Costa Rica Living – In order to mentally survive in Costa Rica you have to throw most of what you have grown accustomed with in everyday life in a developed nation out the door. You will get the gringos and Costa Ricans alike saying “if you not like it go home”, but what is humorous is you will hear the same complaints coming from the native Costa Ricans as well as the expats.
Do not get me wrong, I love living in Costa Rica. I would not trade my board shorts and flip flop work attire in for more money while working in a suit and tie. I have learned the most important things in life are not the material things and how important family is, be it blood related are those that have become your family during your journey through life. But some situations I go through within these borders still leave me in disbelief and just make me think. “Did that just happen?”
- Expect that which you have planned to happen, to either not happen or not happen on time.
- Expect people to cancel on you last minute or just not show up.
- Expect things not to make sense and not be like the home (laugh it off)
- Expect poor customer service.
Go into situations expecting the worse and be pleasantly surprised if it turns out that you were wrong. I know that expecting the negative is not a good way to go through life but it is honestly one of the only way to not die of frustration in Costa Rica.
My last experience I had to write about because it pushed me to the limit of not being able to laugh it off.
In Jaco/Hermosa the most popular Internet and cable TV provider is Cable Tica. There are other options but most are more expensive. I had signed a contract with Cable Tica about a year ago and was paying close to $130 a month for cable and 10MBs Internet service. Although it has its moments when it has gone down during the storms of rainy season it has been quite reliable.
About a month ago, I decided that I need to add another modem to be dedicated for the radio studio. To avoid the frustration of dealing with Costa Rica phone customer service, I decided to take a trip to the office in Jaco to get this task accomplished.
While there I was elated to find out that their prices had decreased. It would have been nice to receive an email or notice but I will take responsibility for not paying more attention to the Cable Tica website for the changes. The prices had been basically cut in half. When you find out you are going to be get a 50% cut in your overhead for something required for business it is always a good day.
Of course finding out the new rates the obvious question had to be asked, “Can I change my contract for the internet I already have to the new rate, or would it be better to cancel it and start a new contract?”
The woman stated the rates would be changed but would not apply until the next month. After leaving the office within a week the new Internet service was installed and working perfectly………
Being that I pay my bills online I paid my monthly Internet and cable bill knowing that it would be at the old rate for this month. But to my surprise when I returned the next month to pay my bill for the previous contract it remained at the same higher rate.
Of course this would require another trip to the Cable Tica office. I arrived to discuss the problem with the same woman with whom I had previously spoken.
Me – “You had told me that my rate would decrease this month, why didn’t it?”
Cable Tica Rep – “They do the changes in groups and the first group is San Jose, then at some point they will get to other areas like Jaco.”
Me – (Not understanding why it could not be done automatically in the system) – “Would it be easier for me to cancel my service and do a new contract?”
Cable Tica Rep – (Seeing that I was not going to accept her answer and leave without getting the new rate) – “We will change it in the system so it will apply to your account.”
I sat patiently as they changed the rate in the system. After which they confirmed that is would be at the new rate.
Me – (knowing I would not be getting the answer I desired), “Does this mean I have to pay the double rates for the current billing cycle?”
Cable Tica Rep – “That bill is already in the system. There is nothing we can do about it.”
I knew that if they called the head Cable Tica office or if the manager in the office logged into the system that it could be changed most likely, but was it worth arguing……probably not. They had reduced my rate (supposedly, I will know next month) and I needed to be satisfied with this result.
The key in Costa Rica is not comparing the situations to the “way it would be handled in the USA”. It won’t be and probably never will be on most occasions. If you want things to change you will end up leaving the country. It is why many leave not making it through even 1 year in Costa Rica. Adapt and adjust your lifestyle or you will be miserable.
Also another piece of advice, when needing to run errands bring your headphones and plug yourself into some good music or an audiobook. It will keep you sane.