Spain’s behind “The Technology Times”

Posted on August 13th, 2008 by BreAnn

I can’t even express how many years have been taken off my lifespan due to the ridiculous amount of problems, stress, money, frustration and time I’ve wasted/spent with cellphones and internet in this damn country!!  Yes, it has made me realize that we are a bit spoiled in the U.S. with easy internet access wherever you go, and affordable cellphone plans that allow you to easily call anybody around the country and access the internet and whatever else if you’d like . ..  but SERIOUSLY Spain . . . you need to get up to date with technology!!!

You may remember back in April or so when I wrote about my troubles trying to hunt down a cellphone and plan where I would be able to check my email (I wanted it so I could check work email.)  Well, after researching and frustration and  visiting probably about 12 different stores over a month’s time (not exaggerating), I had finally come to a conclusion that this was not at all possible unless I signed a 1 1/2 to 2 year contract and/or paid a ridiculously significant amount of money.  I finally paid for a damn cellphone this Vodafone guy had told me I could check my email with, but by the time we were through checking out, he had changed his story and said that no, I would not be able to.  I just gave up on that idea because OBVIOUSLY nobody has internet on their mobil phones. And actually, calling on your cellphone here is SO EXPENSIVE (from 10 cents to 50+ cents per minute) that most people just send text messages to communicate. (note: Vodafone, Moviestar, and Orange are the 3 main cellphone providers in Spain, and Telefonica is the main landline phone/internet/DSL provider in this area.)

Then came ALL THE HORRIBLE INTERNET PROBLEMS.  Since I was fortunate enough to be able to keep my job in the US and telecommute from Spain, it is VITAL VITAL VITAL that I have working internet at all times—not only for email access and FTP (uploading/downloading) capabilities, but also because I have a telephone program on my computer to make (cheaper) calls to the US for meetings and training sessions, as well as a local US phone number that people can call in the US and rings on my computer in Spain.  I work every night from about 6pm until 2am, so I have to be sure to have internet especially at these times.

Fortunately from the day I arrived in San Sebastian, the internet was hooked up in the apartment I originally moved into (the two guys I lived with made sure it was set up by the time I arrived.)  The internet was decently fast, but there would probably be 4-5 times a month when we suddenly wouldn’t get internet like ALL DAY and there really wasn’t much we could do about it.  Other times it would be so slow that I couldn’t call out on Skype (the online phone program I use to call the US.)  However, this was not even the beginning of my “Spain Internet Nightmare”

In the end of June I had to move out of my apartment since the 4 months were up on my rental period.  What sucks, is our internet cut off on like June 27 or something, so I was out of internet for a few days before I moved out (apparently they haven’t learned in this country how to bill for partial-months, so they would only allow us to keep internet up until the monthly cut-off period.)  Then when I was staying in my boyfriend’s place for a week and then during the first THREE weeks I moved into my new apartment (which wasn’t set up for internet yet)  I was on a mad search for wireless internet (WIFI), but NONE of the internet cafes have it here–they only have their own computers. I NEED to use my own laptop because of the files I upload and download, so I cant just use the computers at Internet Cafes.   Then,  there are only a few bars and cafes that offer WIFI but I often have problems connecting to them, and the ones I CAN connect to usually have limits to how much you can upload/download,,,, and for my job I need to send a large amount of files so these connections are often a problem.  In addition, as COOL as you might think it is to be able to work in a bar, IT SUCKS. I CANNOT STAND smoke, and everybody smokes in the bars here—including pot. Ugh. leave me alone, I’m trying to work!!  Thankfully, I was able to use the internet at Robin and Emma’s apartment a few times… but that signal was very unpredictable and didn’t always work.  The library here has free internet, but I was only able to connect once or twice there and the signal always dropped. Sheesh. SERIOUSLY??

In addition, when I was trying to hook up Internet in my new apartment, I had a hell of a time trying to talk in Spanish on the phone to the owner of my apartment, and then the phone/internet guy, and then the electrician they sent over to try to fix whatever, and of course there were problems and they couldn’t set up the internet for me because of cable problems or something stupid I didn’t understand.

Finally, the electrician guy suggested I get one of those handy USB sticks you buy from a cellphone company and stick in the computer for Internet . . . and I said to him I thought that was slower than land-line/DSL internet, but he said the Internet is so old and “behind the times” here that the USB stick is just as fast and I can use it anywhere, the beach, a friend’s house, a restaurant, anywhere!  Nice!  So after visiting SIX VODAFONE STORES (apparently hardly any of the stores carry the sticks since, like I said, Spain is SO behind the times) I pay 80Euros for the stick and 60Euros a month access, and I’m all set up… and the speed is surprisingly fast.  However, after only THREE DAYS I’m getting error messages and after I’m out of internet for another 3 days I return to the store to find out the stupid woman last week signed me up for THE WRONG PLAN… I had asked for the unlimited plan and she signed me up for the 1GB plan… and they tell me, “The unlimited plan is a NEW plan we didn’t know about, so it’s not our problem.  You had the 1GB plan and now you used up the whole amount and you will have to pay if you want the unlimited plan.”  So, basically they are telling me I paid 60 euros for 3 days of access because the stupid woman screwed up… and they say they can’t do anything for me!! WTF??  And I KNOW it wasn’t MY fault due to spanish language miscommunication or something because I POINTED ON THE SHEET WHAT PLAN I WANTED. ugh!!

To make matters worse, I return to the other Vodafone store to return the damn USB stick because I’ve decided I don’t need them to screw me out of MORE money, AND THEY WONT EVEN LET ME RETURN THE DAMN STICK!!  It’s been under a week, but they tell me, “It functions properly so there is no reason to return it.”  So NOW after they’ve screwed up my plan and wasted 60 of my Euros, now they are telling me I am stuck with this useless 80 Euro USB stick.  Damn people.

Meanwhile, during this entire month of internet-hell, I’ve been spending countless hours looking for good bars/libraries/cafes to find internet, in the meantime getting behind on work, hoping my boss doesn’t get irritated from constant problems and fire me, losing contact with family and friends because I don’t really have a phone to talk to them on, and spending more time than it’s worth crying, kicking the wall, screaming out the window, and venting to my boyfriend and friends about how stressed I am because of this situation.

Next, I call up my landlord AND the electrician again and tell them I NEED INTERNET IN MY APARTMENT NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES, NO MORE B.S.  I was pleased the electrician said he could come the very next day, Wednesday, only to have HIM CANCEL ON ME last minute the next day and said he can’t come until MONDAY, like it’s no big deal. Jerk. So then I was out of internet for another 3 days. Does it ever end??
Finally, in the end it took 3 electricians about 4hours fishing wires through 7 floors (I’m on the top floor), and then the Telefonica guy an hour to get the internet and modem set up . . . and now I’m back in business!  FINALLY.      FINALLY!!!!  Sheesh!

ONE MONTH OF INTERNET HELL!  I think I’m starting to sprout gray hair.  Thanks, Spain!  



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