Please grant the wish of this Smart Prepaid Subscriber for 20 years

I finally got myself a new phone. Thankful to all the unexpected freelance works. I’m a happy owner of a better and faster phone. With a better phone, I thought life would be easier. I underestimate one important aspect of smartphones. The need to convert to nano sim. Long before I switched to another phone, I visited the SM Marikina branch of Smart Wireless Center. I asked if it’s possible to convert the old humonguous sim to nano size, given that I’m a prepaid subscriber. I was told that my request is possible. I went home feeling complacent. I don’t need to undergo the hassle of changing numbers.

When I finally acquired the new phone, I went to my original plan. I visited the same branch. I was about to request the conversion and replacement of my old sim to nano size. Problem is, I was informed that most branches have limited stocks of the blank nano sim cards. I visited another branch, particularly Sta.Lucia East Grand Mall.The guard dismissed my request. No stocks available. I visited another branch in SM Masinag. I was told to wait. I was very optimistic only to end up with nothing.

I moved to another branch, SM Manila. I was expecting the same outcome. It happened. I tried the Gateway Mall branch. Waley.  Nothing happened. The last I tried was the Ali Mall branch. I observed consistency. Nothing.

I tried six branches. All ended as futile attempts.I tried calling the customer service hotline (8881111). Failed. The customer service assistant cannot assist me. On her end, I was told that they don’t have access to the stocks of wireless centers. I asked for alternatives. Nothing was given. I was the one who initiated alternative, to change number which I will never do. She advised me to manually cut my sim card. Sorry, I don’t like it. I prefer to have a real nano sim, LTE and under my old number.

So there goes my life over the past three days. Haha I’m ranting, sorry. But you see, I’ve been a loyal subscriber for almost two decades. I hope Smart recognizes this.But since I’m a prepaid subscriber, craaaap. I’m not a valuable client. Not a priority. Not a major source of concern. Smart may deny it but on my end, this is how I feel.

Learning point : If you wanted to be treated well, be a postpaid subscriber.

 

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Rare Respect for this Government Office

This post was originally posted in my other blog. I felt the need to repost it for many reasons. Read and find out… at your own risk 😉

I have always been amazed of the rare neoclassical architecture of the Philippine Postal Corporation

 

If you have noticed, the pictures were limited from the façade and the external structures of the building. I haven’t shown anything within the premises. On the few times I visited the Philippine Postal Corporation, I always catch an ongoing event. The main service area that accepts all letters and packages has an equally magnificent architectural finish. The high ceilings with intricate detailing, sturdy and elegant marble tiles, wooden tables reflective of the old and local wooden carvings and the distinct patterns of the metal railings of each transaction counter.

While some of you might think that the Philippine Postal Corporation is perfect, there are far more hidden areas of improvement that demand attention. More than the decline of the usage of traditional mail, some facilities inside the building are pleading for restoration or at the very least, minor renovations.

Whenever I have to claim a parcel abroad, I always receive this notification to visit W-124. The section is situated in the underground level and often unknown to everyone. In my case, I discovered the area when I decided to redirect all my packages at the workplace’s address. Since I work in Manila, I figured out that my packages would arrive earlier.

On my first time to visit W-124, I have to inquire for specific directions. The security personnel were kind enough. As I was navigating my way to the underground floor, a few employees willingly pointed me the direction even without asking.

When I found the W-124, this is what fronted me.

Cracked and bare cement floors that still exhibit cleanliness though, heavily stained walls, rusty metal gates that separate the clients from the attending employees and counters that would at least look half decent with minor repaint.

The customer reception area looks so pathetic. One can’t imagine this condition to exist, amidst the magnificent neoclassical architecture. However, there are far more depressing scenes. The place where the attending employee stays is more tragic. I didn’t take photos out of respect and courtesy. But dear God, the area where packages are sorted will never look conducive for working. It is not airconditioned although there are electric fans provided. How could they bear the heat in the always summer temperature in Manila? The bare cement floors, dark and unpainted walls, poor lighting and the ceilings that are meant only for storage of old and unused things. The area looks like the classic warehouse used as hideout for gangsters and kidnap victims in those local action films.

In short, the area will never be conducive for working. While I don’t have the right to complain for the employees, I feel a degree of sympathy for them. The kind of services they are rendering does not reflect any sign of dissatisfaction from their pitiful workplace. The employees are courteous, smiling and don’t look exhausted at all. In fact, I’m the one who looks more haggard. lol Sometimes I even caught them joking and laughing over silly stories. I often subscribe to the idea that happy employees are bred by a favorable working environment and good pay. But the employees designated at W-124 serve as real life contradictions of this traditional belief.

I also have to mention the transparency and strict compliance of the designated Customs Officer. Despite his huge and intimidating beer belly (heeehee Sorry, Sir), he was consistent in implementing the custom fees. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about unexplained and anomalous fees. In my case, I never experienced any form of extortion or corruption. I only paid the mandatory Php 50 inspection fee for my packages worth less than Php 3,000.

While my post can’t do anything to improve their welfare, I just want to commend the hardworking and forever customer oriented employees of the Philippine Postal Corporation. My recognition specifically goes to the customs officer and the two lady personnel assigned in W-124. Despite the negative impressions that taint government employees, they provided great service doesn’t come with an expensive pay and price tag.

The Miracle Project

This video gave me tears.

The priceless happiness brought to the passengers gave me tears. However, my heart also cried for the hardworking men and women of West Jet Airlines. Upon further internet research, I learned that the people behind the miracle project are volunteer employees. I’m sure, these employees committed themselves to embrace additional tasks out of their way.

The reason why my attention was more focused on the employees is because I’m one of them too. I’ve been one of those silent people who prefer to work behind the scenes. I never wished to be in the shoes of the lead character. I’m fulfilled and contented knowing that I have my own contribution in making things happen. Attention and recognition are good but over time I learned that these things easily fade away. Two to three days after a successful endeavor, people will forget everything.

Setting aside my emotional issues 🙂 I have to say that West Jet’s miracle project is the simplest yet effective advertising project any company can implement. In my years of reading and teaching, I learned this concept of building Emotional Attachment as a target for branding and positioning strategies. One way for companies to successfully reach their target market is to build an experience that will capture their hearts. In this case, West Jet is another company who successfully made it happen. Every passenger will surely remember their West Jest experience as one of their priceless and happiest trip home.

Who’s the real client?

I’m back to work after a week long break. This is a rare privilege I receive as a result of working for a school. Pay may not be that competitive, but we are compensated with so much vacay. The next long break I’m looking forward is the  two-week Christmas to New Year holiday.

Feeling refreshed and recharged, I went to work early only to arrive late. FTW! Some forces are trying to decelerate my momentum. Despite the early morning frustration, I’m feeling that this will be my week. I’m feeling the positive energy.  Yes, I’m claiming it! Problem is,  if I’m really interested to work, why am I here? Why am I blogging instead of starting work early? To my defend myself, I consider this post as my warming exercise for writing. My work for today entails a lot of writing. Hence, why not start the day by publishing one post.

One of my favorite topics to write is Customer Service. It has been the cause of  both my ire and pleasure. Most of the time however, I admit that I’m exerting more efforts in documenting those negative experiences. Perhaps this can serve as a blogging objective next year. I have to fill this blog with positive stories and experiences.  I have to compensate every frustration with a positive story. Sounds like a good and manageable deal to me then.

Before I finally venture to this self-imposed deal, allow me to share another point of criticism that emerged from another failed customer service experience.  Borrowing Britney Spears’ famous line, yes they did it again.

Some weeks ago, I went to this foreign brand shoe boutique in the North. I’ve been lusting a pair from their collections since the beginning of the year.  I decided to give myself the  much needed peace of mind. I headed to their store on a weekday morning. I figured out that this  idle time is the best for stress and hassle free shopping.

I was expecting a customer empty shop.  My expectations failed me to some extent.  There were only two customers who were surprisingly attended by the shop’s entire team. I saw a chaos of shoe boxes and more than a dozen of shoes scattered. It felt like I was watching two modern day princesses surrounded by her army of rattled slaves.  The modern day princesses happened to be this famous fashion blogger and a local celebrity.

I ignored their presence and searched for the pair I will be taking home. When I was already settled with my preferred color and style, I approached the empty cashier area to signify my intention of purchasing. It took a hell of 15 minutes before a sales personnel finally attended to my concern.  At that time, my inferiority complex hormones made an unexpected attack. I felt like a stupid being begging and waiting for that drop of attention.  It felt like I was another slave who has to give way to a member of the royalty.

When a sales personnel finally acknowledged my existence, I courteously asked for a new stock in my size.  I never received any form of apology or even that drop of kind customer service. If another person have been in my shoes, the shop will probably be bathed with their month long quota of tongue-lashing.   The always silent person in me will never do it. Lucky for them, unfortunate for me.

I left the store with my most awaited pair. The product has delivered its promise and fulfilled my expectations. As with the customer service experience, it was the complete opposite.  For the entire year, I can say that this was the lowest of the low customer service experience I had.

If I have something to be proud and thankful for this experience, my saving consolation is my choice of keeping my composure. I didn’t make any scene to humiliate anyone. I didn’t return the favor of the unfavorable treatment.

At some point however, part of me is shouting that I could have done something to emphasize my right. Between me and the celebrity with the fashion blogger, I AM THE REAL and PAYING CLIENT.

The disadvantage of knowing Customer Service

When I was transferred to another department, my research function took a back seat.  I went to Corporate Planning and my work life took a 360 degrees turn.  There were no definite and routine tasks.  Since the office directly reports to the Office of the President, our activities are dependent to the will of the highest man in the company. If President wants a new project, our office maps out plans and identify means to make it happen. If the President is troubled with a major problem, we act like surgeons to control the damage and patch up troubles. Our existence was defined by our dependency to the highest office of the institution.

Until recently, the President wanted to implement this major project that demands a revolutionary change in the entire organization. My Big Boss was very optimistic but in my mind, I was having doubts about the successful implementation of the project. Having been in the institution for eight years, I’m familiar with the culture, climate and the real termites that silently ruin the institution.

To make this project possible, the Big Boss sent me to various seminars and workshops about Customer Service. Oh well, one of my favorite topics to blog here. In the few seminars I’ve attended I was fortunate to discover the different dimensions of Customer Service.  It was through these learning opportunities that I have seen the real meaning of Customer Service. I particularly learned how Customer Service should be viewed by the top management to the rank and file employees. The most significant among my learning exposure is how companies should properly treat customer complaints.  In a way, I felt fortunate to learn the right approaches in addressing complaints. Come with the gain is the weight of disappointment on how other companies handle customer complaints.

The problem of being equipped with the right information is that you suddenly know what should be done, how it should be done, when should it be done and why should it be done.

In effect, the disappointed customer in me now feels more disappointed whenever I witness a failed customer service experience. I almost wanted to wear my hat as a teacher and lecture the sales personnel and the manager. But of course, the silent person in me will never do that. I still believe that they know better than me and as always, I prefer to blog the experience.

This would not happen if she did her job

If patience equates to my much needed exercise, I would have lost a lot of lines in the weighing scale.  If extending patience means additional money, my malnourished savings account will surely get overweight. All these could happen in a span of a week.

As expected, this is another story that forced my endocrine system to yield more patience-producing-hormones. Allow me to relate everything that happened here.

Warning : A long verbal diarrhea ahead 🙂

For the longest time, my Mother has been nagging me about my Philhealth account. For those who are not familiar, Philhealth is the compulsory health insurance program implemented by the Philippine government. All employees receive deductions from their monthly income to become contributions to this health insurance program.  Since classes are over and I have more spare time, I was able to finally skip work to verify my Philhealth contributions and status.

My current employer happens to be my first.  When I was submitting my employment requirements, Miss HR Officer never asked for requirements for my Philhealth account. While me, I remained as the ignorant employee.

After some years of working, I made the initiative to ask the Miss HR Officer. I reminded her that this is my first job. Hence, I don’t have anything except for my SSS number. I have monthly Philhealth deductions but I never had any idea as to where my deductions go. In the end, she asked me to accomplish a Philhealth registration form and submit the requirements for my qualified dependent. If I remember it right, I submitted a photocopy of my Dad’s birth certificate and senior citizen ID.

After some months, Miss HR Officer never updated me.  The good thing was that my two closest friends shared the same experience. In fact, we submitted the accomplished form and requirements together.  As much as we want to nag and question Miss HR Officer, it didn’t help that she is not the most approachable person at the workplace.  Female intuition further tells me that Miss HR Officer don’t personally like me.  To address this problem, it was my two friends who would alternately follow up. After almost a year of faking that we-are-thankful attitude, she finally released our Philhealth numbers and registration.

I almost thought that my entire Philhealth account was updated.  I was expecting that my parents were submitted as my qualified dependents.  When I verified my information from the Quirino branch of Philhealth, my Member’s Data Record (MDR) file revealed that “I don’t have any qualified dependents.”

I was pissed off.

C’mmon, this is what I will receive after working for almost 10 years.  What happened to the attachments and requirements I submitted?

Someone failed to do her job.

Instead of confronting Miss HR Officer, whom we baptized with a code name “Hard Habit to break”, I decided to handle things on my own. I went to the Philhealth’s satellite office to update my list of dependents.  I almost thought that everything will smoothly sail. Life again gave me another series of unfortunate events.

On my first attempt to have my records updated, I failed. I didn’t know that I was required to bring my own Birth Certificate. I went home frustrated. I don’t have a choice but to comply and skip work again.

I was further dismayed when I returned the next day.  I was cued at 51 while the counter is still serving 19. Whoa! Despite of everything, I never complained. This is not unusual for government services. I patiently waited for my turn. When I was about to be called, an employee announced that they are cutting their operations. Heck! Hell!

The office’s building was apparently suffering from supply of stable electricity.  Their computers cannot be supported by the intermittent electricity. Hence, the suspension of the operations.

As much as I wanted to blame Philhealth, I accepted this unfortunate system of the government offices. Don’t expect much on government services. Lower your expectations to avoid frustrations.

I was furiously walking with the crowd of frustrated clients. But deep inside,  I was blaming another person. You bet,  this is the fault of  “hard habit to break.” If only she did her job.

UPDATE

I skipped work again this morning. I headed to Philhealth’s sattelite office for my third attempt. As I was about to be given another cue number, I relayed my unfortunate situation yesterday. The Office became so understanding because I was directed to another department. My application was processed in less than 10 minutes.  This is the fastest ever government service I’ve ever encountered!  Thanks Philhealth 🙂

Despite their “may-i-redeem-myself” service, I kept thinking that if they can settle everything in 10 minutes, can’t they not implement this forever? Just a thought 🙂

Another credit card woe

Dear Security Bank Credit Card,

I was surprised to see unknown transactions in my billing statement. Upon examination, I discovered that my account was automatically enrolled to an insurance program.  I read the attached brochure that explains the program and here’s what I discovered,

1. The monthly fee was minimal, around $ 1.

2. To keep me insured, I have to pay the $ 1 monthly fee FOREVER!

3. Should I decide to terminate my credit card, the coverage terminates as well. I will not be able to reimburse or recover my premiums.

Here’s what I want to say.

I find it discourteous when my account was automatically enrolled. Although the monthly fee was very minimal, I don’t like it when someone supersedes my decision.

Lastly, please don’t send me congratulatory messages. I know, there’s no such thing as free lunch here. It’s another set of monthly fees that I HAVE TO PAY.

Please remove this insurance thing in my account.

Thank you.

Diane