Opinions from the biggest international community in Sofia
Written by Xenia Cotlearova, edited by Lindsay Martin, photos by Georgi Hristov.
Which network providers can you trust during your time in Sofia? Here is an overview of local internet service providers and mobile operators, according to feedback from the Foreigners in Sofia & Friends Facebook group.
Network providers remain a hot topic, not only among the foreigners in Sofia, but also for locals. Our research showed that the best internet providers (offering only home internet service) are NET1, OnlineDirect, and TBC.
There are three mobile service providers (offering both mobile and home internet) in Sofia. They are Vivacom, A1, and Telenor.
According to the group, the best internet provider is NET1, based on the overall positive commentary of group members.
Shengyul Mehmed describes NET1 as the cheapest service at the time of her purchase. She has never had problems with TV, and only experienced internet loss 5-6 times over a 10 year period. Shengyul is satisfied with both customer support and internet speed. She connects multiple devices and streaming services.
Ralitsa Kassimova, on the other hand, is a supporter of TBC. She was satisfied with the service and customer support, although the network does not cover the whole city. Ralitsa has tried Blizoo/A1, but marks her experience as “not very positive.”
Opinions vary significantly for mobile service providers, with some users being satisfied, while others are completely disappointed with the same provider. Based on the majority of views, Telenor is rated a preferred supplier, while A1 received a lot of negative opinions.
Marcel Schimm, a Telenor customer, shared that both price and service are good, and their mobile app is useful for paying bills and checking the balance.
Vivacom received mixed feedback in the group, with some customers being happy with the network provider, while others experienced serious issues.
Kyriaki Kyriakou was charged more than her plan required by A1, as the salesperson did not accurately explain the plan. Kyriaki encountered rudeness from the store personnel and managers when she requested additional billing explanation. Although she filed a complaint that she had been misinformed, the complaint was dismissed. A1 said she was unable to prove that she wasn’t adequately informed.
David Rossi has become more disappointed with Vivacom over time. Shop experience has declined by rudeness and lack of English speaking information. Many times, David experienced phone support connecting to a random operator, despite choosing English as a language preference. He finds that operators are often not skilled enough to solve his problems. In regards to the internet, David says that connection quality is fast and reliable, although he would rate the service as expensive.
Giedrė Taurine had a positive experience with Vivacom until the company tried to overcharge her. When Giedrė was leaving Bulgaria, she notified Vivacom in advance that she would like to cancel the contract after 1 year instead of 2. The sales agent said that she would need to pay for 3 more months with no extra fees for early cancellation. When closing the account, the bill incurred a 630 lv fee for closing the account. After writing a formal complaint to Vivacom, they reversed the charge.
A1 is the least preferred choice of group members. It is often mentioned as a company with poor customer service and a careless attitude.
Do Nhan was overcharged by A1 for services that the company added to her plan (like Mobile TV), while she clearly stated she only needed mobile internet and calling. Do shares this tip with us:
“If you want to sign the contract, according to the salespeople in A1, you can activate the contract on the 6th of the month. Make sure to eliminate unnecessary packages like mobile TV, automobile data for some MB that you are not aware of.”
Michał Słowiński had an unpleasant situation with A1 when renewing his contract for home internet. At the local office, the sales representative told Michał that his subscription option was no longer available, and offered a more expensive option. In reality, Michał’s option was still available. When trying to confront the staff, they refused to explain the discrepancy. His original plan was eventually renewed, only after sending them an email explaining the situation and threatening to contact the authorities. Michał also has a tip for us:
“When I need to do business with A1, I go to their office and straight threaten them that I WILL NOT LEAVE UNTIL MY PROBLEM IS SOLVED, and I WILL TAKE GREAT EFFORT IN MAKING THEM MISERABLE IF THEY REFUSE TO HELP ME. And suddenly… suddenly everything can be done with ease.”
Based on reviews from the Facebook community, here are the top tips for finding the right provider:
- Always read the contract with the company. If it is only provided in Bulgarian, ask a Bulgarian friend/colleague to read for you and make sure it is fair.
- After two years, the contract automatically changes to a monthly plan. This means that after 2 years, if you haven’t renewed the contract, you can cancel it anytime, without extra charges.
- Check what you are paying for. Make sure to only pay for the services you need before signing the contract. It is much harder to make changes after the contract is signed.
- If you want to cancel before the 2-year period, you are obliged to pay for 3 months of additional fees, and nothing more. If the amount looks unfair to you, go to the office to clarify first, then take measures.
- Write official complaints and be confident when communicating. Most of the time this has saved users hundreds of leva. Some suggest that the more you argue in the store, the faster your issue will be solved (as they don’t want to scare off potential customers).
- Never agree to overpay, if you think you have been overcharged. In most cases, you are right!
We hope this article helped you make the decision and be an informed customer.