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Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Digicel Rhymes with Hell.

I don't think that singlehandedly I can bring Barbados' service sector anywhere near where it should be--that is, to a place higher and better than it is now. But, I will singlehandedly keep showing how dis-service exists in this small and pleasant isle. Today's vote for "dis-server of merit" is Digicel Barbados. My preceding visit to Scotiabank, to replace a lost ATM card set things up badly. The lady there was funny, helpful, engaging and efficient: I leave with a new card and some advice about how to manage my money-"Don't carry cash. Use the ATM in the stores." She was so sweet that I did not have the heart to tell her that this seeming nincompoop in shorts does dole out financial advice.

So, I crossed the lane and moved into the 'service Gulag' governed by Digicel.

Question: "Do you have BlackBerries?"
Answer: "We don't carry them here. You need to source them from the corporate head office."

I'm an English scholar, so I know what source means.

Question: "Source? What do you mean 'source'?"
Answer: "You have to go there and get one there."
Question: "There, just by the Garrison, right? Could you please call to see if they have any?"

While you wait to read on, play to yourself the sound of a phone ringing and not being answered. Not a good sign for a company in the business of telecommunication.

Me: "I'll drive down there, and when I reach I will give them a piece of my mind about this inability to deal with phone calls. Bye."

Five minutes later, enter I into the hallowed space called 'Corporate'.

Me: "Do you have BlackBerries?"
Lady: "No. We have them at some of our sales outlets."
Me: "What do you mean some? I have to guess which store to visit to try to find a phone? What kind of business model is that?"
Lady: SILENCE FOLLOWED BY "We have them at Harrisons and Swan Street."
Me: "Harrisons? On Broad Street? Could you please call them to check that they have some? I don't want to drive around Bridgetown and then find I'm on a wild goose chase."
Lady: "They have them."
Me: "Could you please call them?"
Lady: FACE LOOKING HARRUMPHED, WHILE WAITING ON THE LINE. "Okay. Try Swan Street?" she then says and starts another call. "Okay. You don't have any either?" SHE HANGS UP AND LOOKS SHEEPISHLY AT ME
Me: "Yes?"
Lady: "There are none available."
Me: "So, as I said, I don't want to go on a wild goose chase. You would have preferred that than spending five minutes to confirm. That tells me something."

I LEAVE AND HEAD HOME.

My Jamaican friends had waxed lyrically about the quality of Digicel Jamaica when they arrived in Bim. But when they came to Barbados, through some happy encounters with a Cable and Wireless (C&W) sales person who is still the best thing I have met in Barbados in this regard, they switched to bMobile, bought new phones and have been happy customers ever since. So have I. In fact, just over the past 24 hours, I had had again the happy fortune to get C&W to resolve a problem with my mobile phone. Again, my favourite sales person had been involved and engaged her colleagues to really look at the problem and solve it.

Now, I have no reason to want to deal with "the competition" as some C&W personnel have referred to the 'red terror'.

In England and Jamaica, when you get bad service you start to lampoon the names. C&W are affectionately called "Careless and Wutless" in Jamaica. So, Digicel could become "Digismell" or "Digi-sell anything?".

As I do not write under cover of anonymity, anyone from Digicel can contact me and try to explain what went wrong today. A case of "too casual Friday?" I have a strong urge to get into this next time I am on "Brass Tacks". I know that people listen and they tend to respond better to on-the-air criticisms than when faced with other forms of complaint.

Today, I read that C&W are re-branding themselves and will become "LIME" (Landline, Mobile, Internet and Entertainment; read Advocate article) and will be "focusing on customers' needs". Yes! We need your focus. And when you have finished kneading us, please go and show Digi-whatever how to do it. A company, like Digicel, that is barely capable of handling its own phone calls cannot possibly be relied upon to provide phone services.


1 comment:

Mike H said...

Hi Dennis,
Could it be that your Digicel experience shows that Barbados is moving into line with the rest of the world? We may have a choice of phone services to choose from here in the UK - but the service element of any of the companies doesn't seem to get any better - in fact worse!

Why is it no longer 'cool' to be keen, or give good service, almost anywhere now ?

Love your blog,

PS I'm due in Barbados in two weeks time - and I've tried to ensure that I have mobile internet access on my laptop this time round instead of having to go down to a beach cafe. Can I get an answer from anyone at Digicell or C+W - or will my hotel help me sort it out.....? No chance.