PLDT is the one giant company in the Philippines which doesn’t list any of its numbers in the telephone directory. I think I know why: if it did it would be besieged by millions of calls.
Now here is the irony – PLDT happens to be the country’s biggest phone company.
Here is an account of my latest experience, in 10 numbered paragraphs:
- Around Sep 12 2007 I bought three PLDT “budget cards” worth P200 each so that I could call my wife, who was then traveling abroad.I found out none of the cards worked. After following the instructions on the cards, and then keying in the number I was told by an automated voice: “I’m sorry that is an invalid card number.”
- I immediately called the help desk 173. Now perhaps I should mention that PLDT has centralized its service numbers, which means they make you jump through various hoops and wait for various messages to play out before you learn which numbers you should press to get the service you want. Anyway when I finally got budget card customer service I reported what happened: I was promised swift action (though with no definite dates). Note the date: I called on Sep 14
- Two days later, when nothing happened, I called again. Yet again, I was promised action. I won’t even bet with you what happened next, because you already know and you’d win the bet easily. Here’s what happened: NOTHING. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. (For those of you who have alphanmueric touch tone phones that translates to 6684464 – NOTHING). In my book, promising something and not doing it is the same as lying.
- Instead, what happened was my wife finally returned home at the end of September. On October, she WENT to PLDT North Edsa bringing the three non-functional cards with her. Right at PLDT’s entrance, the security guard was reluctant to even give her a customer service number, claiming the problem she had with the three cards was nonexistent, that they worked. Finally, with great reluctance, he allowed her through. She submitted the three cards and demanded a refund. They said they would act on it. They didn’t give her a receipt for her complaint letter
- On OCT 18, MORE THAN A MONTH AFTER I HAD FIRST REPORTED THE PROBLEM, I got a call from a customer representative Angelina Licmaan (at that point I started taking notes of my conversations with PLDT) on my cellphone. Her number registered no caller ID. In fact when I asked her about this she informed me she couldn’t be called back, her line was only for calling OUT.
- Angelina said there was nothing wrong with my cards. I said on the contrary there was. She pressed me to recall the specific message I had gotten. I told her I didn’t have it on me, seeing as how I was inside a taxi cab on the way to an appointment. But I had filed a complaint a month ago. She then subjected me to an interrogation that made me feel it was somehow my fault (poor intelligence, weak upbringing, inability to use a telephone, low income level leading to a misplaced trust in non-working use of budget cards) that the cards hadn’t worked. Finally she said that in order to test my cards, she had to activate them first. When she did this, she informed me, the cards would then be valid for only 30 days.
- I told her I couldn’t do that because I didn’t need to use the cards within the month. My wife had since returned, I had no immediate need to call abroad. I asked her if she knew what “Catch 22” was – it meant no matter how things turned out I would lose: If I refused to have my cards activated, I would lose. If I allowed them to be activated, I would lose. We went on and on in a circular argument: she said I had to activate the cards for them to prove they were defective, I replied if I activated them I couldn’t use them within 30 days.
- Finally, perhaps noticing my growing exasperation, she said she would take the case to her supervisor, someone named Zelinda Borromeo. From “take it or leave it”, it became a case of “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” An hour later, someone else called me and told me they were issuing me two new cards. But wait, the value of the cards was only P100 each. Only P200, whereas I had paid the phone company P600When I asked what happened to the two other P200 cards, she replied she had only received a complaint for ONE P200 card.
- And that was that. I was out P400 with no idea what to do. I haven’t heard from them since, and I certainly can’t call them directly, they gave me no number. And I’m pretty sure if I dialled their repair service I will once more get a call center agent who will lie to me.
- Having waited so long, and having tried to go through the usual channels, I have now had enough and am taking the liberty of venting. I suppose in other countries taking other people’s money without giving a promised service would be construed as some sort of crime (robbery comes to mind). But this is a country where a giant telecom company rules without any accountability or sense or urgency: here, what happened to me is known as “typical customer service.” I can imagine that PLDT’s secret motto must read: “Treat your customers like dirt – because dirt can’t fight back.”
I remember years back, the US government wanted to prosecute PLDT executives: they invited a bunch of PLDT vice presidents to a free vacation in Hawaii then arrested the greedy unsuspecting weasels right there. Now that’s an uplifting corporate story: why can’t we have more of them?