It was a bright sunny Monday morning, and I got up with plans for completing one article and writing a blog post in my mind. I had deadlines to meet. You see, I plan my days around writing. It is not only my favorite occupation, my raison d’être. It also provides me with a modest income, to supplement our fixed-income pensions. I actually depend upon the Internet, in so many different ways.
We had arranged for a technician to come and change our cable package to a smaller and cheaper one that morning. He was to come to the house between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon, but arrived after 12 (oh, why was this not surprising?) What was surprising, however, was that the technician came armed with a fancy new modem and lots of impressive-looking cables and wires. I had to stop writing while he replaced our modem with a brand new one – very grand, with lots of blue lights. This was their new hardware, their new system, we were told.
We were also told that in an hour or two we could simply reset this nice new modem and we would be back online. Fine. We duly waited but… Well, you know what happened next. The Internet did not work. We called the technician; he told us there was an “in-house problem,” suggesting therefore that it was out of his hands. When we tried calling him again later, we got voicemail. No choice but to go to the dreaded toll-free number…
Before I go any further, I should tell you that I have a special relationship with my Mac desktop computer. There is nothing like it. It is my work hub. It is my creative inspiration. It is the computer that keeps on giving, a joy to use and an indispensable part of my regular routine. I do not have the luxury of a laptop that I can carry to a café or to a friend’s house. This is my workplace, right here with my Mac desktop, and so it shall remain. I write from home, it’s as simple as that, with my husband and our dogs and our yard full of birds. This is where I can concentrate my mind. We writers are fussy like that.
Now to what is perhaps the most heart-wrenching part of all – the customer service number. The Flow call center is in Trinidad, so one has to negotiate fast-talking young men and women with an at times impenetrable accent. They are mostly pleasant young people though, trying to make a living. The problem is that each time we called (to find out what, if anything, is going on) we had to wait an average of fifteen minutes. During this time, an irritating one-minute commercial for an upcoming sports cable package played itself endlessly, until we began to take leave of our senses. When we finally got through to someone, we were cut off five or six times and had to start the maddening process all over again. This is bad for our mental health, very bad.
I suggest to Flow that it beefs up its customer service considerably. It needs a complete overhaul. Dear Flow, you need to do a few things:
- Employ more people at your call center (and preferably move it to Jamaica);
- Employ more people at your offices (the line of complaining customers grows longer daily);
- Cut back on the fancy PR and the football matches – you are not ready for that yet;
- Spend the money on offering a decent and reliable service;
- Treat your customers with the respect they deserve.
Things went sour for me when some time ago, we Jamaicans were insulted (and felt cheated) by paying diligently for cable channels that were, it later transpired, illegally obtained by the company. Flow had never informed us that they were basically stealing the channels, and we were stupidly paying for them. We were offered no apology, let alone a refund. But that is another matter…
If you have reached this far, dear reader, you must have a headache. Ours was ongoing. Our blood pressure rose steadily. A supervisor at the call center, who promised to return our call in half an hour, never – never called us back. And there are many other little incidents and frustrations that I will not bother to bore you with here.
Can’t you do just a little bit better, dear Flow? You had better.
We have now gone to the competition and we are happy with Digicel’s service so far (faster Internet speeds, for a start). So far, so good.
We only have pretensions of “First World” status, don’t we? In these kinds of situations, we realize this. Based on the above experience – which I am fairly sure sounds familiar to many Jamaicans – we are firmly and squarely in the “Third World” department.
P.S. Big ups however to Roxanne at the Trinidad call center. She was very nice, and helpful.