Tag Archives: wifi

Wi-find out?

I recently committed my first truly (horrible) German act.

I was sitting at my desk one evening when the doorbell rang. I generally never answer my door as there’s a high chance it could be DHL or Hermes or any one of the billion other online companies Germans order from, leaving my hallway looking like a sorting office.

However, it was a bit late in the day for that, so I optimistically thought it might be my next-door neighbour coming to apologise for his incessant, inconsiderate warbling. I opened the door, willing to graciously accept his apology.

Stupid optimism.

I stood face to face with a girl I had never seen before in my life.

Stranger Danger: I need the code for your Wi-Fi.

Me: Um, what? Who are you? 

SD: Oh, I live downstairs.

Me: Riiiiight. And?

SD: I need the code for your Wi-Fi. 

Me: (in my head) NEIN!

Me: (out loud) NEIN! 

SD: What? But I’m a student and I’m only going to be here for a month and it’s going to take longer than that to get Wi-Fi set up…

Me: I know. Germany’s a nightmare but I really can’t give you my Wi-Fi code. Try the guy next door.

SD: He says he doesn’t have Wi-Fi. 

Me: (in my head) LIAR!

Me: (out loud) LIAR! I see him on his laptop every day. Anyway, I’m really sorry, but I can’t help you. 

The luck of the Irish was not strong with this one.
The luck of the Irish was not strong with this one.

I closed the door with her probably thinking I was a right bitch, and me feeling like a right bitch. But before you start thinking I’m a right bitch too, allow me to explain.

Germany has INSANELY strict laws against downloading. Fines start in the hundreds and can run into the thousands. An entire industry of lawyers has sprung up as a result of the intellectual property protection laws here.

Last year, a friend of mine rented out her apartment through Air BnB for a week or so. She came back to a fine for close to €1,000. She contacted the guy whose response was, “I was sick so I downloaded some TV shows”. Luckily for her, Air BnB stepped in so she didn’t have to pay it. (I was going to write something about her bacon being saved, but maybe a blog on Germany can have too much Schwein…)

OK, so as far as I can tell, the fine goes to the person registered in the flat. But if this chick is only going to be here for a month, chances are she won’t even register and then sod off back to her own country. Maybe she won’t download anything, but maybe she will. If she’s untraceable, maybe they’ll come after me. Paranoid? Perhaps, but that’s what living in Germany does to you…

They're watching you...
They’re watching…

My German friends whole-heartedly agreed with my decision. (Germans are a bit nuts about online security.) So, even if I do feel like a bit of an ass, at least I feel like a German ass. Progress.

German ass
German ass

And I know that neither of the neighbours mentioned in this post will read it as they (allegedly) don’t have Wi-Fi so I’m safe there, too.

In fact, the only crime I may be *guilty of in the near future is beating my noisy neighbour to death with his own music stand.

*(If he is found dead, I did not do it. Get me a lawyer.)

 

 

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…)