This article has been a long, long time coming. I have been planning to write it since last September. It’s not that I have been procrastinating, I have been waiting for the situation to become resolved before writing about it. Now, the situation is basically resolved, so I want to share with my readers what has been going on for the past 6 to 7 months.
Firstly, let me say that I am going to try to be very diplomatic with what I say in this article. There was a time when I planned to use my platform here on LiP to really say some bad things about SmartBro, but through the efforts of Patrick from SmartBro and a team of people whom he assembled, the situation was resolved, and I want to be diplomatic with Smart because of this.
This all started last July when I purchased a SmartBro ShareIt WiFi Modem/Router which took advantage of 3G technology to bring Internet access of up to 2 Mbps to my home. When I purchased the ShareIt unit, I was in heaven. It was great. Then, on September 1st, 2009, suddenly, I had no Internet connection. After talking to the local Smart office and supposedly working out the problem, they told us that our access should be back to normal. Well, it was a bit better, but was still terrible. On September 1, I had no access at all, after working it all out, I had speeds of less than 1 Kbps! I complained to the local Smart office a lot, but they just said that they could not do anything about it.
We asked the local Smart office if we could return the ShareIt unit, since the access had gotten so bad. They refused to even consider giving me a refund or even an exchange for a different unit. They also threatened me that if I did not continue paying the P999 per month, they would take action against me. Well, given that the Internet access was so terrible, and they were forcing me to keep paying for the lack of service, I was not happy. I made complaints through a number of channels. I got offers of help from SmartBro employees, and they seemed to be trying, but nothing ever happened.
Finally, in October, I called the SmartBro hotline to their call center in Manila. I got no help, so I asked to speak to a Supervisor, but they refused to let me talk to anybody, so I told them I would hold until they put on a Supervisor. After holding for more than 30 minutes, finally, they put a Supervisor on the phone and I explained my situation. He seemed to want to help, and promised to call me back in a few hours after he looked into my problem. I did not really think he would call back, based on previous experiences, but to my surprise he called me several times that day.
Over the next few weeks, I talked to this gentleman every day, 5 or 6 days per week. He was always polite, and talked like he was trying to help, but nothing was happening. By December we had gone through a lot of different people trying to solve the problem, but nothing was helping. The fellow in Manila told me he was going to send some Engineers from Davao to my house to see if it was my equipment that was a problem. After missing several appointments the Engineers finally showed up, and found that even with their equipment they could not get a reliable ShareIt connection at my location. They told me that a new Cell tower was under construction near my house and would be online in just a few days. They asked if we could wait for that tower to be completed and see if that helped my connectivity. I agreed.
After a few more missed appointments at my house, the engineers finally showed up again, but even with the new tower, the Internet connectivity on the ShareIt unit was nearly non-existent. At that time, they told me that ShareIt would not work at my location. Funny that it worked great for the first 2 months that I had it, but then suddenly stopped, though.
The man in Manila called me again, in mid-December, after the engineers determined that the ShareIt would not work at my location. He agreed with what I had been requesting for months – let me return the ShareIt and get a SmartBro Canopy unit. I already had a Canopy at my house and it worked great. I wanted to get a 2nd Canopy system and just be done with it, but until that time, Smart had refused. So, in mid-December they agreed to let me trade for a 2nd Canopy.
Well, we went through the rest of December, January and February with no action from Smart. They kept telling me that we had to wait for approval on my new Canopy, and told me that it might take “a long time” although they would never say how long that might be.
Finally, on March 5, Patrick from SmartBro left a comment here on LiP, on Paul’s SmartBro Update article. Patrick also contacted me privately by e-mail and I explained to him what had been going on with my SmartBro ShareIt account. To be honest, Patrick had my situation resolved within 24 hours after I contacted him. As it turned out, there was a problem with the antenna that they installed after Patrick contacted me, but that was also fixed within 48 hours, and I had my new Canopy and it was working great.
In addition to getting my new Canopy system up and running, Smart has also issued me a credit for 5 months worth of payments on my ShareIt account, so for the next 5 months I will not have to pay anything for my Canopy. This was the right thing to do, since I had been making payments for non-existent services in the past, and I would like to thank Patrick for getting this done. I am quite sure that Patrick will read this article, and I appreciate his responsiveness and determination to do the right thing. The truth is that over the past 7 or 8 months, I dealt with a lot of Smart employees, and Patrick is the only one who actually got anything done, so I appreciate his efforts greatly.
Now, I will say, Smart did ask me not to write this article. However, I have promised the readers on this site that I would write it, so I decided to go ahead with it. Let me say that in the end, I am happy with SmartBro’s resolution. It took way too long, and I am not sure that it would be resolved if I didn’t have this site. The truth is that Smart basically told me that it is because of the popularity of LiP that they were quick to take action once they decided to get it done. So, for the “average Joe” he might still be suffering with no Internet connection. But, in my case, I am finally happy and satisfied with SmartBro. I hope that things continue to go well with them.