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Friday, February 29, 2008

Love/Hate Relationship

And no, I'm not talking about my relationship with my girlfriend here, but with my Cell P.hone s.ervice p.rovider.

It's a company called T.elefonica M.ovistar, which services part of Europe and most of Latin America. I'm not sure if they are partnered with any companies in non-spanish or non-portuguese speaking countried though.

So... Why love/hate?

I love them because they are cheap and they have made other companies here in Mexico be really cheap too, just so they can be competitive. You see, here in Mexico almost everyone has a cell. The difference between here and the US, and probably Europe, is that most of the service here is pre-paid. Service plans are saved almost exclusively for a) The company bigwigs or b) The rich people.

Before M.ovistar came along, T.elcel was the king of the world here. It's owned by C.arlos Slim (read fortune 500 or richest guy in Mexico). Being the first cell company here and having most of the "subscribers" (if you can call pre-paid service customer that), they could damn well dictate how much you were to pay for each minute of service. It was between 40-50 US cents A MINUTE.

It was prohibitively expensive, and most of us only had cells for REAL emergencies and even then, most of the time it was only for incoming calls since we had no credit :S

Anyway, along came this new company and started challenging what we all knew. First, they started off with a plan called M.ovistar por llamada, which basically meant that you paid 50 US cents per call (unlimited time) if it was a local call to another cell from the same company or to any land line, or for the same amount you could call any cell from the same company or any land line in the country for 30 mins. Bargain, huh? I mean really, CRAZY CHEAP! If you spoke the full 30 mins (which I sure as hell did) you ended up paying 1.67 US cts per minute.

And international calls to US or Canada cost 1 US dllr per 30 mins. Yes folks, 3.34 US cts per minute.

So everyone got on board. Including T.elcel, which was mighty funny.

Next, they had different promotions, including one where you could call a specific local cell number of the same company for free for a full year, as long as you paid 7 US dllrs upfront to have the connection set up. Many took advantage of this too, including, you guess right, T.elcel. They created a plan just like it.

Then it was the free text messaging for a year for the price you'd already paid for the previous package, and T.elcel did it too.

Then it was a program called P.agamenos, where if your call is 2 mins or under, you're charged by the minute at a rate of 2.5 US cts a minute, and if your call is longer than 2 mins you're charged at the "per call" rate. (Yes, the same 50 cts a call as before). T.elcel... Well, you're getting it, right?

So basically it's been a pricing war between the two companies, with T.elcel having to follow suit (never being original about it) because if they didn't, they'd lose their customer base.

I love the pricing war. It's fun to watch M.ovi come up with something and then T.elcel scrambling to copy it so as not to fall behind. T.elcel isn't even original about the naming of the packages, it's basically the same thing or some synonym.

To me, it's just as well. I like M.ovi and given the fact that their cell phone equipment prices are generally cheaper than T.elcel's, then I stick with them. Also, their reception is better with GSM.

I do enjoy the cheap prices tho, especially since I live alone in the city I'm in, with all of my family living at least 3 hr drive away in a different state. My gf lives 3 hrs away as well, but in flight-speak. So I save a lot of money on LD.

I hate them though, because of their AWFUL c.ustomer service! Getting to a rep is nigh impossible given the voice menu options (I've learned to work around it) and once you -do- get to one, their main responses are "we'll look into it" (no, really?), "no, we're not having any network issues at this time" (yes you are, why the hell do you think I'm calling to let you know?), "well, you should power off your phone, take out the battery, leave it out for 15 mins and then try again" (yeah, that should give your idiot engineers just enough time to resolve their screw-up), "well, if you can't hear the people you're dialing to, but can hear them fine when they call you, then it must be a problem with your phone" (yeah Sherlock? Then how come I can hear YOU just fine and dandy although I called you?). You get the picture.

I am not against out.sourcing. Hell, it's how I have my job. But damnit, do they have to outsource to retards? (No offense to truly disabled people, it's a manner of speech, and I don't tend to be very PR when I'm pissed off).

I'm serious. It seems although as every agent M.ovi hires in Guatemala (that's where their call c.enter is) has to have an IQ of less than 80. They can't even grasp the simplest concepts, and we speak the exact same language. Hell, my mother is Guatemalan, I even know their colloquialisms! I can't even get them to grasp it THEN.

I seriously can't understand it. Either I'm getting spanking brand-new agents each and every time I call (which would mean a hell of a turnover) or I don't know what. I worked for an american cell company called Q.west back in the day when I was a CSR and even though english is NOT my first language, I never had these issues after a week on the job. I used my tools, asked for help when I didn't know something/couldn't find an answer, and gave TAT for when we'd have it, which usually included a callback. If we weren't aware of a certain network problem, the system was intuitive and once a certain number of calls logged popped up regarding the same issue, an alert would be displayed within no more than 60 mins to let us know that there was a problem. When there was a problem, we'd credit people for the time during which the problem was caused, if it had affected anything.


I get even more pissed because I can imagine their poor QA people (like me) pulling their hair out by the handfuls when they listen to the calls. I know I do.

You have any rants about a specific company?

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