Frustrating Internet Service in the Philippines

by JM on December 11, 2010

in Computers and Electronics,Philippines,Services

Internet is increasingly becoming an important commodity in our daily life. Today, we can conduct our business online, do shopping, pay our bills, read the news, and transfer and deposit money to our bank account. But while the promise of Internet is sweet, we can only frown and scream at the unreliable infrastructure of Internet in the Philippines and how many of us remain unaware of the rights we have as consumers (if we ever have any) against services that don’t meet the expected acceptable level of customer satisfaction.

I’m Not Alone…

I believe I’m not the first to notice and realize just how frustrating it is to deal with customer service representatives in Internet companies in our country. Although I believe that they are only paid for what they are ought to do, I feel for these people for they are put in front of the battlefield unarmed and unequipped with technical skills they need to battle up with discontented and infuriated customers. I understand the climate of hopelessness and inefficiency in the workplace because I once was a private employee and most companies just care about their “tubo” (revenue) and how they can further fatten their pocket (which is unethical) and leave their customers unhappy.

Comclark/Surestream Cable Internet

The first broadbagal (literally: broad “slow”) broadband experience I had was Comclark. My experience with them was nothing more like a nightmare and I promise from the grave of my white dog snoopy that this service was the champion of kabagalan (slowness) in the history of human kind.

Comclark’s service is plagued with frequent downtime. The customer service representatives on the phone might try to help, but they are still limited to what they can offer as an individual since companies such as them probably “programmed” the speed of Internet connection and let it play in a frustrating speed. This happened to me a few years ago and I can say that I am no longer in a position to comment on what the service is like nowadays.

The last time I was there (in the office) was when I hysterically shouted at their agents because:

First: I was there waiting for three (3) hours, with literally no other customer around, and asked me to wait for someone who can help me (like a manager).

Second: They never wanted to cut my connection and asked me to pay for 2 months of service I didn’t use (because I was without a connection!) and pay PhP1,500 for the modem that tends to break every 6 months (which broke thrice back then).

I regretted the incident and promised not to do it ever again. But it helped me get what I want back then. ;)

P.S. forgot what my plan was but I think it’s around PhP 800-900 if I’m not mistaken.

Smart Bro

Smart Bro (Plan 999) from Smart Communications was OK although it also suffers frequent downtimes. I enjoyed it a bit although my only concern was the speed and I think that the Philippines is not yet ready for 4G or wireless technology because everyone I know and almost everyone whose experiences where detailed online on blogs talk about the same thing – that they are unreliable.

Smart Bro’s customer service department was the friendliest. Based on my personal experience, their agents are the best trained in the industry. They may also not fix your problem, but they speak well and tell you frankly about the limit of their intellectual powers. I stayed with them for almost 2 years and only had to disconnect it when I decided to study in Manila in January 2010.

Wi-Tribe

My experience with Wi-Tribe was the most frustrating of all. I had to use this for a month or two and all I had with their service was problems. From misleading information from agents, unreliable speed, to delayed billing, I assure you that your faith in internet companies will be tested with Wi-Tribe. My dilemma ceased when I filed a complaint against the National Telecommunications Commission through their One Stop Public Assistance Center by sending an e-mail to ospac@ntc.gov.ph. It took them around two months before they cut my service. The rest was history.

I was no longer contacted by Wi-Tribe for billing a few weeks after it was disconnected. Although I believe that their customer service representatives over the phone are doing everything they can to provide the best support to their customers, I believe that they are limited to the company’s policy.

The problem with Wi-Tribe is capping. During my time with them, the average volume of data cap was 6GB per month which is horrible. 6GB will not last for a day mind you and after you consumed it, the supposed 1Mbps speed will be reduced to 264Mbps which is horrible. I’m not sure how all these work but the 6GB allotment doesn’t work for me considering that I only surf and seldom download or whatever.

Among all providers I had before, this is the only company I wouldn’t recommend to my friends and family. But I hope they’ll improve it soon so they could attract people to do business with them.

PLDT MyDSL

Because PLDT was sold to Smart (as far as I know), I believe that they only follow the same procedure or at least vary on some aspect. But unlike Smart Bro, PLDT was better able to serve me during my stay in Manila. Probably because we live in a condo near their business office in Pasay.

My Plan 999 DSL with PhP700 phone was enough to serve two computers working simultaneously with Wi-Fi for two smartphones we have at home. It was the most satisfying Internet experience I had in my entire life but it was not without a problem as well. A few months later, I can see my connection slowing down (why do they have to do that?!) and notice that I can no longer watch Youtube videos on my iPod without seeing the buffer sign.

In contrast with Smart Bro, customer service was the worst. I must comment on the people who work in the business center in Pasay who portray an image of indifference except from a fellow capampangan I talked to the last time I went there. What a breather to talk to someone who speaks the same language as you do!

The customer service in 171 are the most untrained phone agents and usually talk back to you when you vent out your frustration. Remember that this is my personal view and I only relate how I feel about their service. Nothing personal or whatsoever. Even so, I will not apologize for everything I write here for I believe that they are true and are product of my personal encounters with them.

Digitel Telecommunications Philippines

After staying in Manila for almost nine (9) months, I decided to go back and stay for good in Angeles City (Pampanga). My intention was to relax my internal organs from Manila’s air and water pollution. I lament the fact that PLDT cannot service me in my area so I had to go and find for another provider.

Because I see myself needing a landline phone connection, I decided to get Digitel. The first day was a surprise because I have to deal with two different team of people: first, the installer of phone and physical landline connection, and second, the man who will activate the entire thing to get me finally log on and surf. Another problem was I was given the wrong service because I was supposed to get the modem with Wi-Fi capability but I was only given the regular one. Talking about inefficiencies from the people you talk to in their business center.

I was excited to use the phone but found out in the end that the phone wasn’t working and the only line that you can “pal” with (if there’s such a word) was their customer service (Dial 1200). Talking to Digitel’s CS is like talking to a teenager who is yet trying to make sense of his place in the universe; totally inexperienced and clueless of whatever happened to Obama Bin Laden if he ever exists or just a product of people’s imagination. I find myself fixing my own Internet problem sometimes.

The first day with Digitel (Plan 1,199) was already a DigiHell because in spite of the .70-.80 Mbps speed showing on speed test I still constantly experience problem loading a page completely and updating my e-mails on my iPod quickly which I think is the final straw.

This is my second day of my service with Digitel and I have yet to see what more surprises I will get in the next few days or so. I’ll update you as progress unfolds. But to wrap up this long blog rant entry, I’ll leave you a phone number and e-mail address to contact NTC should you want to file a complaint against your ISP.

One Stop Public Assistance Center
Froilan Jamias
926-7722 / 436-7722
ospac@ntc.gov.ph

Update 01.02.2010: I stopped using Digitel yesterday. I just can’t stand it anymore. I cannot stand constantly being ignored by their tech agents over the phone who are handling my concern. Now that I am determined to cancel the service, I am pretty sure that they’ll be forced to call me and provide the attention I need this time.

I remember receiving an e-mail from them about my intent to cancel and here’s what they have to say:

We apologize for the span of time to respond to your email as we are still working on the resolution of your concern.
Please give us some time to further look into your concern and we will give you feedback as soon as we already have the resolution.

I’ve given them so much time. In fact, the problem started from Day 1, the day when the service was installed which is unbelievable. Customers don’t need apology; No one does, unless perhaps that apology is followed by action. We NEED good service and not apology.

Summary

Be reminded that these are mere personal opinion and should not deter you from trying their service since we obviously have little option in the Philippines. I plan to update this post as soon as I see that positive developments happen on these services especially for Digitel. Let me leave you a note coming from one of the conversations I had with a Spanish friend who lives in the US and married to a Cebuana here in the Philippines which reflects just how bad our Internet service provision in the the country.

I hope that the people from the government or concerned groups gets to see this post and consult the health of our Internet industry in the Philippines.

Me: The idea of you putting up a business here in the Phils sounds nice. Let me know how I can help you once you do that.

Friend: While living in Cebu I was working for Google online accessing a VPN and I had an internet cafe at the same time. I really suffered big time because Globelines was offering an internet service that was a disaster. I can not say enough bad things about the company.

My main problem in starting and moving back there is the internet connection that to be reliable and consistent will cost about $1000/month. A price that no one outside the Philippines can understand because in USA you get a T2 for that price.

So, this is what I need and I can not get the a precise answer for a long time. I need to know a city/town in the Philippines that is not Manila, to be able to connect with 2 different ISP, like Globelines and PLDT. I know that both companies do not, most of the times, overlap geographically their services but if I can be in a place where if one company fails with the service I can connect with the other will be a good thing to try again.

Why do I want to live in your country? Because of the oceans. My main passion in life is Scuba Diving and the Philippines is one of the most beautiful places in the planet for that

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