Ya.com: incompetence without ethics

Ya.com seems to me to be one of the most unethical and incompetent Internet service providers in Spain and perhaps the world. Add the unpleasantness and difficulty of dealing with them to the mix and you have a recipe for a foul-tasting dish of broadband. My advice: steer as far clear of Ya.com as you can.


When I moved to my current residence in 2004 I set up an ADSL connection with Ya.com. I chose them because they offered the fastest plans at that time (4Mb) at a reasonable price (about 75€ per month). This price was about double the market-average for ADSL connections at that time, but the speed was about eight times the market-average, so it seemed like a good offer.

I wasn’t happy with the way they set up the connection because they took significantly longer than the promised 30-day maximum, something which was extremely inconvenient because my business model depends on having a good connection to the Internet. And it seemed incredible that a company could take so long to set-up an ADSL connection in a first-world, European nation in the 21st century. They were extremely unresponsive to any attempts at getting the situation resolved, always blaming the incumbent ex-government monopoly tel-co, Telefónica. Phone calls and written complaints achieved nothing (other than wasting my time). But that’s water under the bridge now.

Lack of ethics

I’ve fulfilled my one-year contract now (many months ago) and so I’m free to move on. I noticed that things have changed since I signed up; their most expensive plan is now only 32,95€ + IVA per month (that’s for a 20Mb connection). Yet Ya.com has continued to charge me twice as much for something only one fifth as fast.

So I call Ya.com. They tell me they can’t halve the price because they’ve already doubled my velocity (to 8Mb). This is a common trick of the service providers and it doesn’t strike me as particularly ethical: they try to lock you in at a fixed price despite the fact that market forces act to drive prices downwards over time for a given service. Nevertheless, I thought to myself, I’m negotiating from a position of power; I’ve completed my contract and am free to jump to another service provider whenever I want, so if they screw me, they lose me. Why do they think I’d be happy paying twice the cost of their most expensive advertised plan for something that is not even half as fast? Why would they treat a loyal customer so badly, one that’s fulfilled his contract and has brought considerable revenue into their coffers in the past? Don’t they realize that this kind of treatment leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth?

Lack of competence

Perhaps I was wrong to blame Ya.com for lacking ethics. The more I deal with them the more it seems that stupidity is to blame.

When I called them back in November to sort this out they told three contradictory pieces of information in the same phone call:

1. That my service speed had been doubled to 8Mb and that it couldn’t be lowered

This was untrue. The service speed was still capped at 4Mb. I know this from the running network tests. I have some corroborating evidence that the consultant was either knowingly or unwittingly deceiving me because the bills I received showed that the service at that time was still 4Mb. (Ya.com later did actually duplicate the service speed, confirmed by network tests and bills, but they did so after I had explicitly requested that they switch me to a "4Mb + calls" plan. With all the phone calls and letters that have been exchanged since then I am not sure what speed my connection actually is; I know they’re charging me for an 8Mb connection but I no longer ever see transfers faster than about 400KB.)

2. That they didn’t actually offer 8Mb after all

The consultant then said, "Wait a minute, that can’t be true… we can’t have doubled your velocity to 8Mb because that service isn’t available". And there was I, wondering why there was no mention of any 8Mb plan on the Ya.com website. She then offered to switch me to the "4Mb plus calls" plan which worked out reasonably enough (about 30€ per month with unlimited local and national calls).

3. That the reduction to 4Mb had been requested and that I should call back later

She told me she’d requested the reduction to 4Mb (something she had previously said that she "couldn’t do") but said that the system "gave an error" when she tried to request the addition of calls, so I should call back after receiving my first bill. So here begins the incompetence. "System errors"…

Locked in the land of 75€ ADSL

Three months passed and I received no bills at all (I normally receive one per month). Then, in one hit I receive a bill with three months on it; and guess what: each month as for an "8Mb ADSL" service, billed at 75€ per month.

So the consultant had misinformed me when she said the request to drop to 4Mb had been processed. It hadn’t. On the contrary, this was the first bill where "8Mb" appeared instead of "4Mb". So exactly the opposite change than the one I had requested had been made!

This time I called again and the incompetence continued. There was no record of my prior phone call or request, said the consultant. Why then, do I see a mysterious reference to a "solicitud de alta" (an application for service) in my online account history on the date that I made the phone call?

She tried to switch me to the "ADSL + calls" plan (three times, she said) and each time got a system error. Who can I speak to that can sort this out? She tells me I have to write a written complaint, and advises me to call back in a week to try again and see if the bugs are ironed out. This time I request a reference number for the phone call.

So I spend an hour of my time (that I would rather use writing code) writing a letter of complaint explaining the history of the situation and asking for things to be sorted out immediately. My main complaints: that Ya.com is charging me more than twice the price of their most expensive offering; that they didn’t switch my plans when they said they would; that on re-requesting that they make the change they inform me that their system is broken; that I’m a good customer (fulfilled the terms of my contract) yet they’re treating me as though I were their worst enemy.

I called again today: they say there’s no record of having received my complaint yet (glad I used certified mail); that they system still gives them an error; that they’ll try to process the application (to switch to "ADSL + calls") in written form instead of using their broken computer system.

I find it really hard to believe that a company can treat its customers with such utter contempt. Ya.com’s conduct basically says to me, "We’re morally bankrupt: we are going to screw you as hard as we can for money; and we’re technically bankrupt too: our systems don’t even work properly". Ya.com could basically have me as a customer for life; just the kind they want: a techie who’s willing to pay a premium for the best connectivity. But instead they seem determined to drive me away to another company. It’s lunacy.