Saturday, April 21, 2012

Inconsistent service

Servicio limitado
At the end of February, (back when I learned the consequences of missing 8 calls from a number and never returning the call) my phone had started to frequently say "servicio limitado" whenever I was in my apartment or near my neighborhood.  This happened in other places in the city, and had no idea why - since I had had great service with Orange all year up until that point.

With this limited service I couldn't make or receive calls, nor send/receive text messages.  Since we still had our fijo (landline) and internet, not being able to use my cell phone at home didn't affect me much.  In Spain I use my cell phone maybe 5% as much as I did in the states, so I adapted to my servicio limitado quite easily, instead of trying to fix it right away.

And then I moved at the end of March.

Being without internet and a fijo during the first two weeks of April made my no-service cell phone a more pressing issue.  Last Thursday night before our tournament La Abuela, a couple from our team that lives near me said they would call on Friday because they would be driving to the tournament and could give me a ride, too.

I stopped by Orange (my cell phone company) that Friday afternoon and told the woman about my service.  She immediately said, "Oh, we don't deal with that in the store. You need to call 470 for technical service."  So I should just call 470?  Yes.

Alright.  So I went outside and called 470 (I had service next to the store).  Explained to a guy on the phone that all of a sudden a month ago I stopped having service in my neighborhood.  He told me I'd need to go into my phone's redes (networks), select "Manual," and then select "Orange".  After we hung up I did this, and my phone displayed "Orange" on the main screen where it usually said "Servicio limitado".  This was a good sign.

But later when I got home, I was without service again.  I went to the networks menu, but this time it only had "MovistarX" on the list - not Orange.  It was Friday night and I was without cell phone.  No fijo.  No internet.  And the roommates were out, so I couldn't use their phones to call this couple from my team.  In the end, I couldn't reach them, so I got up extra early on Saturday to take the metro, then a bus to the north of Madrid for our tournament.  I didn't mind taking public transportation, but I felt bad because this couple had no idea I was so unreachable, and they'd probably been trying to call me all night.

Since then, during the past week I've missed (due to my servicio limitado) a call from a teacher at one of my schools, and then a call from my students canceling a private lesson on Thursday.  Since I never received these calls, I planned and went to the lesson on Thursday, only to discover they'd tried to call me to cancel it.  That night I decided I'd make one last attempt to see if Orange could fix my service, otherwise I'd change companies and buy a new phone/tarjeta and get a new number.  I browsed online and actually picked out the new phone I'd buy from Yoigo if I changed services.

A final attempt
Yesterday after lunch at Gregorio's with he and Alex, we went to the Orange where I'd originally bought my phone and tarjeta back in September.  I told the woman at the counter the same story I'd told the woman at the Orange near my apartment.  I expected her to tell me to call 470, like the first woman had done, but instead she asked me where I lived.  She said we could look up the address and see how the service was in that spot.

Okay.  We went over to her computer and she looked up my apartment.  Her system showed good signal all around.  Then she suggested I replace the tarjeta with a new one, just in case it somehow got messed up.  It wouldn't cost me anything, and she could do it right there.  Why not.  So she put a replacement tarjeta in the phone, which only changed my phone's pin; all of my contacts and info stayed on the phone.

Since I normally had service around Gregorio's apartment with the old tarjeta, I wouldn't know if it had worked or not until I got back home.  So I came home yesterday afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised to see the word "Orange" on my display.  I received two texts yesterday while I was home!  So it had been the phone card after all.

Customer service in Spain
Other than the grand news that I am now reachable by cell phone again, this story illustrates the type of customer service/company logistics that exist here in Spain.  If you go to one branch of a company and they tell you something isn't possible, or they can't fix it (like at the Orange near my apartment), that doesn't mean anything.  Go to a different branch of that same company, or even a different person in the same branch, and chances are they'll tell you differently.

This is especially true of banks here in Spain.  At the beginning of the year, many branches said I couldn't open an account with just my passport; I'd have to wait two months until I had my TIE (foreign identification card) before I could open an account.  But I found a branch in Guzmán el Bueno that would open the same account with just a passport, no problem.  It completely depends on the person you're talking to, and what branch you're in.

It's hard to understand how businesses can run this way after growing up in the states; but once you accept that this concept exists, it can make getting things done a bit easier in Madrid.

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