Apples from Deutsche Telekom: the great bait-and-switch

The other day I saw an advertisement for apples.

The ad said for 35 euro I could get 16 apples every month, plus all the cheddar cheese I want to go with it as long as I eat the cheese in Germany.

Because they looked like good apples, and I was currently only getting around 6, I phoned up a friendly lady who asked for my phone number, clicked away at a computer, then said yes, you can indeed get 16 apples a month, and we’ll set it all up for you.

But three weeks later when the first delivery of apples arrived at my door, all I found were 3 apples.

So I phoned up the lady again and asked her why I didn’t get my 16 apples.

“I don’t know,” she says, “you’ll have to talk to our driver.  Maybe some of the apples fell off the truck”

So she puts me onto the driver who tells me that yes indeed, 3 apples is all I’ll get.  “It’s because the road to your place is too long and bumpy.  The apples fall off all the time.”

“Is it also because there’s sometimes a lot of traffic on the road?”

“No,” he said. “It’s because of the road.”

“But why didn’t the lady who sold me the 16 apples tell me that in the first place?” I asked.   “I can’t be the first person at the end of this road ever to have ordered the 16 apples a month.”

“Yes, but…”

“And the price is exactly the same!” I wailed.  “Had I known, I’d never have ordered the apples!”

“I can’t change the way it’s set up,” said the mechanic., ” but you can go to a shop near your place, and maybe they’ll be able to help you out.”

Still hungry for apple pie I went with my sorry tale to the shop, where another friendly lady behind the counter said, “Well, if you’d have come here first for your apples, we’d have told you right away that you could only have 3 apples where you live.”

“So now I’m stuck with a two-year contract for fewer than 20% of the apples I ordered every month?”

She shook her head sadly.  “Yes, it’s too bad.”

“But if you like, I can offer you 50 apples a month.” she says, perking up.   “They’re delivered over a glass-fibre superhighway direct to your door.  It’ll only cost you 10 euro more a month.”

“But I don’t want 50 apples,” I said. “I’ll probably choke on them.”

“Sorry, that’s all you can get.”

And that, dear readers, is how Deutsche Telekom sells its high-speed VDSL Internet service to those looking for a fast – but not too fast – connection.

I would have been happy with only 6 Mb per second, which is what I was getting with another provider before their service went tits up and they refused to help me because the router I use wasn’t a router that they sell.

But when Telekom offered 16 per second I went for it, because it also offers free telephone calls throughout Germany.

Sure, they said, you can have DSL, but what they didn’t tell me was that because our place is too far from the main switch, I can only get a maximum of 3MB per second.  Sure enough, buried way down in the statement they mailed me after I signed up was a line that says 3MB/second.  I failed to notice that.  They certainly didn’t draw attention to it.  The woman I ordered from over the phone was too busy trying to sell me add-ons I didn’t need to concentrate on what I really wanted: a fast ADSL connection.

So, having given in, I’ve ordered their VDSL 50MB deal.  Fast, I know – too fast for what I need, but what the hell.  I still get the cheese, and maybe I can look up great apple pie recipes a little quicker.

14 Responses to “Apples from Deutsche Telekom: the great bait-and-switch”

  1. March 30, 2011 at 6:53 am

    You get three apples? You’ve got it good, we only get one! But that’s all we were ever promised.

    We’re hoping for magic apples from the sky someday…

  2. 2 G
    March 30, 2011 at 8:31 am

    We gave our kundigung for no apples, but after they lost it,even though we have a copy showing it was received, we need to get apples for two more years for 4x as much as Alice’s apples. Because if we don’t want to go through with a law suit, that’s the way they have it.

    • March 30, 2011 at 9:34 am

      When it comes time to stop our apple delivery, I’ll send the notice double-registered so I have proof of my sending and their receipt of it.

      As for the new connection, it won’t be live for a full three months. Does it take them that long to flip a switch I wonder, or do they have to dig a whole new trench every time someone signs up?

  3. 4 Jul
    March 30, 2011 at 11:01 am

    This post makes me feel like throwing apples at someone.

  4. March 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I’m also on a three apples road and the 50 apples service doesn’t make it here yet (sigh). Once I work out where I’ll be living, I’ll have to change providers and will be much more careful about what I will actually get versus what the provider promises!

  5. March 30, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Well, at least you didn’t get saddled with pears.

    On the other hand, I followed the link to the apple pie and found another link to BookCrossing on their sidebar, so I’ll have a chance to find out if some of my books actually travel faster than the bits or bytes or whatever of the three apple connection.

  6. April 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I’m astonished! Doesn’t Germany have consumer protection laws? On second thought, being Deutsche Telekom, filing a complaint might be akin to shooting yourself in the foot. (Was it Alice that went tits up?)

  7. April 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Yes, Jennifer, Germany has consumer protection laws. Tons of them. But more consumer protection laws don’t necessarily mean more consumer protection. Just like more speed limits don’t always result in more limited speed.

    @Ian. We have had a similar experience with our German health insurer. There’s always a catch, a delay, a snag in the fine print. We dispatched the latest lot of medical bills to them by way of registered mail, just so there will be no funny business. Never go private!

    • April 9, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      There is a two-week grace period where you can cancel the contract without penalty, but of course all this came to light after four weeks!

      When it comes time to cancel this contract – and it will be cancelled in two years – I am going to make so sure it gets there, I’ll deliver it personally if need be.

  8. April 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Who said anything about more consumer protection laws? Most civilized countries have a one- to two-week period where one can wiggle out of a signed contract, albeit with penalties in some places.

    When we were looking to upgrade our apple basket, the first thing our phone company *told* us was that we wouldn’t be able to handle more than 4 apples tops in our area, even if our ISP was trying to sell us 10 apples at a go. Have I mentioned I love my phone company (like I have a choice)?

    Ian-it just occurred to me that a year ago today, we had lunch in the Schanze together. Hope to be able to return the hospitality sometime soon.

  9. 13 Tricia
    April 9, 2011 at 4:09 am

    You have to deal with Deutsche Telekom and I have to wrangle with AT&T shysters. I had NO telephone or internet for one month over the Christmas holidays. The extremely profitable-even-in-a-recession AT&T wouldn’t hire enough service repair technicions to keep up with demand. That’s cheap. Both of these companies seem to have the same customer-no-service policies.

    But wait, there’s more:

    The Scary stuff:

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