Crappy Globe Customer Service
In my relationship with my telecom provider I’m not unlike a battered wife. I keep hoping that Globe will change for the better but it doesn’t. I’m reluctant to leave because of our long history together. I’m so invested in the relationship. I’ve done my best to be a good partner and I just want the effort I’ve put into making it work to be reciprocal. I want to believe Globe loves me and values me despite all signs that indicate otherwise.
I’ve had the same Globe number for what might as well be forever. The phone that came with the line was a Nokia 2110, the hottest phone to come out in 1994. I was in grade school at the time. I went to high school, college, and graduate school. I worked a series of jobs. I got married. I retained the same number the entire time.
The account wasn’t originally in my name, obviously, since minors with no income can’t own phone lines. It used to be under my dad’s company’s name, and then later it was transferred to my mom’s name. When I started working in 2004 I took over paying the bill, but it was such a hassle to have the account transferred to my name that I kept putting it off. But sometime in June this year I decided to bite the bullet and finally have the account transferred from my mom’s name to my name.
It was a three-step transaction. I wanted to:
1. Transfer the account to my name
2. Avail of an iPhone 4 under the rewards program
3. Change my plan to Plan 999 (unlimited internet, minimal number of free calls and texts a month)
And I wanted to do it in that specific order.
The account had to be transferred to my name first before I could claim the iPhone, because otherwise my mom would be locked to Globe for another two years. I wanted to get the iPhone before (or at least at the same time as) the change in plan because with unlimited internet, I could use a number of iPhone functions that would lessen my need to call or text. I relayed all of this to the guy at Globe Center Glorietta 3 who received my forms.
It took nearly a month to transfer the account to my name. I asked why this was and the customer service representative told me that “konti lang kasi ang taong mga gumagawa noon eh.” (There are only a few people who handle such transactions.) I am appalled that a telecommunications company that boasts of 25 million mobile subscribers and over a million broadband users with a revenue of US$ 1.2 billion and net income of US$ 276.2 million (as of Q1 2010) can’t or won’t hire more people to process simple paperwork.
The change of plan to Plan 999 happened even before the transfer of the account to my name or the arrival of my iPhone. I was a little peeved because I got the plan specifically for the iPhone. My defective Nokia N95 could not perform the iPhone functions I intended to use to lessen my text and calls. But I let that slide because at least there was some kind of movement on my account.
On July 27, I got my iPhone. A few days later, on August 1 or 2, it bricked. It powered off and refused to come back on again. I brought it back to the Globe Center G3 on August 3 or 4. They said it would take one to two weeks to replace the unit. It actually took three weeks.
“So… what am I supposed to do in the mean time?” I asked the woman at Globe Center G3 to whom I returned the defective unit. I was told that unfortunately they have no service units to lend to customers while their phones are being replaced. She said it as sympathetically as she could but the message was basically, “Bahala ka sa buhay mo.” (That’s your problem, not ours.) Assuming I couldn’t get a temporary phone, was I still expected to pay my phone bill for the period that I could not avail of their service? Apparently, yes. I don’t see how that’s fair.
I followed up at least once a week. The customer service representatives could tell me nothing. I wanted to know what the steps were in the replacement process and how it was progressing from week to week, e.g. Step 1 was done on this date, Step 2 will be done three days from now, etc. I got no such updates. I could not extract any specific details. I was expected to wait in the dark indefinitely for my replacement phone.
After my iPhone bricked I called the customer service hotline on August 3 to inquire about the possibility of upgrading to Plan 1799 (unlimited internet at 999 plus 800 consumable).
The cash out for the iPhone 4 at Plan 999 is 23,699. The cash out at Plan 1799 is 9,899. I’d already paid the 23,699. What I wanted to do was upgrade to Plan 1799, subtract 9,899 from the 23,699 I’d already paid, and then credit the remaining 13,800 to my phone bill. Basically I just wanted them to reallocate the money that I’d already given them — a large sum of money, I might add, for a benefit that I had yet to enjoy. I thought that this was a very reasonable request, and anyway it meant that I would pay them even more money in the long run.
The customer service representative put me on hold for a very long time as he inquired with higher-ups if this was indeed possible. He got back to me and said that it was, but I needed to call back on August 23 because my billing period is from the 23rd of Month X to the 24th of Month Y and they couldn’t make any changes to my plan in the middle of my billing period. But he did log my request and give me a reference number.
Even before the end of my billing period, I went to Globe Center G3 to follow up on my request to upgrade my plan and reallocate my cash out. I gave the reference number I was given on August 3. I just wanted to make sure that the change would indeed take effect at the end of my billing period and that all I needed to do was give them a call on August 23.
The woman assisting me, Jo Ann, looked up the reference number and said that it was not that simple. She said that authorization from Marketing was needed to make such a change. She said there was previously a similar case that was denied. But she would email Marketing and ask anyway.
Well, I said, when you write to Marketing, please detail the whole business with my defective iPhone unit. I repeated my entire spiel about how they’ve caused me a great inconvenience and how I simply want to reallocate the money I’ve already paid them for a benefit that I have yet to enjoy. She said she would. I asked if I could be CCed in the email. She said she couldn’t because the email was internal. Well, okay, I said. Please just keep me posted. She said she would email me if there were updates.
On August 23 or 24, I went back to Globe Center G3 to claim my replacement iPhone unit. It was Jo Ann who handled my transaction. I follow up on my request to upgrade my plan. She said Marketing emailed her back but it still needed someone else’s approval. She said she’d keep me posted. That’s what she told me last time but she didn’t update me with this development so I was doubtful.
I have lost so many hours of my life just transacting with Globe, both over their customer service hotline and waiting at Globe Center G3. Waiting time at Globe Center G3 is one hour minimum. You would think that Globe would hire more people to man their Center that’s right smack in the middle of the Makati Business District. Of Globe’s 25 million mobile subscribers I’m pretty sure there’s a large concentration of them in Makati. Presently there are 10 active counters in G3. But they have an entire floor below with 7 more inactive counters. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t hire more people to man those counters given their high customer traffic and ridiculously long waiting times.
On September 5, I called the customer service hotline yet again to follow up on my request to upgrade my plan. The customer service representative I spoke to pulled up my account but found no updates. I told him that Jo Ann of G3 was communicating with Marketing on my behalf, and that she said she would email me but she hasn’t. He said that he would get in touch with G3 and make sure someone got in touch with me the next day. At that point I was already extremely exasperated and I made him promise that I would get some kind of update the very next day. He promised. It’s been three days and I haven’t heard a peep from anybody.
Globe customer service representatives have this really annoying way of not answering my questions. I ask a question. They pull up my account. They reiterate the details of my previous transactions and calls. I don’t need you to tell me what happened! I know what happened; I was there! I want you to tell me what will happen next!
Sometimes during a call they’ll pass you around to different people before you land the one who can assist you with your particular issue. It’s exhausting to have to repeat all your information and your entire story, especially a complex one, three different times. There must be some kind of mechanism they can employ such that you only have to do it once. The customer service representative could at least brief the person they’re handing you off to. They’re called customer service for a reason — they’re supposed to serve their customers. But instead they make transacting with them so much work. I’ve had an easier time transacting with some government agencies. So much for private sector efficiency.
Globe’s customer service is so bad that I find it hard to believe that anyone stays with them by choice. Their shoddy treatment of customers does not exactly inspire loyalty. More likely, a large chunk of their subscribers are like me, for whom switching networks would be an enormous inconvenience. Switching networks would mean a new number. I’ve used the same number for over a decade, it’s on all the business cards I’ve ever had, and my accessibility to a vast network of contacts is supremely important to my work. My residential and office numbers have changed several times over, but my cellphone number has remained constant. I still have people I met ten years ago calling me up using the cellphone number listed on an old business card.
This is why HB04380* (“An Act Establishing Number Portability for Mobile Telephone Service”) has just made my list of priority legislation. Sure, it’s not as important as Reproductive Health or Freedom of Information or Electoral Reform but this absurd telecom hostage crisis needs to end. Without a number portability law, telecoms have very little incentive to improve their services. But if people can easily switch from one provider to the other and retain the same number, telecoms will have to work a lot harder to win and keep subscribers.
* HB04380 has been pending with the Committee on Information and Communications since March 22, 2011.
Update as of 2:00 PM: Globe just called and all my issues have been resolved. I don’t know if it had anything to do with this blog post or my tweet or with a friend reporting my issues to her Globe executive dad or if they just finally decided to give me a break. Whichever one it was, I’m extremely thankful and relieved. But, @talk2globe, don’t think for a minute that this means I’m going to shut up. I’m going to continue to be vocal about unsatisfactory service.