A Disconnect, and Goodbye: Our Journey With Flow Has Ended

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.




29 thoughts on “A Disconnect, and Goodbye: Our Journey With Flow Has Ended

  1. There’s general dissatisfaction with the service provided by both major telecoms companies in Jamaica, and the region. I’ll just post what a friend just shared on Facebook, and leave it there:
    Digicel PLAY INSTALLATION (Nov 17 – ?):
    DAY 1: The crew comes bright and early and bustles about busily. Refuse to put modem where I want it and run yellow cabling indoors!!!!! Suddenly stop! They explain there is no signal on the box on the road, they will be back tomorrow to finish. That evening another technician calls to get directions to check on the box on day 2.
    DAY 2: *crickets*
    DAY 3: *crickets* I call the CSR who signed me up and she starts follow up

    DAY 4: *crickets* for me and the CSR
    DAY 5: *crickets* for me and the CSR
    SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?! This is why I live in a @LIME %^(@$@$(! FLOW house.
    The telecoms are going to drive me crazy!


    1. Well, we had a very different experience with Digicel, including the installation. We told them where we wanted the modem and cables put and there was no problem with that, they are not in the way and I am not aware of any yellow cable either. We have a box on the wall and a white cable. LIME/Flow is absolutely terrible. The experience I have recounted in this article was by no means the first, with them. We just came to the end of our tether. PS. What is a CSR?


      1. I think a major problem with both providers is that customer experience of each is so varied, but tending towards dissatisfaction. That indicates a generally inferior product/service.

        CSR, I presume, is customer service representative.


      2. Well, I am not sure who your provider is, but I don’t actually know anyone who is happy with Flow at the moment. Although as you say there is a general disgruntlement…


      3. I’ve had few technical issues with Flow cable and Internet services over the past 2 years. When needed, tech support has been good, and customer service better than average.

        LIME phone services for have been good, on balance; much the same as Digicel. Coverage problems have lessened over the past year. However, LIME customer service and communications are an utter disaster, and I’ve written about it many times, not just here in Jamaica, but also Barbados. LIME’s outsourcing of call centres (eg St Lucia or Trinidad) is part of that disaster in Jamaica, and new Flow are in the process of scrapping that.


      4. Are you serious??!! Flow?? Your experience is quite unusual, I believe. Customer service is a disaster, so how can you call it “better than average”? “New Flow” has come too late for me. I am sick of the couldn’t-care-less approach, so reminiscent of Cable & Wireless in the 90s. Not to mention the slower than slow speeds and the frequent “down time”…


  2. You said: “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.”

    That has been the case with Flow for the past 3 years, at least. I- The long long wait. The strong Eastern Caribbean accents. It is not due to the recent Lime acquisition and other changes.

    BTW, I don’t think this is exclusively a 3rd World problem. People have problems with utilities companies the world over.

    Re the cable channels, I think it was more the case of Flow (unwittingly?) purchasing channels from 3rd parties that were not licensed to sell to them, rather than them doing the stealing themselves.


    1. I really don’t mind the accents at all. They are rather interesting, but I have to keep asking them to repeat themselves! The looooong wait is just terribly exhausting. I guess maybe you are right about the “third world” comment – a bit harsh, and one of the other comments here from a reader in the Netherlands confirms that this is not just a “developing country issue”! But I do think Flow had a responsibility to know where all those free channels were coming from, even if they came via third parties!


      1. Yes, they do have a service of some sort, I think. Contact them and see what they can do. We basically moved from Flow’s “triple play” package to Digicel’s (which so far seems to be better quality). We’re in Kingston and I don’t think they are offering it island wide, yet. It is fiber optic into the house. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear your pain! Please don’t think this is a third world problem – we have the same issues in the Netherlands. Internet drops out multiple times a day – usually with a deadline imminent – and oh so slow. Yet we pay for the fastest package available. Like you, I rely on a great service so can work from home.Good luck!


    1. My goodness. I am rethinking that “third world” comment. I was just being a little cruel to our former provider I suppose! Yes, it’s very important to have reliable service – more than anything – and there are many people like us. We don’t just use our Internet for fun! Thanks and I hope your service improves – maybe you are due for a change too!


  4. Hi Emma.
    I used to say in another time and place that giving technology to some people was like giving rum to the uninitiated…Expect nothing but a disaster or worse a tragedy.

    My encounters with internet and cable service providers in Jamaica ( whether C & W or now Flow) have often left me with pounding headaches after waiting interminably to get a customer service agent to answer the phone, listening to god-awful promotions or having to wait well beyond a set time schedule for someone to turn up to help.

    We are suckers for punishment clearly. Good luck with Digicel. I am not so optimistic.


    1. Ha! Yes, good point Colin. Cable & Wireless was the worst customer service experience we have ever had, anywhere – it was always as if they were doing you a favor, and I think LIME/Flow has inherited that culture. We just got sick of the pounding headaches and waiting all day for a technician – and decided to make a change. So far, so good (better!)


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