Katching-22, part 2

Quick update on our exasperating Italian broadband situation, 3 January 2012.

This is more for my benefit really, to keep a record.

So, we finally get a call and another appointment is made for the guy to deliver the router. No explanation for the no-show, no apology.

Thursday 22 December, the guy arrives, early no less. There’s me thinking, hope against hope, we might have internet for Christmas, so we could Skype family and friends freely.

Firstly the guy groans as there’s no power socket near the phone socket. Relax, geezer, we can just use an extension (in Italian, una prolunga – love that). So he plugs in the router and… zilch. He announces the phone line is not active, despite the visit from a Telecom Italia guy to activate it, what, back in late October.

He makes some phone calls to Fastweb. Even he – an employee of Fastweb – has to stay on hold for long periods. Finally he announces the phone line will be activated (again) within 72 hours. Three days, which would take us to Christmas day.

I don’t really believe anything will happen over Christmas, but hey, I’m hopeful maybe some extra lights will illuminate on the router afterwards, indicating an active line.


So Fran spends a frustrating day trying to call Fastweb from her mobile, with a UK SIM, with an Italian SIM, from my mobile. Nothing. Their number – 192 193 – just won’t work for us.

So Thursday 29 December we make the tediously predicatable schlep over to the nearest Fastweb shop, in the Prati, about a mile away from where we live. It’s a nice walk at least, and we can check out the huge – life-size – presepio (crib) in St Peter’s Square. It’s predicatably kitsch, but not really kitsch enough. One of the oxen has a manic glower. Maybe he could turn it on the telecoms company representatives/.

Things proceed as usual in the shop. The guy is cordial. He taps his keyboard for 5 minutes, tells us the line was activated in late October, or there must be another problem or something (my Italian is too shit, and Fran couldn’t quite follow either), then announces we’ll get a call within 48-72 hours to arrange for another guy to visit and do some tests.

We also ask if they have another number so we can contact them without a landline. He says no, and even acknowledges that many people have the same problem trying to call 192 193 from mobiles

We go home, with very little faith. It’s a Telecoms company. It’s Italy. It’s the Christmas holidays.

I don’t really believe anything will happen over Christmas, but hey, I’m hopeful maybe some extra lights will illuminate on the router afterwards, indicating an active line.


Meanwhile, Fran’s dongle, or chiavetta, craps out. Not for lack of data allowance, it just starts disconnecting randomly. With 6 gigs of paid-for data still on it. Gah.

Given that having two dongles just about made life without real internet bearable, this is annoying. So we go to the TIM telecoms shop. The guy tells Fran to try re-installing the software from her laptop (Mac). Which is patently bollocks, as Fran tried her dongle in my laptop (Windows), which has the comparable software installed, and it had the same problem, though my chiavetta (same model) is fine. As I predict, that solves zilch. Nada. Niente. Sweet effing FA.

Italians – or to be more specific Italian telecom company employees – really are masters of the art of fobbing you off.

Fran is back at work now, with a phone line where she can actually reach 192 193. However, that number doesn’t have an automated menu option for new customers-who-have-yet-to-be-connected, and the people on the other options (for mobile, for home phone etc) refuse to help her or give her another number, just saying someone will contact us within 48 to 72 hours.

The irony here is that surely someone, somewhere in that commercial company wants us to finish the process so they can start taking a direct debit, or whatever the convoluted, draconlian Italian banking equivalent is.

Oh, and another profound irony is that a friend who lives round the corner, and is an existing, paid-up Fastweb customer, had a helpful, smooth experience with them over the Christmas period. It’s beyond perverse.

[Insert cartoon of shooting self in head here]

Quick update, 5 hours later.

So, a colleague of Fran had a go at ringing Fastweb and was put through to someone in the technical support department. Fran’s Italian isn’t bad, but does it really take a native speaker to get you through to the right people at a call centre?

They got an entirely new story this time. Why the guy in the shop couldn’t have told us this I don’t know.

“Telecom Italia are sitting on the change over of the line. They have to switch over the line at their central exchange. They are not doing it fast enough, there is a backlog and the technical guy suspects that the Christmas holidays haven’t helped. FastWeb are already paying for those lines, are losing money, and are very keen to get their customers to reiumburse them as soon as possible  so are leaning on them very heavily every day to get this sorted out. Once Telecom Italia does the switch over – which it seems is very simple – then FastWeb can automatically turn on our line and it will be working. Telecom Italia have promised them to resolve it by Monday.”

Telecom Italia have promised… Hm. Yes. Ok. We shall see.


Filed under Rome

2 responses to “Katching-22, part 2

  1. Beyond perverse indeed. I feel your pain; just sorry I cannot help directly, although you are welcome to come over and steal wifi.

  2. Sue Kavanagh

    No wonder everyone waves their arms in the air and bumps into you in the street. Displacement frustration with trying to get online.

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