Have you been screwed by a phone company?

I bet at least 50% of all Israelis have been…but I bet at least 80% of immigrants (new and old) can answer that question in the positive. To date, we have been cheated by all three of the major phone companies. That has to be some kind of a record.

We were really insulted when Cellcom overcharged us for 8,000 NIS for a service we had canceled. When we tried to get the money refunded – they told us we had to sign up for another three years. We eventually got the money back, but by then, we’d moved on to Orange, thinking nothing could be worse than Cellcom.

Things went bad with Orange right from the start…when they took our 16 regular Cellcom lines and registered 75 lines – most of which we obviously never received, and I won’t mention the forged signature. By then, we thought nothing could be worse than Orange – they even made Cellcom look good! We never really resolved it with Orange and finally, we pulled out and went to Pelephone with all sorts of promises…most of which they have now broken.

But as bad as Orange was – and honestly, I thought NOTHING could be worse – what happened yesterday in Pelephone’s Talpiot office in Jerusalem is so very bad. It goes beyond the horrible service and the fact that they canceled many discounts without telling us so that our monthly bill increased almost 300%.

It goes beyond the ignored requests to speak to a manager and their ongoing refusal to cancel services we weren’t using. Yesterday, my husband walked into the Talpiot office – we have the whole thing in an audio recording – and spoke to Moshiko, the manager.

Moshiko immediately tried to sell my husband 12 tablets…and then insisted, “yes or no…yes or no…yes or no” – to my husband’s attempts to communicate further. My husband is an amazing man, wise, capable and determined to make himself understood even though his Hebrew isn’t at a great level.

Moshiko didn’t want to understand – he wanted to perform in front of his employees; he wanted to embarrass my husband. And he did. When my husband informed him that he was recording his ongoing attempt to cancel Pelephone services, Moshiko switched tactics, “This is Cellcom,” he responded. “This is Cellcom. This is Cellcom,” to the laughter of his crowd.

No, actually, what that was, was an immature man given a ridiculous amount of responsibility and little sense of decency. We immigrants from the West came to live in this country out of love and dedication. When we moved here, we made a choice to settle in predominantly Hebrew-speaking communities to help our children acclimate more quickly. And we found work quickly so that we could support ourselves at a time when there were no major financial institutions helping immigrants beyond a small rent subsidy and a small one-time payment for shipping our possessions. No grand welcoming ceremonies and grants given, no politicians meeting our plane.

We found work by taking advantage of whatever skills we had – and some of those skills included our ability to communicate in English. This was good for our financial viability but bad for our own ability to acclimate into a society whose native tongue remained difficult to learn. Despite these ongoing challenges, we created a company that has helped hundreds of other olim find work and remain here in Israel.

I challenge Pelephone to either fire this Moshiko for his insensitive and rude treatment of a customer, or demand that Moshiko call my husband and beg his forgiveness. Moshiko can chalk it up to a moment of insanity, a moment when he let his mouth overpower his brain.

In the last 8 hours, I have heard from over a dozen people who have left Pelephone citing the treatment they received. I wonder if the CEO of Pelephone is named Moshiko too.


About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.