Small victory against spammers

Two years ago I filed a complaint against one of the worst Czech spammers, “Hotel u Lípy”. Then nothing happened and I didn’t expect too much, reading stories that those spammers exploit a loophole in Czech antispam law.

To my surprise I’ve received an answer from The Office for Personal Data Protection today. They notify me that they made inspection at the spammer’s company and found breakage of the law by sending a business e-mail message without previous agreement of the recipient. As the result they punished the spammer with a financial penalty.

Well, I don’t know whether the spammer’s business has been punished significantly or not. But dealing with legal offices is definitely no pleasant thing and they would risk worse problems if they continued their spamming activities. And I’m glad enforcement of the antispam law actually works. Good news!

Phone number transfer

Enough is enough. Telefónica O2 has lost another customer and I hope this hasn’t been the last one.

The company has annoyed me with their marketing practices for several years. Their dealers bother us at our home with offers we didn’t ask for nor are interested in. Moreover those people are often just stupidly assertive idiots, the last example being a guy offering TV services without having any idea what terrestrial digital broadcasting is. This is accompanied by numerous phone calls trying to persuade us to switch to more expensive services. No other telecommunication company behaves this way here. The last straw was when they became almost successful to persuade my wife that she would save her money by switching from prepaid mobile phone service to a more expensive tariff. She would pay the same money or more for the same service and she would have to sign this deal for two years. I got angry and looked around. I’ve found O2 was right at least with one argument: The current prepaid service was unnecessarily expensive. Switching to another mobile phone operator, Vodafone, should save at least one third of the current spendings.

So we rejected the expensive offer and decided to leave O2. Our telecommunication law is civilized enough to allow switching to another operator while retaining the original phone number. In theory, it should be easy and fast, taking only a few days when leaving prepaid services. So we tried to do it.

The process starts with ordering phone number transfer (and services) from the new operator. We did this on some Tuesday. The next step is to send an SMS requesting the old operator to cancel the prepaid service and to free the phone number for the transfer, we did this on Thursday evening. According to national regulations the process should take at most 2 working hours to authorize (or deny) the request and another 5 working hours to free the number after successful authorization. So I expected the process should be finished during Friday. We received an immediate SMS confirmation of receiving the request. In the Friday morning we received a phone call from Telefónica O2 offering us benefits if we decide to remain with them. We rejected it and then nothing else happened. On Monday I called Vodafone asking them whether it’s OK that nothing happened at O2 about the transfer. They told me the time limit to authorize the request is 5 working days. I think they were a bit incompetent, confusing monthly tariff services with prepaid services. But I waited for another day. Being doubtful about the process I called O2 on Tuesday asking them about the transfer status. They told me there is no transfer in progress and I should first send the cancellation SMS. My argument that we already had done it several days ago, its reception had been confirmed and we had received call from them offering us to stop the process was of no help. The lady on hotline was kind and perhaps really had no idea what happened. Well, mistakes can occur and I can understand that.

So on Tuesday evening we sent another cancellation request. This time we received several additional confirmations during Wednesday and the request was successfully authorized. It took more than two working hours but this time it at least succeeded and it was processed without excessive delay. But against my expectation the phone number hasn’t been freed on Wednesday. Instead, we received an SMS offering us free credit of 300 Kč each month for half a year if we stop the transfer process. What a deal! Just before we decided to leave they had offered us that we should pay at least 300 Kč each month for two years. Well, who would take such a company seriously? So we ignored the offer and waited.

On Thursday we were leaving our country for a trip so I called O2 again and asked about the transfer status. They told me it was all right and they have 5 days to finish it. In my interpretation of the regulations it is just 5 working hours after successful authorization but I didn’t waste my energy arguing with the hotline operator. I was already happy they haven’t discarded our request this time.

We didn’t receive any further notification from O2 but our mobile phone number was transferred and we successfully moved to Vodafone on the next Wednesday. Who knows, perhaps the transfer confirmation got lost as we were in roaming (but why?). If Vodafone chose the first possible day for the actual transfer, the phone number had been freed on Monday. So the whole process, which should take according to official regulations just one working day actually took about 7 working days.

I’d like to file a complaint to the regulation authority, but I’m afraid my record of the events is incomplete to trace it easily. But I can suggest you:

  1. If you use O2 services, try to leave them. They might at least offer you a

much better deal than when they attempted to suck more money from you. 2. If you decide to transfer your phone number from O2 to another operator, watch and record the process carefully. If it doesn’t correspond to regulations, please complain to regulation authorities. According to various stories on Internet our experience with O2 is no way unique and complaining to authorities is probably the only way to force Telefónica O2 to behave properly.

Well, due to their horrible business politics Telefónica O2 has already lost 2 fixed lines and 2 SIM cards in our family during the last year. And I hope the process will continue – let’s pay our money to less arrogant phone operators.