Confirmed: ETECSA Rips Off its Customers

Kabir Vega Castellanos

Illustration by Yasser Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES – On the evening of October 23rd, after a month and a half of waiting, news finally came from ETECSA (Cuba’s state-owned telecommunications company) about my stolen credit in September.

“From ARLIET: 1- ETECSA Alamar, complaint made by Kabir Mustelier. Movements in August and September were checked and credit from transfers were not missing.

“From ARLIET: 2- ETECSA Almar, top-ups were received and used in connections made at internet rooms.”

In other words, the investigation states that I am a liar and that I am wasting my time by making baseless complaints for my own amusement. The response made me extremely angry but it didn’t surprise me. It’s clear from my last article, in which I reported this situation, that I wasn’t expecting anything different to happen.

Experience teaches you to only expect the possible. As well as universal knowledge which says that if you fall down, you are at gravity’s mercy, and Cubans know exactly how much they are worth to the State as a social being. They know that they are worth nothing and that not even institutions, companies or any other state-controlled body will ever support them when they file a complaint for poor service or because they have been a victim of theft or fraud.

However, this doesn’t only happen to Cubans living on the island, but to people abroad who also use Cubacel services.

My maternal grandfather, a US citizen who lives in New York, regularly top-ups my aunt’s cellphone credit. One time though, my aunt only received 6 out of the 10 top-ups he made, each of which were 20 CUC (=USD). When my grandfather complained to Cubacel, they told him, without thinking twice, that: “Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.” That’s to say, the missing 80 USD should be considered the result of a voluntary bet in a game of chance.

Once again, the Cuban State has proved that it doesn’t give its citizens any rights. It’s the word of the almighty power against the word of a poor individual.

Where will these frequent “disappeared” top-ups end up? In the personal accounts of employees who process these top-ups?

ETECSA didn’t give me any information about the investigation, nor about the records they consulted. I just don’t trust that they did their work perfectly and I won’t accept that I committed perjury. I’m also supposed to accept that my grandfather had a bad day at the gambling table, that it isn’t their responsibility if their services mysteriously divert credit purchased by honest citizens, both here and abroad.

Kabir Vega

I am a young man whose development in life has not been what many might consider normal or appropriate, but I don’t regret it. Although I am very reserved, I dissent strongly from many things. I believe that society, and not only of Cuba, is wrong and needs to change. I love animals sometimes even more than myself since they lack evil. I am also a fan of the world of Otaku. I started in Havana Times because it allowed me to tell some experiences and perhaps encourage some change in my country. I may be naive in my arguments, but I am true to my principles.

5 thoughts on “Confirmed: ETECSA Rips Off its Customers

  • Perhaps someone can explain this to me since I’m new to the whole top up scene. I used Rebtel recently I did a prepayment of $80CUC for $30CUC. I did this three times for a total of $90. My relatives should have received 240 minutes. He did not receive nowhere near that much. As a matter of fact he only received $90. When I emailed Rebtel, they told me that he had to use the promo balance of $50 by November 17th and then he would default to his $30 credit balance. Does this make sense?? We’ve already used the promo balance and we’re nowhere near the 17th, so all we can do is wait until the 17th and check the balance. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. For now we just video chat via IMO.

  • It would be great if complaining customers post here what web sites were used for those failed top-ups. My experience with Rebel has been good so far though.

  • Ditto here, sent 2 promotional recharges of 60 USD X 2, ahead of my arrivingcto Holguin, to my cubacel phone I keep down there. I arrived and found out that I RECVD $20 usd recharge to my phone. Complaining did absolutely nothing to resolve the situation. They used the fact the time I was suppose to be credited was recharged and used. However I had the Sim card with me in Canada??? Thieves right to your face. What can u do?

  • Your experiences mirror my own. I have had to resort to minimal recharges of 20$ on different days and even that is a shake of the dice. What good are promotions if the staff are stealing recharges that get bonus time etc…. I’ve complained but am sure I am talking and complaining to the very people complicit in the thievery there is no resolve but to accept it or simply stop recharging from abroad or on the island unless its with recharge cards

  • The same rip-off has happened to me many times. More recently, it seems to have happened more frequently. As a result I don’t “top-off” my loved ones accounts anymore. I simply send the money directly to them and they put in on their accounts personally. I obviously can’t take advantage of the 2 for 1 promotions but at least I get what I am willing to pay for. It’s sad but simply another example of the internal blockade Cuba imposes on itself.

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