was reconnected.

        I asked her how she managed, candles she said, lots of candles

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          1. cold water, although a lot of Italian houses, especially in the country side have a wood burning stufa. it is like a boiler/ fire to warm a room and you can heat water on them. which reminds me, I need to order my wood for the winter

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  9. Oh, oh, you shouldn’t have dared Germany like that Linda- Whew, brave girl. Funny description of you following the technician around the house – drew a great picture in my mind. Over here the internet companies are super competitive. ha! I signed onto my telephone company’s website the other day – they are also a major internet supplier ,-, to set up my private account site that allows me to access billing info and plan info and such. I was on no more than 15 seconds when a chat window popped up and a very helpful young man asked how he could help me. He walked me through everything i needed, then of course he asked if I was interested in purchasing their internet package (I already get it with my apartment free) and was very kind when I said no – he then transferred me miraculously and seamlessly to another tech chat to help me with some phone questions I had. I got all my questions answered and they had all info I needed at their finger tips – no waiting. Not more than 5 years ago they were like the Germans – you couldn’t get their attention with a nuclear bomb. We customers were below them. But our government department in charge of internet (Communications) got tired of complaints and opened up the market to dozens of competitors and forced the big guys to sell time and space on their networks to the little guys. More than half the customers switched to the small companies – way better service, better prices and just as good a service. The big guys sat up and took notice when their share values started to tumble – I think the shareholders had had enough and told them to fix it or find themselves another job. ha! They fixed it fine. Now they slobber at our feet for a contract – nothing works better than competition.

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    1. Well, I’ve taken on everything else – and won around 40% of the time so far 😉 Tempting fate is always dangerous though! And I’m already getting an idea of what the next nightmare is going to be…
      I don’t know enough companies here to really talk about competition but I think that 1&1 are one of the smaller, newer to the market ones. There are ads on TV at the mo saying they’re now the no. 1 internet provider (at least I think that’s what they’re saying!). Go figure 😉

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