Friday, April 19, 2024

Be vigilant of improper service

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THERE IS A SAYING that when two elephants clash, the grass suffers.

Digicel and LIME control the local market, but we, customers, hope that we will not suffer from the impending competition in the local telecoms market.

Lime has a monopoly in fixed lines and broadband, a 50 per cent share in cable television. Digicel, on the other hand, is market leader in mobile phones, with a 60 per cent share. We customers anticipate better customer service, especially from LIME.

We have had a history of poor service. The writer had an scenario of 40 months of faulty Internet service from Caribsurf, which no one could seemingly resolve, which made me switch to the alternate service provider with a remarkedly great improvement, like cheese to chalk. But alas, once more we are into the mouth of the lion.

For years LIME was insensitive to the needs of its customers. The profit motive seemed to dominate over good customer service and relations with both their internal and external customers.

There was an instance here, where upwards to US$90 million in profits were made, but we still had the retrenchment of workers, because management of the local company had failed to meet their projected profit targets set by head office.

We witnessed a whole degradation of service quality and customer complaints, which are the hallmark of many monopolies; British Telecom had such an experience. Monopolies by dint of the inelasticity of their demand curves have the ability to tinker around with prices.

Barbados has a market saturation of cellphones – approximately 350 000. These numbers will grow as service providers indulge in tactical marketing in an effort to gain market share and continue to flood the market with the latest in technology and the full range of cellphones. Barbadians have a love affair with cellphones and these numbers will only grow.

The Fair Trading Commission has a tremendous role to play in seeing that customers get a fair deal. Also consumer protection more so as a result of the competitive nature of the market.

The service providers need to implement the newest technology to give the country an edge in this technological age. Moreover, they need

to stop playing Russian roulette with the jobs of workers and being sensitive to their rights.

The call centre needs to be removed from El Salvador and St Lucia, wherever, and give Barbadians as a market should be seen as more than a “cash cow” to be milked for profits. We are a significant part of the parent company, Cable & Wireless, hence their continuous investments cum interest in this market.

We as a nation of consumers have to be vigilant.

PHILIP HUNTE

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