Stepping into the new millennium – Spanish style!

Posted in Unwelcomed notions published for no obvious reason on December 10th, 2009 by Jeppe Gr├╝nberger

So, I finally got around to ordering my own internet connection with some much required help from our neighbour. I have been wondering when I would encounter this specific bureaucratic nonsense that people down here refer to with a shrug and “It’s Spain”, and this was to be the day.

First, I didn’t think it that bad. We called up the Internet service provider and discussed the location for my new line and they asked for my identification number, which always strikes me as slightly unnecessary as I am ordering something to my own home which I am very unlikely to run away from, but they do this all the time down here. Then we went on to my bank details so that I could pay the bills, and then they got my VISA card number to pay for the installation. But THEN it got strange. Until then my neighbour had been on the phone and been the mediator, but now this was no longer allowed. First of all, the call was put through to Argentina, where (much like USA and India) Spain employs people for no money to do meaningless things like support. Second, there would now be a recording of the conversation and only I would be allowed to speak on my own behalf – it was all very solemn. I was asked to confirm all manner of formalities before we could proceed with this life-and-death business of ordering an internet connection. At some point I half expected to be asked if I was or had ever been a member of the Communist Party, but I wasn’t.

Well, the conversation begins and first they ask me to confirm my name, which they have no clue as how to pronounce, but I just agree that I am indeed Signor Hrep Groan-burger. Then they ask me to confirm what I am ordering and I have to read my passport number, my address, my contact phone number and my VISA card number out loud – for the record. Then she goes on to reading a document to me of the same length as a disclaimer for a software program that no one ever reads, not even the people who write them. Time just went on and on. She kept telling me about senseless things in a language that I only partially understand, but I was generally very agreeable. I thought, if this official recording is used as an actual legally binding contract then we have in fact saved ourselves a bit of trouble – not having to send a contract to me, and me not having to send it back. But then, something went wrong with the recording and we had to start over – splendid. Armed with patience, I went through the same thing again, and I wasn’t really that upset yet. And 45 delightful minutes later we were done, and she thanked me kindly and said that she would now mail me a contract to sign, that I had to return to Madrid. And this was just too baffling. Why, for the Love of all that is holy, did this unfortunate Argentinian and I just spend the better part of an hour discussing senseless legal mumbo-jumbo that, frankly, none of us understood if it wasn’t binding anyway? What was the point? Someone owed both her and me an hour of our lives back. Something like that can make you feel as though the world is taunting you, it seem incredible that such a thing was ever conceived in it’s stunning idiocy by anyone – and to imagine it actually being carried out… well, it’s Spain, I suppose.

So, who do I turn to for this hour of my life? A clever demon of binding contracts have stolen an hour from the Argentinian woman and myself, but probably only I have really lost anything. I am guessing that if those 45 minutes would be sliced away in the name of efficiency, my friend in Argentina would be out of a job. So, even though she is wasting her time thoroughly, she is getting paid for it. I just lost my time.

Now, I was thinking about how to get it back, and then it dawned on me: if I wrote an entry on my blog about it and had just five people waste nine minutes each on it – then, from a point of view, I would be even. So there, now you go and find someone YOU can steal time from. Preferably from Argentina so that the circle may one day be completed, thank you.