Friday, August 11, 2006
In Boca Chica television services can be served up via an aerial antenna picking up the dozen or so Dominican terrestrial channels, via satellite beamed in from the USA or by cable provided by ‘Economitel’.
Economitel has certainly served us well over the last few years and it seems as though they are planning to maintain if not improve their level of service and have even, with us at least, lived up to the economization implied by the company name, though it did happen in a round about kind of way.
The company is very local indeed serving just Boca Chica, Andres and Caleta… and small though they are they do offer a full range of approximately 70 channels with about a dozen in English and one in each of French, Italian and German. We have been paying for three connections since the time the company established itself more than 5 years ago and paying what we thought to be a very reasonable 850 pesos (about US$26) per month for this service. In July we suddenly received a bill for 1200 pesos without any prior notification of increases whatsoever. We naturally enquired of the company what this was all about, when we next time visited their office. They actually had a couple of posters up indicating that prices had been raised because they already had started increasing, and would continue to increase, the number of channels supplied and that new codified digital set-top boxes would be provided in August to further upgrade the quality of their service, although those who had maintained their accounts would not be charged for these boxes.
We noted that the standard price increase was 25%, tax included, and immediately wondered why ours was closer to a whopping 50% hike. It soon became clear that they had re-categorized our usage as fully commercial, but it didn’t take us long to put two and two together and realize that if we presented our factual residential credentials then the price would naturally fall. Those credentials were verified the next day by a couple of technicians who didn’t hesitate to classify our current use as indeed purely residential.
A few days later and the front desk administrator, now with discernible reluctance, –presumably motivated by her boss who she kept on talking to in low murmurs over the phone while we “negotiated” with her – slowly recognized that she really would have to lower the tariff in line with their own very clear regulations. The final result would now be a monthly 650 pesos -a worthwhile economy of 200 pesos- and far removed from the original starting point of 1200 pesos. We couldn’t tell what the boss was muttering to himself behind his glass screen as we bid them all a good day on leaving… but for some reason he didn’t seem quite as pleased as us.
Anyway… the future certainly holds bright for Economitel if they continue to offer the considerate economy options to their long-term customers as presented to us and also introduce an alternative internet service before the end of the year as they claim they will.