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Columnists > Victoria Twead

Victoria Twead

Tales from a Spanish Village - Two Old Fools and Telefonica

  Posted Wednesday January 04, 2012 (09:47:40)   (2261 Reads)

Victoria Twead

Joe and I stared at the computer screen in disbelief. They’d done it again! Telefonica had seen fit to help themselves to the funds in our bank account for the THIRD time.

It first happened last year, in August, I think. I was routinely checking the balance in our account and couldn’t believe that our telephone bill had leaped from the usual 90 euros to 880 euros. So we dialled Telefonica, asked for the English speaking Helpdesk and lodged our complaint.

“There’s obviously been a mistake,” said Joe.

“No mistake,” said Telefonica. “You changed your Plan. You used to have the 24/7 Internet Plan, and you changed it. Now you are being charged by the minute every time you go online.”

“But we haven’t changed anything! We didn’t change our Plan!”

Twenty minutes later, Joe and Telefonica were still arguing, and Joe was getting nowhere.

“As an act of goodwill, I will refund you 100 euros,” said Telefonica magnanimously.

Joe gave up but I was furious. Seething, I phoned the Helpdesk again. I was livid, and Telefonica got both barrels. There was a long, long pause, and finally they agreed. We had been charged far too much. It was a mistake and we were refunded.

Satisfied, we forgot all about it until December when yet again we stared at our bank balance in horror and disbelief. This time Telefonica had charged us a whopping 1,011 euros!

Joe, after calming down, dialed the Helpdesk.

“You’ve made another mistake,” he said.

“No mistake,” said Telefonica. “I can see from the computer what has happened. You changed your Plan. You used to have the 24/7 Internet Plan, and you changed it. Now you are being charged by the minute every time you go online.”


It was déjà vu, but eventually we got it sorted. Telefonica refunded our money and issued the normal 90 euro bill. But now we watched our bank balance like neurotic hawks.

It was the third time that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In February, Telefonica took 530 euros out of our account.

“But Mr Joe, nothing in this life is free,” said Telefonica. “You changed your Internet Plan.”

Joe turned purple and the vein in his forehead throbbed.

We phoned our bank and got the direct debit stopped. We researched online and found another company, an alternative to Telefonica. (Amazingly, it was BT.) Many phonecalls later, Telefonica grudgingly agreed we’d been overcharged, refunded our money and issued the normal 90 euro bill.

Long ago, we’d reluctantly accepted that living up a remote Spanish mountain meant that broadband was an avenue of pleasure denied to us. But, hurrah! BT were offering us unlimited broadband, a free router and 400 minutes calling time to anywhere in Europe for LESS than Telefonica was charging us for dial-up before.

The changeover was painless and transformed Joe and me into happy bunnies. Happy that we finally had broadband, and happy that we’d successfully severed all links with Telefonica.


My Recipe of the Month - Aubergines with Serrano Ham

(Recipe courtesy of

You will need:

1 large aubergine
3 ripe tomatoes
8 - 10 slices of Serrano Ham
150g grated cheese
Generous bunch of fresh oregano, finely chopped
Olive oil


• Prepare the tomato sauce by roughly chopping the tomatoes, place in a pan with a pinch of salt and cook on a medium heat for about half an hour until the tomatoes reduce. For a smooth sauce, you can blend the tomatoes with a blender before cooking.

• Wash the aubergine and then cut lengthways into thick slices.

• Place the aubergine slices onto a serving dish, sprinkle with salt and then leave for half an hour.

• When the tomato sauce is cooked, turn off the heat. Pat the aubergine slices dry and fry on both sides in a little olive oil until tender.

• Place tinfoil onto a baking tray and oil lightly. Lay the aubergines onto the tray and spread the tomato sauce onto each slice.

• Put a slice or two of Serrano ham on top of the aubergines, sprinkle with cheese and then with the oregano.

• Cook under a hot grill until the cheese melts.

• Serve hot.

Serves 4

Victoria is the author of 'Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools' (available at Amazon UK or Amazon USA) and 'Two Old Fools - Olé' (also available at Amazon UK or Amazon USA)

“a charming and funny expat tale” The Telegraph (UK)
“Weeks later you will be doing the dishes and recall some fleeting scene with chickens or mules or two old fools and laugh out loud all over again.” The Catalunya Chronicle

Contact Victoria by email on or via her website at

Victoria Twead
Victoria is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2004 she nagged poor, long-suffering Joe into leaving Britain and relocating to a tiny, remote mountain village in Andalucía where they became reluctant chicken farmers and owned the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Village life inspired Victoria’s first book, 'Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools', which was quickly followed by two more in the Old Fools series, all of which fast became Amazon bestsellers. Victoria and Joe continue to enjoy life keeping chickens, writing, sampling the local wine and living alongside their colourful neighbours.

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