The storm had nothing to do with it. One day after Milenyo, power had been restored in our part of the neighborhood, and I happily surfed away in the next few days. Then I went to Bicol to visit my Pop, who'd just survived his own brush with the typhoon. When I came back, the DSL was on the blink. Error 678, it said over and over. The remote server or computer or whatever did not respond, dial again, careful about your blood pressure (I made that up).
I called 172 every day to report the breakdown and request help. At first I was the patient customer. Sir, we'll do a remote testing then get back to you. Sure. Sir, na-coordinate na ho namin sa technical, sila na ho ang bahala, they'll get in touch with you. Sure. Sir, naka-endorse na ho ito sa technical namin, they're working on it. Sure.
Fourth day and I had yet to hear from anyone. Unfortunately for PLDT DSL's poor frontliners, I don't sigh and shrug my shoulders when I feel I'm being stiffed. (After all, try delaying paying your bill and see how fast those guys would cut your line. Like, poof! Complain, and they say, but sir, your monthly bill already states a warning, yadda yadda.)
I don't keep quiet, I raise hell. I began yelling at the staff, and when that didn't do for my peace of mind and my comatose DSL, I insisted on talking to their supervisor.
Sir, sorry, na-coordinate na ho namin 'to (if I had a peso for every time I heard the word "coordinate," I'd have a brand-new iPod by now), wala ho ang team lead namin, he's engaged on the other line, naka-break ho. None of the excuses worked. Put him on the phone! Tell him I'll fuckin' wait! I WAS Peter Finch in "Network." "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Screw propriety and fairness and good faith. PLDT jerks us off, its staff better be ready to hear shit from us.
The supervisors sounded a tad more sympathetic, but no less inept. Twice I got promised that somebody would call me to give feedback on my complaint. Twice there was no call. And because I was almost always out of the house, I told them to call me on my cell phone. Every time, the staff had to take down my number. What, PLDT can't store one freakin' phone number in its system?
That's not all. I wouldn't hear from them, only for my mother to tell me when I got back home, o tumawag sa landline, sabi ko nga tawagan ka sa cell phone mo.
Oh, the lousiness.
To let them know how serious I was, I had them recite their full names. I took them down with the threat to march to the nearest PLDT Customer Center and file a formal complaint. Of course I wasn't the first one to make this threat, so they happily obliged me. One said, sige sir, promise ko sa inyo, I'll make sure the next team lead calls you up at 9 a.m. tomorrow (an hour when newspaper guys like me are dead, but I was willing to ditch my sleep to see this through) to let you know if technicians are on their way.
No call, of course. By next day I was berating the guy on the phone. Ay, pasensiya na po, sir, nakaligtaan ko, I was busy with other clients kasi yesterday.
(Sounds of me here keeling over and frothing in the mouth.)
Don't even get me started on the horrors of my pre-DSL dial-up account with PLDT.
It took 9 days for a technician to find his way to my place in Pasong Tamo, Makati, merely a skip away from PLDT's corporate headquarters on Ayala Avenue, and fix my line. When I asked if I would be given a rebate for the days I couldn't use the service, the 172 guy said, tawag ho kayo sa 171, sila ho sa rebate.
Last year, the Management Association of the Philippines chose PLDT's Manny Pangilinan as its "Management Man of the Year," supposedly for turning PLDT's fortunes around and making it the country's most profitable company.
I'm no witch or mangkukulam, but I kinda wish I am when I say these words: Unless and until PLDT gives its customers the kind of decent service they deserve ('wag na lang excellent, that's downright hallucination), may Mr. Pangilinan and his fat-assed minions never get a good night's rest.