I was thinking of how I should phrase this post about my dealings with Smart, a brand of a telecommunications company in the Philippines. Should I go with “Smart Communications, Bad Service”? The title seemed witty, but then I realized that the communication from Smart’s end has not been the most clever. Sorry, no dice.
It all began with me having some trouble with my mobile phone’s current sim card. I had issues with the speed of my phone’s data in some places I frequent, so I couldn’t update social media. (Social media figures heavily into my job, so internet connection is essential.) I saw this ad for an exclusive Smart online store discount for Smart 4G Pocket Wifi, and thought it would be a good idea to go get myself a prepaid pocket wifi in case of emergencies with my current carrier:
I made an account on the Smart telecom online website, and placed the order for the pocket wifi as well as two mobile phones that were also online exclusives. (BTW, the phones are for relatives who just wanted to consolidate our orders.) Have you seen the advert on TV? It’s for this Myphone smartphone:
I paid by credit card and received three e-mails regarding my order placement, payment, and delivery status. The online order was placed on March 8, and the delivery via courier arrived on March 18. Yes, it took 10 days. #1 It’s a slow service to begin with. I received the goods from the courier, but was surprised to learn that only the two mobile phones with their sim card and prepaid load bundles were inside the three layers of plastic packaging materials. The pocket wifi and its sim card bundle was nowhere to be found. I checked the courier’s delivery receipt and saw that the pocket wifi bundle wasn’t included to the description of items, yet the cash invoice from Smart that was slipped inside the package listed the pocket wifi bundle.
After the initial shock wore off, I immediately dialed customer service. It’s an automated system with a complex set of menus akin to a sinister labyrinth. I tried some three times before I finally got to a speak to a human being, and I couldn’t access that without entering a random person’s Smart phone number first. Add to that the menu having no “Dial ____ to go back” option, so you can only hang up and start over. #2 The customer service hotline is not user-friendly to new or potential Smart users. When I did get to speak to the prepaid customer service rep, the person on the other end of the line gave me the pass around to the broadband hotline. They redirected the call where the broadband menu gave me the option to either A.) enter a broadband unit/sim number to speak to a representative—a number I DO NOT HAVE because the broadband unit is obviously not in my possession; or B.) Listen to an audio commercial on non-stop loop. (Huh?!) I tried the sales hotline, but it asked, yet again, for a code I do not have. #3 They carelessly pass you around from department to department.
I returned my attention to the prepaid hotline again. When I spoke with the CS rep, she attempted to give me the good ol’ pass around once more, until I explained the situation and the fact that I have no broadband number to provide. She listed down my concern and said it would be escalated. I was asked to wait for a call from the sales department within 24 hours, but it did not happen.
Today, Sunday, March 20, I called the prepaid hotline and got passed around to the direct line to sales that automatically hung up on me after a few unanswered rings. Went back to prepaid hotline, got transferred to the broadband hotline, and I just decided to enter a bogus 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 as my broadband unit number just to speak to a human being. I explained the situation and had to wait some 10 minutes to speak to a supervisor. I was told by the supervisor to give it another 48 hours as they had just opened up my issue for investigation at that moment.
To add insult to injury, I just found out that Smart’s 4G Pocket Wifi just launched another online exclusive promo where the unit is being sold at a further discount of PHP 888. FML. #4 It’s all starting to feel a little scam-like.
At this point, I don’t give a flying f— about the prepaid broadband. I actually want them to just give me a refund, so that I can forget about that whack promotion and all the hassle of attempting to speak with a person from customer service. Unfortunately, I still have to wait at least 48 hours to make heads or tails of the situation. AAAAAAAAARG. I was better off with my current service provider. It’s also kind of shitty, but it’s already there.