Dealing with an internet connection in the Philippines can sometimes be pure hell. The companies oversell their service and typically do not have the equipment to handle all the traffic that the plethora of devices connecting to their service produce. Customer and technical service is almost non-existing and even if you are lucky enough not to have to wait for 30 minutes to an hour, calling them is unlikely to do anything to alleviate your connection woes.
All of the companies and I do mean “all” of them will give you similar grief, though in the rest of this article, we will focus mainly on Smart. You will usually get told they are currently upgrading their service and your area is affected; a lie they have been telling for almost 10 years now. You may hear that they are elevating it to their technical group, which is who most of us thought we were calling in the first place (and still nothing ever gets fixed), or they will simply drop your call, hoping you will not call back. Ask to speak to a supervisor, and good luck listening to the lies, the stories, and the rudeness the agents will send your way as to why it will do you no good to speak to a supervisor.
Smart also has a twitter account that is supposed to provide some level of technical support/service, but they will also give you the same story or will simply not respond to you at all. Many of these agents pride themselves on feeling they are superior to you, the customer, and that you are to believe whatever story they can weave. There are a couple of problems with this: #1, they don’t know as much about the technical issues and their service as they try to lead one to believe, and #2, There are hundreds of thousands of people using these services that do actually know what is going on and know they are being told lies just to get them off the phone.
To top it off, these companies usually lock you in to service agreements for 1-2 years and will fight you tooth and nail if you try to get out of said agreement due to their horrible service. You can get prepaid services, and usually end up paying more than a postpaid subscriber, but if you think customer service and technical support is bad for postpaid, wait until you have an issue with a prepaid device. They have already made their money on the device and they pretty much let people know that they could care less about prepaid subscribers.
People keep subscribing for barely usable internet, because there is a huge problem in the Philippines, there are not enough public providers, and the ones that are available oversell their products to keep the money rolling in, while totally disregarding their customer base. The country would benefit greatly by having a little more healthy competition from some of the giant international telecoms, like AT & T for example. Imagine what it would be like if they were to come in and lay new lines, including fiber optic connections for internet and phone service to the public at reasonable prices. It would shake things up and we would all likely see a huge improvement across the board with the new competition.
So if you can’t afford around P20,000 (400-500 USD) for an extremely fast connection, then what can you do? If you are constantly having connection problems and the company is not giving you proper service, the best thing to do is file a complaint with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), which you can do by visiting their complaint page at http://www.ntc.gov.ph/complaintpage2.php or even better, take the time to visit one of the offices and file the complaint in person. If enough people continue to file legitimate and well document complaints, the NTC will eventually force these companies to own up to their short-comings and fix their terrible connections. You may also want to write to your senator and you can find their contact information at https://www.senate.gov.ph/contact.asp . Again, if enough people file legitimate complaints regarding their service problems, they will eventually have no choice but to fix their service. After all, we sign an agreement with them with a lock-in period for service, and the same contract requires that they provide us with the service they are advertising.