From Yerushalayim With Love

Location: Israel

Friday, June 20, 2008

Well, Bezeq?

I'm still waiting for a reply - ANY reply - from Bezeq.
I've phoned, sent faxes, sent emails, and even caused enough of a ruckus at the Jerusalem office for them to have called the police. But Bezeq doesn't respond.
The only time one of their representatives kept their word about getting back to me was the day the police were called. I'd called as soon as the 199 line was open at eight in the morning to beg them to stop my phone from ringing every three hours, day and night. The operator at 199 seemed sympathetic and helpful. She offered to have the calls alerting me to the existence of a text message blocked. And when I asked her for a way to contact English speaking help directly (instead of pressing random buttons in the Hebrew, Russian or Arabic menus), she said she'd call back at one o'clock.
She did call back around one o'clock - just as the police were arriving after the fracas at the Bezeq office. She gave me the complicated number - which included my home phone number - to reach an English-speaking operator.
When I got home, the phone still rang every three hours. I called and spoke to another 199 operator who also supposedly blocked the calls. Eventually, the next day, a technician solved the problem by erasing the text message. (Another solution would have entailed my finding the manual that came with the phone a few years ago and laboring through the Hebrew instructions.) I didn't worry about losing the text message, because everyone I know phones me and either reaches me or leaves voice messages or sends SMS messages on my cellphone.
When I dialled the number I'd been given to reach an English speaker, a man answered in Hebrew. He passed the phone to another man who asked me what I wanted.
"I want to complain."
"About what?"
"About Bezeq."
(Pause) "You're talking to the Fire Department."
I suppose I could've transcribed or dialled the number incorrectly. After all, I hadn't been able to get much sleep, having been phoned every three hours. As it happens, I have had trouble sleeping: seems I have sleep apnea - according to the informal translation of a letter I received from the sleep clinic in Jerusalem. Poor me. Sleep apnea AND phones ringing every three hours. Is it any wonder I act out? In America the phone company would've been more responsive. Here it takes three calls to the phone company just to stop being disturbed. Heaven knows what it takes to get a billing problem taken care of.
I feel as though I'm repeating myself and no one is listening....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jerusalem, the center of the world

I suppose these pictures are something of a scoop. I expect the tile mural will be unveiled next week at the municipal center in Jerusalem as part of the celebrations of Israel's 60th anniversary.

Last week, while a couple of workers finished the installation, a few better-dressed gentlemen stood and watched. They were probably some municipal officials and the artist.

The image is pretty well-known. From 1585, it depicts Jerusalem as the center of the world.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Bezeq

Before I went to bed last night I unplugged two of my phones and left the celebrated DAEWOO CROFONE 400 as far away from my bed as possible, covering it with a T-shirt to muffle it. I heard it ring only at 4:53 AM....
On schedule, it rang three hours later. Shortly after eight o'clock I called 199 and eventually was connected to a technician who, after a minute's silence, said he'd erased the message. He began to say, "If it happens again -" but the phone cut out. Yes, the phone that caused all the billing trouble with Bezeq cuts off unpredictably.
I must remind my buddy to fax my complaint from his office. Also today I intend to go to the police station to drop off a note commending the officer who was called to my scene at Bezeq yesterday. I went to the Russian Compound police station around six in the evening to drop off the note, but they wouldn't let me leave it. I have to go there before four in the afternoon. I do hope that Bruno (to whose attention the commending message is addressed) can read my English scrawl. My printer evidently decided to join the communication conspiracy against me. Indeed, last night I took my laptop to my friend's home so we could print my fax complaint.
Perhaps this crisis will turn out to have a silver lining: for two consecutive days I've posted something!
One of the disconcerting consequences with my run-in with the law yesterday was that I missed attending a wedding. I guess I could have gone after the police business - Israeli weddings traditionally start hours after they're scheduled - but I was simply in no mood for joy.


I lost it today at the Bezeq office. I can offer the excuse that Bezeq called me at almost two in the morning and again a few hours later, so, being more sleep-deprived than usual I was pretty irritable when I arrived.
I'd gone to the phone company's Jerusalem office again today because, when I've tried to solve my billing problem on the phone by dialling 199, they've routinely told me to go to the office; when I've gone to the office they've told me to phone 199. Oh, and one 199 operator told me to send a fax, which I did, but when I'd heard nothing after more than two weeks, I figured it was time for another trip to the office.
This morning, having explained to the clerk that 199 sent me to the office and that I'd like to speak to someone who could fix my problem, she suggested I send a fax....
I lost it. They called the police.
I am not allowed back in that office. I'll be arrested if I go there, the police officer said.
So, apart from this new legal - perhaps criminal - problem, I have two items I want fixed: I want the automated phone calls to stop and I want to be refunded for a phone I never bought but for which I've been billed and have paid approximately 640 shekels so far.
The automated phone calls originate from 036809900. The first cooperative 199 operator I spoke to today explained that I'd been sent an SMS message and that the phone rang periodically to notify me that I had a message waiting. I questioned the timing of the calls. She said that such SMS reminder calls were not made between midnight and seven in the morning, so there must be some mistake, that the machine must have believed my phone was busy, otherwise the calls wouldn't have gone through.
I figured that any SMS calls were advertisements anyway, so when she offered to block the calls I agreed. I was relieved for several hours - until the phone rang again. Again I called 199 and a different operator blocked my calls - yeah, right!

These calls are a recent problem. The original problem stemmed from my accepting the offer of a free phone (DAEWOO 400) a couple of years ago. It was a free gift for signing up for high speed internet. A free gift for which - according to my May 2008 bill - I've made 16 payments
of 39.83 NIS, so far...

The police officer was interesting. Firm, but respectful. He did not try to bully me; in fact, as part of what I guess is his routine of making the offender recognize the error of his ways, he suggested that I obtain contact information for the upper management of Bezeq to solve my billing problem...

Later, when I went to the post office to send a fax, the post office clerk explained that I couldn't send a fax to Bezeq's complaint department because the Israeli post office does not send faxes to numbers beginning with 1-800. I chose not to send the fax to a different number because only the 1-800 number is guaranteed to elicit a response. So I've asked a friend to send my fax from his workplace tomorrow.

I'm very tired now. At the suggestion of a couple of friends, I've unplugged my phones in order to get some sleep. So now, not only am I being made to pay for a phone I never purchased, I am also paying for phone service that I am not using (because the phones are unplugged).

I've sent a couple of complaints to Bezeq on their website. Let's see what happens next.