August Editorial

Eva Střížovská 7 2012 Slovo redakce English

“Bargain” offers.

I had already unlearned to shorten my phone calls using words like: yes, no, will do, I have it, I don’t have it, have a good day, thank you. Especially when I receive a call from abroad - to save the caller some money. While visiting the USA I learned that calling Europe from there was relatively inexpensive. My hosts would encourage me to call, saying: “It does not cost much, only about X cents per minute” Thus I saw that something was not quite right in the Czech Republic - it appeared that we might have the most expensive telephone service in all of Europe (while Europe is rather expensive as compared to the USA). A lot has been already written about this problem. And what had the Czech Telecommunication Office done about it? Nothing. We pay lots of money for calls, for fixed tariffs, and for other fees. And all of that does not seem enough to the firms who run the service. They still compete with each other and try to lure more customers.

About a year ago I received a call from T-Mobile - I have used their services for about five years and am considered a “good” customer, since I pay every month lots of money for their fixed tariff charges. I was told that I was eligible for a reward – either a certain number of free minutes or a new cell phone for one Czech crown. I decided to take the new cell phone because I have had my old Nokia for the last ten years and it was big and heavy. Soon a messenger arrived and brought me a brand new working Samsung.

And soon thereafter they called me again. They offered free minutes and a new cell phone. I objected: “I do not need it, I am satisfied with the one that I already have.” A very fast talking lady answered: ”But maybe you can give it to someone in your family - it only costs one crown.”So I said : ”O.K. but I am on vacation in my cottage and I won’t be in Prague until….” The woman assured me: ”That does not matter, we shall send an agent to you, no problem.” And the agent arrived promptly and I went to meet him at the edge of the woods. Of course - he was in a big hurry to get back to town. And so I quickly signed two more contracts (he brought me two more cell phones) on the hood of his car - as he had suggested. Of course I did not read the fine print - there were two pages of it and it would have taken me a long time to read it. Actually I was glad that he had left - I could go to pick mushrooms in the woods. But later I was shocked when my grandson arrived and said: ”You will now pay for three phones!”

In addition I missed the fourteen - day deadline for returning the cell phones - because I was on vacation. On the fifteenth day I tried to call the company and consult them. All in vain. The phone answered: “If you speak English, press two…, etc”.- you all know how it goes. I even had the phone number of the fast-talking woman who had gotten me into this trouble - but nobody answered it. I felt like calling her and saying: ”If you won’t cancel this whole order for me, I shall come to shoot you.” But the recording also said ”Your call will be monitored in order to improve our services to you.” This meant the call would be recorded and I could be prosecuted for threatening her life. It became clear to me that I had to contact a lawyer.

I was naïve to fall for their trick. However, I was poorly informed and I signed the contract under pressure because the agent was in a hurry. I decided not to give up - after all - I had been a “good” customer, right?

This is an example of how the various businesses try to make more and more money using any method, even fraud. I have learned to put down the phone when the caller is offering a “good deal”. It happens almost daily and it starts with: ”Do you have a few minutes?” In the past I used to chat with them, but now I just hang up. There is just too much of this greediness around.

Translated by Marie Dolanska

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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