0161D: A Globe Encounter

As strange as it may seem amid a lot of the social media rants, I remain a loyal customer of Globe Telecom. I stay mainly because most of my family and key friends are on the network and so I often take advantage of the in-network discounts plans that Globe offers. Plus there's the fact that I like how their rate plans work, most especially in the past year or so. Luckily, I've had few reasons to complain and have yet to be impacted by a truly significant billing error.

Now earlier this year all Globe subscribers were advised that a massive upgrade to their billing system had been planned and thus our April statements would be delayed. As someone with over 10 years of call center experience - most of which involved US telecommunications clients - I knew that things were going to get worse before they got better. The billing system is one of the core functions of any telephone service provider and upgrading such a system is never an easy process. And considering this one promised to already impact the generation of bill statements already clued me in that things would be bad.

So today I was continuing to tinker with my new HTC One when I decided to dabble in apps associated with local service providers. So there I went downloading the BPI Mobile Banking app just for the heck of it. Then I tried out the Shopwise app, which is actually pretty cool and should be fun to use during our next grocery day. And then I decided to check out what Globe had to offer for its subscribers. So I downloaded their G Services app and logged into my online account.

Sticker shock moment - my bill was way bigger than expected. Considering that I had felt my bills were a bit late in arriving (and this is via email mind you), and I don't remember too many SMS notifications for successful credit card auto-debit payments all on top of our recent Singapore trip, well, I knew something was up for sure and there were way too many factors to consider.

So I called Globe customer service, went through the maze that is their self-servicing menu and got a representative to re-send a copy of my latest bill (although I had never received the first one). The agent was rather quick to put the phone down as soon as she committed to send the bill - I think she suspected things would go bad. Oh well.

So I got my bill, identified a number of questionable charges and called customer service back. This agent was all chipper and I could hear the slight shift in her tone when I started to explain my concern. But she was a trooper and pressed on and I did my best to work with her regarding the various issues identified.

It turned out that the billing system upgraded had delayed my April bill and then rushed the May invoice with just enough time before the June was set to come out. Ouch - getting your system back on cycle is never easy for the customer. At the same time, my credit card auto-debit had not worked successfully, so last bill had gone unpaid as well. Boo that - the problems were mounting. The problem was also probably related to why I had never received my last two bill statements either.

The meat of the problem involved my Singapore roaming charges. I had registered for their prepaid roaming credit promo in order to save a little money while outside the country. I had used this option before and it had worked out rather well. However during this last trip, I never received any of the usual notifications about how much data I had consumed - that was probably a warning sign right there and I strongly suspect the billing system upgrade borked that too. And even though I had been charged for the promo, it appeared that all of my roaming charges were at the regular rate and not the promo rate - that was also not a very good thing.

I think the agent got a little nervous as we went over the problems (plus the fact that I had arranged for a mid-cycle plan change that also tends to frak up bills), but I really wasn't angry - I just wanted to understand what had happened and of course wanted a resolution. And to be fair, this agent was rather competent and made sure to address all of my concerns while trying to assure me that things would be fixed.

The end result, of course I have to wait for the billing adjustment request to go through and I need to wait for my next bill date to check if they've already fixed both their auto-debit system and their bill email delivery system too. But hey, I know how hard it is to be an agent trapped behind a major system overhaul like that and I did not see a reason to be upset. If anything, I think the agent did rather well despite all the problems with my account and the many other customers who are probably calling in.

In 3 business days I'll know if the adjustment was approved. I'll also find out if the agent will keep her word and keep me informed as to what happens with my adjustment request. But to be fair, she already tried to anticipate other possibilities and we've made another request on the side so that I can get a copy of my Singapore usage detail and verify whether or not the promo was properly applied. And this becomes evidence for future disputes, in case they are warranted.

To be frank, I honestly think that this problem will get resolved and we'll be back in normal working order within 1-2 bill cycles (since adjustment credits do take time for any system). And then we'll really see how Globe continues to perform once they get all the kinks out of their system overhaul.
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