My Ugly WIFI Experience with SMART

I don’t usually give negative feedbacks online. Most of the time I just read other people’s comments and gave the occasional nod agreeing to what they wrote. Until I experienced it myself and it all started when I decided to apply for an internet plan while I was working in Cebu.

June 2016

It was a day before my first day as a frontend web developer back in June 2016 in one of the BPO companies in the city. My boarding house didn’t have WiFi so I decided that I would get one myself for my own personal use. I like to play DotA and watch YouTube back then so the internet was a must for me 😛 So I went to SM City Cebu to apply for a SMARTBro P799 8GB 4G LTE 12-month plan which included a convenient little device that looked somewhat like this:

[Image from Smart Online Store]

The application process didn’t take too long as I had the necessary documents. By the end of the day I would go home with my new SMARTBro box. But I wasn’t able to use it immediately because it took approximately 24 hours to get “activated”. I guess that’s just how it is? Anyway when I did get my internet, it was surprisingly fast, about 10-20mbps. At one time it peaked at 25mbps! I stayed in Mambaling which is a few kms away from Colon. So I was really happy with it. I barely experienced any lag when playing and YouTube was bufferless. It was like this for about 3 weeks until I noticed the speed was dropping slowly as time went on but was hardly noticeable. It was all fine for me overall.


A screenshot of how fast it was

That is until I decided to transfer to an apartment in Talamban and it all started going downhill. Take note that they told me they still had 4G LTE support in the area so I wasn’t troubled by it. When it was time to connect, I notice the signal indiator only showed like 1-2 bars. I figured that it was because I was a bit far from the city now than before so reception is affected. But from 10mbps, I was now only hitting 300-500kbps! Crazy drop from an area they claim to be “4G LTE-supported”. Not only that but my LTE device was draining its battery really fast. A bit of background, about 2 weeks into my contract, I always had a weird feeling that my device was broken. It would only last about 3-4 hours through occasional use, which means normal internet and no playing. When I did play, it would just last around 2 hours. So when I transferred to Talamban, I thought it already reached its boiling point. So I went back to SM City Cebu and asked if I could get a different device, well turns out I couldn’t! The device I had was outdated, it was the same time they released their new branding with the green logo. I felt cheated. No wonder they had that P800 sale (P799 for the plan + P1 for the device) back in June. They were phasing out their products! So there I was with a broken ass device and slower internet.

Sadly, it didn’t stop there. I then kept on getting constant disconnections and even if there was internet, some sites that I used to visit no longer loaded. It pissed me off. I never used their online ticket support system because I always thought it was a waste of time (I was right) and I would go back to their store branch to complain. And they would tell me the same thing every ISP would say in a scenario like this: ongoing maintenance. WTF.

December 2016

This was my internet-drought period. After paying for my plan because they disconnected my internet for an overdue payment (I missed my November deadline because I got so fed up I decided to prolong my payment. It was wrong but it’s not like they were giving me the service we consumers deserved). They told me my internet connection would return the next day. But guess what? It didn’t. Not for 3 fuckin weeks! Christmas, New Year, and a week passed, I still didn’t get my connection back. I’ve been to SM City Cebu and SM City Bacolod. Because of the number of times I’ve complained, the customer service rep came to recognized me and knew what I was going to say. There was even some small talk from the custservc rep from Bacolod that he knew the custservc rep I talked to in Cebu. That’s all fine but that doesn’t help. All I care is that I get my internet back! Other than my hobbies, my line of work specifically requires it.

From them switching my sim to resetting my device multiple times, it was fruitless. Then miraculously one day, my internet returned. Maybe some guy flicked some switch or something, I didn’t care. I was just happy I could surf the web again. But that doesn’t mean it improved. Yep it was the same old crappy connection. You’d figure that after they did all these “maintenance” the past few months, their quality of service would improve. But nope, it was still bad.

April 2017

This was the final nail to the coffin. I lost my connection again and it was about 2 weeks. When it did come back, I noticed that my data cap was only 4.5GB. I knew it was a mistake so I went back again to my favorite place, their store branch in SM City Cebu. After complaining that my plan changed, did you know what the rep said? “Ganun na siya dati sir” or something like that. I was wide-eyed. I felt like shouting but didn’t want to stir up a scene. But like, WHAT THE HELL??? I told her that this was not my plan. That I had 4G LTE with 8GB of data and 30 mins of call. That all this happened  She just shook her shoulders as if saying “I don’t know”. She told me they only offered 4.5GB for P799. I asked her to look at their past records and she told me between the words that “they didn’t track my data usage”. I told her that the P799 plan was 8GB last year but I had no proof with me because I left my box back at the apartment. I was dumbfounded. I went home empty-handed. To be fair, I should have asked for my contract from them I’m sure it should have stated it there. Anyway I already cheated once and I didn’t want it to happen again. I went to my apartment and did some crazy research (the box was no help because nothing was stated there regarding the plan). Then I found it and understood everything. She confused my plan with another plan called Big Bytes Plan 799 for a Smart Bro 4G Pocket WiFi which was 4.5GB. My plan was for a Smart Bro 4G LTE Pocket WiFi which was of the same price. So with that I went back to the store and showed a different rep my newfound knowledge. The new rep agreed with me completely and changed my plan then and there. I was grateful and she told me my plan would be reactivated later that day (which it did!).

June 2017

Now my plan has reached its end of the contract. My LTE device broke down around April-May so I had to use my phone as a hotspot. I was a year mostly full of frustrations. There were some good moments especially in the beginning. But if I were to go over it again and apply for a new one? For a Pocket WiFi plan? No, never again.

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY
Elmer Balbin

Web developer from Bacolod, Google Local Guide, and casual DotA 2 player.

about me

Leave a comment

avatar

Get great deals on hotel rooms from all over the world BOOK NOW