Sun | Jun 17, 2018

Canute Thompson | At Digicel, it gets worse and worse

Published:Wednesday | January 31, 2018 | 12:00 AM

I am a customer of Digicel and have had bad experiences with the company. The foremost challenge is access to the company to get queries resolved.

Only a few months ago, one could call 100 or 137 and although there was the risk of waiting long to speak with someone, the call was free. In recent months, the company has removed the free service. One now has to call at one's expense. How is that for 'extraordinary' customer service, particularly if the reason one needs to call results from some bungling on the part of the company? This amounts to the customer paying Digicel to fix a problem that the company caused.

But it gets worse.

Previously, the three-digit toll free number had a menu of options, one of which was 'to speak with someone'. That is was also removed, and so even when one calls 619-5000 (at one's expense) and gets the operator, the operator places the call in the menu chain, but the option of speaking with someone is not available.

While there is prerecorded information that may address some queries, there are some issues that can only be addressed through speaking with someone. The company's defence is that one can reach a customer service rep without the expense of calling, for example, 'online chat', but this is not accessible to the customer who does not have a smartphone, and is of no use to a customer whose mobile data service is frozen.

The company may also say there is email, but how many of its customers can engage that means of communication, and as the company's reps can confirm, in my experience, they do not respond to emails in a timely manner.

But it gets even worse.

 

EXPIRY DATE APPROACHING

 

Sometime after the Xmas holidays, I began getting a recorded message that the "time allotted" to use my call credit "will soon expire" and so I should top up soon to continue making calls. I ignored the message as I thought it was related to bonus credit that I may have accidentally/ unintentionally earned. The messages persisted, and sometime in early January, I found that I could not make calls and my data service was suspended - even though my data service is paid for separately and despite my having a few hundred dollars of credit on the phone.

Based on the messages I had received, I topped up with $300 on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, but by Thursday, January 18, I began getting the message that the time to use my credit would soon expire. I began trying to contact the company - to no avail. My service was again suspended on Monday, January 22, including my data service, and this time, I topped up with $200. The following day, I again began getting the message that the time to use my call credit would soon expire. I sent a senior manager at the company an email, and after about 36 hours having not heard from her, I called her, and she directed someone to contact me. What I learnt may surprise you.

Less call time for larger top-up!

The rep told me that I was on a particular plan (of which I was not aware, be it known) and under that plan, if I top up with $199.99 or less, I have 21 days to use that credit; if I topped up with $200 to $499.99, I had five days to use the credit; $500-$999.99 gave 10 days, and so on, but only top-ups in excess of $2,000 allowed a period longer than the top-up of less than $200?

I was flabbergasted. Can it make sense for $200 to last you 21 days and $500 less one cent to be good for only five days?

- Canute Thompson is head of the Caribbean Centre for Education and Planning and lecturer in educational policy, planning, and leadership. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and canutethompson1@gmail.com.