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Spanish Secrets: Not Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

…In Galicia, the twenty-first century and the era of telecommunication are things that are happening elsewhere. It might come as a surprise to learn that we have friends living locally who have been waiting years for a telephone line, and others who have been forced to compromise by installing, a near-Neolithic radio-phone…

Craig Briggs tells of his battle to get a telephone line installed.

When it came to time-keeping, Angel the stonemason turned out to be less than reliable. Within two days of starting the new boundary wall he was nowhere to be seen. If the truth be known, it didn’t really bother us.

We had abandoned any thoughts of having the house ready for next year’s letting season. None of the builders could begin the restoration work before next spring. By the time the house was finished, the summer-letting season would have long since gone.

With this in mind, we decided to try and slow everything down. Angel’s failure to turn up for work was a blessing in disguise. The less time our meagre savings were tied up in the house without earning anything, the better.

I decided that this would be a good time to tackle the problem of trying to obtain a telephone connection to the house. We didn’t really need one, particularly considering the derelict state of the property but here in the Spanish countryside this task has a habit of taking much longer than one might reasonably expect.

In Galicia, the twenty-first century and the era of telecommunication are things that are happening elsewhere. It might come as a surprise to learn that we have friends living locally who have been waiting years for a telephone line, and others who have been forced to compromise by installing, a near-Neolithic radio-phone.

I began my challenge by phoning Telefonica, Spain’s only telecommunications supplier. The “client adviser” informed me that the village had seventeen incoming lines, all of which were currently connected. There were no plans to add any new lines and therefore I could not have a telephone. The young lady was very polite and precise, so polite as to be arrogant. Multi-national corporations seem to have cornered the market on institutionalised arrogance.

The gauntlet had been cast and I gladly accepted the challenge.

The first thrust of my attack was to write to the chief executive officer (CEO). A lengthy search through the internet found his name and contact details. It also unearthed a 387-page company report highlighting everything great-and-good about one of the world’s leading companies. I suspected that hidden in some obscure section of its text would be all the ammunition I needed to fell this corporate giant. Tirelessly I scoured each and every page until, under a section titled “Customer Service”, two sentences caught my eye.

I composed my letter, rewriting this snippet of marketing spin word-for-word. Within six days of posting my correspondence, the “client adviser” rang back. Humbly, she informed me that they had pulled a rabbit out of the hat and magically managed to find a spare line into the village.

“The technician will ring you tomorrow to arrange the connection,” she added sheepishly.

As promised the technician rang and the following day the telephone post was erected and the line connected.

Unfortunately not every cloud has a silver lining. As soon as the line was connected we had to start paying the line rental. Just when we wanted to slow down our out-goings, we were stuck with a bi-monthly bill which, if we failed to keep up the payments, would result in instant disconnection.

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craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2007 Craig Briggs

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