Top 5 PH customer service nightmares
We live in a country that shields itself from harsh criticism by saying we are poor, that our government doesn’t know how to be efficient and honest, and that waiting indefinitely for someone at customer service to even receive our complaint (much less do anything about it) are all part of being 3rd world.
However, is poverty still to blame for the inefficiency of some customer service providers in the Philippines?
Here are my top 5 failures of the country's customer service based on my own personal encounters as an average consumer. The list also includes experiences I personally went through or witnessed, alongside fellow compatriots fighting for their basic consumer rights.
1. No complaint procedure
Sometimes we hit the end of the road and neither the service provider nor you are willing to budge. And the only thing left is to file a complaint with upper management in the hope that you would receive an apology and an offered solution.
In early 2014, I got into an argument with the manager of a certain Mercury Drug branch. When I asked what their complaint procedure was, she openly said that they had none. Finally, she retracted and told me she would be willing to accept a complaint letter in person and send it to upper management. Surely the biggest pharmacy in the country could set up an independent e-mail where customers need not worry that the only evidence of their complaint resides in the palms of the very person they are complaining about?
2. It’s not my department policy (therefore not my problem)
Nothing else screams lack of company unity more than passing on the buck or blaming another sector in the very same company you are talking to. Oftentimes, these problems could easily be rectified through simple organization skills, but instead our complaints are passed on from one person to another.
I wanted to buy my grandmother an iPad with a data plan. After making an application with Globe through their hotline I eagerly waited for their callback. They were punctual when they called me back the next day, only to tell me that they had approved my application for a pocket wifi. After arguing that a mistake had been made, they told me that the “online sales emerging channel department” is separate from the department that made the mistake and that I had to call the other department through their 211 hotline because they don’t have a direct “connection” to them.
In fact, she didn’t know what department I should talk to.
The irony of her statement that a telecommunication company offers to connect others but cannot connect itself internally was lost on her. Consumers shouldn’t need to be burdened with internal protocol that doesn’t apply to them. It isn’t difficult to e-mail, call, or text (services that Globe supposedly offers to the public) the “other department” instead of making the consumer call and parrot back the very same thing to someone else who may even be in the same building.
3. Never getting back to us
Have you ever been told to follow up something with the store or service provider only to discover that you have to follow up the follow-up you already made?
Whether it’s a simple question on what time Sky Cable would come by to fix your cable or to follow up the warranty of a product you bought from Lazada, everyone has at least experienced being told to frequently call to inquire about the status of whatever it is we were waiting for.
Being told to “follow up” anything is already a blatant admission that whatever it is we are waiting for is probably going to be late. Some tell us they guarantee they will call us within a specific time but end up not doing so.
To this day, I never got a reply from Mercury Drug even after I published an essay in the Inquirer about it and submitted it to the very manager I was complaining about. She guaranteed I would get some form of “response”, not even a guaranteed apology, just a response.
4. Not honoring warranty
When you buy any kind of electronic device, inside the box you’ll find your gadget and some documents. Most often than not, all of them come with a tiny warranty guide booklet.
I bought an HTC phone abroad and noticed that the screen seemed to be defective. I dug up my receipt and brought the warranty guide with me to the HTC service center in Makati. They refused to honor the warranty because they only honor warranties for phones purchased in the Philippines.
I called the HTC hotline and asked the operator to get a copy of the warranty guide for their phones. He told me he didn’t have a copy. I told him there is a copy on their website which we read together. It said: “warranty for this device shall be honored wherever this product is sold globally.” In spite of that, he couldn’t guarantee they would honor the warranty and that such a decision needs to be decided upon by “upper management.”
Three weeks later and after a grueling amount of follow-up calls I was able to get the phone repaired for free.
Please don’t make us beg for something that you promised.
5. Failure to say ‘sorry’ and mean it
Most of the time, we don’t want a sack of money. Nor do we want a business or any employee to go under just because we feel our concerns were mismanaged. And the sad truth is that good customer service could extinguish 90% of the frustration caused by the latter and other unmentioned inadequacies if businesses were more open to saying sorry.
Businesses are either afraid to allow their employees to admit fault or simply say "sorry". Whether it is the lack of an apology or an insincere one, consumers will be more than willing to forget headaches already suffered if there is a decent appeal to our forgiving human nature.
What is the best part of implementing this policy? It’s free.
Finally, consumers should never act like a mob. Businesses aren’t expected to always get it right all the time. But we should always be polite even as we're assertive, pushing for what is rightfully ours. – Rappler.com
Rafael Conejos graduated from the DLSU-Manila law school in 2014. He is also an entrepreneur.