The Government Helps the Little Guy (Me)


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I’ve been given the run-around for several months by the internet service provider (ISP) Netvision.

In Israel, you pay two fees for ADSL: one fee to the national phone company Bezeq or cable network service for the ADSL infrastructure, and a second fee to the ISP.

It started when I tried to upgrade my ADSL service from 2MB to 4MB. The representative at Netvision told me I could combine my payment to Bezeq with my payment to Netvision. He offered me a total that was less than what I was paying. It sounded too good to be true. It was.

I admit I didn’t pay much attention to the lack difference in the service. And because I assumed it hadn’t gone through with the first bill and the holidays intervened, I didn’t realize right away that Bezeq was continuing to charge for infrastructure along with my regular phone bill. But Netvision had increased its charge to the amount agreed upon for both services, ADSL infrastructure and ISP.

When I called Netvision, three months after the requested upgrade, the representative told me that the deal with Bezeq only applied to new internet customers. When she got Bezeq on the line to negotiate a new rate, it turned out that in my area, Bezeq only offers 2.5MB speed. I’m not sure why, as I live in an urban area and ads for 8MB are all over the place. The representative promised to call back and renegotiate a fee for both Netvision and Bezeq for 2.5 MB (0.5 more than I originally had). I said I would think about it.

In the meantime I mentioned on Twitter how a Netvision representative offered a deal that didn’t and couldn’t exist, and the company continued to take my money until (and after) I called attention to it. Within a few hours, a honey-voiced woman named Ilana called me at home. She worked for Netvision’s public relations department, had seen my tweets, and wanted to help resolve the problem. According to her records, someone had tried to let me know my service hadn’t been upgraded. She said it to mitigate the situation but actually made it worse.  Netvision had noticed, but continued to charge me anyway. They could have canceled charges even without notifying me. After all they weren’t providing the service.

Ilana called a couple more times to offer me a deal on the 2.5MB, and negotiated with Bezeq on my behalf for a “low” price for the upgrade. In the end I got lower prices by shopping around for an ISP and contacting Bezeq myself.

I then made several lengthy phone calls to Netvision to try to cancel my service and get a refund for the non-existent upgrade. They put me on hold for lengthy periods, gave me new departments to call along with referral numbers, and asked to hear my story again and again. A different Ilana called, who claimed to be calling on behalf of the first Ilana. She was a sympathetic English speaker and as appalled as I was, but in the end insisted that only the original Ilana could cancel my service. After a day or two that Ilana called once more and promised to refund the money and cancel my service. She said I hadn’t got a refund yet because it was too late to put it on the previous (monthly) bill. But Netvision sent yet another bill (which is paid directly from my bank account), this time for the original fee from before the supposed upgrade. And still no refund.

And Ilana stopped responding to tweets about Netvision. No point in being social-media savvy if you’re not going to resolve the issue.

One person faxed the communication ministry to solve a similar problem. It took a month, but yesterday I received a letter from Dooly Dadon along with a copy of Netvision’s response to my complaint. Netvision agreed with my version of events and said it would cancel my service and refund the extra fees. My email address has indeed been cancelled.

Dooly is in charge of public service of the Israeli government’s department for supervision and enforcement in the communication sector. Judging from the response to my issues on Twitter, this is a busy department. Netvision is not the only company to grab and hold on to your money in any way it can. One person wrote that it took her husband five months to cancel internet service, and they never received a refund.

I have not seen my refund yet but I do believe it will arrive soon. (UPDATE: I did get the refund.)

Here is the address for complaints to the department for oversight and enforcement of the communication sector, of the Ministry of Communications:

Ahad Haam 9, Tel Aviv 61290

Phone: 03-5198214

Fax 03-5198106

Related:

Israel Television Bureaucracy

Totalitarian Television Tax

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Comments

  1. Hanna. I happen to be a Janglo moderator (very proud, 23.000+ subscribers), We get this kind of stories almost weekly, and I am forced, despite my pleas, to reject the messages, to keep the community “parve”. Your tale is even mild. I have SEVERAL acquaintance who saw 2000+ shekels vanish from their account. Netvision invariably gets away with it. Nothing very serious happened to me so far, b”

  2. Abe, so I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a refund?

  3. This is an excellent post.I wish I had had this information earlier.

    I have had the same problems with both TV-Hot and ISP-Internet Zahav.

    Hot refused to acknowledge I had disconnected and eventually Yes’ legal department dealt with them and refunded my money.

    Internet Zahav were worse. Their phones were never manned and they refused to reply to the messages I left. When I sent an email I received an automatic response but nothing more.
    3 months after changing ISP they were still charging so I got Visa to cancel. Internet Zahav then threatened to sue!
    They refused to believe I’d sent emails even though they acknowledged that they never read emails and said I had to visit their offices personally to cancel.
    Eventually they dropped the suit when I faxed them copies of the automatic email acknowledgement and threatened to sue them.
    They never refunded the three months extra I had paid.

  4. Hannah,
    Kol Hakavod that you had the perseverance to continue! And congratulations for getting closure AND satisfactory resolution of the problem, in the end. Thanks for posting the contact info for others to use.

    However, I must say, that your story is exactly the reason why I haven’t had the heart to battle Cellcom (a similar untrue promise that I’m being charged too much for) – until now. Thanks for the courage shot.

    Lastly, your story is a sad, sad example of the typical business dealings among ISP providers here. The only exception: someone once listed to your tweets.

    Sigh.
    @askdebra

  5. Good for you that you pursued this. And I promise I wasn’t either of these Ilanas, not even the English speaking one.

  6. Shuey Fogel says:

    Hannah,

    Glad to hear that (contrary to what I thought earlier) the story did have a happy ending (of sorts).

    You have inspired to my sit down and make sure the upgrade I got from Bezeq Beinleumi is exactly that, and there are no “surprises” on my bank statement.

    Something similar happened to me when we signed up for a free month of cable tv from HOT. We could cancel within that first month and didn’t have to sign a year contract. We called to cancel before the end of the month only to be charged for the first month. Apparently, the first month was only free if you signed up for the entire year. They said it was clearly written in the fine print. I argued and we both agreed on a smaller fine. Maybe I should have stuck it to them like you did. Lessons for the future.

    Thanks for sharing and Shabbat Shalom.

    Shuey
    @nonprofitbanker

    • Hi Shuey, There are laws to protect the consumer from misleading advertising. Netvision was losing nothing by stalling me, as they didn’t even have to pay a fine. They just hoped I would get tired of fighting and if I didn’t, no great loss to them.

  7. this reminds me of a similar battle we had with the 015 phone company – they charged us a ridiculous sum, and only gave it back after 6 hours on the phone, and the threat of siccing my mother in law on them (she’s a scary lady).

    by the way the links to the two tv tax posts don’t seem to work. Shabbat Shalom!

  8. Cases like that do come to the small claims court. My husband saw one last week (he is a lawyer).

  9. A few years back I attempted to cancel Netvision as well and was given the run around. Nice to see they’re still playing the same game. What finally convinced them to cancel was when I said I had to go back to Chutz La’Aretz and didn’t know when I was coming back. Sure enought, though, they called me 6 months later to see if I was back. Needless to say I didn’t sign up with them. Have been with Internet Zahav (now 012 Smile) since.

  10. Mordechai Y. Scher says:

    How utterly sad and disgusting. And this is a common way of doing business in Israel.

    Years ago I had a similar problem with a company supplying supplementary medical insurance. Even though we had cancelled, they continued to withdraw money from our account. Phone calls got us nowhere. There was no email back then.

    I sent them a final letter, cc’d to Judy Seigel who was Consumer Affairs reporter at the Jerusalem Post. That finally got their attention, and all was resolved and refunded in about a month’s time. I had to use the identical tactic once with a furniture company, too; with a threat to go to small claims court.

    It is very sad the simple notions of Jewish honesty and truthtelling don’t drive our businesses. But bad publicity and a threatened hit to their pocketbook certainly seems to.

  11. I have to add internet rimon to the problem list- took us 6 months to finally get our account canceled- we had used them for 3 days before finding out they lied outright about what sites we could access- I could not log into my own business site (no outside advertising!). Anyhow, all said and told we were out quite a bit of money.

  12. someone just told me a story tonight of a similar overcharge of 2000 NIS. I didnt understand exactly how it happened, but it was a combination of Netvision and HOT that caused the messup/ He is still trying to work it out

  13. Same story here with Netvision. Was having trouble with 012 so went with a 6 months cheap trial from netvision. Called to cancel after trial was up and got the ring around for days. Finally I completely lost it and started yelling at the rep. After she kept asking but WHY do you want to cancel and after responding numerous times bec your service is horrible and I don’t need to give you a reason I finally lost and said because my grandmother passed away (she had passed away a few years earlier). I know – not good choice of words on my part, but here’s the kicker. The woman then went into a rant about how dare I say such a thing, etc…I was so shell shocked I just hung up.

    One thing I suggest if possible is to use a US credit card. It is much easier to dispute/cancel charges then with horat keva or Israeli CC

  14. Count us among the Netvision-burned.

    We were told we could only cancel via fax. Faxes sent, call for confirmation, they say they never received the fax. When they finally said they received the fax they told us they needed to fax us confirmation in return. Yeah, that took a number of calls.

    It took about 4 months of back and forth and yelling go finally have it canceled.

    We now have BezeqInt (Bezeq Benleuimi). For some reason they recently decided to arbitrarily turn on some sort of filter… which never worked. Instead of it blocking poker and porn and ‘alcohol’ sites, it would randomly block Facebook, LiveJournal, Imamother, etc.

    Needless to say we called them and complained and they took it off. Frankly even if it were working fine, we still would have complained since we never ordered it and don’t want it.

  15. Devo, my friend says the Bezeqint filter blocks this site too! I’ve had that fax issue with several organizations/companies.

  16. I can tell you that Rimon does not block this site!

    and if there is a site that you think it mistakenly blocks, you can ask them to change

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  1. […] the cell-phone companies follow strict rules about contracts. I’ve already posted about my experience with Netvision (an internet […]

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