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Srbija 2020

SBB – They’ll Break Your Heart

I decided this Christmas to treat myself to some cable internet from my beloved provider SBB. What with the holiday season upon us and the nights well and truly drawing in, I thought I might well sit at home and enjoy whiling away the hours surfing the net. However, as luck would have it, I had none and instead I spent most of the holiday season attempting to track down and break the will of SBB in a still vain attempt to get my hands on the internet access I had so stupidly paid for. I think that I have actually spent more time listening to recorded telephone queue messages and standing in record-breakingly slow-moving queues than actually surfing.  

So I had purchased my month’s internet access with the hope of fast and unlimited internet. What I got was neither. What started at a snails pace quickly turned into a dead snail. My internet had actually been faster when I had paid for bloody dial-up. And as far as unlimited is concerned, I got all of four days (at snails pace) before my internet decided to give up the ghost. All that was unlimited was my annoyance over the next couple of weeks as I desperately and ultimately vainly, attempted to get the internet access that I had paid for. 

The problem was that SBB was a decidedly difficult quarry to corner. Like any company so cornered they had a number of defensive measures that they could and would deploy against me. The first of these was the ‘we’ll keep you on hold until you give up’ tactic, better known to most of us as the call centre. I must have rung this place at least six times with no concrete results except an increasingly high phone bill. You know you are in trouble when you are told you are number thirteen in the queue. And they didn’t even have a Serbian automated voice to tell you that you were that far up the line. That only happened after you were under ten. So I waited and waited, gritting my teeth as I made my way into Serbian language territory and even the lower digits. The problem was that on more than two occasions after making it from 12 to 2 I was told that all the operators were busy and that I would have to try later. And they hadn’t considered telling me this fact earlier? The other classic was when I asked if the operator could speak in English as I wasn’t too sure about explaining the problems with my internet in my mother tongue let alone in Serbian. This resulted in a ‘Hold on’ followed by a dial tone. And so I decided to roll up my sleeves and approach SBB head on at their offices. 

The problem was that it didn’t seem to be just me having problems with my SBB connections, half of Belgrade did too. And so I found myself at the back of yet another line. Not only was it to take me forty minutes to get to the front of the five man line but I was dogged by an old woman immediately behind me who behaved like a cobra about to strike. It seemed as though she was trying to transfix the beleaguered desk clerk whilst sporting a face like a spanked arse. The only thing that she actually succeeded in doing was annoying me as she couldn’t stand still, occasionally giving my back a welcoming bump with a coiled elbow for good measure. Finally, after much frustration, I managed to get to the desk and asked the guy if he would kindly send an engineer to my place to fix the cables that were currently masquerading as a connection. He said he would and two days later an engineer came to fix the problem. Or at least try to fix the problem.  

Decidedly sullen and managing little more than Stone Age grunts that barely passed as communication, the engineer tried a number of different possible solutions before admitting defeat. My computer was what they term in the industry ‘fucked’. Either I would have to delete my hard-drive and re-install all my programmes or I would have to accept the fact that my cable relationship with SBB was over. What more could one do to show one’s commitment to SBB? And so assistance was called in to delete and re-install my computer and restore balance to the force. Thank you Nikola for everything that you did (and I hope that you enjoyed the dinner) but the computer’s internet capabilities are still clinging to their old pre-re-installation industry classification. And now not even the dial-up connection is working. I have decided to give up on it all for the short term until I have regained my strength. Where I am going to go once I have I really don’t know, but I am desperately hoping that it isn’t going to be SBB.     

I am currently hanging on the telephone waiting for another SBB engineer to come and finally fix my internet.

Why don't

you try with ADSL, instead? (If your phone line/switchbox supports it.)

About a year ago, I gladly refused their (cable Internet) offer, although a friend of mine, IT expert, wholeheartedly recommended a cable option as more advanced than an (A)DSL one. My decision was led by (a simple) examination of the available offer, as presented on the web sites. SBB's web site was among the technically poorest, not to mention "call centre" as a single "communication" channel with technical support service.

Soon after I successfully installed my ADSL modem, I decided to "rent" web domain (for business purpose). Now, SBB was the cheapest offer. But, it took a couple of weeks to get a proper invoice from them. Firstly, to learn their fax number, after to learn their phone number (first invoice was without complete bank account No). Finally, I succeeded, but, still, I might expect problems to renew annual subscription in spring.

Finally, I got rid of SBB's cable TV service, and switched to their competition, but for TV purposes only. I can't say that their TV provision is bad, but, simply, I wanted to try out another cable provider, and possibly their cable Internet, as optional to the existing ADSL (very good experience, so far).

PS: I didn't mention any company names beside the subject (of yours) one. They don't pay me for that. For such details, you can send me a (direct) email.

No hope

Whether you use cable, digital subscribers line, frame relay or ethernet by direct connection on an ISPs switch as I do, there's no hope. Behind all of these technologies lies a lazy human being, thus your fortune is doomed - you'll lose your nerves for sure and get less than you pay... :-(

That's heartbreaking, but

That's heartbreaking, but how would you dub this: in September, SBB promised they would provide my neighborhood with internet access in "five days to two weeks", so that we dummies might start using their cable tv. Two weeks later, they said, "in about a month". In Novemeber, they said "by the end of the year". Couple of days ago, it was "by June". And I was so lost for words that I forgot to ask, "June 2007"? I think that's what they meant.

Someone should publicly shame these morons, but in Serbian. They won't read this. Can't read this. Don't care what this says.

Well you'll be surprised

SBB have actually just contacted me to apologise, saying that they just read my blog and would do what they can.

Way to go Nicholas....

Could you please write another blog and complain about Telekom Serbia's lacklustre approach to upgrading the landline network to ADSL ready...especially in Palilula... your phone starts with 32... :)

Proper wording

is monopoly, isnt it?

Thats almost too good to

Thats almost too good to believe, but positive!

Keep us posted on your progress.

Replied to their email

I replied to their email just now (from work) and am hoping that I will get some prompt action. We shall see. It is nice to see that speaking up actually gets things done every so often.

Something else to bear in

Something else to bear in mind is that consumer associations have only just begun their lives in Serbia. But, yes, you should speak up although speaking up in Serbia is a whole different topic for discussion.
Those that do speak up are usually the same chracters who are never happy with anything (that woman you mentioned you could probably meet in a queue complaining about her electricity bill or about an open window on the bus).
Then there are members of polite society who feel that nothing will change if they complain anyway - plus they dont want to look like the former group.

Cable companies are notorious though. They are known for switching off the signal in areas for hours on end, without prior warning. They also occasionally forget to switch TV stations back on which were covering a sporting event. In other words if you like to watch HRT better hope your programme isnt after a live sporting event.
Still, just think of the prices back in blighty and your bill here - it will make you a little feel better.

Maybe you could tell SBB them that you will change the title to 'They will win your heart' if they sort their act out :)

That is not suprise...

.. because one of the bloggers is working for SBB. Which one I'll let you to figure out. B)

BTW, I have SBB on two locations, office and home, my sister is using it, few of my clients also. Never had a problem that huge as yours.

It IS surprising...

...that noone from B92 has reacted and deleted the offensive above-mentioned lines...Especially because one of the bloggers works for SBB...and especially because they personally invited him to write for them.

It's not fair to call anyone names and judge the company by the experience with a "cable guy with a broken car"...Probably all of us work for companies that have the same problems and that can be mentioned here in a negative context...

Welcome to the region!

I assume you´ve already understood that this way of doing business is the rule here, not an exception.
And I dare to give you an advice: people like to say "no problem!" for any situation. My experience: whenever you hear "no problem!" you can be sure that problems are just starting.

not an exception at all

A mopnth ago, I contacted SBB for cable internet installation. That was because of my nightmare experience with another cable-internet provider, Beogrid. SBB operater gave me the phone number of some guy for technical installation. I was supposet to call him to set the term. So I called him, and he said Tuesday, maybe Wednesday. Bat it wasn't Tuesday nor Wednesday. Finally, we agreed for Friday, 7 pm. So I came on the spot Friday at 7 pm. And at 7:30 I received phone call. It was Nikola, the cable guy. He informed me that he was not comming, because his car was not yet fixed at the car-service. "Could we postpone the thing for tomorrow, 12:00?", he asked. Ok, so be it.
So, you can imagine me sitting and waiting for him Saturday at noon. But I suspect you already know the plot. At 12:30 on Saturday, I received another phone call from him. Could we arrange the next term at Monday?
No, we could not. Monday I called the SBB call service, and asked to send me another guy, if possible easier to catch. They took my phone number, and promissed to call me in the morning. That was three weeks ago, but that morning still did not come.

You see...

...gorran, with all due respect, but how does any of your hearbreaks compare to mine? Be fair. Nicholas has actually had the thingie installed, all he has to do now is force someone to make it work - he's almost there. You have received a promise that at one point measured in hours, "12:30", I believe they told you. Or at least they're talking to you in terms of days (Monday...), or weeks even. They only talked to me that way when I was young and naive six months ago. Now it's only month-names, and I don't even know which year.

Own up, of all the sorrows of all the hopeful SBB users.... mine is the hardest to bear.

Ach, this blog has touched a raw, raw nerve....


I hope they also found time to read that I called them morons. Irresponsible, inept, tardy, lazy, complacent.

No problem at all

Once ago Serbian major trading company had a daughter company in London, well established for more than 40 years, just across Hamley's store in Regent Street.
As I started there in January 1992, first thing I have learned from our (already experienced) local English staff was a cheerful comment in serbian language: "Nema problema - samo komplikacije"...
Speaking of Belgrade, my family and myself are more than happy with 24 hrs ADSL connection through Sezam Pro for more than a year (router, 3 PC's. We're no more than customers, yet I strongly beleive they deserve this add. We still have to pay our monthly invoice - and keep on googling unLtd.

Cold Comfort, but..

Telenor doesn't have a good track record in "broadband", either, in fact they've decided to only concentrate on the business market and mainly cater to it. And Nextel has this endless queue for telephone support too. In short, it is cold comfort to hear it, but this is not just a"Serbian thing". As to the US telephones, -well, let's not even get into that one!

Just for the record, SBB is

Just for the record,

SBB is very close to present Serbian Minister for Capital Investments.

You will agree that that explains certain things.


lack of competition in local markets explains some as well.

Lack of competition

is the after effect of monopoly of Telekom Srbija and some satelitte private companies with strong ties with high position people working in Telekom Srbija. :-(((

this is Serbia

SBB sucks!
Telekom sucks!
arrest the cheaters!!!