Teed off with the Telephone Company

Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES, April 14 — Yesterday, after showing up to put money in my cellphone line at one of the offices of ETECSA (Cuba’s phone company), I read a notice posted on the door. Two things caught my attention, or — better said — two things pissed me off.

The first was the lack of courtesy in the memo, the dry and incisive style in which the message was drafted, almost commanding, and with such obvious contempt for the customer.

Instead of being written by a wordsmith of public relations, it was more like one of those unreasonable and fretful harangues that butchers pitch to people here when they are selling them their pound of chicken.

The second thing that irked me was that the content was so confusing. This feature was further reinforced by the complicated nature of the measures announced, which instead of giving guidance and being helpful, made it seem more like a hoax than a company notice.

The subject matter had to do with guarantees and post-sale services for cell phones – or something like that, because I really didn’t understand it very well. They were announcing the charge of 5 CUCs (about $6 USD) for unlocking or software repair, alerting us that if in the future they couldn’t repair or unblock the phone, the amount charged wouldn’t be returned.

Please, keep in mind that we’re talking about Cuba – where 5 CUCs (or 125 pesos) is about half of the minimum monthly wage.

For other types of repairs they were going to ask for 2 CUCs in advance, and 3 CUCs more if they are able to repair the phone, and of course they were going to add to all this the cost of any part(s) that might need replacement.

As I read down, they announced that “unlocking service is free of charge,” though up above they said it would cost 5 CUCs, while further below they said “for all phones, 5 CUCs must be paid for labor costs.”

Why do we always run into this confusion and arbitrariness in doing business and trying to make a living?

To people who write these and other complacent announcements: FOR YOUR INFORMATION the times of slavery are over. Customers, even in a socialist society, have to be treated well.

Even if your company doesn’t have any competition, people are going to leave angry. And then, in this society that you yourself have helped trash, your life and those of your family members are going to become increasingly difficult.



One thought on “Teed off with the Telephone Company

  • It is obvious that many things that in a socialist country should be a public service are really means to generate revenue via Etecsa or Cubacel. Therefore the many services on the Internet that allow charging Cuban mobile phones or line activation from outside Cuba. I have used the Etecsa office in Obispo myself and compared to the Internet it is a tedious and time-consuming way of doing things. On the other hand on the Internet where presumably the potential for genrating revenue is greater, those unfriendly companies suddenly discover the idea of customer service.

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