Cuba’s Etecsa Co.: The Joy Didn’t Last Long

Miguel Arias Sanchez

At Etecsa kiosc.

HAVANA TIMES – There is a popular saying that goes: good things don’t last very long in a poor person’s home.

Etecsa has confirmed that this is 100% true. A few months ago, Cuba’s only telecommunications company promoted a tempting offer for its customers: “The Friend Plan”. The Cuban people welcomed this offer with great joy.

This plan let customers buy a 4.20 CUC (=USD) package which, after being activated, allowed you to choose 3 people or “friends” and you could call them for free for a month. After that time, you could reactivate it for another 30 days and so on. You could even take one of your friends off the deal and include someone else for only 0.20 CUC.

It was a really good plan and people took advantage of it to make their calls to relatives that live in Cuba, but further away, cheaper because it was an unlimited deal and didn’t cost very much.  So, it was good for people with lower financial means, i.e. the working class who live off their public-sector wages.

Like always happens here, someone sitting in an office who has credit on their phone 24/7 did I don’t know what math calculations and didn’t like the fact that people were happy, so he decided to get rid of it immediately. However, it was the way that this was done that really ticks the people off.

According to conversations with friends, it was announced that this deal would no longer exist on Canal Habana TV, but I don’t watch that channel and many other Cubans don’t either. If Etecsa is sending messages all the time about its latest deals and other things, why couldn’t they do the same thing and send a message to explain or inform every customer? Many people found out on the rumor mill.  

So, customers like myself, who don’t know what the word is on the street all the time, discovered this when our calls were cut. I still had 23 days left and other people I know had more.

OK, the plan didn’t work out for the company, either it wasn’t profitable or they didn’t want to carry on with it. But, why didn’t they respect the days people had left, if they had already activated the service and paid for it in advance?

Why weren’t customers given an explanation beforehand? But Etecsa knows that we all have to remain their customers because there isn’t another telecommunications company in Cuba. This is why it acts like customers don’t deserve to be respected, and as a result, there is no need to explain what was done with the money that was spent on their plan and wasn’t used.

If Etecsa really does serve the people, as they say, then the most logical thing for them to do was to send an SMS out saying: this plan won’t be reactivated and your plan will expire when the days you have left end. Was that so difficult? Or is it just another lie that we are their raison d’etre?

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Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias Sánchez: I was born in Regla in 1949. That’s where I went to elementary and high school. Afterwards I took courses to be a teacher and did that for several years. I did my military service and as soon as I got out I studied formally to be a teacher graduating at the University of Havana. I taught in classrooms for nearly 20 years. I had the opportunity to travel and see another reality. I returned and am currently doing different self-employed activities.

Miguel Arias has 54 posts and counting. See all posts by Miguel Arias

10 thoughts on “Cuba’s Etecsa Co.: The Joy Didn’t Last Long

  • I think you got it right Fchow when speaking of ETECSA’s view of its customers. But remember, that ETECSA is 73% owned by a communist regime that regards its people as a “mass proletariat”. As for the Canadian companies, I think I am right in saying that you choose your own. Cubans have no choice!

  • Well Bob, unless quoted on the stock exchange how does one know about the actual ownership of any company? Cuba is as you no doubt know, a controlled society with a dearth of sources of information, for information is the enemy of communism which keeps its people in ignorance wherever possible. How does anyone know how Fidel Castro funded the development of Cayo Piedra and Aquarama II, and where does “Tony” Castro get the funds for his playboy life?
    Incidentally, I met a fellow on a flight who had played golf with said “Tony” at Varadero, so he doesn’t spend all his time yachting on the French Riviera or the Greek Islands.

  • It seems like ETECSA is no different from any Canadian cell phone company, namely arrogant and uncaring of the customer. I’ve dealt with Rogers and I’m sure they have a certain contempt for their subscribers, perhaps bordering on seeing them as some kind of vermin. I do not exaggerate.

  • Carlyle: while I have read the story RAFIN SA and that being Raul and Fidel on the internet for years, I still am trying to determine if there is any validity or if that is urban legend. I have still seen no evidence of any kind other than the story being repeated.

  • Actually, that 27% was owned by an Italian company which sold it in 2011 for $706 million. The Cuban government owns the rest of Etecsa. Perhaps that was a typo? God bless America, speaking of Capitalism… So were you criticising capitalism or ‘the Castro family’?

  • Hi Bob! A company was formed to make the purchase from the Italians who owned 27% of the shares of ETECSA. The company was named RAFIN SA after the principals Raul (RA) and Fidel (FI) Castro. Have you ever seen any denial by the Castros?
    One of the noticeable factors about ETECSA is that it purchases almost exclusively Peugeot vans and cars. Not much wonder that Raul had a love-in with the former French socialist President at the Elysee in January 2016. It is odd, because the regime purchases Chinese Geelys for almost all other purposes (on credit).

  • No I don’t this is why I shared it with a friend of mine who lives in Cuba, plus the accusations in that particular article was to me unbelievable and desturbing.
    Honestly it’s difficult to believe such things like that happens anywhere in the world but because of the fact Beastality is actually practice this particular accusations has to categories as something else but the bigger question is who and why was it written.

  • Really. I didn’t know about. Well, whatever is said about them could be true. There isn’t transparency at all in that system. And they don’t care.
    Still, etecsa’s services are faraway of thinking about the customers.
    Down with all of them. Disgusting. Disgrace of a beautiful country.

  • Carlyle: I have heard this story for years and always wondered if there was any substance to it or if it was no more than another urban legend. Do you have any evidence of its validity?

  • Remember that the Castro family paid $76 million US for their 27% share in ETECSA and expect as practicing personal capitalists, a return upon their money!

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