First Media Fastnet: How many times would you like to pay your March cable bill Ma’am?

While we’ve logged and blogged Telkom Speedy as slower than Fastnet here and even whined about Telkom customer service in general, it’s fair to add that over the many years we did the Speedy thing, Telkom rarely overcharged. Like anyone, they would raise the rates. But if you complained, you could even get a “waiver.” There was never any need to save the bank transfer carbon copy or the wispy ATM records. (In fact, every month you’d receive a proper bill printed on normal paper in color. Telkom Plasa customer service reps recently told me that was service was no longer available.)

It was always enough to simply pay the bill. If you failed to pay, they would shut down the Internet. Almost immediately after paying, they’d flip the switch. Telkom does the same with it’s fixed line customers and — in our experience — paying the Telkom bill is always relatively easy and hassle free.

First Media is pretty much the opposite. They’ll bill you just as many times as they possibly can — and apparently let you pay, too. For good measure, they’ll even send you bills for the folks who used to live at your address, even though they know those folks have gone. Unlike Telkom, most of the time you can’t really figure if you’ve paid your bill or not.

When in doubt, the customer is  always wrong and they’ll ask you over the phone to read out the details printed on the ATM receipt you (should have) received when you paid your Internet bill via the ATM (on time). In our experience over the first year of service it has been very much necessary to track and document our payments each month. But it’s not sufficient. We still receive a steady steam of E-mails saying “You haven’t paid your Internet bill; and if you have, please ignore this E-mail.” But that’s not an easy E-mail to ignore. No one wants to wake up to a broadband blackout.

Call customer service? OK, on the good side, you’ll be able to get through easily. On the bad, much of the time the rep will be not particularly polite and in fact a bit manipulative (forcing you to “prove” you’ve paid the bill before providing any encouraging words.

2 responses »

  1. You won’t get a blackout if First media hasn’t upgrade your area to their digital network. If you are watching cable tv without cable box then you are still on their analog network. The advantage of analog network is that they can’t control your system from their office. Say, you forgot to pay your bill. First Media technician has to physically come to your house and unplug the cable. It’ll take time to do this and in some instances this sort of thing is overlooked.
    Ever wonder why they launched a program a while back that if you pay your bill on time, your name would be entered into their system and you can win prizes?

  2. First Media customer service can’t be bothered to provide accurate information when asking for money. It’s like dealing with the Indonesian government. They simply demand that you pay.

    The interchange with my wife today was like this:

    Wife: So why did you cut off the Internet?

    1st Media: Well, because there’s a month you missed. Outstanding. Unpaid.

    Wife: And which month is that?

    1st Media: Month 3 (referring to the third month since the service had been connected)

    (Conversation continued after this note. NOTE: Of course wouldn’t it be frustrating if this really were true — that they decided to cut you off in August for an unpaid bill in March. What nonsense. The reason they cut us off — unbeknownst to them, was because of a new service added to our plan whose billing cycle was different from the original billing cycle. OK. At least there’s a reason. That’s not bullshit. But what does it take to discover that reason.)

    Wife: In fact, I have here the payment details concerning the payment I maid for Month 3. Would you like the date, time, ATM machine? Shall I fax them?

    1st Media: I’m sorry. It’s Month 4

    Wife: No it’s not. I’ve got all those details here, too. What are you talking about anyway?

    1st Media: Let me check. OK, it’s Month 1.

    Wife: No it’s not! I paid that month. What a joke. What are you going to say now, Month zero? What are you going to say now. Notice you’re the one who can’t tell me what I owe you for, but you’re asking for money. And I’m the one who has all the receipts here.

    1st Media: Eventually hangs up.

    And why have we learned to keep all receipts? Because they never miss an opportunity to cut you off or ask for an extra month’s payment without quite being able to tell you why or what month.

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