I really want to write only positive things about Colombia. I really do. We are settled here. We are happy here. Colombia has been good to us and I feel like, in return, I should sing its praises .
And yet, the longer we live here, the more I can feel my trust in people just slip away. I notice that my first instinct is increasingly to question people’s motives and to wonder if they are telling the truth. After a year of stories of scamming and betrayal and our own experiences with betrayal (maybe some day I will write about this, but not yet), it’s becoming harder to trust or to even be surprised when absurd things happen.
Take, for instance, our latest adventure. All we wanted was to install cable TV at our new house so Esteban could watch sports. Seems straightforward enough, right?
Not in Colombia, it seems. I called the cable company and they said that a sales agent would call me back. The sales agent did call me back within a couple of hours and we set up an appointment for him to meet with Esteban in Esteban’s office to go over the cable plans, sign the contract and pay the deposit.
I thought that I could check another item off my to-do list when the next day, I received a call from another person who said that he worked for the cable company. He said that the other guy gave him our info because he had too many appointments. Could we set up an appointment with Guy #2? OK. “And what is your husband’s work address?” he inquired.
“But I already gave it to the other sales rep,” I said.
“Oh, he lost it. Could you give it to me again?” he asked. I did and didn’t think much about it until today. Here is what went down:
Guy #2 showed up at Esteban’s office, explained the contract plans to him, signed a contract, took all of Esteban’s info and the deposit. Esteban thought he was done and could look forward to watching some games when we move.
Imagine his surprise when another salesperson showed up at his office an hour later saying that he was the person that we made the appointment with. He was Guy#1, who never heard of Guy#2. Who did we sign a contract with? Give money to? And more importantly give our private info (ID#, etc) to?
After several hours of worry about our private info (there are tons of scams perpetrated here using people’s ID info) and numerous calls to the cable company, it turned out that some subcontractor got our info through their computer system and wanting to get the commission for himself, concocted this whole story to get the appointment and sell us the cable contract. Our contract is valid after all and to give the cable company some credit, they agreed with me that this was highly unprofessional and said that they would fire the subcontractor. Whether they mean it or are just telling me what they think I want to hear, I will never know. What I do know is that stuff like this apparently happens every day here. Esteban went out to lunch with some Colombian colleagues and upon hearing this story, they laughed and proceeded to tell him all the ways in which they have been scammed.
On the one hand, I can honestly say that things are never boring here and you always have to stay on your toes. On the other hand, will I ever regain my sense of trust?