HOT or not? Nightmares in customer service

Getting married means planning a wedding and moving house all at the same time. There’s so much to do — paperwork and organising and moving and packing and bills of all sorts. Moving over the electricity and gas for the new flat wasn’t so bad, but it didn’t have a phone line or Internet connection yet, so I needed to make a new connection. Last Tuesday I decided to sort it out.

I looked at HOT, to see if they had any good packages that combined an Internet connection with cable TV. Cable isn’t something that we desperately want, but if it was bundled in with an Internet connection then it might have been really cheap, so I thought it was worth at least asking.

That was my first mistake.

I looked at the offers on the website, and was about to call them when I saw that they had a “callback” option, where instead of waiting on hold, you enter your phone number and they call you.

That was my second mistake.

Within five minutes, my mobile phone rang and a very bored-sounding woman asked me what package I wanted to order. I told her I wanted to ask a few questions first.

“So once you’ve answered the questions you’ll order?” she asked

“That depends on the answers to the questions” I said.

“So you’ll call back once you’ve answered the questions”

“Well, I was calling so that you would answer them for me”

“OK, well thanks. Call us back once you’ve answered them”, she said. And hung up.


Huh. A bit annoyed, I hurriedly called them back.

This was probably my third mistake.

Eventually, I got through to someone who explained the full offer to me. He stressed that it would be a big mistake to order online, even though it was cheaper – it could take “a month” to be connected. But he could sort me out within days. Finally, I understood what was on offer and realised that it really wasn’t that great. Forget cable TV, I don’t really need it anyway. I declined and started looking at other Internet providers.

Half an hour later, I got a call from a HOT rep, asking me if I wanted to join. I told them I’d decided against it. He wanted to know why, and I told him I’d decided against cable altogether.

An hour later, another HOT rep called, and I told her the same thing.

The next morning, HOT called three times. I told them I must be on the wrong list, because I had already decided that I wasn’t interested.

That afternoon, I got a call from a blocked number. I answered it, and was told I was speaking to HOT’s special offers department and that they could offer me an extra-cheap deal if I joined today. After a few minutes, it became clear that the “special deal” was exactly the same thing I’d been offered the day before — essentially a one-month teaser deal that becomes extremely expensive afterwards. I told him it was too expensive.

“How much do you want to pay?” he asked.

I told him I really didn’t want cable at all.

“Just give me a number. What price could I offer you that would make you take it?”

So I gave him a pretty low number.

“That’s crazy. Nobody pays that. There’s no such thing in Israel”, he said.

“That’s OK because I DON’T WANT CABLE” I found myself shouting.


The next day, HOT sales reps called me nine times.

Sometimes the calls came from their desks, sometimes from blocked numbers. Sometimes there would be lots of noise in the background, and sometimes it would be dead silent.

I felt like I’d acquired a stalker, or an obsessed girl that had decided that I was ‘the One’ and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

All of them said that I was registered as interested in them. When I said I wasn’t, they all wanted to know why. Why hadn’t I already taken one of their deals? Why wasn’t I prepared to sign up right now? Was I seeing another cable-company behind their back? Which one? What had the other company offered me? Always, with a tone of honest surprise in their voices (they must teach them) that I hadn’t immediately signed up when offered the chance.

The next day, a Friday, they called three more times.

At Shabbat lunch, a friend of mine told me he’d had exactly the same experience. He suspected that they use printed-out lists of prospects, and that my number was probably on hundreds of them by now. He told me I should expect more calls.

He was right. On Saturday night, at 9:30 pm, HOT called again. And again at 10:30pm.

On Sunday, they called three more times.

By now I was alternating between begging to be taken off of their list and threatening that if I got one more call I’d tell everyone I knew not to use HOT and I’d write an article about it to spread the word even further. Finally, I got a promise that this time I’d be taken off of the list and that’d be the end of it.

Meanwhile, I called Bezeq, and was helped by a great salesman who convinced me that I only needed their cheapest package. He booked the installation for 36 hours later. It was like another world.

On Monday, my phone was undisturbed by HOT. It was finally over.

Over, that was, until Tuesday, when they called again — three more times. And twice yesterday.

When the HOT rep called today, I tried begging again. “You’ve called me nearly 30 times”, I pleaded. “Please, please, just take me off of your list.”

“But we just want to understand why you don’t want to get cable”, she said again.

“I’m not buying from you because you keep calling me. I’m going crazy. Just stop. Please, please stop. I will pay you to stop, but I am not, under any circumstances, going to buy cable from you. Nothing will make me change my mind. Just please go away”.

“You’re not getting HOT cable because we keep calling you?”, she said, as if some sense of comprehension was finally dawning on her.

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Stop calling me. Stop. Just stop.”

“OK”, she said, “I understand”….

“So, when do you think you’ll change your mind?”

About the Author
Arieh Kovler is a public affairs, PR and communication professional. Before his aliya he was the Head of Policy and Research for Britain's Jewish Leadership Council and director of the Fair Play Campaign, the UK's coordination body against anti-Zionist activity.