Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Happy Ending (Pretty Much)

And so it came to pass that a consortium of Berlin bloggers purchased Jim's Adlon gift-certificate for the full price. I took possession of the cash on Sunday.

And then I did an incredibly stupid thing: I put it, and some money I had in my pocket, in the bank.

Monday I got up, wrote a transfer-slip to the Obergerichtsvollsieher, and took it to the bank. On a whim, I checked my balance. The €220 I'd deposited twelve hours before had turned into €150 and change.

I hiked back home, picked up the receipt for the deposit, and went back to the bank. €74 and change had been taken out that morning, the woman told me. A few more clicks on her computer disclosed the culprit: Deutsche Telekom.

I have no idea how this happened. I have never authorized them to do this. I'm not completely sure how they got my account number, although it's been the same since before I moved here (I got it when I did a short-lived "Letter From America" for the late Radio For You station here).

So I was still short.

Fortunately, this morning, a notoriously undependable magazine I write for deposited $300 in my American account, so in a few minutes, I'm removing more than enough to pay this guy when he shows up on Thursday. I'm not taking any more chances.

And today I picked up three hours' proofreading work on a newsletter and brochure from a German sausage-seasoning company. Not what I want to be doing with my time, but it's work.

13 comments:

daggi said...

Not what I want to be doing with my time, but it's work.

What if work's not what you want to be doing with your time? That's my problem. I just want the money. I'm not doing it mit Leib and Seele (apparently). Do you know anyone who works on a till with a boss who is 3 years younger than them, for 40 hours a week for pay slightly over the amount you get on Hartz IV (if you have the most expensive flat you can have), who is in it mit Leib and Seele? Cos clearly they're not in it for the money. Fair point, manager. Didn't stop he getting me to work for 2 days for free, did it. But I'm sure I'll get something out of it....

Bleistifterin said...

Glad that worked out!
Are you sure you never gave your details to the Telekom? I mean, how did they get their bill paid before? They automatically withdraw from my account to, but then I think I had to sign something. I am sure you can withdraw that approval too (for next time...)

Daggi's Private Citizens' Advice Bureau said...

If they just took the money from your account without you knowing it in advance (and without you knowing why) - or in fact, for any kind of direct debit (the British way of saying what they call Lastschrift here) - you can just go to the back, say Widerspruch get the transaction cancelled. Within 6 weeks (I think) of you seeing it on your bank statement.

If you're at the Sparkasse or Deutsche Bank the rules are probably written on the back of the statement in German and (something resembling) English (that "something" being also known as "financial English").

But if you do owe them that money, I'd consider wisely what you do, otherwise you might get another friendly yellow letter with a very large window... Perhaps phone the Telekom (they also have an "English speaking" freephone hotline) and try and find out exactly what the money was for...

Ed Ward said...

Daggi, your knowledge so far has been astonishing, but Telekom told me over a year ago that the English customer service line had been discontinued. No reason given, and yes, the Turkish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, and Greek services were still in operation.

As soon as I pay off the OGV tomorrow, I'll get to work on the Telekom snafu.

daggi said...

Hmm. The Telekom really are crap, but I'd love (I think I've mentioned this before) to have enough money for a real landline... Or for the cheaper alternatives to get more expensive/the landlines to get cheaper...

Wenn Sie noch einmal an den Zeitpunkt zurückdenken, als das Problem aufgetreten ist, wie würden Sie Ihre damalige Verärgerung im Nachhinein einstufen?

1. nicht verärgert
2. wenig verärgert
3. verärgert
4. deutlich verärgert
5. sehr verärgert
6. ich laufe gleich im nächsten T-Punkt Amok.

http://www.t-com.de/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/EKI-PK-Site/de_DE/-/EUR/ViewForms-Start;sid=qmKm2u_JrnGm26nvKeGsQs7BWPJ5ngtetEd_LdhcrOqOAtipmCc=?itemLocator=Email&headerSelection=2&AnlassSelect=T-Com&ThemaSelect=Rechnung&UnterthemaSelect=&AnlassId=T-Com&ThemaId=Rechnung&UnterthemaId=Reklamation

A tip is - if you're phoning a freephone number - to use a mobile phone. That either means you get to the front of the queue, or you just don't get through at all. As (in my experience) you have to speak to Saxons, it could be a blessing, getting cut off immediately.

MountPenguin said...

Maybe customer service in US bureaucracies is that much better because they know the "customer" might be armed and ready to run amok? (I'm certain that if guns were more readily available in Germany, the Telekom wouldn't be having the problems it's having now with large numbers of excess personnel).

daggi said...

Mp: surely you mean "if guns were more readily available in Germany, the Telekom's personnel wouldn't be having the problems it's having now with their board of directors wanting to cut their pay by 30% and get them to work 8 hours a week longer for it"?

MountPenguin said...

daggi: 'fraid not, I imagine assassinating the Telekom board would take far more planning and organisation than your typical ad-hoc Amoklauf, and would merely result in the next set of corrupt management drones taking the same decisions but from a secure, undisclosed location.

(If you're reading this, Mr. Schäuble, it's just a joke, please don't put me in your big terrorist file).

daggi said...

I think Schäuble's plans involve having "everyone" (all German citizens, I'm not sure how he wants to deal with the foreigners yet) in his terrorist-suspect files.

MountPenguin said...

For once we're actually ahead of the natives and have our own file, the Ausländerzentralregister, albeit without fingerprints (at least without mine).

daggi said...

I suppose it depends where you're from, mp, but as "EU foreigners" don't have an Aufenthaltstitel, we're probably listed in a filing system different to the Ausländerzentralregister.
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aufenthaltstitel#EU-Richtlinien

My file seemed quite think mind you last time I needed to get another permit...

MountPenguin said...

Hmm, last time I looked into it I recall gaining the distinct impression I would be by default in the AZR, but that was many years ago, and as now any EU citizen (possibly excepting some of the newer, easterly countries) can just turn up and start living here without so much as a pre-7am queue-up at Friedrich-Krause-Ufer, it could well not be the case.

But there will always be a File somewhere.

Olivier said...

FWIW I did in fact just turn up and start living here; just did the Anmeldbestätigung thing. My bank seemed to think it wasn't quite right but I quoted the new (2004) immigration law, then stalled and they gave up.