Belgacom and Telenet are the biggest players in the belgian telecom market. Belgacom is the largest telecommunication company in Belgium, while Telenet is the largest provider of cable broadband services here. Both of them offer cable tv, internet, fixed and mobile telephony and other services.
My experience with the Internet providers in Belgium started at the beginning of May 2011. I had subscribed for Internet Intense+Belgacom TV Comfort+Proximus Mobile Comfort. Somebody from Belgacom called me and we agreed that a technician would come on the 5th of May to do the installation.
I must mention that I had chose Belgacom TV because they had at least 14 HD Channels + the Discovery Pack (all in HD) in thier list .. and Internet Intense because I wanted the highest speed possible (30 Mbps). Fun fact: 3 years later, their Maxi subscription still has up to 30 Mbps speed. Not fun, in fact.
When the technician installed the devices for Internet and TV, I noticed that there was no HD channel. He replied that he’s sorry, but the infrastructure doesn’t allow HD television at my address. That moment, I decided that I don’t want the Discovery Pack anymore, since it wasn’t in HD.
I also noticed that the internet speed was quite low and I’ve ran some tests. Everyday, the result was the same: 3 Mbps (maybe 3.1 sometimes). I asked the Belgacom sales person that had contacted me if he can do something about that and his suggestion was that I should try testing with the cable instead of wireless. :)
I’ve waited for a while, and then I called the helpdesk again regarding the Internet speed, which was only 10% of what I was paying for. They had said the connection looked okay and that I should wait for a while.
In october, I’ve noticed that when I use the Belgacom TV device (for example recording something on it’s own harddisk), the internet speed was worse, even NOT USABLE. I called the help desk again. They finally mentioned that in my area, the infrastructure only allows speeds up to 6 Mbps (Internet+TV included, ofcourse).
So, for 6 months, I’ve been paying the most expensive internet subscription, when in fact, Belgacom couldn’t even provide the cheapest one. And they knew about it! Nobody said anything for 6 months! I would have chosen a different provider…
Therefore, I went to a Belgacom shop and explained the problem. The person that helped me advised me to change the internet subscription to Internet Comfort (2 levels lower, 20 euro less). Two complaints were filed on my account, one regarding the speed and one regarding the bills. I thought that Belgacom should refund a part of my previous bills, since they didn’t respect their part of the deal. The same opinion was shared by the employee that helped me in the shop. Thus, in the complaints I mentioned that I request that part of the money I paid for the Internet every month, since I didn’t receive THAT service.
A month later, the complaint still wasn’t solved. However, the new bill for november came. Suprise! It was even greater than before! Belgacom charged ME for changing to a cheaper Internet subscription, even though it was their own fault – lack of service – and even though nobody told me about this cost. Also, even more frustrating, they removed my Package discount (~20 eur). Still, after the change, I had a package containing Internet Comfort+TV Comfort+Mobile Comfort 10+Mobile Internet. So the monthly bill would be even greater than before. I must also mention that even the speed offered in Internet Comfort is far greater (in theory) than what they’ve provided me.
This has put an end to my patience and I asked Belgacom (through the phone line in the shop) on the 28th of November to explain the change. The lady on the phone (she belonged to the Billing department) said that there was an error and that, indeed, I’ve lost my Package discount. I asked her to cancel the contract and I’ve informed her that I will not pay this bill because my complaints haven’t been solved yet. After consulting her manager, she mentioned that this was possible and that I don’t have to pay anything anymore. She also apologized and mentioned that this is Belgacom’s fault, and as a proof of decency they would offer me and extra month free of charge.
The next day, I have been informed by SMS that my contract will end on the 28th of December (a month later) and that I’ll have to hand over, at the end, the devices I use.
On the 13th of December, my old complaint received a solution – Belgacom said that they cannot pay for what I’ve asked, but they’ll cover the cost of switching to a different internet subscription.. Like that would be my fault, not theirs. This was an insignificant amount (less than 25 EUR). This was their reply:
“According to the measurements we took, your connection appears to be functioning properly.
With regard to your Internet speed, we would like to point out that this is dependent on many factors, such as the distance between your connection point and the exchange, the computer equipment used, the indoor cabling, and the technology available.”
That is entirely false, since both guys from the service desk and the shop told me that it’s THEIR infrastructure causing the problem. They know about it, they are just trying to trick customers.
Furthermore, on the same day, 13/12, my connection was gone (internet and TV). I’m hadn’t been using the phone anymore, because I had my number transferred to a different operator already. I even had a new contract for internet, with Telenet, but it was supposed to start after Christmas, based on the date that Belgacom itself told me (28/12). So, I got disconnected 2 weeks before the end date. I called the helpdesk again! They said it happened because my contract ended on the 13/12. I was surprised to hear that and they did some research. Apparently it was some human error (it always is) – the employee that was in charge of my account has set a wrong termination date – 13 instead of 28. How can this be possible, I don’t know. What I know is that they haven’t kept (AGAIN) their part of the agreement.
I think Belgacom’s attitude regarding this matter was really unacceptable and deceiving, since they tried in several times to hide their network problems. They could have told me from the start I won’t have the speed I`m paying for. It’s like paying for a full fare for a cab when you’re in a hurry, but having to walk for the most of the distance because the cab ran out of fuel.
I even filed a complaint at the Internet Ombudsman. I haven’t received any reply and years have passed…
Another aspect that really annoyed me was the Helpdesk waiting time. In my numerous calls, I once waited 40 mins in the phone. Then someone picked up, I asked if he spoke English (i could also speak enough Dutch to describe the problem), he quickly answered that he’d transferred me to an English speaker. 30 mins later nobody picked up the phone. I hang up… That’s how you wait 70 minutes on the phone without getting to talk to someone :)
So, I become a Telenet Internet customer. I’m not saying it’s all fun and games, but their Helpdesk is at least answering in the first few minutes. I called them several times and they’ve always been able to solve the issue.
The speed is the one that they advertised. It has actually increased in the past 2 years. Also, the traffic included has doubled. I have now a cheaper subscription than I had at Belgacom, but the contract speed is more than two times faster. The actual one is probably 20 times faster :)
There was also an incident with Telenet. They’ve had some infrastructure issues in my neighbourhood. The connection was down for one day. I called them, they’ve sent an intervetion team that first checked the connection inside my house, then their switches (or whatever they have) outside the house. I noticed in the next invoice that they’ve charged me for the intervention, even though the problem was outside, in their infrastructure. I was really pissed off about this and I called Telenet. They’ve replied that the issue would be solved. And it was. My bill was cancelled.
I’m not writing this because of hateful feelings. It’s not like that. I just think new customers should know what they’re paying for. If you want decent internet, never choose Belgacom. I don’t know other providers, but Telenet is a decent choice.
As for mobile telephony, I think Proximus (Belgacom) delivers the best quality and largest coverage in Belgium. But they’re also the most expensive (or used to be, 3 years ago).
Ironically, my mobile internet speed was sometimes higher than my home connection, when I had a Belgacom subscription. And I think that says enough… Oh. No. There’s more and it’s funny: Belgacom employees have a huge discount on their internet and mobile subscription. They usually pay around 5€ per month. Basically, almost free. However, I know Belgacom employees (even managers) that prefer Telenet for Internet :)
Internet and telephony services are not at the highest quality in Belgium, but still they’re much more expensive than many other countries. Take Romania, for example :)
Also, the helpdesk employees seem to be really incompetent. Especially those of Belgacom. Sometimes, I wonder if incompetence was mentioned in the job requirements. Otherwise, I can’t explain all the mess they do. In a normal company, they would get fired.
You might need translations, but it’s worth it :)
Few months ago, I bought a voucher for a photo book from groupon.be . It costed about €27 at it was supposed to get me a discount for €81 from the total value of a photo book I would order from atelierdulivre.fr .
After spending hours, literally, with a crappy software, to fill the photo book, when I tried to order I was surprised to find out that the discounted value was €51 instead of €81. Crap!
I’ve called groupon, selected “Dutch” language. I did it because my Dutch has become better than my French (or my French worse that my Dutch) and also because there is usually a chance that a Dutch speaker will know English too. After wasting almost 10 minutes of my time with questions about who I was and what I wanted, the help-desk worker told me that he can’t help me because the deal is with a French company and that I have to call the French speaking help-desk of Groupon Belgium. A bit stupid, if you have to ask… In my opinion, it’s totally irrelevant where the deal comes from. You’re Groupon Belgium, I paid you, you answer, French or Dutch, whatever.
Anyway, few more calls (in which I had to go through the same slow procedure) and the help-desk people finally told me their solution: I have to contact atelierdulivre.fr . A bit annoying, since I think groupon should have done it. After all, it’s the code received from groupon that’s not working properly.
After all, I had to contact the French company that operates atelierdulivre.fr, explain the issue and wait for feedback. In the end, it was solved and I got my correct discount.
But no. That’s not why I will never buy anything again from Groupon. No, sir.
I was silly enough to trust them once more, after the incident described above. This time I ordered a pair of sunglasses. Aviator-style. Quite a bargain. 2 weeks later (yeah, what’s with these delivery times?!) I got them. In a paper envelope. I would have expected a box. I opened it and I’ve found a transparent plastic box. If you can call it a box. More like another envelope. I took them out, and guess what?
One of those little plastic/rubber pieces that get between your nose and the glasses’ frame… was missing. Yup. So I ask groupon to send me a replacement. They replied that they don’t do replacements and that the only thing they could help with was assisting me in returning them and getting a return. I said Ok. Let’s do that. They’ve sent me a return label, that would cover the return costs, for Kiala. I took the “package” to Kiala, sent it and waited for my refund. Two weeks later, no refund. I’ve contacted groupon again, they said that they can’t help, since they haven’t received the tracking number from me! Weird thing, I’ve done returns for amazon too, with the same kind of return label. I never had to tell them the tracking code, but I could follow the package being delivered to amazon. Apparently, with groupon it doesn’t work like that :)
So, I gave them the code. They replied that they can’t track it, cause there seemed to be a problem with https://www.kiala.be/benl/tnt . They said that “As soon as the package is received and positively confirmed, the reimbursement will automatically take place. In this case I kindly request your patience”.
My patience lasted almost 3 months. The facts described above happened in November and December. I still haven’t received my refund. :)
Helpdesk people involved: Malikah, Ghislaine El Y and Juanita. Thank you guys. You’ve been helpful; not!
It’s been almost 3 years since I left Bucharest (and Romania). The reasons were many but that’s a different story. I’m gonna write now about my latest visit there.
It happened few weeks ago. I spent a whole weekend. I’ve been in Romania several times in the past three years, but I didn’t spend time in Bucharest (except for the waiting time in the airport). This time, it happened that I had some spare time.
While I was heading downtown, for a Saturday afternoon out, I got to notice different things that are new or not for Bucharest.
First, the weather. While I was living in Romania, I never thought of Romanian weather as Good Weather. I do now. Compared to Belgium’s, it’s adorable :) . At least in September: more sunny days, less rain, less gray. I miss that.
On my way on foot to Pacii metro station, I could see all kind of cracks and potholes in the sidewalk. It’s just … unpleasant for the eye and the shoes.
Seconds later, I saw a beggar/homeless guy digging in the trash bins for don’t-know-what. I haven’t seen that for a long time.
Girls! Good looking girls! Hello, Romania! :) You don’t get to see that in Belgium and Holland especially (ok, maybe you do, in the Red Light Districts :) ). I`m not saying the Romanian girls are the most beautiful in the world, but for a tourist coming from Belgium, they can be a pretty nice sight.
Ok, back to Bucharest. I finally got to the metro station which has 2 entrances. I took the closer one, went down the stairs (many, like in any metro station), then to the counter where they were selling tickets and subscriptions. “We’re sorry, but if you want to buy a ticket from the counter, then you’ll have to go to the other end of the station. There’s a counter there. Or you could you the vending machine here”. That’s what they told me. I didn’t really want to go to the other end of the station (I’d have to go to the surface again, all those stairs, and then come back down). So I went to the vending machine. Which I didn’t give back change. That sucks, cause I only had 10 and 50 LEI notes in my wallet. I didn’t want to waste 5 extra LEI on a 10 trip ticket that costed 15 LEI. Vending machines that don’t give back the change. Who thought of that?! Why is the metro company (Metrorex) buying those crappy machines? How useless… So I went back to the surface and then back down at the other end of the station. And that’s how I got my story for the blog.
Down in the metro, everything looks clean and nice. Trans are really good looking and the stations too. I guess I like that more than in Brussels or Antwerp. Not to mention Budapest’s or Barcelona’s metro networks. They’re worse.
Then you see the people. Sad, happy (not so many), worried or not, many of them are poorly dressed. Maybe because the people with low income use it more, I don’t know for sure. In fact, that’s how you recognize east-europeans in Western Europe easily. By their way of dressing. Flemish people have better taste at this. Or some of them :)
Taking the metro was something unusual for me too. I’ve only travelled by metro less than 10 times in the past 8 years. Car was the weapon of choice for me in Bucharest. Maybe that’s why the metro network got me all positively surprised.
The metro took me to University Square. I haven’t been there for more than 3 years, probably. It looks different. Better. The underground passage is renewed, the square in front of BCR is completely new, there’s even an useful parking under it. Finally something that has changed, and it has done it in a positive way.
Then, there’s the Historical Centre (Old Town, call it how you like it). It’s quite different than I remembered it. Many buildings have been renovated and turned into bars and restaurants. The colour density is impressing. The crowd roaming, at any time of the day, was surprising for me, after living for 3 years in towns where nothing happens. Smaller Dutch and Flemish towns looks deserted sometimes, even during the weekend. However, the old town has bad parts too. Many of the buildings right next to the new ones are in danger of collapsing. They’re a disgraceful sight and they damage the image of the neighbourhood. Roughly 50% of the buildings are like that. The other 50% were turned into restaurants, bars, clubs. I wonder if people actually live in that area. And why.
And there’s also THE MALLS. My favourite is AFI Palace Cotroceni. So big, so fancy, so open ‘till late in the evening, so alive. You can do your shopping at 10PM. How cool is that, Belgium? :)
This being said, Bucharest is …different, from a western tourist’s point of view. It can be surprisingly full of life (shopping centres, city centre, and basically every open air location on a sunny day), it can be surprisingly cheap (cab fares, public transportation in general, pubs and restaurants, food in supermarkets, acommodation), it can be disgusting (poor areas, almost collapsing buildings, bad traffic, crazy drivers, deceiving cab drivers), it can be beautiful (tourist attractions such as Muzeul Taranului Roman, city centre, but let’s not forget the romanian girls). I would recommend a visit for 2-3 days. Not more. If you plan spending a week in Romania, then reserve a day only for Bucharest – you`ll find more interesting places outside, in the province. :)
This documentary shows the effects using cyanide for gold mining.
The question is: IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?
Do we really want to destroy the environment for a handful of gold?
The jobs? They’re only temporary! Not to mention that the employees will develop severe diseases..
People keep saying that there are no jobs in Rosia Montana. So? Since when is that the only village with a high rate of unemployment?
The profit? It will go almost entirely to the exploiting company and some corrupt politicians, as it always was. Romania won’t benefit from this. This is a typical colony scenario. They come, they take the resources, they leave.
What they leave behind, nobody from RMGC cares. Contaminated water, cancer and other diseases, destroyed lives, destroyed mountains.
“Adrian (Cristea) is like one of the newest phones on the market whose PIN code is not known. To be honest, from the discussion I had with him, I couldn’t figure out if the PIN code is made of digits or letters.”
Mihai “MM” Stoica, FC Steaua Bucharest’s manager
This is what MM declared after Steaua’s newest transfer move: an relatively old, out of form but talented player, on a position already covered in the team.
Nu-i telefonul meu. Probabil n-ar fi la fel de amuzant daca ar fi fost al meu.
Hafid din Dubai a furat un telefon in Ibiza. Din fericire (sau nefericire, pentru el), n-a dezactivat functia de upload a smartphoneului (catre DropBox), asa ca toate pozele facute cu el ajung la fostul posesor.
P.S. Pare un moment bun sa incep sa folosesc DropBox.
Not my phone, but damn funny. Though, I wouldn’t enjoy it that much if it was mine.
Hafid from Dubai stole a smartphone in Ibiza. Luckily (for us, not for him), he forgot (or didn’t know how) to disable the upload to DropBox function. Therefore, every pic he took has been uploaded to the previous owner’s PC & DropBox.
P.S. Seems like a good moment to start using DropBox.
A great number of FREE Kindle books can be found here:
All of that, legally.
Hear ye, hear ye! Android users all over the world, here is a piece of good news for you. The Amazon App Store is now available in 170 countries. Even in Belgium!
Now some of you wonder why would they care about the Amazon AppStore when there’s Google Play. First of all, Amazon gives one paid app for free, every day. Few days ago, the had Cut the Rope, for example. And also, a little competition won’t hurt.
All you need to do is
1. Allow your Android device installations from the Amazon AppStore. To do that, go to Settings->Application/Security and enable “Unknown Sources“.
2. Install the Amazon AppStore App.. From your device, open http://www.amazon.com/getappstore . Or scan the QR code below.
3. When the download is complete, open the APK file and install it.