Tag Archives: Israeli Customer Service

Some Don’t Like It HOT

After years of hair-tearing frustration with the crap cable, and even crapper customer, ‘service’ provided by HOT – see HOT . . . in the bedroom and under the collar and Nimas Lee: An open letter to HOT – I am finally, following numerous broken promises (to myself), doing something to disengage from the bastards: I am connecting my newly renovated apartment with HOT’s satellite competitor, yes.

I had, originally, again ordered HOT – a technician was due at the apartment last Tuesday – because, as well as being reactionary (I still use a paper diary), it offers a convenient television/internet/telephony “triple”, I am used to navigating its TV channels, and can rarely pass up on a deal (it is currently running a Samsung Tablet promotion).

But after receiving, in the days following the order, half a dozen calls from HOT customer service incompetents enquiring why I hadn’t yet ordered, and then a chance, elated call from a friend, Hanna, who had just switched to yes, I decided to follow her lead . . .

I called HOT on two separate occasions to cancel the order, but neither “Linoy” nor “Mohammed” could locate it against my name, address, telephone or ID numbers. And, entirely true to form, on Tuesday afternoon – the day on which the technician would have been due – I received an sms informing me that one would be visiting the following (i.e., Wednesday) afternoon! I called once more to cancel . . . but “Oshrit”, too, could not find any record of the order in HOT’s ‘system’.

There is clearly, however, some communication at HOT – at least when they are about to lose another 300-plus-shekel-a-month customer – because, early on Wednesday morning, Natanel, the sales rep who had closed the original order, called to enquire why I didn’t wish to proceed with it.

“If you are asking,” I said, “I will tell you.” And I proceeded to recite my HOT list . . .

  • HOT’s automated system still, after six years, doesn’t recognise my telephone number (and I don’t even mention Robert Lee);
  • HOT’s customer service reps are still convinced that I live on Melchett, even though I sold my apartment there six months ago;
  • I live at number 4, not at number 10 (in the same way that, on Melchett, I lived at 31, not 3);
  • Natanel had not disclosed, in his original call to me, the 300 shekel connection fee;
  • I became thoroughly pissed off by the multiple, misinformed calls after the order had already been closed;
  • none of HOT’s customer service reps could find evidence of the order; and
  • even the day agreed for it was wrongly recorded.

Natanel’s response? To tell me that my complaints were nekudatiyot me’od (highly specific), that I shouldn’t be so quick to anger, and, wait for it . . . to ask: “Aren’t you grateful to HOT when watching television programmes that you enjoy?”

I replied that I did very much enjoy the English football, but that I could also watch that on yes. And, ignoring his second point (which may actually have some validity), I once again went through my HOT list.

“It is one hundred percent impossible,” said Natanel, “that a rep could not find the new order.”

“Well, it is one hundred percent something,” I replied, “because three out of three couldn’t!”

And, while I could not disagree with Natanel’s contention that no customer service is perfect, I informed him that HOT’s was by far and away the worst that I have ever had the misfortune to experience, even in Israel, with not a single call passing without some degree – usually a high one – of irritation, aggravation and/or annoyance.

With a sigh of resignation, the admirably persistent (and intelligent, for a HOT employee) salesman enquired, “Is there anything I can say that will make you change your mind?”

“No,” I replied – knowing that HOT would never agree to the free month/s that sprang to mind – with no little satisfaction . . . and, with which, Natanel abruptly terminated the call.

And while not kidding myself that there won’t also be “issues” with yes, deserting HOT has accorded me, after the many frustrating years of having to deal with it, both much-needed therapy and sweetish revenge.


Nimas Lee: An open letter to HOT

To: HOT customer service, fax number 07770 78231

December 1, 2010

To Whom It May Concern, HOT:

I have been extremely frustrated, for some years now, by the supreme incompetence of HOT’s customer service . . .

Whenever I call HOT, its automated telephone system fails (unfailingly) to recognise my mobile number: 054 554 11** [asterisks for melchett mike]. So, too, do HOT’s customer service representatives (when they eventually pick up, that is – rarely before 10-15 minutes of recorded bollocks, and if the call does not ‘spontaneously’ disconnect beforehand).

The aforementioned is my number. It has always been my number. It was never the number of Robert Lee [nimas li, for non-Hebrew speaking readers, means “I am fed up/have had enough,” hence the wordplay in the title], a visitor from the US who rented my apartment in 2001/2: one of HOT’s many mini-brained customer service representatives must have added it to Mr. Lee’s account when I left it as a contact number after informing HOT that he no longer lived here.

I live at (and own) apartment 3 at (building number) ** Melchett, Tel Aviv. I don’t live (nor have I ever) at 3 Melchett. Even if I succeed in persuading a customer service representative that I am not Robert Lee, I then have to spend a further 10-15 minutes getting them to believe that I live at ** (and not 3) Melchett. This whole process, as you can perhaps understand, can be extremely tedious and irksome.

Following numerous calls to HOT last year in an attempt to resolve this situation, I was asked – in order to prove that I live at ** (and not 3) Melchett – to fax my ID card, together with its address supplement, to HOT’s Finance Department. This I did, even confirming receipt over the phone. And, yet, still to this day showing as my address in HOT’s customer service records is . . . yes, you guessed it . . . 3 Melchett.

For some insane reason – essentially, because 012 Smile’s telephone service does not work very well (in fact, it is shit) – I called HOT last week to order its telephone line (without time commitment) instead. Once again, your customer service representative, Simona, was unable to locate my details. Moreover, she went on to insist that I must be Robert Lee, because . . . wait for it . . . I have the same telephone number as him and live in his apartment! On the verge of tearing my hair out, I attempted to reason with Simona that it was highly unlikely that two individuals would have the same telephone number and that the problem, therefore, must be with HOT’s customer service database. But to no avail.

Neither did the facts that I have had HOT Internet and TV services in my name for one and two years, respectively, satisfy Simona: I provided her with both my ID number and the last four digits of the credit card with which I have been paying HOT, but . . . nada. Most infuriating of all – listen to the call (HOT claims it records them) – Simona seemed to expect me to resolve the problem. She eventually agreed to call back when she had located my details . . . but, surprise, surprise, zilcherino! Further telephone conversations – with Mor and Talia, from the “Chanit” and “Maya” teams, respectively – failed to yield results, or even the return courtesy calls promised.

HOT’s customer service – a misnomer if ever there was one – is, even by the abysmal standards of Israeli customer service, an absolute shambles and disgrace. Indeed, never have I come across such incompetence and ineptitude in an organisation (not to mention a commercial one). Even former clients from my days in criminal defence law were more reliable than anything I have encountered at HOT.

You will be unsurprised to learn that I did not renew my contract for HOT’s TV service when it expired a fortnight ago. And neither will I for its Internet service when it runs out in June 2011. In fact, as I slowly disentangle myself from all things HOT, I am starting to feel a remarkable weight lifting from my stressed, tired shoulders.

Happy Chanukah.

Yours respectfully,

Mike Isaacson

PS I have also posted this letter to my blog, melchett mike, at https://melchettmike.wordpress.com/

[See also HOT . . . in the bedroom and under the collar]

Using my loaf: Monkey business in Shuk Ha’Carmel

“They are all barbarians,” I exclaimed to Hanna, who had called me just as I was exiting Shuk Ha’Carmel – the Carmel Market – on Tuesday morning.

Hearing my own words, however, I was immediately struck by their unadulterated foolishness. Indeed, such a pronouncement about bastot (stall) owners in the Shuk – and after 15 years here – was up there, in the obviousness stakes, with statements such as “Israelis can, on occasion, be not particularly considerate drivers” and “Bibi may not really be interested in a settlement with the Palestinians.”

Not wanting Hanna to think me a complete buffoon (I don’t think that either of us had yet ruled out – though she may have now – a friendship beyond the purely platonic), I attempted to justify my outburst by relating how a stallholder who has supplied all of my bread requirements for years had dismissed me with a contemptuous wave of the hand, as if waving away a beggar, as I was attempting to show him (for his information, as it were) how the last loaf purchased had not – through no fault of the Rechov Melchett freezer (as frosty as the drawers of a frigid Polania) – frozen properly through the middle.

“Are you mad,” said Hanna. It dawned upon me that my chances might have receded even further. “Do you think that he has the education to comprehend, or to care, why your bread might not have frozen?!”

I cannot deny it: over the years, I have had more than my fair share of run-ins with Israeli customer service. But the truth is that, on this occasion, I hadn’t expected understanding or sympathy . . . merely civility and, perhaps, that – for a good customer – the Persian would, like an English trader in his shoes, feign a polite smile and hand over (however reluctantly) a fresh loaf. And, before opting (wisely, I think) not to dig my hole vis-à-vis Hanna any deeper, I considered educating her as to how it is precisely such seemingly trivial gestures that make up the fabric of a livable society.

Talking of societies and fabrics, I grew up in a most “livable” one in which they could be returned to retailers even after they had been worn to numerous engagements/functions. Indeed, I could swear that M&S Brent Cross had a dedicated queue for Jewish housewives returning outfits with which they had become bored, or – horror of all horrors – in which they had spotted a rival (i.e., any other Jewish) female. Even my bar mitzvah suit went back immediately following the big day after a magnifying glass helped identify a miniscule imperfection in its pinstripe (“He finds it itchy” was considered unlikely to suffice). Moreover, a recently-visiting friend related how North-West Londoners routinely return LCD tellies to Costco (a cash and carry warehouse), which exchanges them for the latest model without so much as a query (compare that to the Jerusalem fax paper episode!)

On discussing this post in the pub, yesterday evening, my friend Yuval was of the view that while such wonderful customer service may be viable in the UK, the consumer chutzpah that can so easily abuse it makes it impossible in the Jewish state, where sellers do not wish to be freiers any more than buyers. Makes sense.

Even the knowledge that Shuk Ha’Carmel traders are renowned for their primitiveness and lack of education – as well as for living off largely undeclared income in the swankiest suburbs of north Tel Aviv – does not, as it should, help me to rise above and not get wound-up by their ill-breeding. Two other friends, and fellow olim, refer to this type of Israeli male (regrettably, not encountered only in the shuk) as “apes”/“monkeys”; often apposite-seeming epithets, which – before the accusations of racism start to fly – relate to their behaviour rather than (or, at least, more than) their ethnicity. Let’s face it, if it is swarthy, hairy, excitable and cheeky, it ain’t no sheep or swan!

Might I, however, have become one of them? It has been said . . .

On Tuesday, as I wheeled my trolleyful of produce back past the Persian – and in spite of having had at least half an hour to cool down – I experienced another frozen yogurt/Jerusalem Post moment, informing him that he was a “shmock” from whom I had made my last purchase.

As Hanna subsequently made very clear, however, on this occasion there had been only one shmock . . . and, from now on, I would be better off using my loaf.

A Shabbos afternoon tale

On my Shabbos afternoon stroll with The Beasts, earlier, I popped into the Dizengoff Center to discover what films its Lev Cinema would be serving up this evening.

And having asked a friend, Sylvie, whether she would like to see Inception before it comes off general release – but not having received a definite reply – I enquire of the girl at the VIP Club desk whether, as a member, if I book two tickets, I can get my money back on one if I cancel ahead of the screening.

“Why would you want two tickets?” comes the knee-jerk response.

Following several seconds of the eyebrows raised, lips clenched, wide-eyed gaze – communicating an unambiguous “That’s a f*cking stupid question, isn’t it?” – which I have rehearsed and perfected specifically for occasions (and nincompoops) such as this, the penny finally drops: “Oh, you mean somebody might be coming with you?”

Though really wanting to reply, “No, I always like to keep a seat free for Elijah,” I – said gaze unaltered, to drive home my message – nod.

“Don’t worry,” says the girl, “I am here this evening, too.”

As if that would be of comfort.

The Israeli consumer industry seems to specialise in dimwitted young females – Frozen Yogurt Girl and Post Office Nasty are just two who spring to mind – though there is something quintessentially Jewish, of course, about (not) answering one question with another.

(And, yes, I love writing little blogs about nothing . . . )

Taking the SMS: Avi the Texting Masseur

Just when you think that the chutzpah can’t get any worse, the Israeli will usually surprise you . . .

During a massage, last week, in her holiday home in Herzliya Pituach – the hot destination, these days, for British “Deckchair Zionists” – my friend Donna’s blissful indulgence was intermittently disturbed by a faint clicking sound.

She ignored it.

Opening her eyes, however, towards the end of the one-hour session, Donna caught her masseur, Avi, with one hand on her foot and the other typing a text (SMS) message on his mobile phone.

Now, call me old-fashioned, but I would say that a masseur on 300 shekels (50 British pounds) an hour can reasonably be expected to use both hands!

The incident reminded me of a university flatmate whose girlfriend, in the middle of doing something to him that he could not do to himself – would we males ever leave the house? – looked up to find him channel-hopping with the TV remote. (In his defence, there was footie on the box . . . but she gave him a mouthful anyway. The cheeky chappie, meanwhile, eventually migrated to his natural habitat . . . Israel.)

Such chutzpadik multitasking was also exhibited by an Israeli first date of mine who, on arrival at the pretty garden café handpicked by me – and having evidently resolved that I was not as attractive as I considered her – insisted on sitting inside, so that she would not miss any of the goings-on in the Israeli Big Brother house.

Indeed, the Israeli is a multitasker nonpareil, who can, for instance, smoke, devour garinim (sunflower seeds) and cuff the kids and/or missus . . . all while driving at excess speed, with one foot on the dashboard, cursing down his mobile and gesticulating at other road users.

While now – having lived here for over ten years – conditioned to Israeli chutzpah (and not averse to dishing out some of my own when required), I am also far less likely to put up with it . . .

Overhearing, in my local hummus place on Sheinkin, that I was flying back to London the following morning, an Israeli woman who I know from the area enquired whether I would mind taking something for her son, sojourning in Wood Green (of all places).

“Of course not,” I foolishly replied.

The woman scuttled away, returning a quarter of an hour later not with the latest Amos Oz novel or Arik Einstein disc, but with a plastic bag – from the makolet (supermarket) over the road – weighing several kilos and bursting with family-sized bottles of Osem tomato ketchup.

“He is used to it,” she declared, as if that should have been of interest to me.

Some years earlier, I would have been so taken aback by such chutzpah that my only reaction would have been momentary paralysis, an awkward smile, and a hasty unpacking of my suitcase to accommodate the condimentally-challenged nincompoops. And I may even have thanked her for selecting me for the honour.

But no longer.

“I’m not taking that,” I laughed, almost contemptuously. “I am already overweight.” I wasn’t. “Anyway, what’s wrong with Heinz?!”

What could she say? She had been outchutzpah’d.

You see, it is just that on encountering foreign accents – usually accompanied by indications of (relative) meekness – many of the natives see a flashing “Freier!” (sucker) sign.

And not to be taken advantage of here, one, regrettably, must become like them.

Avi “the Texting Masseur” no doubt calculated that – unlike his Israeli clients – Donna would not mind him sending SMS messages while he was supposed to be giving her a massage . . . and that, even if she did, the English lady would not say a word.

And he was, at least, half right.


The Post Office Nasty

Patience – or savlanut, as they call it in these parts – may well be a virtue. But it is most definitely not an Israeli one. And, while the natives are notorious for being incapable of standing in line, inability to queue is only one symptom of their lack of patience.

Walking Stuey and Dexxy through the labyrinth-like streets of Tel Aviv, lost motorists will often ask me to come to their rescue. Instead of stopping and listening to the directions that they have requested, however – as they would in any normal country – drivers here continue moving forward, almost expecting you to carry on giving them while running alongside their vehicle. The attitude seems to be: “I want to get there as quickly as possible, but I can’t wait for you to you explain to me how.”

Walking down Melchett, last week, a middle-aged cyclist asked me for directions to the beach, all the time continuing to pedal.

“If you stop,” I responded, failing to conceal a different type of impatience, “I’ll tell you.”

“This rough direction or that?” she screamed – signalling left and then right with each arm – as, continuing to look at me from over her left shoulder, she moved further and further away.

Resisting the temptation to stick out my left arm, I grudgingly held out my right.

Indeed, this may be the only country in the world where one gets penalised for trying to be courteous . . .

Last Friday morning, I trudged along to my post office, on Yehuda Halevi Street, to find out what treat lay in store for me. I had received one of those dreaded postal service collection notices, which in the UK usually signifies a parcel or goody of some sort, but here more often than not indicates notification of a road traffic offence. And, with three pending court hearings for speeding, I was fearing the worst.

I pulled my number from the dispenser, but – due to the rather less-than-warm greeting extended to Stuey and Dexxy by a fellow hairy beast – we waited by the open door so as not to disturb the patrons (i.e., my attempt at courtesy). We were no more than 30 feet from the counter, and with a clear view of the electronic board, on which I was keeping a beady eye.

About ten minutes later, as it ticked over to 91, I immediately strode over to the indicated clerk. It must have taken me all of six seconds.

Alas, just before I could get there, an old dear – hovering for a hesitation – submitted 92.

It is almost acceptable – even normal – in these parts to push in. The attitude seems to be: “With our lovely neighbours, who knows how long we’ve got . . . so why waste time queuing?!” Indeed, tell an Israeli not to push in and, the chances are, you will be met with an extremely quizzical gaze.

And rather than politely inform the old lady that “Sorry, madam, this gentleman was first” – the words one would undoubtedly hear in such circumstances in the UK – the twentysomething frecha behind the counter instead barked, Soup Nazi-like, at me:

“Me’oochar midai!” (Too late!)

I slid my hand between the glass and the counter, grabbed Frecha by the throat, and yanked her so violently towards me that it was a miracle that the glass didn’t shatter as her thick head thudded against it.

Well, at least I fantasized about it.

When the red mist had lifted somewhat – regular readers of melchett mike will know that it was not the first time that it had descended – I ruminated over what I was going to say to Frecha when my chance would finally come. Alas, still hardly collected, “And that is why you are working in a post office” was the best I could come up with. Needless to say, I didn’t use it.

In the end, when the old lady had finished and moved aside, waiting a metre or so behind her, I lunged at the counter like a sprinter through the finishing tape.

Frecha gazed at me as if I was demented.

“Maspik mahair?!” (Fast enough?!), I fired, eyeballing her with contempt.

Frecha didn’t flinch . . . though I did catch a hint of satisfaction as she pointed out the box on the collection slip ticked: “Available for collection from next week.”

“At ro’ah – hayiti mahair midai!” (You see – I was too quick!), I quipped, in a last-ditch, though futile, attempt to save some face.

With which, the three of us exited. Two tails were wagging. The third was firmly ensconced between its owner’s legs.

HOT . . . in the bedroom and under the collar

Over a drink in Tel Aviv yesterday evening, a friend divulged details to me of the HOT Action that he and his girlfriend have been enjoying in the bedroom.

Alas, he was not referring to “action” of the rumpy-pumpy, bit of the other, “ooh err missus” sort . . . but that of the Channel 14 variety (14 is the action movie channel on Israel’s HOT cable TV network).

A mere matter of weeks into a new relationship – and with a particularly attractive woman – said friend, who doesn’t have a television in his own apartment, has started to appreciate the benefits of his girlfriend’s.

So, every evening, they rip off each other’s clothes, jump into bed . . .  and watch telly.

This, it has to be said, does not bode particularly well for their relationship. HOT’s standard fare of tasteless wannabe/quasi-celebrity “Isratrash” and shit films (repeated ad infinitum) has transformed the international news networks – BBC, CNN, Fox, and Sky – into the staple television diet of most English-speaking households in Israel.

I pay a monthly 210 shekels (about 35 British pounds) to, in effect, have Sky News “rolling” on in the background – it has taken on an elevator music-like quality in my apartment – but, essentially, for the luxury (for a further 50 shekels) of being able to watch the English Premier League from Dexxy’s and Stuey’s (previously my) Rechov Melchett couch.

"I hate HOT!"HOT’s abysmal programming (with the notable exception of Channel 8 documentaries) is matched only by its miserably inefficient, unreliable and thoroughly discourteous customer service . . . easily the worst I have experienced in a country in which it faces formidable competition in that regard (see my earlier post, The Buyer’s a Freier).

There is even a Hebrew website, Ani soneh et HOT! – translated as “I hate HOT!” (logo above) – dedicated to the seemingly widespread contempt for the network. (If any readers of melchett mike wish to suggest a more worthy contender for the title of Worst Customer Service in Israel, please do so below.)

I spent yesterday morning – like so many others during my decade in Israel – pulling my hair out in the futile wait for a HOT technician. “Seven-thirty to nine,” I had been confidently assured by HOT’s telephone customer service representative.

The technician didn’t turn up. Neither did he call. And, to add insult to injury, after I demanded compensation for the wasted two hours off work, HOT’s customer service manager offered me a temporary extra channel (to add to the over one hundred others that I never watch).

“The Food Channel? What . . . for a WHOLE MONTH?! Wow! Yeh! That’ll be fine then.”

When the technician finally did turn up, yesterday evening, Dexxy treated herself to a taste of his calf. That showed him! Bastard.

So, I will be voting with my feet and switching to HOT’s satellite competitor, YES. Either that, or I will splash out a one-off 400 shekels for a receiver that will allow me to view Israel’s handful of terrestrial channels.

And, should I desire some HOT Action, I could always pop round to my friend’s girlfriend . . . sounds like he could definitely do with some ‘assistance’ in that regard.