Friday, November 20, 2009

Just One of Those Ridiculous Little Technology Things

Just One of Those Ridiculous Little Technology Things

Oh the internet. I love it. It is my communication with the outside world as well as much of my communication here in Colombia and with my school. When the internet stops working, it’s a bit frustrating.

The way things work here, at least for me, is that I do not have a cell phone or an internet plan. I just pay whatever amount I want to recharge them whenever I want. With the phone, whatever I pay gets used per call and text. With the internet it depends on how long you want to recharge it for the per diem rate. The most economical is to recharge it for a month. This is not cheap, but a much better deal than charging it for any time less than a month. It is 82.000 pesos, which is about $45 USD for 30 days. Not cheap at all.

Wednesday, my time with the internet was up, so I trudged up to SAO, the grocery store with the magic cashiers, and recharged my internet for 82.000 pesos. For some reason I just had a feeling that when I left, that something wasn’t going to work out. I went home and sure enough, no internet. I tried again throughout the night with no success. The next morning I tried again and nothing. It was time to head to SAO again.

Yoyi was with me and when we asked the Comcel representative there she said that I’d receive a text message from Comcel saying that I needed to send a text to who knows where and put in a code. What? I understood your Spanish, but that makes no sense! I had one hour to do this from the time I received the text. Did anyone tell me this? Nooooo. Did I have to do this the other months? Noooo. So, she then called up someone who said I had a saldo of 0 pesos (no money in my account) because I didn’t respond to the text. Did I receive the text? Noooo. Why? Because my phone is not my internet modem and in fact, it’s a different carrier. In other words, I had lost $45 because I didn’t respond to the text in the whole hour-long window given.

The thing about this is it’s like some crazy kind of secret message and code – one may say a mystery to be solved by a clever sleuth. There is no paper work on any of this. The representative wrote on a tiny piece of paper a cryptic number code and what to do. She then told us that since I’d lost my money that we should go downtown to the Comcel office and maybe they’d be able to fix it.

We took a cab and waited our turn when the downtown representative came to wait on us. I knew right away, by the way she looked at Yoyi and me, that she wasn’t going to help us. She left and came back 10 minutes later saying there was nothing she could do. I thought this was a bunch of BS, and in fact, I let them know in English that I felt that way. I also stated a bit more vehemently that were thieves who had robbed me, this time in Spanish.

I thought this was totally insane and I told Yoyi how ridiculous I thought it was. He agreed and then said, “It’s Colombia baby.”

Because I’m stubborn, I suggested to Yoyi that, “We should talk to a manager before we leave because this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of and I’m sure someone can get in the system and change it. It’s new as of this month, I can’t possibly be the only person this has happened to.”

We went and talked to the manager and she immediately said she’d change it and that I’d be receiving a text within 24 hours. How could they not change it? Isn’t that the right thing to do? I certainly can’t be the only person in Colombia with a different internet and phone carrier.

The thing is my internet modem chip is now in my phone so I can receive the arcane text message. My phone does work, but no one has the number except Yoyi. So if anyone wants to contact me via phone or internet, they can’t. I am home from school because I had my wisdom tooth pulled, so I feel very out of touch.

By the time I post this I’ll let you know how long it took, and if I got my $45 internet back. We left Comcel at 11 am Thursday. Right now it’s 6 pm Friday. No message yet. I’m posting this from my local Zona WAO (read:WIFI) at Centro Commercial Miramar. Despite several phone calls to Comcel today, and revisiting the representative at SAO, I’m not feeling very confident that I’ll get my internet or money. This is one of those things that if it happened in the US, there would be lawsuits out the wazoo. Once again, it seems like it’s time for me to practice patience. I’ve done what I can do, so now I’ll just sit here and wait. As a reminder of this, when I start to get angry, the hole in my mouth where my tooth was starts to hurt. Patience, patience, patience. Yes, patience and maybe it’s time to switch from Comcel to Tigo.

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