It’s that time of year again. Building on past attempts to find the best Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Jordan, this year I’m faced with the same old decision: which operator to go with? Little has really happened on the development side in the ISP sector, with the exception perhaps of Kulacom and Mada entering the race, making wimax all the more competitive. Rates, fees and speeds have not really changed. Judging by comments left on this blog and the feedback I observe socially, customer service is still lagging behind like a cart dragging a dead horse to the finish line.
This past year, I made, what I now consider to be, one of these worst decisions of my entire life: I switched to Orange Jordan. Disastrous isn’t even the right word to describe this company. Thievery, customer dissatisfaction, are all much more descriptive. But suffice to say, I never once got the speed I was paying for, despite the high price tag I was willing to pay. Which goes to show that even when you’re willing to pay a high fee in return for some good service, you are unlikely to get it in Jordan – and you are definitely not going to find it at Orange.
I was so frustrated with the company that it even got me writing them an open letter, just to voice that frustration. While Orange never wrote me back, it was at least enough to get a lot of people voicing their own frustrations with Orange and ISP service in Jordan, on this blog and on their own. And at least when someone now Googles “Orange Jordan” my letter shows up in the top results, which might help dissuade future customers or encourage the management to change its ways (if I were I betting man, I’d place my money on the former and not the latter).
Suffice to say, Orange has been scratched off my list of possibilities. In fact, after I write this post, I have to go to Orange and wait in line for 30 minutes because my Internet at home is disconnected as, according to Orange, I haven’t paid my bills for three months. I have receipt vouchers that claim otherwise.
So what to do?
When it comes to wimax, my area is problematic. The building is “too high” and has “too much steel”, which equals low-to-no signal. In the past year I’ve welcomed Umax from Umniah, WiTribe and Zain in to my home, all in the hopes that one of these companies is up to the challenge. All failed miserably. Which was surprising, because even though the geography of my home isn’t great, the geography of my location, Dayr Ighbar, should be “prominent” enough for any of these giants to have resolved the issue by now. Alas. Umax has even been offering a phenomenal deal lately, with a 2mb connection for 126JDs I believe.
I will grant them this, the company I’ve heard the most about in terms of having decent service, is in fact WiTribe, and I’m considering inviting them to test out their device once again this year just to see if improvements have been made.
If not, then I guess I’m sticking to ADSL. And with that, there’s yet another list of ISPs out there all offering their services to choose from. Zain remains perhaps one of the most split down the middle companies, with customers I’ve heard from either loving their service or absolutely hating it – and just like other things wimax, their e-go doesn’t work for me.
So I’ll be doing my research for the next two to three weeks and will keep this updated with any of my findings.
But for now, to help me decide, I’d like to hear from the readers how their ISP experience has been this past year…
UPDATE #1: After coming back from March trip, I was surprised to find my Internet had been disconnected by Orange due to “unpaid bills”, as I am rather vigilant when it comes to paying my bills. Actually, let me amend that to say that the only reason I’m sure I’ve paid all my bills is because Orange has, for the past year, been unable to send a simple bill to my mail box despite my pleading every single month, and thus, the only way to ever know WHEN I have to pay a bill is when Orange disconnects me. And so, every month, I have to go to Orange and pay that bill and wait a few hours for the Internet to return. A hassle that could easily be solved if they just sent me the bill.
Anyways, I decided to pay them a visit on April 4th. The teller told me that 71JDs remained on my bill. This came as a surprise as it is way above my monthly payment, and the March bill was taken care of, and I have the reciept to prove it. The teller told me he didn’t know where the 71JDs came from and to go next door to the first building in order to print out an account statement with all my payments. Why this person doesn’t have the same access as those next door, or why he didn’t simply phone them to ask for a print out, is beyond me. I went next door to find few customers and the girl behind the counter was in the process of finishing up. She told me she wouldn’t serve me and for me to go next door. I told her that I just CAME from next door, and apparently I can’t get anything done before I get this account statement.
I waited until she was finished and then gave her my number. Keep in mind this is a 30 second job: enter my number, click on print, give me the paper. During these 30 seconds, someone else tried to enter, but she had locked the door, and her boyfriend who was waiting around for her told the man to go next door. This had the girl throwing out a statement, in the loudest tone, that I found incredibly rude and unprofessional and I won’t repeat it here. Obviously, the statement was aimed at me and I ignored it.
I took the print out next door to the same teller, who, I have to admit, was not the sharpest tool in the shed. The debate that ensued between him and I was filled with awkward stares. Really. The guy just said something utterly obvious like “you’re bill is 71JDs” and then stared at me with the blankest eyes, waiting for a reaction. He then took out a calculator and proceeded to calculate every single payment I have made for the same year, perhaps not understanding what the columns debit and credit meants (i.e. what I owed and what I paid). After 15 minutes of him calculating he finally got to January 2010, drew a line and said “la hon inta tamam” (you’re fine till now). Another blank stare. I stared back trying to send mental messages in the process. I think he just realized that after 15-20 minutes of calculating he had arrived at the same point he was in the beginning: the unexplainable 71JDs.
Finally, he sought help. Printing out the last several bills (as he was told to do), it turns out there was excess GB that I had requested every time I broke the download capacity. These were never reflected on the next month’s bill as one would expect, and so they piled up. Fine. But then I added them up and they totaled 36JDs. So what accounts for the remaining 34JDs? At this point, he kept talking in nonesense, where he simply said it was the “fatoora”, the bill. But I paid the bill of that month, just not the extra capacity, according to these papers. It’s the bill, he kept saying. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, I decided to just pay it and get the hell out. I am one of those people who truly believes you can’t buy time, and this was just an hour from hell that I didn’t want to endure more of. I paid, made sure there were no more payments left, got the receipt and went home.
The Internet came back a few hours later and remained on until mid afternoon the very next day. Then I got the same error page that said I had unpaid bills.
Called them up this morning. The technical support guy (who insisted I speak in English because I had chosen the English menu, not thinking that the teller would insist on English) told me it was a billing issue. I called billing. They said I had 71JDs left on my bill. This is the part where I implode. This is the part where I lose all hope on Jordan.
I explain the situation, giving her a summary of the events I’ve just described. Gave her the receipt number. She said she’d forward my complaint to the department and they would sort it out. She told me to call at the end of the day to see what happened. I asked why this couldn’t be resolved over the phone. I had the receipt that proved I paid it. I paid with a debit card, and I have proof that Orange Jordan actually TOOK money from my bank account (as I no longer have 71JDs) – and to top it off, the Internet was working yesterday – further proof that I did in fact pay my bill and that it was in fact processed. So what’s to check? At this point she did what all lovely customer service people do when a customer is trying to talk – they talk right over them and don’t stop until the customer shuts up. She’s not hearing me, and I’m not hearing her. And so I hang up and write this update.
May 5th is my last day with Orange Jordan and I am going to celebrate like it’s independence day. I was thinking of paying them the cost of the livebox and then taking it to a public place, gathering a bunch of people, and smashing it in to bits against the backdrop of some angry hip hop, a la Office Space. But someone told me that might be illegal. I’m going to check…
UPDATE #2 Yesterday, a woman called me from Mada who said after reading this post, Mada would like to see if they can solve my problem. I told her that WiMax is problematic for me because no WiMax company has been able to get a strong signal from my place. But, apparently, Mada wants to step up to the challenge and see what they can offer to fix the problem. She also mentioned that they’ve put up 70 new antennas every month since I last tried using WiMax (Zain’s e-go was way too weak just 9 months ago).
So they’re sending someone out today to do a test.
I’ll keep everyone updated on what happens, but regardless of the outcome, Mada scores some good points for actually seeing this post, acknowledging the ongoing discussion, and stepping up to the challenge. In business, it’s all about doing what the other guy isn’t willing to do. Mada saw this post and thought: “opportunity”. So I have to give them credit for that.
UPDATE #3 Mada sent over two technicians who did a test. Went from room to room to try and find the best coverage and did in fact. The only issue for me is that they can’t use their normal plug-and-play device on a Mac but they can simply set up a router for an ordinary wireless connection. This is fine with me, but Mada might be a bit too pricey.
Their one-year plan is 348JDs for a 2.4Mbps connection, but to make matters worse, the download cap is 10GB.
UPDATE #4 Orange calls me after pulling a billion strings to get some acknowledgment of my problem. The woman was friendly and spent 15 minutes speaking to me, while writing an email detailing my problem. Don’t know who she sent the email to, but all I know is my Internet is still not working. I gave her all the information, including the receipt number and the teller at the Orange Jordan 7th Circle branch who handled it.
An hour later, that very teller calls me up and says that there was a problem with the processing of my debit card. At first I thought I had no money in the account but then I remembered that I just took out money from the ATM today. He said they can’t find the slip that gets printed when you pay via credit or debit. Essentially – get this – he wants me to go to the bank, get them to print out my account statement showing whether the account was charged by Orange, and then go BACK to Orange 7th Circle and show them.
This will essentially by my entire morning tomorrow and I’m wondering how I can economically calculate the personal cost of me taking these few hours off in the prime of day, to fix THEIR mess, and still not have an Internet connection, which is my primary work tool.
UPDATE #5 Just had a visit from Kulacom. They tested out their CPE in my room and the signal was a bit weak, but a little bit better in the area by the door, as expected. Ironically, my current Orange connection (just three more weeks!) does more poorly than Kulacom’s weak signal. Their recommendation is to put up an antenna on the roof, free of charge, which will guarantee a strong signal. The tower I would connect to only has less than a dozen people on it right now, so things should be good, and these guys seem to know what they’re doing.
For the annual fee, they are a bit more expensive than Mada (only a little), but on the other hand, Kulacom has unlimited download, while with Mada, I am sure I will have to spend a great deal just buying those recharge cards for more capacity. The same goes for WiMax competitor Umax (10GB cap).
Anyways, I’m leaning a bit towards Kulacom at the moment, but I’d like to wait and see if they have any interesting offers coming out soon – as I’ve been told.