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Still more problems with Kabel Deutschland — I quit

July 8, 2013

My apologies for continuing to complain about my third internet (non-)provider, Kabel Deutschland.

I also apologize to first time commenters whose comments might get stuck in moderation for a day or two, because I don’t have any internet at home anymore. I’m writing this from an internet cafe.

Germany has a fully deserved reputation for bad and unfriendly customer service. And German companies simply don’t take the internet seriously. In my experience they seem to see it as a luxury item, rather than something needed for work and normal communication.

I’ve written previously about Kabel Deutschland’s terrible customer service and failure to deliver the promised internet connection. Now my connection has gone from extremely slow to nonexistent. I can’t even get into my email anymore. I wrote to them last week giving them till the end of the month to find and fix the problems, but I won’t be waiting that long. It seems like I have no other choice but to return to another provider which I will not name because I wouldn’t want anyone to get the impression that there are any decent internet providers in Germany.

Anyone in Berlin Germany reading this, be warned: Kabel Deutschland is not a serious internet provider. They can’t keep up with the speed of their growth and have inadequately trained and poorly paid, badly treated — and therefore angry and nasty staff. And their technical staff simply declare that a job has been “completed” without checking if the problem still exists. If you want to report that the problem is still there, you have to go back to square one and have the same conversation with half a dozen different people until they repeat the same trick again and send you back to start all over again.

If you are considering dealing with this company — I strongly advise you against it. If you are thinking of moving to Berlin, check out the situation with Internet connections before you move into any apartment. Many areas s simply have no Wifi service, and the cable systems may be unreliable. Kabel Deutschland doesn’t even have access to the cables that they are using for the service they sell, so if anything goes wrong, you’re in the kind of situation I’m in — living in the capital city of Germany, 5 km from the Reichstag, and with worse internet service than many places in the deserts of Australia.

UPDATE 29 August 2013

This post is getting visits from people looking for information about Deutsche Telekom and Kabel Deutschland, so I will update it.

After Kabel Deutschland’s complete failure to deal with the problems mentioned above, I contacted Deutsche Telekom again and agreed to allow them to have yet another attempt at providing an internet connection. Telekom’s last attempts failed spectacularly and wound up with me taking my complaints to the Vorstand (Management board). I still had the contact details for a Frau Christine Brummer who had previously failed to solve the problems and couldn’t explain why Telekom workers failed to answer my letters or do their job (because that’s not her department – she’s only on the management board!). Anyway she very politely agreed that they would have another attempt at connecting me to the internet. A few days later she called again and told me (this was at the beginning of August) that the earliest date they could connect me to the internet would be January 2014.

I laughed a lot and politely told her what she already assumed, that this is ridiculous. After so many screw ups earlier this year, the best “special deal” that someone in management board of Telekom could offer is a 5 month wait for a connection. Hysterically funny and utterly pathetic. Before hanging up she tried to sell me a cell phone package as well.

Mysteriously, Kabel Deutschland suddenly was able to fix the connection without needing to send any of their angry and pushy workers out to demand access to my neighbors’ apartments. So I currently have a functioning internet.

But be aware: Kabel Deutschland’s Beschwerdemanagement (complaints dept) simply ignores complaints, even if they are sent out by registered mail.

My advice is to avoid either of these companies, and before moving into any new apartment, check with internet providers have a connection there. I am limited to Kabel Deutschland, Telekom and O2. All of these have utterly disgraceful customer service and are deliberately organized to avoid dealing with customers at all. I have been dealing with Herr Marko Geyer the head of customer service (Kundenservice Leiter) and he doesn’t have a telephone or and email address !!! Maybe he’s still waiting for a connection.

I won’t deal with O2 anymore after they gave me fully 7 different telephone numbers for their customer service, each of which had a recorded message sending me to one of the other numbers.

Update 7 Sept. 2013

I tried again to get Kabel Deutschland to get my internet working properly. The just keep sending me to the firm that KD has engaged to do their techinical work (SSF) who then would just send me back to KD’s customer service. Eventually one of the customer service people turned out to be surprisingly well organized and interested and polite. Not surprisingly he had only been with KD for a few weeks and still hadn’t realized what a miserable bunch of clowns he was working for. He assured me that someone would call me the next day at a particular time. Big surprise – at that time thephone did indeed ring. I answered and it was Frau Christine Brummer from the management board of Deutsche Telekom. Huh? She sounded horribly embarrassed and quickly said that Telekom had sent me out a bill by mistake and I don’t need to pay for it. Hahahahaha

No call from KD of course. I have informed KD that I will only use them, for a drastically reduced fee, until I can find a company that knows how to connect the internet. That will be difficult, but I refuse to give up hope that somewhere in Germany there is such a company.

Update March 2015

In fact I continued to use KD as their connection mysteriously started working again, much better than before….. Until June 2014 when it broke down again. I had technicians (from the company KD outsources this stuff — Firma SSF) around, they said they couldn’t fix it and said that someone from KD’s technical dept would call me. No one called of course. So when I called KD they said they would send technicians from SSF around. I would say no, they were here, you were supposed to call me. “Ah, okay, someone will call you in the coming days.” No one calls. So I stopped paying bills, and wrote them a note telling them I would start paying the bills when they get my internet working. They would say the have to send the SSF technicians around; I would explain it all again, they’d say they’d call…etc etc etc.

They kept sending me bills and telling me that if I refuse to let SSF technicians in, I have to pay. Or they’d say they’d “tried to call me but I wasn’t there”. It’s true I did get a call or two from an unknown number but no one left a message. Despite them having my postal address, email address, and phone number leading to my voicemail, KD’s technical dept simply couldn’t figure out how to get in touch with me. Their accounts dept didn’t have any trouble getting the bills to me though.

They tried repeatedly to get me to say that I wanted to end the contract — which would have bound me to their severance charges. I repeatedly refused, saying it was them who had failed to fulfill their side of the contract. 

So I continued to not pay, despite their threats. I challenged them repeatedly to send a collection agency after me, because I knew they wouldn’t do it, and if they did, as Telekom did, I would send the agency my documented complaints — amounting by the end of 2014 to about 20,000 words, little of it complimentary, all of it noting their deliberately staged incompetence and evasions.

In January 2015 I encountered a sensible and competent worker among them who said they would send a bill, along with a note giving me credit for the same amount, and therewith the contract would simply be seen as null and void. This happened. And indeed in February I received no bill from them either. Now it’s March and I am prepared to say that I have succeeded in not having anything more to do with Kabel Deutschland ever. They are the most disgraceful large company I have ever encountered. (I returned to O2 in August 2014. They have been ok so far.)

Incidentally, if you are already with Kabel Deutschland, here are some answers to common questions.

* If the internet crashes unexpectedly, it’s possibly due to the crappy black box thing (router or whatever it is). Unplug it and wait for 30 seconds and then plug it back in. That can work. 

* You can terminate your contract — I understand — by giving notice 3 months before the yearly renewal.

* If your internet seems to be slowing down, you’re in trouble. It might mysteriously get better for a while, but it will probably cut out again. Give up. They won’t help and they will deny there’s a problem and will try to trick you into saying you’re terminating the contract — and therefore must pay a termination fee. Don’t do it. Tell them it is they who have failed to fulfill their part of the contract.

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10 comments

  1. I wonder do the staff talk German with Indian accents ? They could be angry because it gets very hot in places like Bangalore and Bombay, among other reasons.


  2. You have my sympathies….

    But seriously… You are describing the general German way of doing business. This nonsense isn’t limited to internet providers. German organizations will only act in a reasonable manner if they think you you have the authority/power to hurt them in some way (actually most Germans appear to act this way).
    You see, the problem is that Germans (and I suspect you) know that there is almost nothing you can do about their actions. E.g. you would need to commit an enormous amount of your life to take them to court and should you win, the judgement will likely place you back in the hands of the system you were suing… sound familiar.
    The bottom line is that Germany is an authoritarian state (with a liberal dose of fascism thrown in). They don’t see you as an authority figure who could harm them so they ignore you!

    Take care :-)
    P.S. Also, being an ausländer doesn’t help, they have less rights/authority than real Germans.


  3. I know American companies are often eager to screw over their customers, but I’ve never heard of anything taken to this ridiculous extreme.

    And German companies simply don’t take the internet seriously. In my experience they seem to see it as a luxury item, rather than something needed for work and normal communication.

    I’m pretty much at the point that I think basic internet access should be a free public service, even if it requires going to a public library or something. The internet is serious business and I think developed nations should view it like water and electricity: The lack of infrastructure is an indication of an impoverished region.


  4. @sirk,

    Thanks for commenting.

    Yes, there are historical reasons — and I don’t mean Hitler! — for why Germany has a reputation for appalling customer service. I think it comes back to the Prussians who basically invented modern state administration. It was a great move for civilization to take the running of the state out of the hands of the monarchy, but it also meant that civil servants got higher social status. This mentality seems to have seeped through areas of society, so that anyone who sits behind a desk and feels themselves in authority automatically feels superior. A customer with a complaint is seen as a bothersome person with a problem, and not seen as a customer who they have a duty to serve.

    I’ve only written about my troubles with the internet because it’s relevant to the blog, but I could write similar stories about every single other company or shop in Germany I have ever had to deal with. For the first 14 years I thought it was just me having bad experiences, but it’s not. I could start a whole new blog with daily posts if I wanted to write about the rest, as I’m sure you can imagine!

    That said, I am also very happy to live here. The country is civilized in a way that Australia and the UK are not.

    @Bronze Dog,
    I suspect the basic business model of many internet and cell phone companies is to expand as quickly as possible and not to worry too much about the cases where something goes wrong. The supposed maintenance work is really just for show. I jsut wish they could be a bit more polite while fucking me over.

    Yeh, there should definitely be a free basic public internet service. It’s a bit like toll gates on feudal cities slowing down trade.


  5. Oh my! so well done and so right also. I am learning how tight ass those companies are and they do not like when you take the bull by the horn and hit them with it! I need to use internet and when it does not work and someone at the end of the phone tells me:alles ist in einwandfreiem Zustand, I want to bang my head against a wall and their head too. I truly empathize and I have been in Germany almost 5 months.


  6. Thanks for commenting. My internet now working fine now, although I don’t understand why. That doesn’t worry me too much.

    I still regularly bills from Telekom, followed by desperate apologies from a person in management. One came for €100 the other day. I have absolutely no idea why, and neither did they. At least they sent out a written confirmation that I don’t need to pay it. But they can’t even control their own internal system.

    Good luck in Germany, anyway. There is much to appreciate about this country. Just that customer service is not one of them.


  7. KB’s customer service is a joke, nobody speaks English after a ten minute wait. I could find many companies that had customer service in Thailand that spoke English fourteen years ago. KB’s Internet speed is much much slower than they claim. I got much better Internet service in Peru than here and that is still a poor country and that was eight months ago. They also had people that could speak English in Peru and were much more helpful and friendlier. I guess they live in their own little island. I am really surprised that they are rated so well or they claim so themselves. The sad part I have to be their customer for a year or how ever long the contract is.


  8. Yeh, there’s a window period for ending a contract – I think you have to give three months notice before the end of a year period.

    And yeh, plenty of German companies have English speakers, right up until there’s a problem.

    I don’t know why German customer service people act like petty Prussian bureaucrats. I guess old habits die hard.


  9. So you have tried then other provides? what`s your experience?
    I tried before O2 and it was just “OK”. Now I’m with Telekom and it seems it depends in the area where you live if the internet will crush from time to time or not.


  10. Thanks for asking….

    I am now with O2… Actually after this post was written I stuck with KD for a while longer. I tried Telekom again and they promised to connect me within 2 weeks, and then realized it would take them 8 months!

    KD worked okay until summer 2014, then the connection failed again. They went through all kinds of delaying tactics but basically they knew they didnt know how to fix it but couldnt admit it. Then they tried to force me to keep paying! I didnt, but they kept sending bills and I kept teling them to go to hell. They have finally agreed to stop demanding money, but it took 6 months of fighting with them, the assholes.

    O2 is okay so far….



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