New York Times Photographer, Joao Silva

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/this-is-what-i-do-this-is-all-that-i-know/#/8/

At Walter Reed in the first year of recovery after stepping on a land mine, Joao Silva talks about being a photographer in war zones.  Incredible.

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Movistar.es

Movistar is the worst company I have ever encountered.  If possible, NEVER use their services, and if you already are using them, cancel as soon as you can.

Unfortunately, Movistar has a monopoly on phone services in Spain.  So, when we moved to Segovia, the only option we had for telephone and internet service (that we could find) was Movistar.  After waiting for nearly 3 weeks for the technician to show up (and we considered ourselves lucky as we had friends who waited for much longer), we did finally get service.  And, the service was adequate, albeit expensive for what we were getting.  However, the problems started when we decided to move to Madrid.

I called a month before the move to inform them of the move and ask what would be the steps necessary for this move and change of address.  They indicated that I should call a few days before the move to set-up a time for installation in the new apartment.  They also told me to leave the equipment (the DSL etc) in the Segovia apartment (which at the time didn’t make any sense, but I didn’t ask further). A few days before moving, I called to arrange for the move and new installation.  They told me it would take 2 weeks for the new installation.  This annoyed me, as the last time I had called they assured me that we would get the installation within 5 days of our call.

We moved and decided to bring the equipment with us as we weren’t going to have access to our old apartment after we had moved (which is normally what happens when you move!).  Once in the new place, Movistar came and installed the new service within a week!  What luck.  I asked the person who did the installation if he could take our old equipment from Segovia.  He wouldn’t take it and told me to call Movistar. And, this is where the fun begins.

First, we get another bill from Movistar belonging to our old Segovia address.  When we called to ask about it, they told us the line hadn’t been canceled – even though we had told them we were moving.  Apparently, we didn’t say the magic words ‘cancel our line’ (I had said ‘change our line’ – which they were perfectly happy to do and then to charge us for both lines… of course.)

Second, my husband switched phones from a blackberry to an IPhone.  The second bill we got not only didn’t reflect the correct services (over-charging us relative to what was promised), but it also included a variety of random charges that even the Movistar salesperson couldn’t resolve (friends have told us this is completely normal and that Movistar frequently lies about the services you will receive).  Furthermore, the Movistar salesperson from the local store was able to make NO headway in getting a refund from them (when calling for us), even after she got the Movistar telephone agent to admit that there was a mischarge.

The final straw, at least for me, was when I called Movistar and after explaining (again!) that we had moved and couldn’t get into our old apartment, I asked how I could return the old phone equipment. They told me to go to a Movistar store.  I asked which store and they indicated I should go to one in Segovia.  So, I drove to Segovia with the equipment and went to the local Movistar store (2 hour drive roundtrip – and 12 euro toll).  Once there, they told me they couldn’t take it but told me to go to the Movistar store in Madrid.  However, coincidentally, while I was there, I was walking by the outside of our old apartment and noticed a delivery notice for us on the outside door.  The delivery notice had been for that day – and after many calls to the delivery service, – turned out that it was Movistar who had gone to our OLD apartment to pick up the equipment.  IDIOTS.

So, the saga continued.  I returned to Madrid planning on going to the flagship Movistar store was soon as possible.  However, it was not soon enough, and low and behold, a new bill from Movistar arrives charging us 60 euros for what appears to be the equipment – that I had already tried to return twice.  Upon receipt, I went over to the flagship Movistar store on Gran Via, only to be told that they are distributors and could not take the equipment.

So, I call Movistar again.  And, this time, I am told that they would arrange to send someone again to pick up the equipment from our Segovia apartment.  When I explained that I didn’t live there, I was told there was nothing they could do.  They would call me and would set-up a DAY when they would come by the old apartment to pick up the equipment.  I again, explained that I didn’t live there anymore, didn’t have the keys, and had no way to get into the apartment to WAIT all DAY for the person to come pick up the equipment.  I was told this wasn’t their problem.  So, I am now waiting for them to call me (which will probably take another month), to be told the DAY when I need to go sit outside our old apartment building and wait all DAY until they decide to come pick up the equipment.  I’m sure we will receive a few more bills before they call.

Complete ineptitude.

And, last of all, they have an English-speaking line manned with people who do not speak anything I recognize as English.

As a small consolation, I am changing our services in Madrid to someone/anyone else as soon as possible, although it doesn’t quite provide the vindication I would like!

Cilantro – a gastrobar in Chamberí

Cilantro Gastrobar  – Calle General Álvarez de Castro 7 (+34 914 45 55 53)

We stumbled upon this on our way to Plaza Olavides last night and decided to try it out for dinner.  And, what a fortuitous decision!
While waiting for a table, we started at the bar with a delicious Tempranillo/Cabernet wine from Navarra.  Once seated, we ordered an array food – totopos de oaxaca en nachos, ensalada de tomates raf, aceite de albahaca y queso de Parma, a few pinchos, and ‘the’ hamberguesa.  Everything was delicious – flavorful, fresh (the mozzarella di bufala was incredible), and interesting (the basil-infused olive oil added a pesto-like seasoning to the tomatoes). Alongside we tried a white Rioja that was the perfect compliment.  We ended with the cheesecake hailing direct from Nueva York. It was delicious.