Friday came. My conversation with Janice from Smart Bro the night before indicated I should be getting my Internet installed at our new location outside of Iloilo City today. Lunchtime passed and I was becoming concerned. I decided to call the technical “help” line at *1888 to check on the status. The Filipina agent on the other end advised me that my service had indeed been “pulled out.” I informed her that I did not call to check on the status of my old service at Guimaras, I wanted to know when my service would be installed at our new residence. She asked me to please wait and put me on hold.
I had been led to believe that a technician would be at our residence today to reinstall my connection. “It is scheduled for today, October 14, Sir David,” was the reply I received when the agent got back on line. It was around 1 pm, so I just waited and hoped for the best. Doubts were creeping into my head, and for good reason. After all, the Smart Bro office at SM City in Iloilo had already lost my original work order due to a “processing error.” Was this nightmare going to continue?
Called back at 3 pm and spoke to a “Gerald.” “Yes, Sir David, everything is still scheduled for today. Your pull-out has been completed.” I explained to the Smart Bro representative that I did not care about the pull-out, or disconnection, of the service at our old location. I wanted to know about my new installation. “Everything is scheduled for today, October 14, Sir David.” I thanked him and hoped for the best. Gerald informed me that the normal working hours for the installers were between 8am until 5 pm, with hours extended until 7 pm under some circumstances.
So I, the ever impatient expat American, call the Smart Bro hotline number again around 5:00. I'm told again by another agent that "Yes, Sir David, your service has been pulled out." Again, I repeat my "I don't care about my old service being pulled out, when is my NEW service being installed" mantra. And again I'm put on hold and when the representative returns I am told again that "the service is scheduled for today." Are you beginning to see a pattern here? I clicked off our mobile having no confidence whatsoever that I would have my new broad ban service connected today.
Seven o'clock pm. I call the Smart Bro hotline again. I advise the customer service representative that I want to speak to a supervisor.
- "What is the problem, sir? Perhaps I can help." she asked.
- "No, I really doubt that you can." (I had turned into the "Ugly American" at this point and was completely frustrated.)
- "But we do not have a supervisor available." the agent informed me.
- "I'll wait. I'll wait until 5 o'clock in the morning if I have to." was my reply. I worked for AT&T back in the States for almost 30 years. I can assure you that the "no supervisor" routine was a similar ploy used back at my old job.
After 10 minutes I am connected with a supervisor, Don Don. I explain the situation with him from the very beginning. He listens patiently. When I am done he informs me that my new address is not even on file. He apologizes, gets my new location and promises to call me back that night. I tell him to call back even if it is midnight.
I am in a state of shock. I have been told by the customer service representatives from Smart Bro for the past two days that my service was going to be installed each day I called. And now I'm informed by a supervisor that our new address isn't even in their data base? I finally fall asleep, leaving my asawa's cell phone on (we're down to one phone, I gave my Samsung Champ to my niece Shina for her upcoming birthday.)
At one minute before midnight, the phone rings. It is Don Don. He informs me that he was not able to reach the installation, relocation department, but he promised another supervisor on the day shift tomorrow, Saturday, would call me between 9 am and 10 am. I told him I certainly hope someone does call and hoped he understood my problem because no one else at Smart Bro seemed to be able to. He assured me he did understand. I had my doubts but went back to sleep.
Saturday morning. 11 am. One hour past the time I was promised a call from another Smart Bro supervisor. I call the hotline. Again ask for a supervisor. None available for an hour. I'll wait. Five minutes later "Joey," gets on the line. She apologizes for not calling earlier, assures me they are doing everything they can to escalate my installation request (heard that before), and that she would call me to give me hourly updates.
After two updates from Joey, as promised, there is still no installation date set. My foul mod is getting worse. My poor wife is in our new home probably praying harder than I am that the new Internet service gets installed. Get a call around 4 pm. This time it's from AJ, a supervisor in the relocation department. He informs me that the installation crew will come out Monday. I thank him and tell him I hope that the new service will really go in this time. He assured me it would. We'll see. Five minutes later, AJ calls to inform me that the install will be done tomorrow, Sunday. Great news! I thanked him again and calmed down. At least for the moment.
Sunday arrives. My hopes are high that my new Smart Bro broad ban service will finally go in. Around noontime I place a call to the hotline to get status. I hear the usual "It's scheduled for today, Sir David" and hope for the best. Call back at 1:20 where a helpful agent puts me on hold to contact the contractor doing the work in our subdivision outside of Iloilo City. He informs that the installer is working on the antenna and should be contacting me shortly. My mood brightens considerably. However, 5 pm, hours later, still no word from the installation technician.
Five o'clock is the regular quitting time. I had been told before that the contractor will work extended hours until 7 pm under certain circumstances. I certainly thought my situation should qualify as such so I waited. And waited. At 6:45 I called the hotline again. Asked for a supervisor and Vanessa got on the line in just a few short minutes. She was understanding and could not explain why the installer had not contacted me and why the installation had not been done as promised.
Spoke to Vanessa for over 30 minutes venting my frustration with the whole process. She promised to investigate what was going on. All their attempts to reach the contractor in our subdivision failed. He was not answering his cell phone. "I think you need a new contractor" I said. We continued to talk and at 7:30 my asawa called out from the kitchen" They're here!" I told the supervisor that the installers had finally arrived. I answered the door, greeted the lead technician, Caesar, and handed him the phone. Told him that a Smart Bro manager wanted to speak with him.
As Caesar proceeded to get his butt chewed out (you don't have to know the language to know when someone is getting ripped a new one), his fellow Smart Bro crew went into action. My wife handed one young man who climbed our roof to install the antenna (see above photo) a flashlight (it was completely dark, but we thankfully did have a street light that lit up our front yard.) Two Filipinas, also part of the five-person crew (see photo below) assisted Caesar. I joked with them and asked if any of the guys were their "asawa." They just laughed and said "no." The guys laughed, too.
Didn't take long for the antenna to be put up and a cable was connected to my computer. Caesar and another member of the crew had to briefly leave to pick up a laptop to diagnose technical problems they were having in getting my service connected. After about an hour, it was nine pm now, and the guys excitedly pointed to their laptop and proclaimed that my Internet was now working.
I instantly knew we had a problem, My magicJack program was not working. I went to my Mozilla Firefox browser to go to the Internet and "page was not found." Told the guys that the connection is not working on my computer yet and unless they were going to leave their laptop, they weren't going anywhere until the Internet was working on my computer.
A half hour and several phone calls later, the crew had my broad ban installed and working. My magicJack fired up, and my Internet connection could be made. I thanked the crew, gave Caesar a 100 peso note (2.30 US Dollars) to buy some bottles of Red Horse for the crew (the installers worked for an individual contractor and were not paid overtime, only by the job. This was the latest they had ever worked and had to be on the job seven days a week, no days off. They were not informed of the installation until 2 pm that Sunday afternoon and could not reach their boss either, the chief contractor.)
In the words of Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman, "What we've got here is a failure to communicate." I don't why in the world the Smart Bro office in Iloilo City lost my original move order and why the installers did not learn of my new work order until 2 pm that Sunday afternoon when I was told by a hotline representative at 1:20 pm that the contractor was working on my antenna and would shortly be contacting me. I was just glad I finally had my Internet back. Now if we could just get that television replaced that I fried (never plug a 110 volt appliance into a 220 outlet), we'd be doing even better.
(BIG THANKS to AJ from the Smart Bro Relocation Department and the actual installation crew that finally got my Internet connection hooked up.)