Thursday, 13 December 2012

Frightening Campfire Stories: Reggefiber, The Horrors Of Dutch Bureaucracy

Before my girlfriend and I moved into our current apartment here in Almere, we looked at the options for internet. I automatically assumed that fiber internet would be available since virtually all of Almere is connected to the city-wide grid. Upon a closer check it turned out that this would not be the case. Despite being smack in the middle of the coverage zone, the apartment was listed as not having fiber available as option. Flabbergasted, I signed up for fiber once it would become available and settled for a sluggish 4 Mbit ADSL connection with provider XS4All while things worked out.

Once living in the apartment we learned that most people in the apartment building either were using fiber internet, or had the necessary wiring installed at least. The previous occupants of this apartment building must have refused to have the wiring installed back in 2009/2010. Now we would have to ensure that it could be installed. Our provider, XS4All, just let us know that we'd have to get the necessary wiring installed, and thus I looked at contacting the single company managing all fiber networks in the Netherlands: Reggefiber. Their response however was brief and quite cryptic, I'd have to let my provider carry out a feasibility check of installing the wiring. XS4All's response was one of puzzlement: they had never even heard of such a check.

Fast forward a few months, during which Reggefiber ensured me that I'd just have to ask permission from the neighbours living below us in the building to have the wiring installed - which we did - and XS4All's management contacted Reggefiber to inquire about this feasibility check. Eventually XS4All got the forms from Reggefiber needed for the check, and within a few weeks it showed that it was totally possible. Late last month I was able to order the 50 Mbit fiber install package with XS4All as availability at our address was changed to 'available'. Now we have the green light from the site, the fiber install package with the modem, a free installation courtesy of XS4All on hold, and we are waiting for Reggefiber to install the wiring. This should happen before the end of the year, they ensured me.

What most baffles about me about this whole thing is Reggefiber's insistence throughout this whole ordeal that fiber would not be available at this address, this despite the address being in the middle of the coverage zone, the rest of building being wired up already, and their records should show that an install attempt was made a few years ago, but refused by the technophobic people who previously lived in this apartment. For them it should have been a simple 'okay, we'll have it installed now' response, but instead we got the run-around for half a year, baffling even a grizzled, experienced ISP like XS4All, and still don't have things sorted out yet.

Experiences like these are seemingly typical of Dutch companies and government instances. Their whole support departments seem to be focused on confusing and wearing down customers and the like until they finally give up and leave them alone. Dutch bureaucracy has to be among the worst in the world in how it's customer-hostile, inefficient and bogged down by its own stacks of conflicting rules, regulations and dysfunctional administrations.

I just hope that we'll have fiber internet before New Year's now.



Anonymous said...


Een onhandige gang van zaken als ik je bericht zo lees.

Hoe staat het er nu voor? Is er nog iets dat wij voor je kunnen betekenen in deze.

Wij horen het graag.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Marco van Gent
Reggefiber Team Almere

Maya Posch said...

Hallo Marco,

Bedankt voor het reageren. Op dit moment wachten wij nog steeds op bericht van de aannemer die in opdracht van Reggefiber de fysieke verbinding zou moeten aanleggen. Dit zou eind december moeten zijn gebeurd, maar tot op heden hebben wij nog niets gehoord.

Het zou zeer fijn zijn als dit binnenkort zou kunnen worden geregeld.