Can’t they get any smarter?!

I’ve been on a temporary involuntary blog leave lately due to our home PC’s technical problems. You see, a week ago, we finally got ourselves a new and faster PC after months of patiently waiting, deliberating, and saving. We were so excited to test how fast our PC can go and we hooked it up right away, only to find out that we did not have an Internet connection. Ok, perhaps there was some configuration to do. After all, the settings might be different now that the mother board and what have you were changed. So we called the computer technician and did some troubleshooting through the phone. He said our PC was running right and that the Internet problems we had were something our Internet provider should take care of. That’s when we called the SmartBro hotline. The customer service agent was a pleasant chap who listened to my complaint of not having an Internet connection. He instructed me, step-by-step, on what to check and asked for our PC’s IP address. After 10 minutes or so of troubleshooting, he diagnosed that yes, the problem belongs to them, and our PC was fine. He tells me that he will forward a report to the concerned group who will look into the matter and that in 1 to 2 hours I am to check the PC again. I did just that, only to find out that the page still cannot be displayed. Fine, so 2 hours is not enough time for them to fix whatever has to be fixed. I was pretty cool with that. I waited until the following day to call the hotline again. This time a girl answered to attend to my concern. I repeat the dialogue I had with boy #1 and she leads me through the same troubleshooting procedure I went through the day before. She tells me to try browsing again. I couldn’t browse, I tell her. She gives up and sends a report again to the concerned group. I check the following day. No progress. Nothing. I call the hotline. By now I can dial their number by heart. This time Ace answers. He guides me through the same crap of troubleshooting but finally gives up and writes the same report to be forwarded to the concerned group. The concerned group must be famous. I’ve heard that line over and over and yet we have not heard from “the concerned group”. I call again and talk to Missy. I ask for any feedback from the daily reports forwarded to the concerned group. She couldn’t give any. She wants me to troubleshoot again. No way, I retort. I’ve done that a thousand times already and it hasn’t done us any good. I want answers! I want action! She promises to make a follow-up of the follow-up of the follow-up. From my end I wonder if there ever was a follow-up made. My husband asks me if there’s any good news from my talk with Missy. I tell him the same line about the concerned group. Gosh, that got him. He calls the Smart hotline himself and talks to another agent. He looks for a coordinator or supervisor he could speak to. Sorry, no one was available but yes, the agent, will be so obliging to forward our concern to his boss. We wait again another day. I turn on our PC to check if the smart people have restored our connection. No luck. We call the hotline again. This time we push them harder. Odessa, the nth agent I have talked to keeps me on hold for 5 minutes and tells me to call back after another 30 minutes to set the schedule a field person can check our connection. Ok, now we’re talking. We have calmed down now because we are assured that come tomorrow, someone will be knocking at our door to fix the mess. Can’t say I am pleased with their service. Heck, they don’t even have one! Imagine, we have to call them every single day just to remind them of our complaint. And they give us crap. I pity those customer service agents, really. I know they’re just doing their job, but come on, we’re paying these people to do their jobs right! It seems Smart has no system on how to get things done in the first place. The technical support group that I’ve met through the phone are just their first line of defense, I know that. But what happens after that? What does the “concerned group” do? The agents file report after report after report, and yet we don’t get any action, we don’t get any replies at all.

Finally, after days of waiting for an action, the field guys arrive. They have a hard time troubleshooting and they still couldn’t get a connection. They hook up their laptop and find the Internet functioning right. It must be the LAN, they say. Now why didn’t these customer service agents figure that out through the troubleshooting sessions we had with them? So the next day, we brought it to our computer technician and he checks it out. Ahah! He finds what’s causing the problem! It’s the anti-virus software! Oops, it was the anti-virus that was blocking the connection, not the LAN and not the adjustments being made at Smart’s base station (the agents have given me this line, too). Ok, so there wasn’t really anything wrong with the Smart connection (big ooops!), so it was our PC that was causing our own problems (yeah, like we could have figured that out on our own! Sorry, we’re both non-techie to begin with), the service we got from Smart still sucked big time. There were loopholes in their system everywhere. The customer service agents were receiving complaint after complaint after complaint, and they write report after report after report. But nothing happens. They couldn’t even give us a straight, honest-to-goodness answer when we asked them if there was any feedback from the reports they’ve sent out to whoever was concerned. From a big company like Smart, you would have expected more from them. Or is it because they know they’re such a big company that they subconsciously take for granted the paying customers who made them big in the first place? Pity the customer service agents who take most of the irate customers’ grunt, I can’t blame the consumers though for lashing it out on them. These agents can get quite annoying, especially when you keep hearing the same excuse over and over again, and they end the call by saying they will be forwarding a report to the concerned group. I get the feeling they just whisper the report to the wind, can you blame me? Pity the field guys who do the work that couldn’t be resolved by these agents. They asked us to call the field hotline to help with their troubleshooting but the line was busy. How could they get their work done then? We call the Smart hotline instead and the agent, upon learning we had field guys at home, wanted to hang up on us. She kept insisting that there was a separate hotline for the technical guys even if the questions we were asking questions had something to do with how to log-in the Smart portal if we forgot our password, a matter they should know. I still had to explain to her that, hello, my query had something to do with your group, regardless of the field guys present in our home. Lastly, pity the customers who have real Internet connection problems and receive this kind of help. Who can they turn to when they’re facing a blank wall? What happens to the days and weeks of not having an Internet connection? The Internet might have been their only access to a father based abroad, or a business deal waiting to be closed, or to the latest hollywood buzz. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Shame, shame, shame. Really now, can’t they get any smarter?

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February 24, 2007. General.

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