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The Rotten Bananas Saga.

The Demand Letter

Late November, I got an email that went something like this:

Dear [My Mother's Name],

Our client, Globe Telecom, Inc., has referred to us for immediate legal action the matter of your unjustified refusal to pay the amount of 2,399.00 as of November 16, 2021 consisting of unpaid balance for the account number [AccountNumber].

Our client’s records show that since the month of January 9, 2018 and until now, despite repeated demands from our clients, you have failed to pay the total amount of 2,399.00. Your continued refusal to pay our client despite repeated demands only shows malice and callousness on your part certainly designed to cause damage to our client.

In view thereof, DEMAND is hereby made upon you to pay our client the total amount of 2,399.00 within five (5) days from receipt hereof otherwise we shall be constrained, much to our regret, to institute the necessary court actions against you and all your responsible officers in order to protect and preserve the interest of our client under the law.

If you wish to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to call [PhoneNumber] from 8 AM to 5 PM, Mondays to Fridays, and look for Mr. Patrick [LastName]. You may also send an email at [EmailAddress].

If full payment has been made recently, we sincerely thank you and please disregard this notice.

Very truly yours,

[Company] Solutions Inc.

It took me and my mom a while to figure out what the heck this letter was talking about. It turns out that [AccountNumber] is our old Bayantel account that we had cancelled in 2018 when we switched to a fiber line. The old account was in my mom's name, but I was the one paying the bills so I was the one who got the emails. After some digging through old records (fortunately I like to keep records!) it looked like there was a last billing statement sent to us that I never paid. So they had us there. But the tone of the demand letter was just so ridiculous, threatening us with legal action over a measly two thousand pesos! From almost four years ago!

I replied to the email acknowledging the missing payment, but also complaining about the tone:

The tone of your email is unnecessarily harsh; Other than the one bill statement that I received via email in January, there have been no "repeated demands" to have the bill paid; I hadn't even realized that the bill had been missed back in 2018. Accusations of malice and callousness are unnecessary, since this is the first time we are hearing of this since 2018. This paragraph is simply feedback about the copy in your demand letter template, since you may want to update it. I will still pay the missing amount.

I briefly considered just not paying the bill at all to see what happens; I wasn't convinced there really would be legal action. Over two thousand pesos? Globe CS told us we'd get blacklisted, but really it's my mom's name so lol. I am an upstanding person though, if I owe money I pay it, so I pay it.

It turns out I couldn't pay the bill online anymore though, the account number wasn't accepted, presumably because it was already cancelled. After some back and forth with Globe CS and going to a Globe store I was finally able to pay off the bill by going to a Bayad Center.

The Outage

Last Tuesday on the 30th, I woke up to find that our Globe at Home broadband was down. Checking the modem, the LOS light was blinking red, which meant the problem was somewhere on the Globe side. If this were an ISP with reasonable customer service, I'd call them up and ask them if there's an outage in our area. But all of Globe's CS channels today (phone, messenger, twitter, etc) use bots for first-level filtering, and their scripts always start out with asking me to provide my account details and whatever my concern is. And even if you get past the automated responses, it'll take forever to get an actual human CSR to talk to. There's no easy way to just call someone up and ask if they have an outage in our area, which shouldn't require my account information.

I knew from previous experience that trying to squeeze information out of Globe CS is just going to frustrate me, so what I do on this situation is go on Twitter and search for tweets about "globe internet [my area]" and sure enough there are a few other people complaining to Globe about their internet, so I know for sure it's a problem with Globe and not something specific with our account.

The complainers were all saying that they weren't getting any non-automated responses from Globe, so apparently they're still heavily overloaded. It really gives the impression that they're skimping on hiring human CSRs and relying too much on their automated scripts which can't even handle the most common problems. The twitter bot is particularly aggressive, sending automatic responses whenever their account is mentioned, asking the user to take the discussions to DM.

It can be frustrating: you have a lot to do, deadlines to hit, zoom meetings to attend, but your internet is down; you message Globe on Twitter and you get a response asking for details via DM, so you provide them, but then dead silence afterwards. You try following up via Twitter and just get more automated responses asking you to send DMs again, which just frustrates you more. It's just not a good look for Globe.

Anyway, since it wasn't a problem specific to our account, there was nothing I could do except sit back and wait for Globe to notice the problem and fix it. Our internet was finally restored around 7pm, roughly 16 hours of downtime.

Just some math; the last outage was around 36h back in February (linked above), so that's a total of around 52h downtime for the year. That comes out to around 99.4% uptime for the year (assuming optimistically no further downtime until January). I guess that's not too bad, but it's no 99.99%. I don't actually know if Globe has an SLA specifying uptime numbers, but they should.

The future

Looking forward to more "fun" adventures with Globe in 2022!

Wed, Dec. 8, 2021, 9 a.m. / / blog / #philippines #tech-life / Syndicated: mastodon twitter / 👍 1 / 1068 words

Last modified at: Dec. 13, 2021, 7:59 p.m. Source file

👍 Aleks Felipe
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