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Helpline maze

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment
Indicative of the branches in the TIM helpline

Indicative of the branches in the TIM helpline

This morning Clive pointed out in alarm a message from TIM, our internet service provider, saying that his 5Gb of upload and download per month were almost used up.

Once used up, the speed would slow to a crawl (not even worth trying to access the internet).

He checked on TIM’s own page and it said he’d used 4Gb, while their statistics said he’d used 2.7.

I picked up the mobile phone and settled down for a long session.

The options on the free helpline branch and branch again. The voice which conveys the recorded messages is gratingly familiar and enthusiastic. The content is almost entirely promotional.

The option for help from an operator is the very last one in each round. Unlucky you if you actually expect it to be there at the end of the maze. By the time you’ve exhausted all avenues, it has disappeared.

You have to know that the only way to reach an operator is to pretend that your phone has been lost or stolen. Now that could be dangerous! Do that in other countries or other situations and your number is instantly cut off and can’t be reconnected without protracted delays.

To add insult to injury, TIM now asks you to tap in the number of the phone or SIM card that has been lost. It was only after an otherwise unhelpful call to the shop which sold us our internet keys that I had the courage to tap in the number of Clive’s key.

And then I was too slow finding the asterisk with which I had to begin and had to hear the whole thing round again!!

When I finally got an operator, she confirmed that Clive has 1Gb left of his 5Gb, which is plenty to see him through to the renewal date of the 27th. (What happened to the 2.7 figure, though, and why are they sending out false alarms by text?)

She also confirmed that the only way to speak to an operator is to go through the farce of typing in a ‘lost’ number.

I sometimes think that it’s almost a full-time job just LIVING here.

Bandwidth

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

This morning Clive went online with his dongle (‘chiavetta’ or ‘little key’ as they call it in Italy). His connection was so slow that he couldn’t navigate at all.

Speedy Gonzalez in comparison

I phoned TIM, the telecommunications company, on their central number.

A woman answered and I explained the predicament.

“You’ve exceeded the bandwidth allowance of 10 Gig for the month and your connection will be at this speed until renewal on 7th February. No, there’s nothing you can do about it.” 

This was puzzling as Clive’s screen clearly showed he had used up 3 Gig and had 7 left.

I carried on questioning her, trying to get to the bottom of it, but after a couple of tragic sighs she put the phone down on me.

After double-checking with Clive, I rang again. Another woman answered.

“No way have you used up your bandwidth. You have 7 Gig left.” Ah, sense at last. “Where are you in the country?”

“Umbria.”

“Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo are experiencing service problems. It should be cleared up by tomorrow morning.”

Now WHY couldn’t the first woman have told me this instead of spinning tales about our bandwidth?

I got my revenge shortly after when I was able to label her help as abismal (‘malissimo’) in a customer satisfaction survey over the phone.

Once more unto the breach

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

My new dongle, which I’d been told would be active within 24 hours, gave me access to the internet this morning for about one second then died.

Clive thought it must be something to do with my computer, or the fact that I’d used his dongle on my computer, and he spent ages trying to sort it out.

The brief lifting of the portcullis onto the internet had allowed a message from TIM, the  telecommunications company, to slip through. It has since disappeared but it said something about there being no credit.

In the end I thought I’d better phone TIM on their centralized number. I should point out that each time I phone, I have to follow a different path and use my ingenuity to be able to speak to an operator as there is no selectable option for this.

My first 2 conversations with operators came to an untimely end (they hung up or disappeared) before I’d got all the information I needed. It seemed, though, that it wasn’t a computer malfunction but an administrative matter to do with TIM.

I gradually learnt that by activating internet access before 24 hours were up and before the promotion had begun, I’d forfeited the €5 credit provided by the promotion, my credit was therefore zero, and without credit I couldn’t activate the dongle.

I would have to go to a bar, or some other place where they sell phone credit, pay €5, then take the SIM Card out of my mobile, put the SIM Card from the key into it, and wait 24 hours or so for a message from TIM saying that the dongle had been activated. (Then swop the SIM Cards round again.)

A knight to the rescue

Sod that for a game of soldiers.

After trying 4 times without success to get through on the phone to the TIM Centre where I bought the dongle yesterday, I phoned the centralized TIM service again.

A kindly-sounding woman suggested I phone a free-phone number (‘green number’ it’s called in Italy), tell them my story, and ask them to refund the €5.

I followed her advice and spoke to a woman there.

“This number is only for people who’ve made a purchase over the phone. You’ll just have to go to your TIM centre.”

Not one to give up, I phoned the green number again and spoke to a man who proved to be my knight in shining armour. While I waited, he reimbursed the €5, then told me I could navigate straight away.

“Straight away?” I asked incredulously.

“Straight away.”

And so it was.

Another little adventure that took the best part of a day.