How NOT to cancel a service that never existed

Diogenes's picture

I have waited until Monday to call the phone company to complain that we have no service. I have a cellphone, fully charged, with a new SIM card, fully activated. I have credit. Nothing is going to stop me now!

So I phone the 900 pay-per-minute number for KPN customer service.

Prior to connecting you to a toll number in Holland, a message plays that informs the caller of the toll charge. Like I have said, mijn Nederlands is niet zo goed. I only caught part of this toll message, which seemed far more complicated than usual.

howardBeale (8K)

Whatever, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Once again I plumb the depths of phone menu hell, listening carefully, occasionally climbing back up the menu levels and starting all over again. It is becoming more familiar now, with assorted Dutch mystery words taking new meaning thanks to frequent consultations with my Dutch-to-English dictionary.

Three menu levels down I push a button and and hear a single ring, then a another message that says (and this is only my best guess) everybody is busy. But that is OK now. I am on hold and paying for the privilege, but I am happy. Maybe, someday, I will qualify as a European.

I am on hold for just a few minutes when messages in Dutch start to cut in. I can't be sure, because I don't understand Dutch all that well, but I get the impression that my credit is about to run out. I have made 2 calls (I started over) and have been connected maybe 3½ minutes in total. I have not been on hold very long and…

I'm cut off. I don't understand. Am I am out of credit?

I still have my original €10 top-up that I bought and could not return. I then go to a neighbour and and ask for help in activating the top up. She helps me out. I have great neighbours.

I return home and phone KPN's 900 number again.

This time I listen to the toll charge message very carefully. I listen to it several times cause I can't believe my ears. Then I search the web for more information.

The cellphone rate for calling the KPN 900 number is €1.22 for the first minute, €1.15 per minute thereafter. This works out to a burn rate of about €69/hour or $107 per hour.

It occurs to me that it may have been cheaper to hire a lawyer to represent me in my application for a home phone.

But, on the same web page that lists the 900 extortion tariffs, there is an 800 toll free number for KPN. Yes! I immediately phone the 800 number. There is another phone menu to navigate but I manage. Soon I am talking to a real person!

Have I found the holy grail?

- 2 -

"I'm sorry, you have the wrong department"

No. She can't help me. I am speaking to KPN mobile, the cellphone division, which is entirely different from the land-line division. It's not her department and she can't transfer me. She gives me the $107/hour 900 number to call. This is the best she can do. I am ready to weep.

I return to my neighbour again, explain the situation and ask if I can use her phone, offering to pay for any toll charges. She has a Ziggo home phone, like we used to have, so it costs only €6 per hour to call KPN customer service. We call KPN and she guides me through the menus. We enter the holding zone. The phone is in put in speaker mode so we can both hear.

Someone does answer eventually, and we are then transferred to someone who might be helpful. I explain the situation again and demand that they fix our problem NOW because NO ONE showed up on the day they were supposed to and now we have NO phone!

Do you understand? WE HAVE NO PHONE NOW!!

She notes that I have an appointment for the 25th of September. "But that's in 11 days" I say. She then offers to send a technician out the next day, but at our expense. My teeth are grinding at this point. I decline the offer.

I now realize I have made a horrible mistake. I was under the impression that the business of the telephone company was to provide telephone service. I was wrong.

"Please", I ask, "I would like to just cancel our service. Please just close our account.".

I didn't really want this outcome, but it was time for some desperation negotiation.

Cancelling a service that you have never received should be pretty straight forward. But we are talking about the phone company here and certain people had to be consulted over this. None of them were available at the time however and, after some delay, it was decided that someone would call me to discuss the matter further.

MadCustomer (19K)

"Do you have a number that we can reach you at?"

Yes! I have a f***ing' phone number that I can be reached at, a cellphone number. What did you expect me to do? Send letters to everyone? And PLEASE call me at this number. Do you know why? Because you can't reach me at my KPN number! NOBODY CAN!

Instead I just say "Yes, of course" and dutifully give my cellphone number and e-mail address, thinking for a moment that I might actually receive a call about cancelling a phone service that has never existed.

At heart, I am an foolish optimist.

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