Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Smart Bro: THE most AWFUL internet provider

I have got a hugely MAJOR rant to make about this company here who (attempts to) provide internet access.

The company? Smart Bro. Trust me. For those of you in the Philippines, or have relatives here even THINKING of getting a service provider, SCRATCH OUT Smart Bro. Why? I'll give you several reasons why.......read on......

Dear Miss (Wireless Operations Head):

I am writing to tell you of your Center’s deplorable “Customer Service”.

On several occasions --- too many to remember all the exact dates and times --- your customer service representatives have shown just how LACKING in training they are. They are courteous, yes, but they show no knowledge whatsoever of how to handle paying customers. They show no knowledge of what the current status of certain equipment (usually the bases/servers for the connection); they show no knowledge of inter-department procedures. If they have NO knowledge of these things, how in heaven’s name will they be able to answer the questions of clients?!?!

My “usual” call to 672-7277 (please note that I have actually memorized this number from sheer exasperation!) involves around the main fact that I keep getting the Smart Bro portal even while I am directly linked to the internet. My usual question is WHY??? Why do I get this infernal portal page when I am hardwired to the connection and NOT using my computer wireless capability?

And the usual answer I get goes something like this:

“Ma’am, please input the code shown on the screen” à as if I didn’t know how to read and follow the simple instructions! But ok, I’ve given your representative the benefit of the doubt several times. I know there is a script to follow.

“Ma’am, please restart your computer.” à what?!? Do they not know that to continually restart your computer/laptop is potentially damaging to the hard disk?!? Do they also not know that the screen shows the alternative of restarting either the router OR the computer? Why was I NEVER given this alternative?!?!

“Ma’am, have you paid your bill?” à now the reps are insulting my financial capabilities? Exasperating, I tell you!

But the ONE incident that stood out above the rest transpired sometime early October of this year, maybe October 4 or 5 if memory serves me well.

I had called the night before inquiring why I had had no connection for 4 to 5 days straight, with some instances of intermittent connection only. I was very understanding, willing to give your company some time to have your bases fixed because the whole country had just been hit by the storm, Milenyo. I had allowed for some technical difficulties because of this reason ONLY. Nothing else. Milenyo was a justifiable excuse I was prepared to be given.

The customer service/technical support representative who answered my call inquired as to the last payment I had made to Smart Bro. I replied that I knew my billing cycle was towards the end of each month, and that I usually paid on time. As my billing statement was at the office and I was at home, all the information I could give was the check number and the amount, which corresponded to what I was being billed for. Your company representative then told me that everything should be fine by the morning since he/she had put into the (presumably) computerized service log that I had paid my bill, but that I should contact PLDT to double check if the payment had gone through.

So, the following morning, I called PLDT and they did, in fact verify that I had paid my bill IN FULL, several days before.

I then contacted technical support and a certain Marilou Rillon answered my call. For the next TWO HOURS, I would be on the phone with her, with our whole conversation going in circles. I basically repeated my conversation from the night before so that she would understand my situation: I had NO internet connection, despite the fact that I had paid my bill on time, despite the fact that I had electricity, despite the fact that there was no problem with the internet base serving my connection.

And yet, the brilliant Ms. Rillon kept telling me to go to the Smart Bro portal. Each time she told me this wonderful piece of technical knowledge, I patiently asked her HOW could I go the infernal portal page when I had NO internet connection?!?! For obvious reasons, I entirely lost my patience when this went on for close to TWO HOURS.

Other issues that were brought up:

1. Ms. Rillon repeatedly told me to call PLDT to verify my payment being made. I told her that I had just gotten that confirmation right before I called her.

2. Ms. Rillon said that she couldn’t do anything because the system was showing that no payment had been received by Smart Bro. I told her that any internal agreements or work protocols between Smart Bro and PLDT were NOT my concern; that they were surely YOUR company’s concern and were in your best interest to see it resolved. As far as I --- a paying client --- was concerned, I had paid my bill and was therefore entitled to the service I had paid for.

I demanded to talk to her supervisor. Ms. Rillon told me that her supervisor had every faith in front people like herself in answering clients’ questions. I asked her if she had answered my question. She admitted she had NOT answered my very simple question of WHY I had NO internet connection.

Near the end of my patience, I again demanded to talk to her supervisor. Ms. Rillon said to hang on while she went to (presumably) talk to her supervisor. After a few minutes, she came back on the phone and told me that her supervisor had TOLD her to tell me that she (the supervisor) had looked at my questions/problems and that her (supervisor) answer was also going to be the same ones that Ms. Rillon had been giving me!

With exasperation, I asked Ms. Rillon what her job entailed. I quote Ms. Rillon verbatim when she answered me, “Ma’am I am only trying to assist our clients. I am NOT authorized to satisfy the customer.” (bold and underline my emphasis)

Well! Will wonders never cease! Your entire human resources department was probably working for your competitor when they hired these wonderfully brilliant people to work for you! Please, as you read this, you are welcome to insert the fullest amount of sarcasm with every ounce your body can exert at this point in this tirade of a letter.

When I asked the name of her supervisor, Ms. Rillon, in her trained brilliance, stalled and refused to give the name of her supervisor. It was only when I said that I needed the supervisor’s name for my records did she give in. The supervisor’s name: a certain Christine Paynor.

Upon realizing her “mistake” in releasing Ms. Paynor’s name, Ms. Rillon attempted to backtrack and told me to hang on. I did, more out of curiosity as to what deeper hole she would dig herself into, than any interest in hearing any more pathetic little excuses your department could think of that would supposedly appease me.

Imagine my surprise when Ms. Rillon came back and told me that Ms. Paynor agreed to talk to me. What! What honor bestowed upon me, a lowly, paying client, to finally be able to talk to a supervisor who had previously deigned to talk to me!

With great relish, I told Ms. Rillon, NO, thank you. I don’t need to talk to your so-called “supervisor”. I did wonder as to the final reason why Ms. Paynor wanted to talk to me. Hmmm…..Could it be because she may be reported for “performing” her job with great negligence? Or maybe it could be Ms. Paynor wanted to avoid the hassle of an investigation? I have no idea, nor do I care right now.

As a paying customer, I am aghast at the way things are being run inside your department. This is truly deplorable and pathetic. I am in the service industry myself and we DO NOT make it our policy to make things harder for our clientele. It doesn’t matter whether our client paid the lowest or the highest fee for our services. What matters is that the client is fully satisfied. THAT is true customer service.

The end result? You have lost this particular client. I may be just one client in millions, one client paying the lowest possible fee to try out what you had to offer, but this client WILL get this letter out and plaster it all over the internet, extolling to one and all who will listen about Smart Bro’s true NON-customer service way of doing business.

To date, I’ve convinced my entire family to NOT ever use Smart Bro. I’ve convinced my in-laws that your service, or should I say non-service, is truly not worth the effort to even try out your internet connection. I’ve convinced several friends to not even think of Smart Bro and the words “internet connection” in one sentence.

So at least, with this experience, one question HAS been answered: Will I ever go back to Smart Bro? With your questionable kind of customer (dis)service, there can only be one answer, and it is NO.



Client until November 25, 2006 (when my current postpaid subscription expires)


Can you even imagine the stupidity of these people?!?? And they call themselves customer service or technical support representatives! Sheesh! There is truly NO exaggeration whatsoever in the events that transpired. It's the plain, ugly truth.

This letter has been faxed to Smart Bro's human resources department and wireless operations department. Additionally, it has been emailed to smart website. I dont care really who gets the email. The email was also sent to one of Smart Company's lawyer, a cousin of Randy Somera (thanks Randy!).

Stella's sister, Stephanie, has a good friend working at Smart. In a strategic position, no less. Approving payroll, if memory serves me well. I hope to God heads are going to roll! She was happy that my letter had DETAILS! Heck yeah, it has details! I made sure I got all the names right; I made that stupid customer service person spell it out for me! Bwahahahaha!

And the best part? Japa has a college friend who is the current head of Globe's Broadband service, THE competitor that Smart great fears. Hah! You just KNOW that this email has been sent, read, and responded to! Blums --- you are awesome!!! :)


isaiah said...

Dear Rona,

I actually had a similar experience with DSL. Mine had no connection even BEFORE the typhoon Milenyo. Like you, I gave some leeway for the damage Milenyo had caused. But weeks after, I still do not have a connection. Thrice Iwas "serviced", and each time I would have a connection. But after a while, it will be lost again. My payment was on time. I had my phone line restored, and I had their "technical representative" assisting me. Finally, it was restored, but it was after a month!
Once, I talked with their "tech-rep." (I forgot her name.)and it came to a point when I too asked for manager. She would not also give her name. Even numbers to call was not available.
My best guess why we are getting this kind of responses is that the so-called tech_reps are people from call centers. The service providers are making of their services. I find it hard to understand how the emplyees of the company themselves could not answer our questions and provide the services needed. Most probably, the call center people have limited knowledge and expertise. My best guess is that the "supervisor" given to you is the supervisor of the call center and not the company. I am sure,if my guess is correct, the call center company (specifically the holder of the account- Ms. Rillon)had been confronted by the Smart-Bro.
It would also explain why the authorization is limited and that the customer need not be satisfied.
Unfortunately,this happened. I am sure, many heads will roll. But it shows the limitations of the call-center employees and that the company must seeto it that the call center they hire would really serve them well. Otherwise, sila na lang dapat ang gumawa. Unless they are trying to minimize expenses. Mas Madali at mura nga naman ang mag hire ng call center. But if ganito ang service, lalo na kung mawawalan sila ng customer, eh mukhang nag-backfire yung strategy nila na mag-hire na lang ng call center.
This you can expect from other companies who hire call centers.
Meantime, yung puso mo!
God bless!


isaiah said...

Dear Rona

Sorry for the mis-spelled words and some grammatical errors. I did not get to edit it and I was a bit in a hurry.


MamaKimberly said...

That is insane Rona!!!

And I can't believe I read the whole thing but I totally did!! Crazy!!

xashee's corner said...

oh Rona it sounds like my nightmare they call Hughesnet (sigh) so called satelite broadband service! first the installer who explains the different plans NEVER told us of a download limit and then after FIVE months of dealing with crappy service and connection speeds WORSE than dial up, and no less than 6 times on the phone with the company (who OUTSOURCES TOO!) they FINALLY tell us the 4hr period we were allowed to download 175 megs really doesnt matter, cuz if i come CLOSE to the amount, the speeds drop like a brick until they reset, 24 hrs LATER and that's ONLY if i DONT download within that 24 hrs!!! WHO CAN DO THAT?? well ok we all can, but who wants to?!!! lol this is WHY i got this service and i cannot use it the way i need! so we upgrade for just $10. and still last nite i was downloading at less than 100 kb/sec .... not acceptable for UPGRADING!!! (sigh)
they got us by the neck, Rona right where they want us! at their mercy!
what happened to doing a job with PRIDE? it just amazes me! oh well i sure hope you get that messy issue resolved soon! HUGS, my friend! have a beautiful day :)