The Joys of Being a Foreigner – Telecom Italia and Alice

Living in another country always causes problems of one kind or the other. Both public administration and private companies are geared towards the citizens, not foreigners, and justly so. Yet at times you run into problems so stupid its hard not to get a bit annoyed.

Telecom Italia is the largest provides of telephony and internet access in Italy. Having found an apartment I turned to them for an internet connection. To order an ADSL from them I had to register on a web site called 187 Alice, filling out some online forms.

First question for registration was my codice fiscale, which I have, emitted regularly by the Agencie delle Entrate, the Italian internal revenue agency. The codice fiscale is generated from your name, date of birth and place of birth. I’m born abroad so instead of a province code my codice fiscale if says ZZ, which means ‘abroad’.

I entered my legal and correct codice fiscale and clicked next. Now I had to fill in a long form, a part of which was date and place of birth, as drop down menus. There was no option for abroad, just a long list of Italian provinces. So, I just entered Venice, who cares anyway where I’m born. Well, Telecom Italia does. The site refused to continue the registration because the place of birth in my codice fiscale and in the form didn’t agree.

After banging my head a bit on the form and the wall, I went back, entered a fake codice fiscale as if I was born in Venice and I could complete the registration, only not quite as me :-)

I later got a confirmation email for my registration, to which I replied correcting my codice fiscale, but that email on doubt ended in a black hole. In any case, I’ve never heard anything about it.

I then managed to place an order for an ADSL. This was all done three weeks ago. I still haven’t heard anything about that either.

The order is visible on the web site, and there’s a nice ‘Write us’ link besides it. Clicking the link opens a new window, not with a contact form, but with a short message: ‘We’re sorry. This function is not available at the moment’.

It hasn’t been available for three weeks now.

All other ‘Contact us’ and ‘Write us’ and ‘We care deeply about our customers’ links on the site behaves similarly.

Telecom Alice Scrivici

There’s a phone number to call, 187, and its free of charge. As is the norm in these times, an overly sweet, but automated, female voice answers the call. I’ve spent enough time on the phone with these computerised women to be able to imagine how it must be like making love to an inflatable Lolita doll. First question: ‘Please enter the Telecom Italia number you want service for’. I don’t have a Telecom Italia number yet, but I’m trying to get one. Not good enough, and I got no further on the phone. I’d probably get more joy out of the doll.

I guess Telecom Italia don’t really care to hear from me as a potential customer.

Having no other options left, I had to leave my comfy couch and go to one of the Telecom Italia shops in Venice, but they’re staffed with sales people, so my expectations were moderate.

At least the trip to Venice gave me an excuse to visit my favourite ice cream shop, the Gelateria San Stae, for a chat with the owner, Chiara.

In the shop the assistante listen to my grievances with the usual expression of “yes, I know, but what I can do about it”, and in the end he cancelled by online order and made a new one with a real paper form, with my correct codice fiscale and with a less attractive price.

The original online offer was for €37/month but €25/month for the first four months. The new offer was for €37/month but €30/month for the first four months, so €20 more expensive :-( When I complained about the deteriorated offer, the assistant put on his “yes, I know, but what I can do about it” expression again, and you know that you can do as little about it as he can. The price is printed on the form, and he has no authority to change it.

Somehow this seems to happen every time – you never get the offers you’re presented with initially. Something always happens to your disadvantage.

Now I have to wait. A technician should call within ten days, which should be during the next week, to schedule a visit to setup the box and the phone line.

We’ll see …


One thought on “The Joys of Being a Foreigner – Telecom Italia and Alice”

  1. Hmmmm, sounds like the way the phone company behaves almost anywhere. We can offer either ghoulish delight in knowing the suffering is the same everywhere, or simple sympathies. Here are some sympathies.

    Well, at least you don’t have cars there and don’t have to deal with surly people at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Or do you? Do you have to register your kayaks? … or are non-powered vehicles exempt?

    All the best for obtaining ASDL service.

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