Guyanese have for the most part been left at the mercy of private sector businesses, some of whom can at best be described as economic pirates. Indeed, very few of us can probably claim not to have experienced skullduggery in one form or another. From their workers who for the most part are underpaid, to the easy memory of GTT prior to the arrival of Digicel which engaged in price gouging for its cell phone products. Indeed, Digicel’s entrance into Guyana’s telecommunications market has significantly increased Guyanese’ welfare through lower prices and variety.
I myself remember purchasing two Avanti children’s bicycles two or three years ago only to realize that the metal frame of the cycles was so thin that both forks broke and had to be replaced. This year also I had a run-in with GTT when I applied and paid upfront for a switch from my initial gold plan to their available bronze plan. In this instance, I had misplaced the receipt and upon querying the bill, was told that the company had no record of the transaction. To date, the company and I have not settled the position, although their customer service manager has indicated that she will accede to my position since it is the company’s position that ‘the customer is always right.’ All of this, by the way, transpired under all the surveillance cameras at their new location on Robb and Camp streets.
If anything else could be said for these companies it is that their customer service, for all their bluster, is atrocious. I realize that it is next to impossible to place the blame squarely on the salesperson or customer service representative, since their managers and supervisors are ultimately responsible for the way their staff interact with customers. As a matter of course, I occasionally become frustrated with the sales service and simply depart. However, my recent incident with Digicel bears exception, as this time I carried the problem all the way to their head office where I found the source of the problem in their Sales Department.
I visited Digicel’s Camp and Regent streets store some time on Sunday to look for a smart phone for my son. I explained to the salesperson that I didn’t walk with cash, but would be back. Monday morning I returned to purchase the phone as promised. The same salesperson’s response seemed one of indifference and disregard for a returning customer. I found this very suspicious, but gave her the benefit of the doubt and let her process the transaction. I took the phone home and tried to access the internet. I was given one month free internet service by the company. Upon receiving an error message and being unable to access the internet, I took the phone back and explained the problem to the salesperson who sold me the phone. She tried, and apparently received the same error message. At this point she asked her colleagues if they were having problems accessing the internet, to which they replied jokingly that only some people get those kinds of problems. I immediately requested a refund or that my phone be exchanged, because in the first instance, I was suspicious since the phone’s box had not been opened in my presence. The salesperson responded that I could not get the phone exchanged, but I would be refunded the cost of the phone ($7,900) less the cost ($3,800) of the internet plan installed on my cell number. I said this was unacceptable, that Digicel could easily reverse the internet plan and allow a full refund. The sales person reiterated her position, and I asked to speak to the supervisor. She told me that the supervisor was unavailable. All of this happened prior to 11:00 hrs.
I visited Digicel’s head office immediately to speak to the customer service manager, since it is almost unheard of that a company would prefer to refund a sale even though a customer is asking for the product to be exchanged, and that a salesperson would give as silly a story as the one offered by the salesperson. I did not get to speak to the customer service manager, but between two persons with whose designations I am still unfamiliar, I was informed that I could return to the Camp and Regent streets branch to have my phone exchanged. Upon returning, another salesperson diligently ensured that I saw her open a sealed box containing a new phone and exchanged my phone. She took the phone that had the problem and inserted it into the box she had just opened.
I returned again just before 17:00 hrs to purchase another of the same type of phone. The very same salesperson who sold me the first phone attended me again. As I paid attention to her opening the box, she scratched the seal at the top of the box without lifting it off completely, but managed to just lift the cover off of the box, meaning that the seal of the box had already been broken, and she was just feigning that the box was a new and previously unopened box. (A photograph of this has been included.) I ignored this and allowed her to process the transaction.
After leaving the phone for a fair amount of time both last night and this morning for about an hour or so, I noticed that the phone was not being fully charged. I immediately returned to the Camp and Regent Streets branch and asked to speak to the supervisor. As I told her my name, she explained that she was already familiar with me. I explained my concerns to her, but noticed that she was trying to get me angry by asking me to repeat myself. I was surprised by this coming from a supervisor. She went to talk to someone at Digicel’s head office on the phone and returned to ask me my name again. At this I declined and went down to Digicel’s head office.
On reaching there I asked to speak to the customer service manager again. After a few minutes of getting nowhere on the ground floor, I went up to the first floor, where a door was opened by an employee who invited me in and sought to find someone to speak to me. I was told that the customer service manager was not around, but that someone would speak to me. After explaining my problem to the individual, the person went to his desk and returned with what he claimed was a new battery. I explained to him that at this point, I had little faith in his efforts and would be satisfied only with a phone sealed in its box. I asked him to examine the problem from my side to consider my situation.
At this point, the employee who had let me in entered the conversation and accused me of not listening to the individual attending to me. As I tried to explain my position to her, she started to speak above me, at which point I indicated to her that this (Digicel’s Sales Department) was where all Digicel’s problems were coming from. As she continued to disrespect me with her bombast, I told her that she also was trying to get me angry. I asked her the name of her supervisor, to which she threw her hands in the air and blurted out, “I am the supervisor.” I accepted the ‘new’ battery offered by the individual attending me and left.
This kind of bombast amounts to the grossest form of disrespect to customers, and is reflective of the attitudes of the supervisor and salesperson who dealt with me at the Camp and Regent Streets location. While Guyanese are appreciative of the benefits of Digicel to our markets, it has a far way to go in delivering superior customer service and satisfaction to Guyanese.
We are sending a copy of this letter to Digicel for any comment they might wish to make.