What part of URGENT did you not understand?!

That was the main sentiment behind my email today to the Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications Company (PLDT). On September 24, 2016, two days after my father passed away, I sent the PLDT Customer Service and email with an urgent service request to transfer the landline to my mother’s new apartment and the existing internet connection to my apartment. I resorted to emailing them because it was infuriatingly impossible to get through the supposed HOTLINE. I was livid, to say the least, because the supposed hotline put me on hold for 35 minutes the first time (which I did not wait for because I am using my mobile phone for everything at the moment), 45 minutes the next (I certainly did not wait for that either. When you call the hotline, you land on the electronic switchboard and have to navigate your way through before you land on the waiting list for the next available customer care person – assuming of course the darn App doesn’t throw you out in the process. My patience depleted, two days later I tried email instead and received an automatically generated response:

“Dear Valued Customer, We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail. Please give us time to review your concern so we can handle the same accordingly. Our Customer Service Representative shall get back to you once details become available. Thank you. This is a system-generated response. Please do not reply.”

That was dated September 26, and to date, 11 days after the above generated response, I have not had a call or any other form of response from PLDT. My mother moved on the 29th, the telephone unit and internet router are lying in the old apartment. The best part is that I am going to get a bill for services not rendered…

That is not the only bone I have to pick with PLDT. When I moved to Manila in July I applied for a broadband connection for my apartment. At the time PLDT was promoting their ULTERA package, promising the moon and the stars, fast connectivity, etc. I submitted my application, relevant documents and received another computer generated reply. It took over a week before an actual human wrote back to acknowledge the receipt of the papers, saying it would take six to eight days to process the application and then the technical team would be in touch. Three weeks later there was still no call and when I followed it up I was told PLDT had run out of broadband routers for the ULTERA package and it would take another three to four weeks before they could install. Four weeks after that I followed up the application again and was told to wait another three weeks. I blasted them on the phone saying that I agreed to wait three weeks, not six, and certainly not eight.

The technicians finally arrived to install the system, explaining that I had a monthly consumable quota of 70GB. The team itself was great, and worked flawlessly, even thanking me for not cancelling my application like several hundreds did (can you blame them?! Made me wonder whether I was perhaps a member of Team Stupid for waiting this long). Was it possible to upgrade to a larger plan? No. Well, the 70GB was consumed in a little over a week and I went online to find out what I could do about it. The website offered me a top-up of 10GB, which I quickly purchased, and thought that perhaps I might as well get the 20GB while I was at it. Everything seemed to be working like a dream… But as many of you who deal with photos, videos, social media, blogging, etc. know, this data is easily eaten up in no time, especially with Netflix and YouTube. I was relaxed knowing that there was a top-up I could resort to. Ha! When I went online again the website blocked me and said that I had purchase the maximum amount of of top-ups for the month. Somebody please explain why there is such a cap if customers are more than willing to pay for the service?

I called the PLDT customer service and was again put through the stupid system and eternal waiting line. It took me two days to finally get through a human being in customer care only to be told that 1. it is not possible to upgrade from the plan I already have, 2. There is no other plan bigger than what I have, 3. There is a PHP500 ceiling for the top-ups. So what are my options? 1. Wait for the next cycle so I receive my 70GB for the next month – which was three weeks away at the time or 2. Downgrade to DSL and get a flat rate. You call those options?! The person on the line could not offer me any other solution. So much for customer care. I am still waiting for my next billing cycle to begin, which is on October 11. In the meantime I am doing all my work via my mobile phone internet (thank goodness for Personal Hotspot).

It is an utter mystery to me why PLDT customer service is so crappy, and why there are no options for customers who are willing to pay for additional services! More importantly, the word URGENT seems to make no difference to PLDT and the concept of customer care is not of this world.

Yes, I am throwing a tantrum because I moved from Bangkok where the internet packages and customer service are a dream. Before that I lived in New Delhi where the internet packages were also far more generous than the crumbs being doled out by PLDT and the customer care much more efficient (well, perhaps with the exception that they never managed to spell or pronounce my last name correctly). Your next question might be, why not turn to other providers? I did, but I do not fall within their area of coverage and would have ended up paying a fortune for additional cables, for which the technical team could not even guarantee the quality or speed. So it was back to square one and PLDT. October 11 is still five days away…

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