I am now in the train between Bern and Geneva on the way to the LIFT dinner meeting. It is the first day that I can actually start thinking about the issue of mobile internet connectivity with a Mac while having Swisscom mobile as a service provider.
After a series of incidents and information that was to me a bit too muddled, I took it upon me to write to the CEO of Swisscom Mobile. Let me break it down in what happened as a series of chronological bullet points:
1. In the evening, December 4, I wrote the post, uploaded it to my blog.
2. Sent copy of the post to Adrian Bult via email.
3. Next morning before 8, Adrian Bult responded and forwarded internally with a request that I be contacted to get my problem solved.
4. By lunch time I thanked Adrian Bult via email, and expressed that I was looking forward to being contacted by his staff.
5. This second email gets forwarded internally and before 5 in the afternoon I get an answer from a Swisscom staff member, who for obvious reasons, will remain nameless. Here a quote of the information that I was given – highlight, copy and paste – that is, nothing lost, my annotations are in bold italics :
We refer to your email sent to our CEO Adrian Bult.
It is in a company’s interest to receive feedback and criticism from its customers. We understand your irritation concerning the service you experienced with your Sony Ericsson Active Case IA-25 for your K610i at one of our Swisscom shops. We ask you to accept our sincere apologies.
Your requirements as a “not-middle-of-the-pack mac users” (quotation) were paid insufficient attention. In fact, we do have a PC Card Mobile Unlimited for Mac users: it is is our so-called 4in1 (HSDPA, UMTS, EDGE, GPRS). It allows an easy installation with the Unlimited Data Manager (included in the package). The required software launch2net can be downloaded via Nova Media. For further information please visit our website http://www.swisscom-mobile.ch. You will find a direct link to Nova Media on our website Mobile Unlimited.
We have an attractive offer for the 4in1: NATEL data time with Option 12 Hours or Month with a subscription period of 24 months for CHF 99.00, available online or at our Swisscom Shop. There are no monthly costs, payment according to time used: if you make use of the service on an average of 15 min. per work day, then we recommend our Data Option Hour for 5.00. true, but then the card costs 599 not 99 If you are an average user, i.e. with surely more than 15 min. per work day, then your solution would be our Data Option 12 Hours for CHF 39.00. 12 hrs included, add. CHF 3.25 per hour. For the data transmission abroad we strongly recommend our savings options.
Further, another solution for Mac users will be launched in a few months (approx. in March 2007).
Your satisfaction as a customer means a lot to us. Please let us know immediately, if you have any further question. Our specialists will gladly contact you at a time that is convenient for you. You can simply send us an e-mail here I removed this person’s email with first and family names Besides, as a sign of our apology for the above mentioned service we have credited the amount of two monthly subscription fees to your NATEL bill of december. a kind gesture, and my monthly subscription fee is CHF 12.00
I then updated my initial post and was quite hopeful that the issue was resolving itself nicely. Then I got really busy with my work, so this had to wait.
6. I answered the email in 5. as follows:
Thank you for your clarifying answer.
It seems that I had totally missed that direct link to http://www.novamedia.de/e_pages/e_produkte_mac_l2n.html on your website. It says something about how quickly I scan a website or that I need new glasses.
You have me curious as to what the new solution for Mac users will be, however one of the afore mentioned options would do for the time being, although a 24 month contract is not too terribly appealing. I need to think about this.
Besides by email, I can be reached best via my mobile, unless it is turned off or on silent, and then there is the combox. I do call back, leave number and times that are convenient for a return call.
I all fairness I will also blog about your response and how Swisscom mobile is making an effort to be real about customer satisfaction once I have fully resolved this issue to my own satisfaction in a few days. I truly appreciate the unexpected gesture of crediting my account for 2 monthly subscription fees since I was not just venting my frustration for the sake of wasting words, or being an old ranting hag. Thank you. 🙂
I want to be able to access the internet from the client’s offices using my PowerBook. As you know, within many organizations, and as it should be, network security is taken seriously, thus exogenous or external clients (external computers) are not allowed on their networks. However since I spend more time writing novels and giving talks at geek conferences for peanuts than chasing new clients, I also do not have many clients or a large business turnover that would make expense a non-issue.
7. Again I get another email from the same person:
Thank you very much for your e-mail dated 5 December 2006. It was with great pleasure that we read the humorous lines (as well).
For the moment we are not in a position to communicate any further detail in terms of the indicated new solution.
There is also a 12-month contract in our offer, but costs are higher.
In order to clarify our Mobile Unlimited PC Card 4in1 in combination with a Mac, we will gladly have you contacted by one of our specialists soon.
Thank you for your loyality to Swisscom.
Yours sincerely Swisscom Mobile Ltd
8. A couple of days later I got a call from from technical support. I complained about the fact that although they are supporting a mac solution, this one requires the purchase of additional software that costs 75 €. Got some argument based on some freshman microeconomics calculations about how Swisscom Mobile had decided to, what in fact is, treating Mac users as second class customers. I was during this call also informed that I could get said unlimited card for and if I was not satisfied with it, I could return it within 30 days.
9. I was as mentioned above happily busy trying to meet a deadline and in the middle of all this activity I get an email December 12th, from Jan Füllemann of nova media in Berlin with a software key for his launch2net that costs 75 €. I had not contacted him, it was his initiative. Now, given that I really wanted to try the solution, and cost was an issue, this offer did solve part of my problem. I had already downloaded the trial version of the software anyhow. For those of you who read German, there is a report here.
10. On December 13th armed with all this information and a free software key for launch2net, and not much time to spare, I went to my favourite Swisscom shop at the train station ready to dish out the CHF 99.00 for the 4 in 1 card. All went well except that in my reading of the first email in point 5. I had interpreted that the deal was that I could get the card at that price and whichever plan (Data Hour, Data 12 Hours or Data Month) and then I was all set. The Data Hour plan sounded like a good deal, CHF 5/hour. My error, reading the smallest print is recommended.
a) At the shop the assistant then informs me that with the Data Hour plan the card costs a whopping CHF 599.00. I compromised and was ready to sign up for the CHF 39.00/month for 24 months and pay for the card CHF 99.00
b) But that was not the end of the additional costs. The GSM card is another CHF 40.00
c) Before closing the agreement I asked about the 30 day return policy that I had been informed about by the technical department. The sales person said that once the contract is signed I can not cancel it. I informed her that I had been informed otherwise. I asked for a copy of the contract, and what I was given had no such clause in it. At this point I said thank you, but no thank you. At this point another sales person was called in for assistance as the first one did not know any further with a silly little client that insists on reading contracts before signing them. The next sales person knew a little more and indeed the right contract was found.
Now, I am just an old pervert and I fail to see what is unlimited about this card. The way that the tariffs are communicated is so contorted that either the Swisscom Mobile staff can not figure them out, or else there is an effort being made in misleading the customer into thinking that the offer is really a good deal. No monthly costs means no monthly costs, there was no mention that then the card would cost a whole CHF 599.00 (although on the webside the information is there, but still misleading). The sierra wireless 4 in 1 has some elements of convenience, yes, but I do not really see the good deal, the transparency, or the effort in customer care that I would expect from a service provider.
I have not given this Sierra Wireless 4 in 1 enough of a road test to say anything specific about it, however will be doing just that during the next couple of weeks and then make a decision as to whether my internet mobile needs are being met at a reasonable cost with this solution, or if I will find an alternative.
It is a very different experience of customer care than that which I have with Apple. Yes I do pay for applecare, and yes it is worth every penny of it. My Mac PowerBook has had its display replaced three times, HardDrive and TrackPad front case once each. To say nothing of the time spent getting my AirportExpress and WLAN running properly because as it is with software, even Apple software, sometimes things go wrong with firmware updates and OS compatibilities. The LeTec shop that actually does the dirty work on the hardware has also provided impeccable service, and they too, like Swisscom are located in Bern.