Deutsche Telekom & Kabel Deutschland: Thanks for Nothing AGAIN

June 19, 2013

Again, I will have to apologize to readers and users of this blog for some likely problems and delays. I will also apologize for griping again about Germany’s atrocious professional standards and utter incomprehension of the basics of customer service in many areas.

In March I wrote a post (since deleted) about Deutsche Telekom’s failure after repeated attempts and promises, to connect me to the internet. Maybe I will add a little to that story, of which I told about 1% in that post. Telekom repeatedly sent me a bill, which they repeatedly assured me I did not need to pay. The bill was for services NOT rendered and they agreed to delete it, but deleting it “would take time”. After continuing to receive notices of the bill, with ever-increasing processing fees, I decided that their verbal assurances were not to be trusted and sent them a fax demanding a written confirmation that I didn’t need to pay the bill.

They didn’t answer, but I didn’t receive the bills anymore so I assumed it was settled. Two months later I got a letter from a collection agency demanding payment for the bill. What was previously about €26 had now escalated to €126.

Obviously what had happened was that one branch of Telekom had decided I didn’t need to pay the bill, another thought I should but couldn’t be bothered discussing it with me, so they tried to use a collection agency to solve their own their own internal problem.

I spoke to the collection agency, who asked for any documentation, and I sent more than a dozen pages detailing Telekom’s entire utterly useless and disgraceful service, and sent this documentation to Telekom’s management board as well. I was on the verge of getting a lawyer when I got a letter from the management board saying they had withdrawn their claim. Someone called me a few days later and confirmed that the complaint was really withdrawn, but couldn’t answer the simplest questions about why their whole string of failures had happened. She “couldn’t say anything” about why my faxes all went unanswered, because that “wasn’t her department”. Of course not. She’s just on the fucking management board.

Deutsche Telekom is branching out overseas, under various guises, including T-Mobile. My advice is AVOID THEM. If you are unlucky enough to already be their customer BE PREPARED! They’re probably okay as long as everything works, but as soon as you have a problem, you will discover that their organizational structures are deliberately designed to allow their workers to avoid any responsibility or accountability, and above all to evade customers.

I tried O2, a Spanish owned company, but they weren’t capable of providing a customer service number for me. The first number simply went to a recorded message telling me the number had changed and I should call a second number. The second referred me to a third, which refered me to a fourth which referred me back to the first again. I went back to the shop and they promised a fifth number would work, but that referred me to a sixth, which referred me back to the fifth. I went back to the shop again and they angrily gave me seventh — Lesson: expect German customer service to involve blaming the customer for any problems — and which skipped out the middle man and told me to call the exact same number I had just dialed. The worker went red, and I demanded my money back. Of course, he was only allowed to book money from my account, not cancel a booking. An hour later the boss agreed to give me some hardware worth double the price of the original fee that they couldn’t return, if I would promise to leave his shop.

I tried Vodaphone but they could only offer wireless connection and they kindly told me in advance that the reception would be too bad where I live. Aha, you’re probably thinking, he lives out in the sticks somewhere. Nope. I live near the middle of the capital city of Germany, a few miles from the Reichstag….

Next option, a company called Kabel Deutschland whose aggressive advertising and pushy sales staff had always turned me off, but they were the last big company, and I noticed they had high ratings according to some sources. They use the TV cable to carry internet and phone. Good. A permanently faulty Telekom cable was the start of all this, so at least I’ll be away from those fools. And Kabel Deutschland said they would connect me within 5 workdays instead of the month or more that Telekom needed (to not connect me). And they did it in two days! I had internet again and I could go back to regular blogging….

Until the start of June, when I noticed my internet seemed to be getting a bit slower…. and slower……..

A technician came around checked everything and determined the problem was somewhere in my apartment building but he didn’t know where, and he would have to try and get access to my neighbors’ apartments, because the TV cables are all connected one after the other like an old fashioned “party line” telephone system out on the farm in the 1930s!


He went and knocked on all the doors but no one was home. He asked me to talk to them, and I said nothing. He was just doing his job. I called management and told them I was stunned that this is happening in the capital city of Germany in the 21st Century. They said they’d see what they could do, and the next day the connection was much better, though not 100%. I went away for a week and just got back this evening…. To NO FUCKING INTERNET.

Kabel Deutschland, I later discovered, is part owned by Telekom.

I gave them one last chance to get it fixed by Friday, after which I will quit and demand the refund of every cent I have ever paid these creeps. Until then, I will be supporting my local internet cafe.

In case this sounds like a xenophobic rant from a bigoted Australian, I consider myself more German than Australian, feel utterly at home here and have no plan or desire to leave. The service is restaurants is extraordinary, and kids working at a fast food place are much more polite than waiters in even quite expensive restaurants in Australia. I am happy to see Germany beginning to lead the world again in the sciences, something they did for several centuries until the First World War.

One comment

  1. If you follow the link, the first thing you should do before reading the story is you should use the arrow keys to scroll to the top left of the page, as the link otherwise tends to land visitors in the middle of the page (of a Sydney weekend newspaper). You are near the top left when the word “OVERCHARGED” appears in large letters.


    As a matter of statistics, I would think that 90% to 99% of telephone billing complaints from customers are spurious (Yakaru in this case being in the minority category of 1% to 10%). Add to that the circumstance that you the customer are dealing with a corporation – i.e. an amoral wealth generating artificial legal entity. Some corporations have millions of clients. It is not worth their while to admit or investigate billing mistakes, because 90% to 99% of the mistakes are errors or attempted frauds at the instigation of the customers. Profit is the primary objective.

    In general if a corporation makes a mistake and money is involved the ongoing reaction of the employees will be to protect their employer and their job by lying. The lying may develop into complicated scenarios involving suppression of the truth or destruction/concealment of evidence. This also happens outside corporations of course, as in “politics” & “religion”.

    This is nothing personal in the targeting of individual customers, this will happen with any and all customers, it is just a general characteristic of human behaviour, which becomes enhanced in corporate environments. (I mean people learn as they become adults that they can use lies to protect themself, or exploit others, or facilitate social interactions, get money, power etc.)

    I suspect there is no escape for telephone subscribers, changing corporation by switching from Deutsche Telekom to something else is no guarantee of service, you still will be dealing with a very large corporation, only a different corporation (the bigger the worser).

    The newspaper story is from the [1980s], and concerns my late father. I had the phone to that house disconnected in [2001], but not due to billing problems. I just did not want people phoning me.

    I use either library or neighbourhood centre or museum internet connections (all free, I try to maintain a low cost lifestyle in keeping with my low income lifestyle adopted from living in poverty stricken countries).

    P.S. The newspaper story is a simplification and omits several news worthy details, such as when there were two telephone meters operating, one inside the regional telephone exchange and one at the domestic phone in the house, at the same, the readings of units of calls would sometimes be two different values, and it was also possible for the meter at the house to tick over changing readings without anyone using or touching the telephone handset. According to my parents, this ticking over once happened while a technician was standing beside the phone and he could see no-one was using the phone, that technician never came back to the house.
    If there are two meters with different readings, the corporation will prefer to use the higher reading. If the customer has their own meter, the exchange meter is always right – especially if the reading is higher. If there is contradictory evidence, the client´s evidence is assumed to be false. If there is a genuine technical error, refunds are not to be given on the basis of guesses or estimates, so if the error cannot be precisely quantified in dollar terms, the refund offered should be zero. (This will usually change once a client promotes their case to a legal contest, but most customers rely on their phone service and give up fighting.)

Comments welcome, but please try to address the issues raised in the article!

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