Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why Movistar should be avoided

While we love to praise good service and recommend things, we think it's fair we should also name and shame terrible service. If you're living in Spain or moving here soon, we do not recommend Movistar for your phone or internet.

Movistar (formerly known as Telefonica) is Spain's largest telecommunication company, and one of the world's largest; it also operates in many Latin american countries and owns part of other telecommunications companies worldwide (O2 in the UK for example). While the quality of the products is generally good (except customer service)- my broadband goes ok and happy with my phone, they are such a dirty, cheating, thieving company. Here are a couple of personal experiences:

Last summer I wanted to cancel a USB internet connection and mobile contract, because I moved to an appartment with ADSL and I'd got a new smartphone a couple of months earlier. The two contracts expired last August, so I sent a registered letter with plenty of notice to inform them that I had fulfilled my 18 month contract and I wished to terminate the contracts. So the day after the contract ends, I check my old mobile and still see it's connected. I ring to see what's going on and I explain that I sent the letter. They deny receiving the letter, despite the fact I had received the slip from the Correos confirming delivery. I spent nearly one hour on the phone being passed around, and I basically had to scream at them (I'm normally a very calm person) to tell them to cancel the contracts, whilst they kept trying to persuade me to stay and wanted me to give reasons as to why I wanted to cancel. Surely once a person has fulfilled the obligations of the contract they should freely be able to cancel, and without giving reasons?

My second experience with Movistar was just a couple of weeks later. I realised that it was stupid to be paying for a landline package we never use. So I call them again to see if we can cancel and just pay to keep the line. The girl I spoke to offered a discount and the new charges would take effect from then on. I made sure I confirmed with her the new price and noted the date. What happened when I received the phone bill for that month? They had charged us the same as before! I ring them up fuming and explain that I have been lied to. Luckily this time the girl offers me the same thing and the new tariff is in place for the next bill. Strangely, since we changed to this new plan we have not received a bill in the post. I wonder why.

Fastforward to March, and we get a bill for 64€. We never ever use the landline to call, so it's def not gone up due to us calling. Of course as Movistar has decided to stop sending us bills and their online system is such a piece of crap to sign up for, we cannot see what this is for. We assume they've bumped up the tariff. Now I've checked my bank statements and this time we've been charged 78€. It's time to change company I think. Enough of these dirty thieving practices. Besides I really don't think my nerves could stand another call to (or rather a fight with) their atención al cliente.

I'm not alone in this; millions of Spanish people loathe Telefonica/Movistar. In fact it's often refered to 'Timofonica' ('Ripoff' fonica). A quick look at Wikipedia explains how Telefonica has been fined millions of euros by the EU for unfair practice and terrible customer service, and this article in Spanish published yesterday states how the company is losing customers in droves. They deserve it. If you need a phone company in Spain, there are plenty of others. Jazztel is a good one for broadband, but also Orange, ONO and Vodafone offer internet and phone, although I have a couple of friends who say Vodafone's connections are very unreliable.


  1. I am in Mexico and have struggles with Telcel (I personally have renamed them TELHELL) absolutely useless internet service and rip off prices for cellphone usage. I am now with Movistar and they are just as bad - only having used up 350Mb of my 2Gb but getting messages popping up saying ad more credit for internet access. Sadly I have to say that the Mexican people - although I love them as people - have no idea when it comes to anything technological whatsoever. As I trade the stock market this will ultimately force me to move to another country. It is simply impossible to do any form of business that relies totally on internet reliablility. They are in the dark ages - just slightly ahead of Somalia I think.

  2. I am currently wondering why my pay-as-you-go Movistar movil already has a close to an empty balance when I have only made about 4 calls and 6 text messages?? And it started with 10 euros on the phone. Does anyone know what the rates are? When I got the phone..for some reason I was under the illusion that it was really cheap. 8 cents/minute and 15 cents/text.