Information/experience for PCS’ers about SIGA (Wiesbaden in particular)

| June 14, 2013

I have allowed three strikes with Wiesbaden’s SIGA Telekom store before making my experience publicly available.  Now, however, I share with you my story so that you are making an informed decision when entering a contract with SIGA Telekom.

I will begin with the day we purchased our phones.  One of our phones was not set up at all: my husband was unable to use his iphone.  When he called the store, he was given instructions for activating it himself.  He attempted to do so, but this required his going online, which he could not do without signing into the hotel’s wifi, which he could not do without access from the phone—which was not activated.  We needed to return to the store, which could not happen for several days due to transportation coordination since we’d just arrived in country without our vehicle.  Strike one.

Strike two was a bigger one: We received our phone bill shortly after moving into our new home (almost an hour from Wiesbaden).  Our bill was several hundred euros higher than expected.  Why?  Because there were international charges despite my phone being enrolled in the international plan—or so we thought.  I called Telekom and they informed me that I was not enrolled.  I explained that I had, in fact, enrolled one phone—mine—in the plan; perhaps the wrong phone was enrolled?  They replied that neither phone was enrolled and that they would not reverse the charges.

The Wiesbaden SIGA store would not resolve the issue by phone.  An hour to the store.  Yes, they could clearly see from the contract that I had enrolled my phone in the international plan.  They just forgot to activate it.  This took about an hour to somewhat resolve in the store and my account was credited over the next week or so, but the whole process was not without its headaches–starting with several hundred euros coming out of our bank account when we were just moving into a house.  And that money was not refunded to us, it was credited to our account.

And now comes Strike Three, which remains unresolved:

I enrolled my phone in the insurance/protection plan.  This is somewhat fortunate, because on the rare occasion that my phone was out of its case, I dropped it and the screen shattered.  Why do I say only “somewhat” fortunate?  Read on.

I walked down the street to my Telekom store, where they said that if I brought in my paperwork, it would be a quick turnaround.  My husband suggested I first call the Wiesbaden SIGA store.  In fact, it turned out that I can only turn my phone in to the SIGA store.

An hour to Wiesbaden.

The store informed me that it would be 2-5 weeks before my phone would be returned (at the time, I thought that a month was a bit long;  that would now have been welcomed).  They handed me a Samsung old generation phone with no instructions or manual, as a loaner.  I still don’t know how to use it properly, and it’s not an intuitive interface.

But let’s move on…

After 5 weeks had just passed, my husband was up in Wiesbaden, so he stopped in the store and inquired.  They told him they would email someone for a status update.  They never got back to us, so I called.  No answer.

After 6 weeks passed, I was still calling the Wiesbaden office and getting no answer.  I left a message and received no call back.

I called the Deutsche Familienversicherung insurance company, which provides my insurance plan.  They gave me the phone number of the company that was handling my phone and instructed me to call them for an estimate on how long until my phone would be ready.  I called the company.  They had no record of my phone ever being there. 

I called the insurance company and relayed this information.  They said that they would call me back.  No call came.  I called back the next day and was told that I’d need to furnish the packaging information from my having sent them the phone.  I explained (for the second time) that the SIGA store mailed the phone.  They said that the store would need to send them the packaging information.

I called SIGA Wiesbaden.  I was told that they would not need to send any information because my phone was actually in shipment back to Wiesbaden, but with no estimated delivery date.

Eight days passed.

Now, I’ve actually written about the speed of the German post.  I receive my mail faster by bicycle here than by truck in the states.  If the phone already was in shipment before 8 days ago, then it would be here.

I called the store today.   My phone was never in shipment.  I have no way of knowing whether I was lied to last week, or it was a case of incompetence—both are possible at this point.  My phone, I was told when the gentleman called back (promptly, I will admit), was actually at the insurance company.  It was still being evaluated for whether or not the screen could be repaired.

I have been without my phone for 55 days today, and there is no estimate on how long I will continue to be without my phone.  Fifty-five days.  And it has not been evaluated yet!  2 months without bluetooth in my car, apps on the go, whatsapping at will to my family back home…  This is beyond unacceptable. (Update: At Day 74, I am still without my phone.  It has not been evaluated.  There is no estimate on how long until it will be evaluated.  They are not replacing my phone until it has been determined that it cannot be fixed.  At Day 64, I visited the store (considerably–and understandably–upset) and my old generation loaner was switched out for a newer Android loaner that at least can connect to the internet properly.  I wrote a letter to the AAFES email address link from SIGA on the Wiesbaden website–which was primarily a copy of this original blog post–and after weeks, have not heard a word from them.  They therefore have demonstrated that they do not care about the service you receive from SIGA.) UPDATE: My phone was returned to me at 10 days shy of 3 months.  And the saga presumably ends.

SIGA was recommended for two reasons: because they speak English, and because they will let you out of the contract if you PCS.

I have interacted by phone with Deutsche Telekom.  The agents either speak a little English, or will have an English-speaking agent call you back.  And while it might take a day, they do call back.  I have interacted with my local Telekom store.  They’re wonderful.  As for the PCS situation, we are civilians and very unlikely to PCS early, so I regret this influencing our decision*.

To PCS’ers: SIGA Wiesbaden is not recommended by me because:

  • Employees do not execute their jobs with care or accuracy
  • The insurance plan we were offered does not provide timely or accurate service
  • You cannot rely on what you are told by employees of the Wiesbaden location, or the Deutsche Familienversicherung insurance company
  • Services must be accomplished through the military store directly and cannot be accomplished at your nearby Telecom store
  • When the store issues loaner phones, the phones can be completely different from the customer’s phone, ergo unfamiliar, and given without instruction; and can be old generation phones that cannot perform the functions of your normal phone

Were I given a do-over, I would go directly through Deutsche Telekom.  Either way, you’re stuck in a contract; at least I’d be stuck in the contract without SIGA Wiesbaden as the middleman.

If you go with a SIGA contract:

  • Keep every single piece of paper the store gives you.  Know where they are.
  • Do not leave the store without knowing that your phone is activated.  Ask twice.
  • Stand there and make sure they enter every single feature of service.  International plan?  Confirm it even if you have to hover as they’re working on setting up your account.
  • If you are waiting on something, call them.  Do not assume they will call you.
  • Anticipate issues.

*Obviously, military personnel in particular should give the potential of PCS’ing (or even TDY’ing, which you can also discuss with a SIGA representative) serious consideration.  There might not be a better alternative to a military-friendly contract.  If that’s the case, it’s a real shame: SIGA probably knows they’re the only game in town and customer service therefore matters not.  

Disclaimer: I cannot and will not attempt to advise you on the best cell phone provider or plan.  I am simply laying out my experience.

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Category: In Germany A Broad blog

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

Comments (7)

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  1. Lauren says:

    Ugh. So my lost phone might not be replaced because I might not have reported it timely enough because I waited until we returned to the Germany when I had access to communications to report it and also confirm that it was missing (since I am known to lose my phone in my purse, I wanted to double check everything). It’ll take 3-4 weeks for the insurance company to decide.

    Meanwhile, I had to pay either 30 euro to get a new sim card or resign a contract for a new phone. Given the amount of time I was told it would take to get a new phone and remembering this exact blog post, I upgraded when I didn’t want to. Now I can’t get the iPhone 6 and pay more money (luckily it’s a better plan and makes sense — silver linings).

  2. Deplorable.
    For people weighing their options: if you’re not using minutes and data like crazy (like I do!), you might want to consider paying as you go, or something like vodafone’s plans with so much data/minutes/text per month for +/-15euro/mo.

  3. Pissed Lol says:

    I just found out that they took 120 dollars out of my account for a service i havent been using in over 2 months. They wont give me back my money which is amazing.

  4. @ Rion – Glad to help. Just keep it all in mind. @ Pissed Lol – 1) Your screen name goes well with this post; 2) Hope it gets better!

  5. Rion says:

    Wow, I am about to move to Germany so this is really good information!

  6. Pissed Lol says:

    I was still getting charged 93 euro after i signed the deactivation papers over a month and a half after i PCSd this early June. They also told me that my phone was unlocked and ready for me to use in the ROK. I attempted to use the Telecommunications provider here in ROk but they told me its not unlocked yay!