Tuesday, January 8, 2013


-The painful saga of a would be PLDT Subscriber-

 Communication plays a vital role in the information age. It is crucial that in this time and age, facilities to access the information highway be made available to those who would have need for it. If one is not that tech savvy or just plain too stubborn to learn and move forward with the times, a BASIC PHONE LINE without the frills will suffice. If only it was that easy for RESIDENTIAL USERS with the need here in the Philippines to acquire such facility for ones’ own home.

I was a sophomore college student when I first applied for a fixed phone line from the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). During that time, I was already working part time and getting most of my work through referrals and networking, whether they be tutorial jobs, manpower, or anything that could earn me a few extra bucks to add to my weekly allowance, hence, instant communication is paramount. I even went to the extent of scrimping part of my lunch money to be able to subscribe to a beeper service, when during that time, mostly industry professionals uses one. This was an era before cell phones and the internet was still in its infancy boasting its fastest connection at 56Kbps offered at a premium price. The internet during this time was still a luxury that not even big businesses in Ayala, Makati were taking advantage of because of its limited content and prohibitive operational cost. Mind you young readers, that during that time, desktop computers didn’t have the graphical interface we all are so used to today. An era where Wordstar and Lotus 1-2-3 were royalty of software’s for any business entity using PC’s and, oh yes, even with Apples. That time, if you want your computer to do anything other than writing documents or doing spreadsheets, one has to tell it what to do by PROGRAMMING IT LINE BY LINE. And you have various programming languages (PL) to employ. Needless to say, one has to be FLUENT in whatever PL one chooses to use. Today, all that has been simplified by savvy programmers, software engineers and designers. All one has to do today is to buy or look up the net for specific software that would do the job simply by installing and clicking away. Computers didn’t have “mice” back then, that came later when Apple introduced the Macintosh which featured a graphical user interface (GUI) based operating system (OS), which prompted rival software developers to introduce Windows for the PC. And so the OS, software and hardware wars began (sic). To say the least, I was already programming computers during that Jurassic Era of computer technology here in the Philippines, but I digress.

I lived and resided in the then closed to the public Fort Bonifacio, Makati now known as the chic and very upscale Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. As stated above I was a sophomore college student when I applied for a fixed phone line. That time, PLDT introduced their ZERO BACKLOG PROGRAM (talk about being ancient). I was even asked by them to furnish a location map to my residence alongside my application form, which I gladly provided along with other pertinent details they required to expedite my request. But even with regular follow-ups and promises by PLDT that my area will be serviced soon based on ZERO BACKLOG’s aim, NO PHONE LINE was ever installed at my home.
A COUPLE OF DECADES PASSED and I lost hope and interest that I will be given a phone line. I just had to rely with using my grandmothers’ landline, who lives a house away in our Fort Bonifacio compound for my communication needs no matter how inconvenient that might have been. I was already working full time as an Information Specialist in one of the firms in Makati during that time. Thankfully, cell phone services became affordable and easily accessible for everyone that it softened the inconvenience brought about by not having a fixed phone line.

When development in Fort Bonifacio went underway, with buildings being erected left and right, I took it as an opportunity to revive my old phone service request with the PLDT. At this juncture, I also inquired from other communications companies that also installs landlines (Globe Lines, Bayantel, etc.) for a possible subscription to their services. To these other companies credit, they immediately pointed out that my location is not yet covered by their service area. At least, they were HONEST to relay that information up front so as not to provide false hope. Having no luck there, I was stuck to try it out with PLDT yet again. And try I did, and for the first time I received a, “There are no primary lines available to service your request.” It was ironic that I would be given that bit of information only then by the PLDT when all along I have a standing service request already DECADES OLD and presently, I could literally spit and a business edifice and/or a condominium building, assuredly with working phone lines, would be hit by my spittle in Fort Bonifacio. I surmised that maybe, BUSINESS ENTITIES are given priority and preferential treatment by the PLDT than a RESIDENTIAL application when it came to installing phone lines. So I just surrendered, shrugged it off and just let it go. To put it bluntly, PLDT ZERO BACKLOG was personally a big bane for me.

Years went by and with the internet now a necessity and with still no phone lines available, I had to rely getting two (2) wireless SMARTBRO accounts to service my internet needs no matter how unreliable it came from time to time. I had to make do with Smartbro primarily because no other Internet Service Provider (ISP) was available to service my area. I had to bear with it or suffer having no connectivity at all to the information highway. A big bane for an information specialist who, at certain times of the week, telecommutes and works from home. And to think I live in a prime city where facilities like these should be in abundance and commonplace. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Last September 21, 2012, I left Fort Bonifacio and moved to our house in Pasig City. I left Fort Bonifacio where I lived all my life without the benefit of having my own fixed landline. Living now in a midscale gated community here in Pasig, I thought it best to try and apply for a fixed landline and internet connection. As a side note, one of our former tenants in our Pasig house had both Globe Lines and PLDT. I am now an early retiree, self-employed, working at home and rely heavily on the phone and the internet to augment my income by accepting writing and editing jobs, video and sound editing, web site design, and other jobs which has to do with technology and communication. I docked in at an internet shop (ironically a myDSL Internet Shop) near my place and did research for the availability of PLDT phone lines in my area. My neighbors, on my street specifically, uses PLDT. A neighbor situated two houses away from our house just recently upgraded their old PLDT service to a Telpad Subscription. My research of the local listing proved fruitful since I was able to ascertain that my area can be serviced by PLDT. Sweet! Having this positive result, I decided to apply for a PLDT phone line and internet in person instead of doing it online.

October 24, 2012, I personally went to the PLDT Business Center, Cainta Branch to apply for a myDSL Xcite Plan. After filling the application form, I inquired how long the process will take for my application to be processed and installed. I was informed that the upgrading is still on-going somewhere in the Ortigas area which happens to cover my area in Pasig. The upgrading started last March 2012. I asked for them to check again if they have an estimated time how soon they can have a connection installed. I was told that if they will not encounter technical problems, if not by December 2012, the latest would be January 2013. SWEET! With that statement, I asked the lady assisting me to proceed and process my application. I even offered to pay the installation fee upfront which I was told will only be collected once the installation order was issued and approved. I was given an Account Number on my Customer Information Sheet and was told with a smile by the assisting personnel that it won’t be that too long a wait anymore. I thanked her and left the Business Center happy and content that I will have a myDSL Xcite Plan connection within two (2) to three (3) months. My foreign friends reading this might say that that is too long a wait but let me tell you my friends, that WAITING FOR DECADES and being given a bit of good news does wonders to extend ones patience just a wee bit more. Either that or I have already become a masochist out for more PLDT pain.

PLDT as of this writing has multiple product offerings such as myDSL, Telpad, Fibr, and just recently is offering HOME. If you go to their website, which I will not provide here out of spite, one would salivate at the advertised capability and affordable rates these services offered. Then I slap myself full in the face and say out loud “DREAM ON, oh hapless one.”

December 13, 2012, my grandmother asked me to accompany her to PLDT to have her active phone line transferred from Fort Bonifacio to our current address here in Pasig. I took that as an opportunity to follow-up on my service application as well. We arrived at the PLDT Cainta Business Center around 9:30 AM and after waiting for more than 30 minutes was called and assisted at Counter 5. I asked my grandmother if I could go first since my concern to confirm the status of my application would only take mere seconds. I was informed by the assisting personnel that there was no existing primary line to process my service request. I informed the PLDT person that it was not what I was told last October when I applied. I asked how soon then can I have my phone and internet installed. She called someone on the phone and as she put it down, insisted that there are no primary lines available and it would take new cables and junctions to be installed before they can service my request. I asked how long will that process take. I reiterated that it was not what I was told last October and that we were just waiting for the upgrading in the Ortigas area to be finished for them to accomplish my request. She was adamant and arrogantly stated that it would take millions for the company to spend before I can have my phone line installed. Que horror! I asked her if I could speak with the one who assisted me last October, and she informed me with a smirk that the person I was asking for was on leave. GREAT! A very convenient excuse. But I kept a cool demeanor and tried very hard not to react to the callous treatment I got from this person at Counter 5 of PLDT Business Center, Cainta Branch.

At this juncture, my grandmother asked about her request for a phone transfer. As she was getting her papers out from her PLDT files she brought with her, which happens to include her PLDT Stock Certificate, the person at Counter 5 who was assisting us gave a snicker which came across to me as rude and outright disrespectful. Feeling a sense of insensitivity, arrogance and total disrespect from this person at how she treated us, I took my grandmother by the hand and left so as not to make a scene. To think that we travelled to the PLDT Business Center and waited for half an hour for our number to be called only to be insulted by a PLDT personnel in less than five minutes. If only PLDT can process and connect their phone lines by fifty times more than the time it took that person to insult phone applicants, then probably PLDT will have no backlog on new applications and they can focus instead on channeling their resources to improving the quality of personnel, their facilities and services.

I didn’t want to let it go that easily so upon reaching home, I called the PLDT hotline using my neighbors phone, I gave my account number to the person who picked up the call and asked about the status of my application. Again I was given the no primary line excuse. All this time I was confidently waiting that at anytime I will be getting a connection, but for naught. I recounted to her the experience my grandmother and I had at the PLDT Cainta Business Center earlier and the way how we were treated by that particular frontline person. She was apologetic but I said that for that treatment alone, it merits a complaint to be filed. At this point I asked her what the real reason was and why they cannot process my request. In addition, I also queried if a business entity has already cornered all the available phone lines in the area and if such was the main reason why there are none left. She informed me that they cannot locate my address in their database. Another excuse? How can that be when I personally saw my details encoded in their terminal last October? I asked what will it take for PLDT to LOCATE my address. I also told her that I would be willing to oblige and fetch someone from their end and physically bring them to our house if it would take that for them to physically locate my address. She told me that the issue is that there was NO JOB ORDER reflected in their files that’s why they can’t locate my address. AHA! So it shows that when I applied and was given an account number, nobody bothered to process a JOB ORDER alongside that account number, so in essence, I was waiting for nothing. Had I not called, I will not find that out. So I asked her to expedite a JOB ORDER REQUEST for me and that I will call again to ask for the JOB ORDER NUMBER. She informed me that the process will take 24 to 48 hours. I requested that someone call me back to be apprised of the developments. It was frustrating to note that it would take that long for a giant communication company to process a simple JOB ORDER REQUEST when all one has to do is encode the same to a computer terminal, but being hostage to circumstances I had no choice but bear with the situation.

December 17, 2012, obviously it has been more than 48 hours later, PLDT called on me to inform me that my job order request is still undergoing process. This I can no longer understand. How can PLDT process my service application WHEN THERE IS NO JOB ORDER. The way I see it, no matter how many service applications PLDT receives, they will not be given a connection if no job order will be generated alongside the service application. This of course is of no fault of the would be subscriber. Let me stress again how important communication is in this information age. Again I asked PLDT to expedite the generation of a JOB ORDER for that alone would merit that PLDT is indeed processing my application.

December 20, 2012, I called the PLDT hotline again and asked to be transferred to a supervisor onboard. After waiting on the line for at least 30 minutes, I was able to get a supervisor on the line. I informed the supervisor that I was calling with regards to the JOB ORDER NUMBER which they said will be provided me within 24 to 48 hours. Needless to say, it was already way past due. She asked if I may be put me on hold while she get the details. After several minutes, she got back to me and informed me that she cannot locate my address in their database. HERE WE GO AGAIN. Ergo, NO ONE FROM THEIR END bothered to make a JOB ORDER for me even if I already asked for them to expedite my request.

I was already agitated at this point in time since I already had a bad experience with PLDT and their ZERO BACKLOG PROGRAM. Now I am here in Pasig City and the same is being dished out at me by the PLDT. That being said and with the new product offerings PLDT proudly advertises in full page colors in leading newspapers and on TV, their public relation division (if they have one) should have also thought and deemed it crucial to include in those advertisements a waiver stating, “ONLY AVAILABLE TO BUSINESS ENTITIES AND IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS WHEN AND WHERE WE CHOOSE TO GIVE SERVICE” or better yet “AVAILABLE ONLY IN AREAS WITH PRIMARY CABLE FOR EXCLUSIVE RESIDENTIAL USE INSTALLED.” For once, I hope they give credence to TRUTH IN ADVERTISING. At least with PLDT Fibr, they transparent enough to say it Is available only in selected areas. Today, every time I see a PLDT advertisement, I am frustrated that I cannot have access to any of these product offerings, not even something so basic as a no frill RESIDENTIAL PHONE LINE. Subsequently, after much prodding, I was given a Job Order Number. Hurray for small victories.

It is now January 2013 and it has been more than three (3) months that I was not able to give service to clients who still call on me. Woe to us who chose to work at home. I have been given various reasons and excuses by PLDT 171 sometimes already bordering as alibis on why I still haven’t been given a connection. The lip service they give me changes every time I do a follow up, which strikes me that someone is not giving me the real score. What’s the point in their costly advertisements offering these services when one cannot even have access to such services. And it is only in the Philippines wherein one almost literally has to beg for a service company to actually provide service. By the way, I have all the names, dates and times of all PLDT Personnel I came in contact with on file during this ordeal. I am seriously considering filing a formal complaint with PLDT management/public relations concerned and alerting the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) complaints desk.

So much has changed with the PLDT through the years. They have changed leadership a number of times, business mogul Manny Pangilinan is now at its helm, they have already transitioned from analog to digital, they have various programs in place, they now have multiple product offerings. Lucky for those who are given even a basic phone line. Consider that a privilege even if you are paying for it. But for most of us who are in need of these services and has been trying FOR DECADES to get a connection from PLDT, we just have to contend with paying high cell phone bills and/or prepaid cards and using plug-in internet which are so slow most of the time and costly to maintain in the long term until some communications company becomes an actual threat to PLDT for it to finally shape up. I sincerely hope that it comes soon that similar to how it is abroad, telephone companies literally knocks on your door for you to allow them and install their phone service in your home.
Yesterday, as I was finishing up this article, I dropped by a neighbors house for a brief chat. Before I left, I asked if I may use their phone. Given the go signal, I called the PLDT hotline and gave my JOB ORDER NUMBER just to follow up still hoping against all hope that something positive will come my way. But as expected, I was told “THERE ARE NO PRIMARY CABLES AVAILABLE TO SERVICE YOUR REQUEST.” But wait, there is a new addition to that statement, “Sir, your Job Order has been cancelled by our technical crew please re-apply for service after one month.” I almost threw my neighbors PLDT Telpad out of their stained glass window.

Note: This writer is now in the process of assessing other viable and economical options on how he can solve his connectivity issue.

NR 01082012