Internet broad ban service in the Philippines is a hit and miss proposition. If there’s not a brown out, power outage, then chances are the World Wide Web, invented by Al Gore, is not accessible from our unreliable Internet connection provided by Smart Bro.
But the lack of broadband service is not my only problem in “paradise.” Have I mentioned before that we only have running water in our subdivision outside of Iloilo City three times a week? A guy can get pretty ripe in 86% humidity without a daily shower or two. Ask my asawa. Also, while lizard poop is not the problem it was back at our home in Guimaras, there’s enough of the crap around to make it a minor pain in the ass.
But I don’t have to do the daily commute anymore. No road rage issues anymore. I leave the stress to the local jeepney drivers. Parts of the Upper Midwest back in the States have already been slammed by cold temperatures and snow. It’s been cooling off to around 73 or 74 here at night. It got so comfortable earlier in the week that I didn’t even run the air con two nights in a row. But at least I had reliable high speed internet service and a lot less power outages back in the States.
But the problems with Smart Bro are getting frustrating. My Internet was inoperative on Monday, October 10. It went down again the following Thursday, the 13th, and was not working the next day, Friday.
I had major problems this past August and made multiple calls to Smart before my connection issues were finally cared for. Everyone apologizes. Apologies don’t fix the problem.
I put a call into Smart Bro’s technical support line. Dial *1888 and pray. After multiple attempts to get past the automated menu I finally reached a live body. I was using my niece Michelle’s cell phone. The keys on her mobile are designed to fit duwende fingers. Done fooling around with the entry level service representatives, I demanded to speak to a supervisor. I was pissed.
The rep came back on the line and informed me all of the supervisors were on a call. I said that was just an excuse. I told the poor guy on the other end that I had worked for the telephone company back in the States for 30 years. I knew that was an alibi the managers used when they didn’t want to talk to a customer.
I advised the rep to pull the supervisor out of the C.R. (Comfort Room) or get them out of the canteen. I would wait all day and into the night if necessary. (Don’t think so? Just ask my asawa. I’ve sat fuming for over two hours on hold with Smart Bro before while waiting for a manager.)
About 15 minutes a supervisor did come on line. Her name was “Jam.” As in “Strawberry Jam” she informed me. I voiced my concerns and frustrations. She apologized. I told her they needed a technical crew in our subdivision that actually knew what they were doing. I was calm. But not happy with the situation. Jam knew she was in a sticky situation with an unhappy customer.
Jam told me she would monitor my connection personally. I informed her that I was told that before but that didn’t seem to do any good. She promised to call before the end of the day. I said “OK” and told her I was getting very frustrated with the level of service I was receiving. I had been with Smart Bro over three years but might have to look for a different internet provider when my contract came up. I’m sure Smart Bro would be happy with that. Problem is I’ve heard that Globe, the other internet provider in our area, is even worse. Hard to believe.
I didn’t receive a call back from Jam. I had gone to the UR Zone near SM City in Iloilo that Friday. Figured I might as well kick back and have a couple of cold San Miguel Pale Pilsens with my American expat friend Scott B. and before the “sin tax” was passed an dincreased the cost for a beer in the Philippines.
I visited the local Smart Store at the mall before heading out for some liquid refreshment. I wanted to register my complaints with our local office. After a 30-minute wait, my number was called. I spoke to the customer service representative on duty and expressed my concerns. She promised me a supervisor would call within 48 hours. I asked when my current contract would end.
“January, sir,” was the reply.
“I might have to go to Globe if this level of service continues,” I informed the associate. “Do you have any free phones or other offers if I sign up for a new contract then?”
“No, sir, we are giving discounts based on the length of the service contract you sign. A six month contract lowers your cost to P799 a month.” she explained.
I’m currently paying P999 a month for unlimited “service” and thanked the representative for her time. I headed to the UR Zone. Ordered a bucket from my usual server, Lex. Scott showed up and we drank a few beers and shared a few stories as American expats are want to do.
After I got back from the UR Zone that Friday afternoon my Internet connection was finally working. The manager from Smart Bro that the local agent promised would call within 48 hours did call. Four days later.
But today, Tuesday, October 23rd, Smart Bro has let me down again. No broadband. No internet connection. After calling *1888 and six attempts later I finally reach a service rep, Vladmir, who has a distinctly Russian name, but has a distinctive Filipino accent. The “customer support” agent informed me that the server in our subdivision, Savannah, was down. The “service” should be restored with 24 hours. That’s their standard line.
But by a miracle worthy of Saint Pedro Calungsod, my service was restored (for now) only two hours later. I’m publishing this post before it goes down again.
We’re headed back to Raymen Beach Resort in Guimaras next week to celebrate five birthdays. I won’t have to worry if my Internet is working that day. In the meantime, now that my World Wide Web is temporarily restored, I’ll put a call into Al Gore on my magicJack phone to see if he can fix my problems with Smart Bro. Maybe Mr. Gore has some connections in the Philippines. I evidently don’t.
(Update: I haven’t called Al Gore yet. As soon as I posted this article, but Internet service from Smart Bro went down again for about five hours.)