São Paulo Diary: Misadventures on the NET


Vigilante consumerdom: angry Argentines spank the Spaniards. Source: Iconoclastas.

When Neuza — I am married to the girl — came up to join me in Brooklyn for a couple of months, she left our NET Virtua cable broadband and TV installed.

God knows, she thought, what we would have to go through if we disconnected it and then wanted to reconnect it. She based that on her prior experiences with NET customer service.

When we arrived in São Paulo, the cable broadband was connected, but the cable TV was not.

In other words, we paid for several months of service that we were not actually getting. So what if we were not using it? It’s the principle of the thing. And besides, Geraldo, my painter brother-in-law, occasionally swings by to work on his artistic daubings.

Wanting to catch the final episodes of Paraíso Tropical, the latest prime-time soap opera on TV Globo, Mrs. NMMist called NET and asked them to reconnect the cable TV service. They obliged.

But by the next morning, both TV and Internet services had been cancelled for some reason.

I have work to do today.

When I go to the NET Web site to look for the local customer service number, I find that the site only offers two points of entry:

  1. Click here to upgrade your NET service!
  2. Click here if you are not a NET subscriber, but want to be!

There is no contact information or technical support information available. None.

The number provided for the sales office does not exist.

When you click one of those options to enter the Web site, you get:

O servidor netvirtua.globo.com está demorando muito para responder.

I am posting this over my wife’s Speedy aDSL connection, from the Spanish monopoly, Telefónica.

The error message apparently comes because Speedy has kicked me off the network twice in the time it has taken me to type this post.

When I finally do find a NET site and try to submit an e-mail service request, it does not go through.

I keep getting an error message saying “You must fill in the NET Code field.”

There is no such field in the form.

If there were any other options for industrial-strength broadband in São Paulo, I would be using one of them.

But there are not.

And if the throughput on this aDSL line is really 100 kbps, I am a monkey’s uncle.

And believe me, we have had our nieces and nephews tested. They are all pure homo sapiens. (Fabio is something of a rhinoceros, but only metaphorically.)

NET is a service of the Organizações Globo, in partnership with Mexico’s Carlos Slim.

It sucks. It sucks like a black hole in space.

It is a customer-service abomination.

Relative to local wage scales, NET costs many multiples of what our Cablevision cable broadband in Brooklyn cost. And that service was extremely reliable.

Outages were very rare, and customer service almost invariably posted an explanation and an estimated time for resumption of service. What’s more, they almost always met or beat that estimate.

There is a reason why the Brazilian Association of Broadband Users has ABUSAR [“abuse”] as its acronym.

More power to them, I say.

If you ABUSAR guys need any volunteer English translation done, I am definitely sympathetic to your cause.
Welcome to the tropical paradise of rent-seeking behavior.

São Paulo, Brazil, birthplace of the Brazilian New Economy.

[Fortes xingamentos omitidos]

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