Philippine Telecom Companies: The Ironic Thing about Smart
Smart Telecommunications just wants your Cash
Smart Telecommunications, more commonly known just by the name of Smart, is one of the most popular telecom companies in the Philippines. It even owns the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company or PLDT which is the nation’s leading company for land line telephone services. Smart is a catchy name for a company. It sure will catch a lot of attention because the name implies intelligence, knowledge and skill.
Smart has a lot of convenient services from text messaging to call services even broadband services. And these services have attracted a lot of subscribers making this company one of the country’s popular network. Why then is this article titled “The Ironic thing about Smart?” The reason is you haven’t heard everything yet. For people unfamiliar with how services are rendered by smart, they would think this company’s really values their customers.
So how exactly does Smart treat its customers?
The most common complaint from Smart and Talk ‘n Text (another network owned by smart) subscribers is that their load gets magically deducted or in their terms “gets eaten up.” This one has been heard for ages. Subscribers report that even if they did not subscribe to a service, their load decreases for no reason or at least for no reason they knew.
Smart and Talk n’ Text is also good with knocking pesos of your balance. How do they do that? When you subscribe to any call or text promo, you usually text a code to a network number like 258 or 2200. What happens is that when you misspell the code, they text back saying the transaction is invalid then deducts one peso from your load balance. What a cool way to earn money right? Globe Telecommunications, a competitor and probably a better network, does not do that to their subscribers.
And for those who do not know, years back in the mid 2000’s, Smart also charges one peso for balance inquiry requests. Globe telecom does not.
Smart also has a great technical support group. I’m not being sarcastic here. The people in their tech support group talk to customers well and give really good promises. The problem is Smart do not keep the promise and some people in their tech support group mess up.
I had an experience that supports this statement. One time I subscribed to an unlimited surfing promo of theirs. The network confirmed the registration but I can’t access the internet. I thought I needed to have more load in my account. So I had it loaded up. But there’s still no access to the internet. This happened early in the morning – between 12am and 3am, so this is very, very irritating. When the sun came up I called their tech support. It took me three calls to know the problem. Apparently there was some maintenance in the area where I was and the internet service was down.
They then promised me that I will be refunded since I was not able to use their services. I was not able to us it for three quarters of a day because the network came back up in the afternoon. It has been three weeks now and the promised refund has never come. I called them again. Apparently, somebody forgot to include some information so the report did not get processed. That’s very frustrating for a customer.
The group that handles internet services is called Smart BRO. BRO is for broadband. Irritated customers call it Smart BROken since it’s always broken and there’s always a problem. It used to be always broken. Today, they improved a bit. Not as always broken as before but the speed and service is still less than what you paid for. My 7.2Mbps device rarely reaches 1Mbps.
So why then am I using Smart Bro? Simply because Globe Tattoo is worse. Not because Globe is intrinsically poor at broadband services, it’s because they have a problem in their network. They say this problem will be solved next year and when it does or if it does you better also switch.
With all these going on, here is an interesting question: Why is almost half of the country, if not more than half, using Smart?
The reason is social. When I first had a phone I was using Globe and about half of the people I knew were smart. The point here is, at any given time, any person having a phone who knows a lot of people, about half of them uses smart. And people use networks in groups which mean that a group of people here uses Smart and the other over there uses Globe. What happens is when someone moves somewhere or someone gets a phone for the first time, they have to choose or change networks. Half of them will choose Smart because this half is unlucky enough to be surrounded by Smart users. This is what kept this company alive.
So what’s the ironic thing about Smart? It’s that it has a good, intelligent sounding name but the service – the customer service especially, is poor if not horrible.
It has been over a year since this article was published here and things have changed. Smart seems to be catching up to the game with newer promos and better mobile broadband service. I have not dealt with their customer service recently so I cannot comment on that. As of today, Smart Bro is better than Globe Tattoo (which has a very annoying service, promos, and crappier customer service) and probably better than Sun. Their all network unlimited texting deal is also better than Globe's. Fifteen pesos only for two days of unlimited texting to Smart, Globe, Talk n' Text, Sun, and TM. Now that's better than 20 pesos a day in Globe.