Smart Bro in Iloilo City: The Saga Concludes.

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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.DSC

 

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.)

About The Kano 1427 Articles
POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO" OVER 1400 POSTS PUBLISHED SINCE 2009. Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus". He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions. Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 17 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife"'. The couple is based in Guimaras. They have no children but are the proud owners of eight puppies, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer".

24 Comments

  1. Well “Sir David” I am happy to know you now have internet. At first I thought maybe you were washed away by the storm. Has your blood pressure gone down now??? 🙂

    • “Sir Gary,” we were not washed away, just got a little rain. Don’t know if my blood pressure has gone up or not, we left the digital blood pressure monitor with my mother-in-law back in Guimaras. I do, however, think my asawa’s blood pressure is going up. She is doing another batch of laundry (by hand, no fancy washing machines for us.) I went over to ask her how she was doing. “Just leave me alone!” was the reply. Point taken, that’s been over two hours ago. Good thing she didn’t bring over any of her bolos to our new home in Iloilo.

      • I have looked at the washing machines here in the Philippines and don’t like what I see. Seems to be a waste of money. Hand wash here too Dave.

        • Yep, to be honest, Gary, most of the ones we see are made of plastic and are cheap-looking. I have convinced The Sainted Patient Wife to hire someone to come in and do the laundry twice a week. There’s only two of us, but if I can make her life (and mine) a bit easier I’m all for that. She’s going to check with her new manicurist/pedicurist that travels our subdivision (I like the new lady. She only charges 35 pesos for a manicure or pedicure and not the high-priced P40 we were paying back in Guimaras.) 🙂

          • Dave,

            40 peso’s is highway robbery for a manicure lol. Glad you finally got internet service. Those filipinas sure look cute. Take care and be safe brother.

            • That’s what I thought, Papa Duck. My asawa is quite the bargain hunter and glad to see she can get her nails and toes done for five pesos less.

              You have a gf, right, if I’m not mistaken. If not, the ladies in the photos said they are single. Very polite and charming group, the whole crew.

        • Ditto. We have replaced 3 “Whirlpool” washing machines here and our has been broken for the past 4 months. I am convinced it’s because of abuse from our helper.
          Guess what ? Our electric bill is down P2,000 a month and I have cleaner clothes since the “washer” broke :).

          Save your money and get a new TV set instead Dave :).

          • I’m all for the new set, Paul. Who needs a wash machine that always breaks down? Though it will mean a reduction of less meaningful talks with my asawa, I know that we both miss watching some mindless TV in the evening. 🙂

    • That could be, Murray. The main office is in Manila of course, and the locals in Iloilo City generally speak Ilonggo. What I can’t understand is why the original rep that took my order at SM City in Iloilo did not process my order. Everything on my receipt is clearly marked, and she took down the address of our new location and verified it with me. But you make a good point. When our installer did arrive and I handed the phone to him so he could speak with the supervisor in Manila, I heard him request that she speak to him in Ilonggo. The language barrier might have been the issue because not everyone around here speaks Tagalog.

  2. I don’t think folks speak Tagalog where Dave lives. It would be rude as most speak Cebuano/Bisaya. They understand Tagalog but Cebuano/Bisaya is spoken by more people in the Philippines than Tagalog.

    • You’re exactly right, Gary. Most of the folks do speak the local language, Ilonggo (Hiligaynon.) I’ve encountered many folks that do not speak Tagalog at all. Good point.

    • Actually they speak Hilogiyan (Native Illongo).
      It’s a mix of spanish, english, tagolog and native Hilogayan :).
      Been here almost 10 years and unbderstand most and speak it fairly well.
      I never bothered with tagalog as most people either speak english or Hilogayan.
      The only time my wife speaks tagalog is when we are in Manila.
      Now if you head south 2 hours to Antique provence they speak corrayo which is a completely diferant dialect.
      For the most part I play the “dumb foreigner” and see what people are really thinking or saying. It catches them way by surprise when I throw an “ano” (what), sino (who) or a Ikaw (it’s you) at them :). Ever seen a local turn red ?lol, I have.

      Paul in Iloilo

      Paul in Iloilo

      • Thanks for the info, Paul. If I wasn’t so old and lazy, I would attempt to learn more of the Hilogayan language myself. Some of the older folks are impressed when I just throw out the occasional “salmat po” (thank you sir/ma’am.)

        By the way, the role of the “dumb foreigner” comes naturally to me.

  3. Sir Dave,
    You should know better by now that “failure to communicate” is standard operating procedure there. Did you really think that Gerald would relay to DonDon that JoeyJoey has a good possible maybe install date, and installation might be done by JoJo assisted by LingLing sometime this month. Now have a few SMG, and enjoy knowing your jack magic is working again and all is well in the kingdom:-). Ah, only in the philippines ……hahahahaha. My hats off to you Sir Dave

    • Awwww, shucks, John D., what was I thinking? All is well now. I did have a “few” SMG this past Saturday afternoon with Paul from Iloilo and GG over at Jeff’s, the”Crazy Cano’s.

  4. I was at a street party on Saturday with a bunch of Filipino guys. Two of them work on oil tankers so they both spoke quite good English. The rest I was giving “nose bleeds” as they tried to communicate with me. Something really weird happened, after about an hour when they were speaking Tagalog amongst themselves I started to understand what they were saying. Now Kiwis are like Americans, most speak only English and do not have a natural propensity for learning other languages. Maybe too many SM lites?

  5. Dave,
    How true you are with language barriers and SMG or other similar type beverages. When on vacation there during the last presidential elections, I had opened a bottle of crown royal I brought with me. My brothers in law invited some friends we all knew as well a few local polliticians running for local office. It was amazing to see how their english actually became better than mine after few shots of crown…and my tagalog was better than theirs :-). Ah the benefits of SMG products or similiar beverages…Learn english, tagalog, spanish, japanese, korean or thai in just 2 hours….hahahahaha

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