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