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I Hate MTS

October 21, 2010

There is a phone and Internet provider here in Ukraine called MTS. I hate them.

Yes, hate is a strong word. I do not often say I hate anything. However, in this case, I have good reason to do so.

When I first arrived in Kirovograd, I had a Life phone, and found out that most people here use MTS or Beeline – so it was a toss-up between the two, and I got an MTS phone. A little bit of background here – it is normal for people here to carry two cell phones, for different operators. What happens is, you buy a Sim card, put it in a phone, put some money on it and then you can use the phone to call people on your network (or text them) for free or a very low cost, but it costs much more to call out of the network. So I see a lot of people here with two phones (recently I saw someone with three phones). So I got an MTS phone, and other than an occasional frustration with receiving ads I did not want (which someone told me he disabled), things were working fine.

I was getting my Internet access through a Kyivstar modem, which someone had given to me (thus saving me 299 uah, which is a lot of money to someone on a really, really restricted budget). Until this month. Apparently my “package” had expired the day before I went in to pay for the next month of service, and I paid as usual, and as usual they said “wait a day and it will work.” As usual I went home and used it, because it always worked before. So it worked for about five minutes, then I could not get it to work again. The next day I went in and asked what was going on, and they said “You used up the money you put on it. Because your package expired, you were charged 1 uah per MB of information.” Um, say WHAT? That is ridiculous! I explained that because of the language barrier, I did not understand this, and it had always worked before. I asked if they could please help me rectify this, considering the fact that I did not know the guidelines/rules.  They said “too bad, you can spend another 130 uah and get access again. And if you don’t like it, you can write to Kyiv about it.Maybe they will give you a refund.” I asked what language I was supposed to write to Kyiv in, since I cannot write well in Russian or Ukrainian. They said “English.” Yeah, so it will get sent right into the circular file.  So I said the hell with that, I would go to another provider.

This was a matter of principle more than anything else, because by going to another provider (I chose MTS, since I already had a phone with them), I would have to buy the modem, but MTS advertised the first month of service for free, so it would not be that big of a bite in the long run for what I thought would be better service. So I bought my MTS modem, and…it did not work. I went back on Monday (as I purchased it on a Saturday) and they said “oh you run Windows 7? You need a special driver for that.” So they installed it, tested another modem, and it worked. So I waited for the service to begin. And waited. And returned and complained and waited. They said they had brought the issue forward with their “technical” department. They were very sorry, and completely understood how I felt, and oh by the way, I COULD use the modem, I just needed to put money on it, and it would cost 10 kopeks per megabyte, in addition to 5 uah per day to access the Internet. Only until my free package kicked in, and then it would be refunded.

I was not buying this. I was already waiting for a refund from the money I had put on my phone, which was supposed to enable a package that had also not kicked in, so my phone was using money like crazy. So you can see why I was not trusting their “you will get a refund” shtick.

Two weeks after buying the modem, I said the hell with this and told them I want a refund. They were like “we cannot give you one right now, and oh by the way, when we do, it will go into your bank account.” I told them no, I paid in CASH, and expected CASH back. And if I was not to get a refund that day, I wanted the modem to work. I told them they did not want to see me returning after my trip out of town, as it would be ugly – I was already angry about this. I felt like they were playing with me, trying to get me to give up on my rights and the service I deserved for the money I paid. I could not believe that it took so long and no resolution to the problem.

So I went back a few days ago, almost three weeks after buying the modem. They claimed it worked. It does not. Vika was with me, and told them I want a refund, and they said things I don’t understand (of course). Finally they said “well, where is your receipt?” I told them (and this is true), that they had taken it from me. “No,” they said, “the other receipt.” WHAT other receipt? Apparently I was supposed to receive another receipt, which I did not. So I had to go to the cashier, who said “Well, it will cost you 50 uah to get a duplicate copy.” A duplicate copy of WHAT? The receipt I never received??

So now I have paid 299 uah for a modem that does not work, and they won’t give cash back for it. I have to pay 50 uah for a duplicate copy of a receipt I never received. And oh, by the way, I started receiving ads on the phone again and when I tried to cancel one, it charged me 20 uah for that.  It has been an expensive month for me, as relates to technology. First 130 uah to Kyivstar for five minutes of Internet access. Then 299 uah to MTS for a modem and package that does not work. 45 uah for phone that I cannot really use either. I am told I will eventually get my money back – they say in two weeks. We’ll see.

Oh, and apparently in Ukraine there is some sort of Customer Rights law that says they have two weeks to resolve a problem, and if it is not resolved after then, a person can get a refund. They told me about this after I had been there just under the two week time. So I said, “Wait a minute. Because they law says that they HAVE two weeks to resolve a problem, they WAIT two weeks to resolve it??” How does that make sense?

So you see why I hate MTS. They don’t care about customer service. They don’t care if your phone or modem does not work, and will do everything they can to avoid having to help you. The people at the store are nice, but they are effectively powerless to do anything at all to help someone who is having problems. All they have the power to do is apologize. That’s not good enough, and I wonder how many people lie down and just accept this, rather than standing up and fighting. I mean, I had to do it through people who were helping me translate, but I still did it.

We’ll see how long the refund takes. In the mean time, I am still without Internet access at home.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Heidi permalink
    October 21, 2010 8:09 am

    I have noticed, even here in good old Denmark, customer service is NOT a priority, nor do most people even seem to have the slightest idea about it. Capitalism has some perks in the end…

  2. Mom permalink
    October 21, 2010 8:19 am

    Hmmmmmm. Could be an anti-American scam. Or, just plain ole unfriendliness to someone who can’t speak the language. Or, like many of our own companies, an unwillingness to do anything for you but collect your money. The power of the dollar (Euro/uah/etc.) is alive and well all over the world. Ain’t consumerism grand??
    Do you remember that we still had life before computers? And if a job required you to use one they would pay for it?
    If you have a pencil and paper and a candle that’s all you need–and an occasional stamp–to let us know you’re alive.
    (This all spoken on my own powerful internet connection, by the way.)
    I’d look for alternatives……

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