Getting connected


With nearly all of my friends meeting on Facebook and chatting over Skype, I was starting to feel somewhat left out and decided to “get connected” as well. I got on the phone to order the Internet, assuming it would be a routine process, but I quickly discovered I was wrong. In the age of modern technologies, communication seems to be as complicated as ever.

Illustrative photo: archive of Radio Prague
I recently came across a survey which indicated that Czechs are increasingly frustrated with outdated call centres. I am not sure how many researchers it took to ascertain this, but they could have asked me and I would have told them straight away. After several weeks of communication, or rather miscommunication with one of the biggest Internet providers on the Czech market, I know what I am talking about.

So, what exactly happened? I simply wanted to get hold of an operator to order an Internet connection and a technician who would install it in my flat. I knew that might be rather complicated in my case, as it required climbing up a ladder to the third floor through a dark and narrow shaft and drilling a hole into my flat to push the cable through. That’s why I wanted to make sure they knew in advance, to make things easier. But it didn’t work.

Just reaching the operator proved to be quite difficult. As I had to do it repeatedly, I refined my skills in this respect: I would make a cup of tea, sit down with something to read and only then dial the number. I switched on the loudspeaker to keep my hands free to able to flip the pages and then I waited… and waited… and waited. By the time I reached the operator (it usually took more than half an hour) I could sing the hold music on the telephone by heart. I still catch myself sometimes subconsciously humming the tune.

The operator assured me in a cheerful voice that she had put all the information into the database. That sounded promising. In less than a week a technician arrived at my flat and as soon as he found out about the shaft, he left. Apparently, no one had told him about it…. So, I got on the phone and went through the whole process again. And then again and again and again… When the fifth technician arrived at my door in jeans and a smart jacket, clearly having no idea what awaited him, I wanted to cry.

I can’t tell whether it was the tears in my eyes or his sense of duty, but the man took off the jacket, went down to the cellar and disappeared in the shaft… believe it or not, in less than half an hour I was connected! When we were having a cup of tea afterwards, he confessed to me that he enjoyed working for frustrated customers (apparently there were many of them). Why? Because if he helped them, they were extremely grateful. I knew what he was talking about. And I asked him for his telephone number, in case one of my friends needed to get connected.