Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Digicel, saviour or Scrooge?

Published:Saturday | October 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM

In 2003-2004, my ex showed me how we could text back and forth with 555, a free avenue of sending text messages using a system that is provided by telecommunications companies like Digicel and LIME. At that time, I was an aspiring graphic designer and became rather popular in the town of Mandeville. This caused me to acquire a large contact list of cell numbers and, because of this, I started telling clients that I would send a free text to my many cell phone contacts if they paid for a design.

It worked like a charm! Not only did clients give me more design work, but they even solicited their contact's cell numbers and paid to have text messages sent about their events, products or services.

I saw how lucrative this texting business was and decided to launch a career in advertising and text messaging. I quit graphic design somewhat, as I had fallen out of love with it, and pursued text-message advertising.

All was going well while using this 555 system until, as usual, everything weh free nuh good stopped working one Christmas. I searched for an alternative means of sending text in bulk and contacted Digicel to see if they offered the service. To my surprise, they did not.

So I ventured out further and found out that companies like Virtual Mall Jamaica and SMS Communications offered the perfect service I was in need of. I got quotes and realised that reselling this service for that quote would be too high, and that is when my friend, Marvin Whitfield, was at that time exploring the wonderful world of BULK SMS and convinced me to use his service, as it was more affordable than anyone else on the island.

blocking networks

I Googled BULK SMS services and found an international provider which was very reasonable and would afford me to offer the services to other businesses on the island and even in other countries for a reasonable price. So I launched out on my own with a reseller site for BULK SMS and acquired dozens of customers such as Proactive Lifestyle, Tuscany Boutique and Khemlani Mart. I currently do not have these clients as paying customers because my suppliers told me that Digicel is not only in the business of offering BULK SMS services, it was blocking their network from providers like myself and my customers' texts just won't go through.

Now, let us take a recap. I mentioned earlier in this article that I could not access the service from Digicel because it didn't offer it, nuh true? Now aallllll of ah sudden, a few months back ... who dat call me? Nuh Digicel? Nicely inquiring about my independent website and finding out all the things that they could find out.

I said to myself, "Not a problem. We live on a massive planet, seven billion strong. If they want to offer BULK SMS services, then more power to them!" I EEEEEEEEVEN went as far to ask if I could use their service at a discounted rate instead of using my internatio-nal suppliers. They said, "Yes," and that they would have got back to me. All now nobody nuh call me back.

Now where does that leave me? I have invested tons of cash in this business and have lost miserably to the extent where I can't even buy credit to call Digicel Business again. I tried calling them several times after finding out about them blocking me and how rude the customer rep was when she could not comprehend what I was trying to achieve by simply wanting to talk to someone who would just tell me how to proceed further in using their service. She wasn't very friendly and suggested I leave Mandeville and go all the way to Digicel's head office in Kingston just to ask how to start using BULK SMS with them now that my business has come to an abrupt halt!

I prayed about this situation and asked God to deal with it accordingly, but God also helps those who help themselves and I helped myself to pick up my laptop and write to the editor!

All I want is to be compensated for the large amounts of cash that have been lost in this recent struggle and for Digicel to grow some 'mannaz' and at least call and notify persons like myself when making these harsh decisions.

johanna denny

ProprietorEvents, products and services