September 19, 2017

Starting Up Nation

Start Up Nation. Is that what we’re called? When it comes to ingenious inventions in medicine and high tech, yes. When it comes to basic services, we are, well, just starting up and have a long way to go.

I’ve written about the post office services (Doar) many times. Some of my most frustrating moments as on olah have originated here. In fact, they continue. One day I will write about Ra’anana’s newly improved Doar. The newest place to pick up parcels is a gas station but the address is hidden on the post office card. To add insult to injury, we receive notification before the package arrives just so we have to come back (fill up with the tank with gas while you’re there if you can find the place).
So now it’s time to report on Bezek, Israel’s national phone company.  Over the years, we have been so frustrated with the phone company, we no longer have a land line and just use our cell phone. 

But, the internet is still entwined with Bezek and, as I just found out, our broken alarm line is a Bezek line.

Here are some rules when dealing with Bezek:

When you first call, you’ll hear a reassuring recorded song that says you have reached Bezek, Ahi Tov BaBayit – they are telling you that Bezek is the ‘best in the house’ and that you’ll be looked after like you’re family. Don’t buy into this.

You’ll then be asked to select a language. 1. Hebrew 2. Arabic 3. Russian 4. English. Do not press 4.

The English system takes you deep into selecting various services and when you feel like you’re actually getting somewhere, it stops working and disconnects you. 

If you do get to the end of the complex web of selecting services and then wait half an hour for a real live person, a Hebrew speaker will come on the phone. As soon as you say something in English they tell you they’ll connect you to an English speaker but never ever do.  It would take less time to learn a few words of Arabic or Russian if you want to get service.

They don’t want to talk to you. It’s so complicated to get to a live person, you would rather retreat to a phoneless cave dwelling than deal with this service.  They try to convince you that you should try their self-automated service where the computer will check your line and you can correct the problem on your own. Really? I made the mistake of getting gnarled in this once. Useless.

They then try to convince you that you don’t really want to spend your valuable time waiting for a live person and listening to the Ahi Tov BaBayit song a hundred times over. You would rather be on the beach, right? 

They convince you to leave your number and then someone will get back to you. It may take 12 hours for this to happen or it may not happen. Ever. Or, you may be at the beach and miss the Bezek call. G-d forbid.

Do not call Bezek from your car on a hot day. Sitting in the car waiting for my daughter, I decided to call Bezek. I took a deep breath and did the number acrobatics, pressing 1 and 2  and 3 and 1 and 2 and 2 and 2 and then waiting and waiting. A live person came on the phone and actually spoke a few words of English. I was getting somewhere! 

When I was about to order a technician, my iphone went dead and sent me this message: ‘iphone needs to cool down before you can use it.’ I needed to cool down before I started all over again. Did Bezek call me back to finish the order? Still waiting.

Do not call Bezek when your cell phone charge is low. It takes so long to get Bezek service, I saw my phone drain from 53% to 1%. I was at the point where the woman on the line was verifying my address and giving me a service date. I warned her I was at 1%.  She had my cell number. Click. My phone died.  Did Bezek call me back to finish the order? Still waiting.

When the technician comes, get his name and number. Why, might you ask? Our first technician who came said the line was working fine and this was not a Bezek problem but a smart house problem. He left. Smart house guy said it was not his problem and the alarm guy said it was not his problem and that I need an additional Bezek phone line. In reality, the technician must have been dozing in my electrical cupboard - read on to see why.

Bezek loves to sell you new phone lines. Do not buy them! The woman on the phone said to me, “Come home to Bezek. We treat you right.” She actually said that (she was the one with whom I lost connection when my phone died). Guess she did not want me home so badly.

So the new Bezek guy comes to install the second line and asks where the first phone line is.  I shrug my shoulders. I see a number on a bill that I pay for monthly. I explain that it must be somewhere in the house, probably in the cupboard where the first guy went, the one who said the line was working.

“Which technician was here? What’s his name?” the technician drills me.

“Well you work for Bezek. Can’t you find out?”

He looks at me as if I’m crazy. “No.”

With all the high tech recording of phone calls and computers, you think one Bezek arm would know what the other arm is doing. Nope.

Don’t trust that the technician knows what he is doing. Turns out the original technician futzed around in an electrical cupboard where there was no phone line and then left saying all was ok. The second technician discovered that the real problem was a Bezek internet router that was upstairs. Could he fix it? No. I need an electrician for that!

Watch out – you may get a technician even if you don’t order one – and never at the times specified.

My broken phone line saga has been going on for over a month. Just last night I received a text message from Bezek saying a technician was coming today between 2pm and 4pm. This time I did not order a technician.  The message also said that if I was not home at the time of service, there would be a penalty. 

Begrudgingly  I was back on the phone with Bezek entering a nightmarish web of pressing 1s and 2s and 1 and 3s and then waiting for a live person. What happened to the good ole days of pressing 0 and getting an operator? 

The woman on the phone did not apologize but admitted it was a mistake. But one Bezek arm does not talk to the other. What was I thinking? And guess what?

My cell phone just rang. Guess who? The Bezek technician who I did not order is at my house right now (and I am 200 kms away) and he is mad that I’m not home. He is also there three hours early. It’s a mistake, I explain. I told him I notified the office but he insists that he should be there and that I ordered the service. 

Would you trust a  technician who looked like this?
Can’t wait for the next Bezek bill. The technician who said it was an electrical issue assured me he would cancel the new phone line and the installation charge.  Doubt that ever happened. Bezek will be charging me for one line that does not work and cannot be fixed and one new line that was never installed.

Bezek.  Ahi Tov BaBayit!

May we have a year of not sweating the small stuff, of laughing when life gets ridiculous and of knowing we can head to the beach, a cave or a forest when the going gets tough. If none of the above work, take up Russian.

Shana Tova from the starting up nation