“In this country, the lot of consumers is to suffer.”
For eight days now, my household has been internet-free.
Now this is not some kind of weird experiment to see how long each of us can last unplugged. For the truth is, we cannot. Our work requires that we are online; if we cannot get connected at home, we must get connected elsewhere.
And that has been what we have been forced to do in this last week, thanks to the breathtaking ineptitude of our service non-provider, PLDT.
Sick and tired of the spotty service provided by our cable TV provider, we finally made the jump some time ago to PLDT’s fiber-based broadband service, which promised fast connection speeds. To be fair, the company has generally delivered on that promise. But speed, sadly, is not a term that can apply to restoring or repairing a downed network.
We went through the usual process of reporting our troubles, of course. On Day 3 of the Great Disconnection, I even lined up at a PLDT branch office for more than 30 minutes, simply so I could report the problem in person. After hearing me out, the customer service person attending to me typed away at his laptop, then after a while, assured me that a technician would be sent to my house the next day, a Saturday. When I asked if the company would automatically apply a rebate for the lost days of service, I was told no, I had to come to the branch again and fill up some forms, when service was finally restored. Now this was just wrong. Why would a company that cares about treating its customers well make them go through red tape to get what is owed them?
For the record, no technician showed up. Not on the weekend, nor on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Monday, the man from the PLDT branch office called me up to inquire if my problem was solved. I told him in rather colorful terms that it had not, and thought—shouldn’t you, the company’s customer representative, know what is happening to your own network? Why are you asking me if my service has been restored? Shouldn’t you already know that?
In desperation, I reached out to a contact on PLDT’s PR team, who promised to “escalate” my case. Two more days have passed since my case was “escalated” with no clear results.
I later found out that the unfortunates on my street who were PLDT subscribers had also lost their connectivity.
During this week of service hell, nobody from this company properly explained why we were experiencing this problem, and why it was taking so long—one week and running—to get us back online. We did not even get a guarantee that the problem would be fixed by a certain date. Surely, a paying customer deserves this, as a bare minimum.
But in this country, the lot of consumers is to suffer. We are helpless and powerless against the big service providers, and are expected to patiently grin and bear it when their service is so atrocious.
When you factor in all the hours lost and the extra expenses incurred to buy connectivity you should have had in the first place, an automatic rebate doesn’t seem all that unreasonable, does it? But all I have heard from the PLDT people I have dealt with is, “Pasensya na sir.”
Well, I have run out of patience. People who are considering subscribing to PLDT need to be warned. Do not expect a quick response when your network goes down. You cannot even easily “vote with your wallet” and switch providers because of a noxious lock-in period built into their service contract.
So, this is my way of saying, bless you PLDT and the horse you rode in on. Pasensya this.
Chin Wong is an associate editor of Manila Standard.