OK, so most of you know the troubles I had acquiring internet here in Jordan. I figured I’d give a rundown of what actually took place. It all started a few days into the trip. My roommate, a fews friends and myself took a trip to City Mall in order to acquire internet for ourselves in our apartments. We ended up discussing internet with one of the providers Mada who seemed to offer the best service. Adam and I went through the sales clerk’s pitch and started the process of activating internet accounts. Then as we were examining the coverage map it turned out there were 8 buildings on our street which were not covered for service. Our building turned out to be one of those without service. So ultimately we had to consider different options.
On February 8th, during a trip to secure a beard trimmer at the mall nearest to us Adam and I decided to talk to the Umniah kiosk in the mall about possible internet options. At first the girl was stand-offish and looked wholely disinterested in actually helping us. That all changed when I spoke some Arabic to her. I explained to her (in Arabic) that I was a student at the University of Jordan which completely changed her demeanor and we ended up discussing her status at the university as well. Since I had a copy of my passport with me I was able to sign up for internet and purchased a usb plug wireless modem. Adam would purchase his a few days later with no problems. Well as soon as I got home I installed the wireless drivers and attempted to log in using the login information they sent to me via SMS. Well, needless to say it did not work. I thought nothing of it and decided to try again the next day at the university. It didn’t work then either. That night I got home and called customer service. First of all, here’s a bit of advice: when the help technician asks you a question, despite your initial instinct don’t answer in Arabic. I answered in Arabic and that opend the floodgates of all sorts of technical questions in Arabic which I could not understand. I stopped him and we continued the conversation in English. He informed me the account was up and working and that I needed to reset my password. So I went through the process of resetting the password and I tried again. I recieved the same error message telling me to check the login information as it may be wrong. I called customer service again and reset the password once again with still no success.
After all of this I returned to the kiosk where I was sold the plug and discussed my problems with the girl whom I bought it from. She clearly had no idea what I needed to do and sugessted that I go to the main Umniah building and have them examine the hardware. She also mentioned that the sale was final and since I had a contract even though I was having problems I would not be able to get a refund for the plug. After giving me the directions to the main building (directions in Jordan are a headache which I don’t want to get into, needless to say every building has an address and every street has a name but nobody knows any of it so essentially this information is useless) she told me that I could just go to the kiosk at city mall and get the plug replaced. She also put in a work order reqeust with Umniah and told me they would call me in 48 hours. I decided to wait for the call. They of course never called so I ended up calling the help desk again. The told me they would reset my password which I toild them would not fix the problem THe technician replied the account was working, he had no idea what the problem was and suggested I go to City Mall and get a new plug.
Back to City Mall I went. I talked to the clerks at the kiosk, they took my information and put a work order in with Umniah and told me they would call me in 24 hours. 48 hours passed and I had received no phone call (other than a Umniah followup call to survey my customer satisfaction). So back to City Mall I went. At this point I think I had spent 10 or 15 JD on cabs in this ordeal. I talked to the sales clerk again, he took my information and put a work order in with Umniah, told me there was nothing they could do there and that Umniah would call me in 48 hours. THis time I actually did receive a phone call and the technician ran me through some troubleshooting (uninstall software, reinstall and try again) which did not work. Basically he told me that I could exchange the plug for a modem. What happened next? Back to City Mall I went. Once I got there I was told they didn’t have any modems and that I should try to uninstall the software, reinstall it and try again. This touched off a wonderful frustration driven tirade towards my roommate about Jordan which despite making me feel better and filled with some pretty funny content did nothing to solve the problem.
At this point I had become extremely frustrated at my lack of progress and I expressed my exasperation to my peer-tutor Muhammed (my tutor at home was named Muhammed, weird). He informed me that his sister worked for Umniah and asked me to give him my contract to see if there was anything he could do about my problem. I unleashed the power of the wasta on Umniah. After a few days of going through some actually intuitive tricks to make the plug work (ultimately they failed but it was still nice to be able to try something new) he decided that we needed to go to the Umniah building and get this working because at this point almost a month had passed since I had purchased the plug.
A couple days later Muhammed met me with his friend Falcon (his name in Arabic means falcon of the skies or something along those lines so he just told me to call him Falcon) and we were off to the Umniah building. Once we arrived and our number was called I stood there while my tutor had a long conversation with the clerk about my problems and the fact that I had paid for a month of internet that I could not use. I ended up receiving a new wirelss modem to use which the difference in cost actually covered the month of internet that I had been deprived of and which is much faster than the modem I had originally purchased. I took it home and voila I had access to the interest.
What’s the moral of this story? Skip bureaucratic nightmares and just go straight to the wasta. It pays to know people. Literally.