The following is a review of service offers by Smart Communications or SMART. Five days, that is how long we have been trying to use mobile broadband through Smart Communications. Smart Communications is located throughout the Philippines and with the headquarters located at 6799 Ayala Avenue, in Makati City. Smart Communications offers various promos to their customers including something called Unlisurf. This is a prepaid plan that allows you to sign up for 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month. Being an avid traveler, we typically use various providers as the signal varies depending on one’s location in the Philippines.
For the past week, I have registered for the daily Unlisurf which deducts 50 Philippine Pesos from my account balance is supposed to give me 24 hours of internet access while on the go. I have had various problems with Smart, but they seem to have the strongest signal most of the time, so we typically use it for mobile broadband around Metro Manila. Now the problem lately has been that the unlimited internet works for a few hours, and then at 1, 2, or 3 AM on the dot, it cuts off, and we are no longer able to connect using that sim chip.
Smart Communications is supposed to have a Twitter account @SMARTCares for customer support, and that is the first avenue we tried to take to get assistance regarding this issue. At the time of this writing, 5 days after we initially tried to contact Smart through Twitter, we have yet to receive any response. After 24 hours of waiting for them to respond, we opted for the second option in regards to technical support, which was opening a support ticket through their website. After filling in all the information that was requested on the support ticket we clicked submit and was greeted with a screen saying that our support ticket had been opened and we would receive a copy of the support request in our email inbox. After another 24 hours we had still not received any email from their technical support staff or customer service.
On the third day, and on a different mobile number, we registered again for the Unlisurf plan and at 1am the connection cut and we were no longer able to connect on any device. This time we went for the final technical support option, which was calling Smart Communications technical support at their free mobile support number, *888. It is free to call, but if you have a low balance on your sim account, it will tell you that you cannot make the call and promptly hangs up the phone. So digging through our various phones, we found one with sufficient balance to make the call and finally got a technical support / customer service representative on the line. She was polite, took all three numbers that we had lost load and service on and told us that she would escalate the problem to their technical support team. We were quite frustrated as we had already lost a lot of money from our account balance but had no choice but to wait. The next evening we checked the mobile phones and saw we were able to browse, so we were happy as we thought it was fixed.
We registered for the Unlisurf plan and everything seemed to be going well, at least until 1AM, at which time our connection dropped and we were unable to connect again. This was only a few hours after we registered for a plan that was supposed to last 24 hours. We picked up the phone, dialed *888 again and got a guy on the phone that seemed new, or maybe it was just that he didn’t really care about our issue. We told him what happened and he gave us the run around for a while, until I explained the issue to him again, and asked him what is causing the problem. He replied that it was possibly due to system upgrades. This is always the excuse from all of the cellular companies here, so a catch all, meaning they really don’t know what the problem is.
The biggest problem with Smart Communications, and their competitor Globe, is that they try to roll out new technology to compete with each other, but they never get the previous technology working correctly in the first place. The saddest part about this is that customer service and technical support at both companies is staffed by a bunch of untrained people that do very little to help the customers that use these services. They are basically there to try to appease people long enough so that the problem will hopefully work itself out.
The best way to get Smart Communications and other providers to listen and start providing the service and customer support they promise is to file a complaint with the National Telecommunications Commission which you can find at http://ntc.gov.ph/ . Look at the menu for the area that says Public Assistance and click on Complaint Page from the drop down menu. We would post a direct link to the page, but government sites tend to make changes a lot so instead of posting a dead link, it is better to post the main site. They also provide links to forms that you can print and fill out by hand, which is probably a better choice if you want them to pursue your complaint.