Cancelling Alice contract due to lack of service

11 posts in this topic

Hello TTGs,

 

I tried searching from an answer to my problem in previous posts but could not find one. I have the following problem and need some advice on how to act and what my rights are:

 

I moved to a new residence in March 2011, moved within the same city (Dusseldorf). My internet/phone provider is Alice, I have the Alice Fun package with a minimum contract time of 24 months which will expire in Sep 2012.

 

I have requested to Alice in 4 separate occasions dating back to March 10th (1st request) to move my phone/internet service to the new address. Each time I received a nice letter from Alice acknowledging the request and stating that the move could take up to 3 weeks to be effective. Passed about 2 weeks or so after each request, I get an SMS from Alice stating that they have important information regarding my request and that I need to contact their customer "service" department by calling a pay number. As expected, one needs to explain his case to 2 or 3 different customer service reps until finally one gets redirected to the correct person.

 

In all 4 occasions the important information is that Alice cannot switch their service to my new address because there is no free phone line at my address, or so is the information Alice received from Telekom when Alice asked for an appointment to switch the service.

 

Now, if you have read up to here, then bear with me a bit more because things are about to get complex.

 

According to Alice there are no free lines at my address, so they cannot provide the service for which they keep charging my bank account. On top of that, they do not offer any practical solution; they said I need to solve the problem with Telekom directly.

 

I have spoken with Telekom, but being that I am not their customer, they refer me back to Alice.

 

The funny thing is that I live in a single family house, and the previous person living in it (which happens to also be my new landlord) had internet/phone service provided by Vodafone. So I am 100% sure that there is a working phone line for my address, and it should be me the one with the right to use it as no one else lives at this address.

 

I have also triple checked with my landlord that he had cancelled his contract with Vodafone. I even spoke to Vodafone and they told me the contract had been cancelled and that they have communicated to Telekom that the line is free.

 

So, I am trapped in the middle of a triangle made up of Alice, Vodafone and Telekom, in which each company points the finger to the others and blames them. No one is willing to help me resolve the situation because I am either not their customer (Telekom, Vodafone) or it is not their fault (Alice).

 

Come to this point, over 6 weeks since my original request to Alice, I am left to wonder what are my rights as a consumer. I asked Alice if I could cancel my contract on the grounds that they are not providing the service I signed up for, but according to them I cannot do so without paying for the remainder of the contract because "it is not their fault". In my opinion, it is not my fault either, so I do not see why I need to spend money, time and health dealing with this situation created by their inept coordination of service infrastructure.

 

Has someone faced a similar situation, and if so, is it legal to cancel the contract on grounds of lack of service? Did you need the intervention of a lawyer or could you handle it with a written notice?

 

Alice proposed solution is that I should sign up for a new line and a new contract with Telekom, wait until the phone/internet service is installed and working properly and then cancel the new contract with Telekom and go back to Alice. I find this solution ridiculous. It will require me to pay up for a new line and contract and then go through the same troubles of cancelling it (IF that is possible), all so Alice can then continue to charge me for a service they should be providing since the end of March.

 

Any help is welcomed and appreciated.

 

Thanks!

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The solution Alice suggested may actually be your best bet. I'll get straight to the point:

 

Legally speaking, you were the one who decided to move to a house that doesn't have any free phone lines. Alice agreed to provide you with internet service at the previous address, so it'll be very difficult to get out of the contract due to lack of service, if said lack of service is caused by a decision you made, not Alice.

 

It may also be true that the phone line is no longer available. The way things are set up, you have a certain number of copper lines going from each house to the Telekom exchange. You also have a certain number of lines going to neighboring houses. If one house needs an extra line, they can simply wire two houses together and use a neighbors external line instead, provided there's one available. That means it's possible that one of your neighbors requested an extra line a while back and Telekom gave your landlord's line to him when your landlord cancelled his service.

 

Vodafone can't help you because they never touched the wiring in the first place (they go through Telekom). Telekom won't help you because you're not their customer, and Alice can't really do anything if DT says there are no lines available.

 

However, Telekom is a utility, and phone service (not internet service, mind you) is considered essential, so they're required to provide you with a phone line if you go throgh them directly, even if it means digging a trench to put in an extra cable. So what you need to do is order a 'CallPlus' standard (analog) line without internet service from Telekom, wait for it to be connected and have Alice handle the transfer. CallPlus can be cancelled with 6 days notice, so getting rid of the Telekom contract won't be a problem, but you have to make sure you don't order anything else, because the sales person will probably try to convince you to sign a 12 or 24 month contract for CallStart or internet service. You want CallPlus at 18.95/mo (+ 59.95 setup) and nothing else. No internet, no ISDN, no promo offers.

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Ball00, thanks a lot for your reply. You seem to be very versed on the subject. I hope you don´t mind if I ask you a couple of follow up questions.

 

Regarding CallPlus Standard, if I understood you correctly, that service will require Telekom to provide a new analog telephone line into my house. Some questions:

 

- How long would that take to get it installed (if you know it)?

- More importantly, will that line allow me to have internet once I switch back to Alice (honestly, I don´t care much for the phone, it is the internet connection what I really need)? If so, at which speed? Before I had DSL 6000 at my old address. Will I be able to get something similar on an analog line (sorry if my question is stupid, I have no clue about telephone infrastructure and what an analog line supports).

 

My other question is regarding the situation you described with the telephone lines and the possibility that Telekom gave the line into my house to someone else. How is that possible? I mean, I thought phone lines ran from a central point (a box) in the street to all the houses in the neighborhood. How can they tranfer one line to someone else without physically digging it out and rerouting it? Also, is that legal? I mean, there was actually no idle time between the time the person that lived in this house moved out and the time I moved in. It is not as if the line was idle for 1 year and Telekom decided to give it to someone else. Also, if the solution is to get a new line, why would Telekom give my line to someone else instead of putting a new line for him?

 

Sorry if I am rambling, I just feel this is so unfair and frustrating.

 

Thanks for your help!

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- How long would that take to get it installed (if you know it)?

Difficult so say, but if there really is no physical line, probably 4 weeks or more...realistically. You're basically forcing Telekom to get their ass in gear and look for a free line, so if your landlord's old line is still marked as active by mistake, it probably won't take as long.

 

 

- More importantly, will that line allow me to have internet once I switch back to Alice (honestly, I don´t care much for the phone, it is the internet connection what I really need)? If so, at which speed? Before I had DSL 6000 at my old address. Will I be able to get something similar on an analog line (sorry if my question is stupid, I have no clue about telephone infrastructure and what an analog line supports).

Analog, ISDN, DSL, VDSL...they all use a pair of copper wires. The only difference between analog, ISDN or DSL is what kind of device is connected to the wires at the other end. If DSL is available in your neighborhood at all, you should be able to get a broadband connection. The maximum speed depends on the distance to the exchange. Try using this website and put in your address or the phone number of a neighbor/your landlord's old phone number. At the bottom it should say something like 'DSL mit bis zu 2048 kbit/s'.

 

 

My other question is regarding the situation you described with the telephone lines and the possibility that Telekom gave the line into my house to someone else. How is that possible? I mean, I thought phone lines ran from a central point (a box) in the street to all the houses in the neighborhood. How can they tranfer one line to someone else without physically digging it out and rerouting it?

That's why they also have lines to neighboring houses in place. If house A has an unused line and house B right next to it doesn't have enough phone lines, they can simply use the existing 'bridge wire' between house A and house B to connect house B to house A's unused line. Say this is the current situation:

 

post-25333-13034950142958_thumb.png

 

House Z has 2 active phone lines, house A has one active line (red) and one unused line (black), house B has two active lines. Now house B orders a third phone line. Rather than digging up the road to install a third phone for house B, it's obviously a much better solution to use the extra line from house A and connect it to the existing bridge between the two houses, like this:

 

post-25333-1303495318807_thumb.png

 

House B now has 3 lines, Telekom didn't have to dig and everyone is happy. If house B asks for a 4th line or house A wants a second one, they will have to dig, though.

 

 

Also, is that legal? I mean, there was actually no idle time between the time the person that lived in this house moved out and the time I moved in. It is not as if the line was idle for 1 year and Telekom decided to give it to someone else. Also, if the solution is to get a new line, why would Telekom give my line to someone else instead of putting a new line for him?

I can't quote any laws, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't legal. I mean the bridge solution costs something like 50 Euros because they only need to send out a tech to connect a few wires. Digging probably costs 100 times as much, so they would try to re-use any free phone lines first and only install new lines when they have to. If Telekom was NOT allowed to assign unused lines to other houses, they would have to dig and install new cable any time someone asks for an extra line, even though they may have access to 5 unused lines going to the neighboring house.

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Bal00 thanks a lot for your time and effort in answering my questions. I appreciate it!

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You're welcome. Keep in mind that this is just speculation on my part. It's technically possible that they gave the line to someone else, or it's just a clerical error and the old line is still marked as active for some reason. Btw, have you tried connecting an analog phone to the old phone socket in this place? When Telekom deactivates a phone line (without physically disconnecting it), you should be able to hear a voice message saying something like 'this line is not active, if you would like to order phone service, use reference number 12345679'. If you can hear the message, the line is obviously still in place. If you don't hear anything, chances are the physical line was disconnected (and possibly given to someone else).

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This whole situation demonstrates very well why I finally decided to get service from Deutsche Telekom, after giving up on Alice: It reduces the number of parties involved in finger-pointing.

 

Also, it is relatively easy to get a call back from DT from an English-speaking representative, if things get beyond my German-handling ability. Plus, they have staffed shops where I can talk to someone as well.

 

This probably ends up costing me a few more Euros a month, and also maybe a few Mb/s in data rate. I feel it's worth it, for the avoided aggravation.

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Neal, I agree with you. Unfortunately, at this point in time, it seems that I will need to wait 16 months before I can take the same road.

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I think it is very unlikely there is no physical line (or more accurately an available pair of copper wires) to your new home. More likely the physical line exists (and belongs to Telekom) but Alice don't have any free circuits at the exchange to connect to it. This means you are more likely to get service from another provider (and almost certainly from Telekom). Unfortunately you are also stuck with the previous contract from Alice and legally at least may have to continue to pay for it, even if they can't provide you with any service. You may be able to appeal to their better nature to reduce or shorten the payments on the total committed contract.

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Yorkshirelad, thanks for your feedback, but the more I know the more confused I am.

 

What do you mean by "Alice not having free contacts at the exchange"? What is a contact? I thought what needs to be free is the line...

 

I am 100% sure there is a line between the central exchange and my house. The tenant that lived in the house before (until March) had phone and internet service from Vodafone. Now, since my last reply I have found out another suggested scenario: Vodafone has cancelled the contract of the previous tenant but keep renting the "port" from Telekom. What does this mean? And can they do that?

 

I just don´t understand how they can get away with all these possible scenarios (whichever is true) which create a problem for customers. More importantly, I need to figure out a way to know what´s going on as Alice, Telekom and Vodafone do not give me a straight answer or solution. Is there some sort of "Consumer Protection Agency" that can mediate in this situation?

 

Thanks!

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There is almost certainly a cable with one or more copper pairs (you only need one copper pair for a phone/internet line) going from your house to the exchange - let's call this the "line". This is owned by Deutsche Telekom and rented to you if you take your service from them or rented to another provider (such as Alice) who rent to you if you choose to take their service. At the exchange each provider either has their own distribution cabinets or rents them, or part of them from Telekom. These contain "circuits" (also known as "ports") - essentially the individual connection to the provider backbone and the interface between that backbone and your physical line, but there is only a limited number available per exchange. If a provider has used up all their available circuits in that exchange then they can't connect one to your line and provide the service. It can easilly be that Alice have used up all their circuits, so until someone using their service on the same exchange cancels then there is none available for a new customer such as you to take, It might be that another provider, and especially Deutsche Telekom don't have that problem and have free ports that they can offer to you and connect to your line. Some providers rent both line (cable) and port from Telekom to rent on to you, but again, Telekom may limit the number of ports available to them to give priority to their own customers.

 

You won't get the different providers to talk to each other or mediate with you as they compete with each other for business. If they have their own or a rented port free then they'll offer it to you - if not then their hands are bound until one becomes free or they decide their is a business case to add (and therefore pay for) more ports in your area which they tend to negotiate in multiples and not individually when a customer needs one.

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