o2 is Satan's Internet Provider / by Nicole Paulus

o2 hell

I normally consider myself a pretty chill person. I am not easily excitable nor am I quick to anger. I guess you could say I am a rational thinker. Occasionally, however, something happens that rattles me to the core and causes me to be an emotional basket case.

This past week has been extremely trying for me. Before I explain, I want to preface my reasons for writing this blog post,

  1. To get this off my chest. Writing helps me work through whatever anger I am feeling so that I can move the hell on.
  2. I want to deter anybody from signing up with o2 DSL. If I prevent one person from using their services, I will sleep better at night. 

o2 is Satan's Internet Provider

When I moved into my flat, I inherited an old o2 DSL plan. NO one had upgraded the plan for 5 years, so the internet was pretty damn slow. Not to mention, on cloudy days or during peak times, it was damn near impossible to get a steady connection. Skype calls were dropped, movie nights interrupted, and work was often moved to a nearby cafe or co-working space. The past few months, however, the internet seemed to get increasingly worse. The internet connection went out nearly every hour on the hour and the closest person to the router would be in charge of rebooting. "I'M RESTARTING THE INTERNET," became a common thing to hear. 

Finally fed up, I decided to do something about it. I logged on to our o2 account and requested an upgrade. I was shocked when I saw how long we would have to wait…one month. WHAT? Don’t you just have to flip a switch or something? Whatever, I had no idea how it worked in Germany so being the chill gal that I am…I didn’t cause a fuss. We will just have to wait. 

When I ordered the internet I read something about them sending us a new router. Germany’s postal system isn’t exactly known for its reliability. Because I have lost a few packages in the last year and half, I was extra alert to the potential router arrival. Every day, I was looking for a package from o2. 

The package never came. Perhaps I had mistaken, I told myself. My German is not that great. In fact, it’s downright awful. Maybe I read something wrong.

I am chill. I am a chill girl. 

21/10 arrives and I receive a text message from o2 alerting me that the new upgraded internet had arrived to our place. 

Huh, that’s funny, because now we have absolutely NO internet at our place, not even our slow unreliable internet. 

Call #1

So, I call customer service. 

I wait 20 minutes and ask to speak in English. The woman obliges me. 

I explain to her that we have no internet and that I never received a new router in the mail. She then informs me that I can use my old router, I just have to enter the PIN number they sent in the mail and reconfigure the router. "Ok great, thanks," I hang up. 

After tracking down the letter, I see that there are several usernames and passwords on the sheet, along with a 10 digit Zugangs pin. I immediately regret letting my ex set up our internet connections all these years because now I have absolutely no idea how to do it. Not to mention, the letter is in German. 

I message a German friend and, bless his soul, he walks me through the setup over WhatsApp. "Wow, I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere," I say out loud.

I reach the page where I have to enter my Zugangs pin. I tell him I feel lie I am in a James Bond movie or something. If I cut the wrong cable, the bomb will explode. 

The prompt is asking for a 15 digit pin. WHAT? But there are only 10 digits in my pin. Something is wrong. I then proceed to enter every combination of usernames and pins on that page. Knowing that it will probably get me nowhere, I do so because I need to prove it to myself. If there is one thing I am, it’s tenacious.

No such luck. GODDAMNIT.

I then decide to Tweet o2 in Germany and the UK. I read that they respond to tweets (in English) because it’s public and they want to save face. They aren’t much help via Twitter either. 

o2 tweet
o2 tweet2

Call #2

So I call customer service again, this time from a noisy cafe (I don’t have calls on my phone, only data, therefore I must use Skype to make calls. Can't use Skype without an internet connection, FML.)

After waiting 1 hour on hold, I finally reach someone. They don’t speak English but they quickly transfer me to someone who does. He is extremely friendly, says he is in the sales department (FIGURES). I explain the situation to him and he says not to worry, that he is going to transfer me to the technician. “I am a bit afraid that the connection will be lost,” I tell him. He then writes down my cell phone and tells me they will call me back if the connection drops. "Ok, great," I feel better now, more calm.  

After transferring me to the technician, a man answers and starts speaking in German. I ask him if he can speak English and he replies only in German. He tells me (in German) that I have to call the English technician, that he cannot help me. I ask him if he can transfer me to an English speaker and then he says that no, I have to call myself. Then the unthinkable happens...he just hangs up. 

WHAT THE FUCK? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IS THIS A JOKE? A NIGHTMARE? 

I message my german friend frantically. Bless his soul, he tells me not to worry that he will come over that evening to see if he can figure it out. Though we have some scotch and a good chat, he can’t figure out the pin problem either. "Something is wrong", he says, "this pin..it isn’t right."

Call #3

The next day I call customer service yet again. This time I wait 45 minutes. 

I ask the woman who answers if she speaks English. 

"Kein Englisch, nur Deutsch," she says. She then tells me (in German) that I need to call back with someone who can speak German beside me. I tell her that the last person I spoke with spoke English. She says (in German) that some of the representatives speak English, but that she doesn’t. "Well, can you transfer me to someone who speaks English?" I ask. She repeats that I have to call back with someone who speaks German. 

Click. 

Feeling defeated I write to my roommate and tell her I am completely helpless. Though she is from Barcelona, and her German isn’t that great either, she tells me not to worry that she will go to the o2 store and ask them face to face. "Ok, great. Thanks, that helps a lot." I wait some more. 

After her visit to the o2 store, she finds out that o2 was indeed supposed to send us a new router. Though the sales person at the o2 store can’t help us, he tells us to call customer service. My roommate explains to him the problems we are having getting through and he recommends to call them early in the morning, that she will have an easier time getting through. It’s pretty sad that o2 employees even know how bad their customer service is. 

Because of a scheduling conflict, my flatmate was unable to make the call the next morning. Instead, I read on a forum that the best way to get your problem resolved was to head to their flagship store near Kudamm and voice your complaints there, in person. I made a “guru” appointment, much like the appointments you have to make at the Apple store. I arrive a few minutes early and am helped right away, there is barely anyone in the store. 

The gentleman is quite helpful actually and speaks very good English. I explain my problem and he tells me that he can’t help, instead I have to call customer service. I tell him my problems with customer service and he says that he will call the guru customer service to see if they can figure it out. He is on the phone a few minutes before hanging up. “It seems that o2 sent you a new router back in February. They won’t send you a new one, because they just sent one, this past year.” “But that’s not true,” I explain, "We never received a new router. The internet hasn’t been upgraded in 5 years. That isn’t possible." 

“I am sorry, but you’ll have to call customer service, the guru customer service only gives information, they can’t order a new router for you,” he tells me.

“Ok, but I don’t have credit on my phone,” I explain.

“It’s ok, you can use our phone, I just can’t call for you.”

Call #4

He then walks me to their phone, dials the appropriate numbers and tells me he will be around once they answer to help. He offers to get me a coffee and tells me that the hold time is 20 minutes. 

Twenty minutes go by and I am still on hold. 

Another twenty minutes go by and I am still on hold. 

The gentleman comes back and tells me he has to go in the back but that his colleague, a female, will help me translate once a customer service rep answers. “Ok, she knows what’s going on?" I ask. “I will explain it to her,” he assures me. 

I wait 20 minutes more. It's then that a recorded voice comes on the line, says something in German, and then the call beeps three times and drops completely. 

WHAT? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? 

Tears immediately well up in my eyes. 

I look around the store and now it’s packed with people. I look around for someone to help. I ask every single guru that walks by me “Can you please help me, the call just dropped after one hour.” 

One guru tells me to wait 2-3 minutes. He then proceeds to help another customer (who had only been waiting in line a few minutes.)

The security guard is the only person who seemed to care how distraught I was. He didn’t speak much English but damnit he tried to help. He picked up the receiver, nothing. He then agreed to go in the back and try and find the gentleman who had helped me before. 

A woman guru walks by (the one who was supposed to help me once the customer service rep answered,) “Can you please help me,” I ask her frantically, “the call just dropped after one hour.” She looks at me like I am the scum of the earth, “Why are you talking to me like that? There is nothing I can do about it. I have customers to help.” 

LIKE I AM NOT A CUSTOMER? THAT NEEDS HELP? I HAVE BEEN HERE ONE HOUR ON THE PHONE, CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME? 

The tears, I can feel them coming. I take a sip of water and try to stay calm. o2 is the one providing the service, why do I feel like I am the one who has done something wrong? 

The kind gentleman comes out from the back a few minutes later. He also checks the line and confirms that they did, indeed, hung up. I can barely get any words out. All I want to do is cry. 

I manage to keep it together long enough to spit out the words, “I want to cancel, how do I cancel my account?”

“You have to write them a letter, I will get you the address." 

After grabbing the paper, I hi-tail it out of there. I want to scream. I want to cry. But I did neither of these things. 

If I were in the US, I would know exactly what to say. I could project myself with confidence, stick up for myself, demand to speak to a supervisor, be the strong woman that my mom raised me to be.

In Germany, however, I have to bite my tongue, swallow my pride and try to remain calm under extreme duress. It's definitely not easy, but I'm tenacious, remember? In the meantime, I am using my frustration as fuel to learn German faster and with more fervor than ever before (if for no other reason, than to yell at German customer service representatives when they catch an attitude.)

I feel better already. Cheers,

Nicole