I have just moved house. On November 12, to be precise. Determined to be organised, I called PCCW two weeks ahead to ask them to relocate Now TV, landline, broadband and WiFi from Stubbs Road to Mui Wo on Lantau. Not miles from civilization up a mountain on Lantau, but four minutes brisk trot from the Mui Wo ferry pier. Hardly the boonies.
I called the 1000 hotline and after press 1 for this, 2 for that, 3 for something else, I got a human claiming to be Relocations. I explained my request. Long silence, keyboard tapping noises, then: “Cannot.” What did he mean, cannot? “House not there,” he said. I pointed out that not only was it there, but my downstairs neighbour was a long-standing customer of theirs. Not that you have much choice. “No such place,” he insisted firmly. I gave him the Lot and DD numbers. No joy. “Not in our computer,” he said, as if that was the end of it. If the Post Office, IKEA, Water Supplies, CLP, the Rating and Valuations department and the Shell gas delivery man could find it, I said, it should not be beyond PCCW. The house had only been there for 40 years. But sarcasm was lost on him. He wouldn’t budge.
Twenty minutes had gone by so to break the Mexican standoff, I asked for his supervisor. “Busy” he replied. I am sure this was true; the poor man was probably dealing with all the other exasperated customers.
Several hours later a supervisor rang. He said there was no record of my house, was I sure about the address? I was absolutely sure. He sighed. In that case, they would have to send out the location team to find it. When? He didn’t know. In a few weeks. maybe. They were very busy on Lantau, he explained.
Enter Now TV
I lost the will to live after that and became distracted by a bout with a different faction of PCCW, this time the one you talk to when you want to cancel one (actually long expired but somehow still being charged for) Now TV contract. “Because you never cancelled it,” I was told. So it just continues in perpetuity, even though expired? “Yes, month by month,” I was told. So now you want to cancel your two Now TVs? she asked. "No, I kept repeating, I just want to stop paying for the one which has actually expired. My head was starting to ache.
A few days later a Mui Wo neighbour found a PCCW operative wandering around, lost, and directed him to the house. She called with the glad tidings. Eureka! How hard was that? But I spoke too soon. PCCW Relocations were back on the phone. They had indeed found the house. But due to remote location, and no previous customer, very difficult-la. Could not install internet, I was told, because no wiring. No cable. At that point I lost it. PCCW has the monopoly because they are obliged to provide fast broadband to everyone, I explained. And on Lantau they have no excuse, because that’s where the big thick cable actually makes land, at Shui Hau. The one that supplies all of Hong Kong. But ask any South Lantau resident and they will tell you they pay for fast broadband but what they get makes a snail look speedy. The only conclusion you can draw is that there are too few people on Lantau to kick up sufficient fuss to get PCCW to improve the service.
Some people manage to get internet via Smartphone but it only works in isolated spots. So you are pretty much stuck with PCCW and they know that.
By some miracle, the lady in Now TV Contracts seemed to have the golden touch. She came back to say my relocation would happen on November 14th, for internet, TV, everything. It was all fixed, 10am to 1pm. I thanked her profusely and thought this was far too simple.
It was. Next call was PCCW Relocations department to tell me relocation would take several weeks. I tried to be polite. I really tried, but failed, lapsing into crazed frustrated westerner mode. I suspect they think all westerners are like that.
I suggested they try joined up thinking, talk to their colleagues in different departments and sort it out. Please.
So we moved, taking every PCCW wire and box with us. On November 14th, as the nice lady in Now TV Contracts had promised, Mr Tsang appeared and installed everything. Or I though he had. We tested everything, even the internet worked. Sighs of relief. He left.
Each day since the broadband signal has got weaker, and yesterday it died. I spent a record 37 minutes on the phone while the Relocations department played pass the parcel with Technical Support. They kept telling me that no, I definitely had no connection to the server. This I knew and that’s why I typed yesterday’s blog on an iphone. Finally someone called Jun said my Stubbs Road internet was not connected. But I have left Stubbs Road, I wailed, I am now in Mui Wo, PLEASE read your own records. “Internet cannot be connected” he said firmly. I banged my head off the wall.
Then, as if from a parallel universe, a PCCW technician called. He would be at my Mui Wo place in a few minutes. I just prayed. My helper then rang to say he had been, gone, now internet working fine. Something had been plugged in the wrong hole, so the signal wasn’t good, she explained. I give up.