First, the good news. We have a new apartment! After months (and months) of searching for a bigger place to accommodate our little Berliner we found a classic Berlin altbau – all tall ceilings, double windows and hardwood floors. We love it.
But we knew we needed to do one thing as soon as possible – get our internet connected. We’ve heard it can take some time to get an appointment (even if it is as simple as flipping a switch) and we didn’t want to miss a day. Ha! Such naiveté. Turns out we still had some faith in German customer service which has now been thoroughly quashed.
We managed to get an appointment within two weeks and made our moving plans to follow the internet. Upon the appointed day I was instructed to hang out in the empty apartment from 8:00 until 16:00. Not so different from what you’d expect in America, I waited. At 15:30 (do they ever show up at 8:00?), a Deutsche Telekom service man showed up and I ushered him inside. In my stilted German I offered him something to drink and awkwardly stood around while he checked cords and made discontented sounds. (What do you do when a service person visits? Is there way to handle these visits gracefully?)
“Alles gut?” I asked nervously. I could already tell it wasn’t. After several trips to truck and back, Hof and back, and street and back, it was clear Alles nicht in Ordnung. With something about the “walls” and “it could be renovations”, he had me sign a form that he was there and then was off. Frustrated, my fluent husband called customer service when he got home. No, there hadn’t been extensive renovations so the previous connection should still be intact. Yes, we were just transferring an account (which came with a 60 euro fee). So what was the deal?
After being transferred multiple time and having to explain the situation over and over, someone figured out that the renters before us still had a hold on the line. They had it, in fact, for another five days. The agent solemnly told my husband that they had a contract to uphold with the former renters. Hang on a moment, we thought. Shouldn’t Deutsche Telekom have known that? Like when they scheduled the appointment? And didn’t they have a contract to uphold with us?
Apparently they felt like they were in wrong as well as they actually offered to comp our internet for the month and promised that someone would be by that Saturday (when the other contract was up). Annoyed, but not yet fully pissed, we made due for the week. And on Saturday we were at the apartment waiting. By late afternoon I was more than worried. They were going to stiff us again, weren’t they?
They were. We called and it was if we had never had the hours of conversation the previous Monday. The only thing they had on record is that the lines were disrupted. My husband explained again – and again! – that no, there was nothing wrong with the lines it had just been “busy” with the other people’s contract. We were promised a visit that Monday because – of course – no on works on Sunday.
On Monday, nerves frayed, we waited. And waited. It appears we were again being stood up. Once again, we called. Once again, it took over an hour of explaining what the problem was (don’t these massive companies take notes?) and many transfers. My husband spoke with a manager. He felt sure her assurance of a Tuesday visit was accurate. But Tuesday came and went. More calls. Finally we received notice from a technician that someone would definitely be out on Thursday.
I had lost hope. I was pretty sure I would be stealing internet from my husband’s KiTa and nearby cafes while trying to juggle a baby forever. Thursday afternoon, 16:00 approaching. My husband and I had been exchanging tense texts all day betting on our odds. He was just leaving work and preparing for another marathon of calls when the technician finally arrived. He asked if our lines had been repaired and I did my best not to strangle him with the cords. I pulled out our prepared German statement outlining the issue and with baited breath I stood over him. “Geht?” is all I could muster. With some fiddling of lines and a check at street level – it was done. We had internet. It had taken 10 days, hours of infuriating phone calls and lots of arguing , but now we were connected. We had internet. I was free to work, talk to my parents and live in the 21st century once again.
For complete info on internet access in Germany including wifi, refer to our post on The Internet and Computers in Germany.