Costa Rica Living – Every once and a while I just need to vent a daily frustration. I know I live in paradise but sometimes a daily frustration just makes my mind spin on how some companies in Costa Rica are able to function. I know there is a limited intelligent human resource pool to pull from in this country but if they are looking to train yes men and women that are like sheep then they are doing a heck of a job.
About 2 weeks ago after the power went up and down in my house over a couple of days……a somewhat common occurrence in Costa Rica, I noticed that while on calls using both my VOIP phone line and Skype calls were dropping left and right. I chalked it up bad internet service which again is normal in Costa Rica. But the problem continued over the next week.
I told a friend of mine about the problem I was having and he said that it could be the Wifi router I was using and that he would give me a new one to try that he had extra. I immediately started using the new router and the problem seemed remedied. This was Saturday night so I am sure I was one of only a few people doing work that night so Internet traffic was low.
However, the next day the problem returned. While recording the weekly radio show the Skype call dropped 3 or 4 times while using the new Wifi router. I then hardwired my computer to the modem. If it was the router this would fix it. After only 10 seconds on the radio show recording the call was dropped again.
The problem was that packets were being dropped and it was either that I needed a new modem or that the cable running to my house was damaged. Either way I needed to try a new modem first to see if that was causing my Internet problems.
I hate calling customer support in Costa Rica as it ends up being a complete waste of time and energy so I thought I would circumvent this nuisance by going to the office in Jaco and speaking to an actual person to explain my problem.
I think I decided to make my errand running day on the hottest day of summer at the beach, Checking the temperature it was 89 degrees but felt like 107. After picking up a couple of packages at Aerocasillas I went by the Cable Tica office at about 12:30. I expected it to be closed as it was lunch time but the sign on the door said “We will be back at 2:30”. I can normally kill 30 minutes to an hour but killing 2 hours is not all that easy.
Fortunately, a friend of mine’s property management office was nearby and air conditioned. This would be my waiting room for the next couple of hours. After checking my email 30 times, mastering a game on my iPhone, and having a 45 minute meeting with my friend it was time to return to the Cable Tica office.
I stupidly thought that 2:30 meant 2:30 and showed up at 2:23. The employee at the office returned within the 15 minute grace period that people are given to be late in Costa Rica (if they arrive during these 15 minutes they are not late), unlocked the door and walked into the office. I tried to follow but she said “casi”, meaning we are almost open.
A short 10 minutes later sweating outside in the heat, she opened the door. My wait was over and my Internet problems will be solved. Not so much……..
I explained that I needed a new modem and that I needed a technician to come and check the signal because I was dropping packets. The answer was one that most of us living in Costa Rica have received……that is not my job, here is the number of customer service. I tried desperately to have her arrange a technician to come to my home……..the answer was no, there would be no thinking outside the box nor proactive client support.
Frustrated I left the office and immediately called the dreaded customer support. While I speak Spanish fairly well I like trying to explain technical problem in English so that I can get my point across. It is one of the few times I feel the need to speak my native tongue.
I wonder how people that do not speak Spanish get to the English menu on the customer support lines in Costa Rica. “Para ingles marque dos” – if you do not know Spanish how would you know to push 2 for English?
Anyway after a few minutes of being on hold I reached the first customer service agent who was supposed to speak English. He had the English level of a 3rd grader. I then went through explaining my problem in Spanish after which he said please hold and hung up on me. YAY!!!!
Another call to customer support and another 5 minutes on hold and I started speaking with a female agent that had great English ability. I explained the problem that intermittently the modem would lose signal and drop. I told her that I would like technician to come to the house and that in order to kill 2 birds with one stone he should bring an extra modem to replace the one I had. The reason I requested this I knew that if the technician did come out and did test the modem and found a problem he would not have brought the required replacement. This would mean another 48 hour minimum delay before getting a new modem during which time he would probably take my current one leaving me with no Internet.
Asking for this was like asking for a million dollars when it comes to this customer service agent.
“No we do not do that. The first step is I check the modem from here and see if there is a problem. If there is a problem then I will send a technician.” said the agent.
“But the Internet works 80% of the time so there is a chance that it will be working when you try it.” I replied.
After a few minutes of being on hold the agent returned to tell me what I already knew. There was nothing wrong with the Internet during the 3 seconds that she tested it and that she could not send out a technician. What she could do is walk me through turning off and turning back on the modem….because I had not tried that already. (sarcasm)
“Can you please send someone out to my house to check the signal for more than 3 seconds?” I begged.
“No…let me tell you how to reset your modem.”
I hung up as I was not in my house nor did I want to hear her anymore.
I returned home that evening and spoke to a friend of mine on Skype during which the call dropped about 6 times in a matter of 20 minutes. I asked him what can I do to get someone at my house. The answer although ridiculous I knew was true. When I called customer service I needed to unplug the modem and tell them that the lights were on but that there was no Internet.
This is Costa Rica, it is just one of the games you have to learn to play to adjust to life in the country. I still love it here but sometimes I need to vent.