Connections

Note: I wrote this blog entry in another site years ago and realized how true it is to this day. Reposting it in full. Enjoy.

WE TAKE the internet for granted. It’s just another fixture of modern life. Surfing, emailing, Googling, blogging… activities that fill our everyday lives, as automatic as pressing the floor number button on an elevator. You don’t bother to know how it works. You just use it.
Think about it: the wonders of modern communications technology allows us to access information resources all over the world at a blink of an eye. We can do things faster, better and cheaper than ever before.

That is, while you’re connected.

A few weeks back the DSL line in our office just went dead. A call to the provider – one of many unsuccessful attempts – revealed that they were doing “systems upgrade” and would resume service shortly.

We felt somewhat relieved for the obvious implication of the word “upgrade” meant that it would only be better. But something felt wrong with the whole thing since they didn’t inform us before hand that they were cutting service to do that upgrade.

Hmmmmm…

Major withdrawal symptoms. Suddenly we felt so unproductive being cut off from the rest of the world. When it was obvious that our DSL service wasn’t going to be restored within the day, we connected laptops via dial up modems while the rest headed to the nearest internet café.

Then one day turned into two, then three, then four – with our insistence for satisfaction the provider finally sent over a technician. His first order of business: blame the customer. He kept insisting that there was something wrong with us and not them. After walking him through our own system and how we were set up, he finally discovered the problem. Our broadband router – which automatically connects to our internet provider – had a different login name.

Apparently, it was the old login name which was changed by the DSL provider days ago as part of the so-called systems upgrade.

“You mean they did not inform you of the new login name?” Mr. Technician asked.

That flash of lightning that rushed through my thoughts, of course, just remained in my thoughts. I simply refuse to argue with those who came before me in the evolutionary chart. Such a waste of saliva.

So our DSL service went back to normal. Upgrade? Well, now we can easily remember our login name because they changed it from a randomly generated set of numbers to the telephone number on which the DSL service passes through.

Wow!

Intelligent World

WITH the way our telecommunications service providers brand themselves you’d think that perception is reality.

But is it?

One telco, branding itself with global reach has failed me more than once in my foreign trips. First as a postpaid client, the system did not allow the use of the roaming service abroad despite assurances that it came with the service.

Later shifting to their prepaid service where the claim is to simply register with customer service prior to leaving for abroad to avail of roaming, it failed again despite instructions followed to the “T.” In a later trip we did the same thing but, as a precaution we registered a week prior then made a follow up call three days before. It was as if the request never existed. So we went through the process again, only to find out the day before the trip that the request had not been acted upon.

The lesson learned? Get to know at least a Vice President of the company just so you can name drop. Failing that, call the VP and tell him or her how lousy their service is.
Or go to the competition – the one that claims to be the intelligent choice in its branding. Not that their customer service is any better. In fact, here too you have to know a VP upwards to get some action.

But it’s hard to beat decent customer service out of a company that makes outrageous fortunes despite legions of complainers like us. Either we suffer through the service or risk being disconnected.

Consider this: would you spend so much time, effort and money attending to customer gripes when, despite that, you get 21 months pay for the year? That’s right, 21 months is what their employees were paid for the year – while most of us who do pay for the service are lucky to get our mandated 13th month pay.

Customer service, therefore, may not be a smart move.

That’s life

STILL, you can’t help but wonder at the awesome power modern technology gives us. There is nothing in mankind’s history that has impacted lives so much than the power of today’s information and communications technology.

It has enriched out lives, boosted productivity enormously and has enhanced creativity like never before.

And on the other side of the spectrum, it will leave us in the deepest end of despair and frustration when it fails. It kills us whenever we get a busy signal or fail to connect.

Think about it – when will this wonderful technology be most needed and most appreciated?

In times of calamity, of course. We can coordinate emergency resources, call our loved ones to check if they are okay, act quickly to save lives.

And when will these things bog down for sure?

In times of calamity, of course. There will be no power, no way to charge mobile phones and radios, transmission towers and cell sites will collapse, fiber optic cables will snap.

Your top of the line, quad band, 3G connected, Bluetooth capable, wifi ready, energy efficient, high-resolution-camera-PDA-GPS-FM-radio-TV-cellular-telephone will be as useful as the rock you will need to defend yourself when the food riot starts.

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