On Christmas morning, a telephone call woke me up at 5 a.m. It was FLOW reminding me that payment of my monthly bill was overdue. It must have been a robocall from a very badly programmed robot. No self-respecting human being would call anyone that early on Christmas morning to run down money. Mi just kiss mi teeth and go back to sleep.
This kind of insensitivity is typical of the new FLOW or the old LIME. As people out a road say, all FLOW means is ‘Following LIME’s Old Ways’. And LIME was well sour. So the marriage of LIME and FLOW is nothing but double trouble.
Proverbial wisdom warns that ‘marriage have teeth’. I like to add, “and bite hot”. But I know there’s another side to this seemingly cynical piece of advice. Cleverly used teeth can give lots of pleasure, not pain. It’s all about technique. A cold, hard bite or an edgy, hot caress!
In the case of the marriage of LIME and FLOW is pure hot and painful biting for customers. I suppose the merger was a win-win deal for the two companies. Dem must know why dem married. Love of money. But I’m really not concerned about the effect of the marriage on the primary partners. Dem can nyam up demself for all I care.
All the same, to think that Cable & Wireless started off as a monopoly, gouging out the eyes of defenceless consumers. And now it has lost even its name to a former competitor! It just goes to show. I can still remember the days when we used to have to beg and beg and beg Cable & Wireless to get a landline. We had to plead for the privilege of paying for the service. It sometimes took years to get a phone.
And as for mobile phones! Remember when we actually had to pay to receive a call? Both the sender and the receiver got jacked up. It was highway robbery pure and simple. Now, free phone call giving away left, right and centre. Serves Cable & Wireless right! What goes around comes around.
But mi no business wid fi dem business to dat. The real victims of the marriage of LIME and FLOW are the innocent customers of both companies who had no say at all in the transaction. We are the ones who’ve been bitten. Twice. And it’s no honeymoon. We’re stuck with whatever the new FLOW dishes out.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
Last Wednesday, I spent almost an hour trying to get information about purchasing an iPhone 6S. According to the FLOW website, the company was offering phones “starting at $7,249.58+GCT with sign-up of select postpaid plans”. This seemed too good to be true. My ancient iPhone 4, a gift from LIME, cost 10 times that. The price of nothing goes down in Jamaica. So I wondered if the postpaid plans cost an arm and a leg.
The FLOW website lists 16 stores where the phone can be bought. But not one single phone number. How strange! A telecommunications company that refuses to communicate with customers by phone! So I went to the online Yellow Pages.
There were numbers for the corporate offices and for the customer care centre. Don’t get me started on ‘customer care’. The system takes you through a long list of automated questions until, finally, after waiting and waiting and waiting you actually get the chance to talk to an agent.
On the Yellow Pages site, I did find telephone numbers for some FLOW stores. The single page of numbers is headed ‘FLOW DEALER LOCATIONS cont’d’. Continued from where? Nothing comes before the continuation. Does nobody at FLOW realise that the Yellow Pages listing is messed up?
Unfortunately for me, the ‘continued’ list of five Kingston stores did not include a single location that sold the iPhone 6S. In total frustration, I decided to call the corporate offices to complain. The operator said she couldn’t put me through to the CEO’s office. I bit my tongue. I called back a little later and was permitted to leave my name and number.
I did get a voicemail message from the CEO’s office, but when I returned the call, the person who had called me was not in office. So I called back Thursday morning. I had no luck getting through. I just gave up. Buying a phone shouldn’t be so much trouble.
BAIT AND SWITCH
The only alternative to the new FLOW is, of course, Digicel. Salesmen from the company were in my neighbourhood recently trying to persuade me to switch. They were offering lower rates than FLOW for three months. Quite frankly, I was sceptical. This sounded like swopping white dog for monkey! Digicel’s rates would probably increase way past FLOW’s soon after I took the bait and switched.
Then Digicel is purchasing its off-island capacity to provide Internet service from FLOW! So FLOW and Digicel are not competitors. They’re sweethearts. We’re getting screwed in the polygamous marriage between LIME, FLOW and Digicel. Jamaican consumers deserve much better than to be bitten by all of those teeth.