The dark heart of Italy: seen through the lens of cultural sins

BACKGROUND: Every culture has unique and varied ways in which it displays both the glory/creativity of God and the depravity of mankind.  Living and working in Italy for many years has given me time to observe both in the Italian context.  Italy is a land of incredible contrasts: i.e. the stunning beauty of this scene in Sesto Calende and the darkness of the deception used in everyday Italian life without a second thought.

CONTEXT: I was in the process of changing home internet providers from Infostrada to Fastweb.

My cell phone rang: a number from Pisa that I didn’t recognize.  On an adventurous whim I took a risk and answered, “Pronto.” 

A lady responded, in Italian with an Eastern European accent, “Good morning, I’m calling from the Fastweb technical department regarding your request for fiber internet service with us.”

Curious, I replied, “Yes, go on.”

“We’ve come up against a technical limitation in your area and we simply don’t have another additional line available to activate your service,” she explained.

Skeptical, I asked, “Why would you allow me to sign up for and walk through the entire contract process if you didn’t have the sufficient resources available to activate the service?”

“With all the new activations, we simply underestimated demand in your area,” she clarified.  “However, we have an agreement with other carriers in the area who have available lines and we can get you online through TIM,” she offered.

What she was explaining didn’t add up from a technical perspective, as I previously had worked many years in the telecom industry in another life.  It made even less sense from a business perspective.

“So, you’re telling me that Fastweb is going to graciously offer to connect me to its biggest competitor—TIM—because it doesn’t have the resources to fulfill my request?” 

“That makes no sense at all,” I blurted.

Click.  The call disconnected.  It wasn’t a dropped call.  She had hung up on me.

It seems that a telemarketer from TIM had just impersonated an agent from Fastweb and tried to steal me as a customer using bold-faced lies.

I called Fastweb’s customer service directly and they confirmed it.  TIM, who owns the actual phone lines that all the companies use (like AT&T or Verizon in the USA), saw the service change request from Infostrada to Fastweb and used that privileged information to formulate a convincing story to steal my business.  Apparently, I’m not the only one to whom they’ve presented this scam…

I was dumbfounded.  I’m used to telemarketers bending the truth to sell, but prominent companies scamming consumers using impersonation and bold-faced lies?  This was surely a new low.  It’s another good reminder how much Italy needs the gospel message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

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