Have you checked your Globe bills lately? You might be in for a surprise.
Globe recently had an IT System upgrade in the first quarter of the year. According to the letter sent to subscribers, the billing system was among those to be upgraded and warned of possible inconveniences. Expectedly, Globe advised of a possible six-week delay in the delivery but the billing was delayed for more than two months. Sometime around April, Globe finally said in a letter that it would deliver its bill by May.
Now I was expecting I’d get more than the usual billing after the arrears are factored in. You see, I had a Plan P2,499 under the old G-Flex Plan which worked fine with me since most of my calls and texts are pretty much covered with this plan. (Little did I know that this has been superseded by a better My Superplan they launched in March, which could have prevented this mishap – but that’s another story.)
My old G-Flex Plan had a minimal amount of TIME-BASED BROWSING included in the package that I diligently used, having my web connection turned off most of the time and only sparingly turning it on for checking urgent e-mails and only within the 15-minute window for every 5-pesos.
So I’m used to getting a billing with local data charges amounting to so many minutes and the equivalent charges but it always ends up at 0.00 after deducting the consumable minutes. That is until the new IT System upgrade. When I got my bill for Feb-Mar sometime after June 4, there was a local data charge for KB BROWSING totaling to P2,232.14!
Knowing fully well that not all upgrades are glitch-free, I proceeded to call Globe and informed them about the data charges. The call center agent on the line informed me that the S.O.P. is for the customer to file a complaint questioning the contested amount and they will find out in the system if it was really consumed. I did as I was told. After a couple of weeks, I got a call from Globe informing me that I did consume the browsing charges.
I still contested it and told them that it was impossible for that to happen since I don’t keep my data connection ALWAYS ON. My mistake was that I doubted myself and thought I probably left it on accidentally for some time. It didn’t dawn on me right away then that even if I had left it on, I should’ve still been billed with TIME-BASED BROWSING and not KB BROWSING. I left it at that and paid the basic P2,499 charge first.
The next bill came a month after and I was again billed for KB BROWSING for P2,236.60. This time, I was sure I never left it ON for long periods of time. I again called the Globe hotline and informed them about the extra charges. This time, the call center representative advised me to get a P99 Anti-Bill Shock Guarantee so I will only be charged P999 even if I go over P5,000 or P10,000 or P50,000 on my bill. They again said they would check the system if I will contest it. I went through the motion but again paid only the basic P2,500 to cover my plan.
By the next bill, the Anti-Bill Shock that I paid for P99 kicked in (which should not have been necessary in the first place if I was only billed time-based browsing) and I was only charged 803.57 out of a possible P3,522.17 in KB BROWSING CHARGES.
On June 17, I finally got a message informing me that I was erroneously charged for volume-based browsing rates instead of time-based rates.
GLOBE: Dear Valued Subscriber: You may have been inadvertently charged using volume-based browsing rates instead of time-based rates in your current bill. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please be assured that we have already detected this error and these will be reversed within your next 2 bills. Please disregard these charges. Thank you.
I went to Globe Quezon Avenue branch beside National Bookstore and proceeded to narrate the situation with my billing. There, I requested for a copy of my next billing. True enough, it reflected a reversal crediting me P4,713.40 . I double-checked my past three bills and by simple math arrived at P5,272.31 in accumulated erroneous data charges:
The attendant, Pazzi, tried to convince me that the credited amount was system-generated and it factors in pro-rata and other considerations. I insisted on combing through my past three bills, and then showed him the simple computation that I did to arrive at the conclusion that the amount Globe is crediting back to me is less than the accumulated erroneous charges. I finally convinced him and he proceeded to do his own computation to factor in the VAT and he arrived at the amount of P5,905, where he deducted the P4,713.40 credited to me already and he concluded Globe still owes me P1,192.
At this point, I should be thanking Globe for the reversal, right? Well, although I credit Globe for the reversal, I pointed out to them the system does not correct itself precisely and did not credit back the equivalent amount that I was overbilled with. Thus, here lies the problem. Only because I diligently went through my past billings MANUALLY did I find out that they were crediting me less than the amount I should be credited with.
I asked him what would happen to similar cases of other customers who would not have the patience of going to a Globe branch and contesting the numbers point by point. He admitted that UNLESS a customer points out the discrepancy, then it is generally accepted that there is no problem in the billing. So, how many thousands of customers were probably erroneously charged but just kept mum? A quick Google and I arrived at this site.
From this site, you can gather that there is in fact quite a number of similar complaints, some even reaching the amounts of P45,+++. It was probably better to have soaring charges because then you would be more determined to contest it. But how about those with a couple of hundreds, or a few thousands, like mine? Did everybody bother to complain or understood the complex billing system Globe just initiated?
It is also bothersome that this site was apparently set up by Globe for “community” engagement but no one from Globe actually bothers to answer the complaints. It is as if the site was set up for consumers to just freely rant.
I called Globe’s Public Relations and the guy who answered accommodated my inquiry until I mentioned I am doing this for an article and it was about the billing issues of Globe. He said he would escalate it to his boss and they will call back in five minutes. That was last July 12. I have repeatedly followed up since but the PR department refused to return my call.
Horror stories like these have been circulating on the web and on social media and can become a bigger problem for Globe if not addressed properly. Globe has practically admitted the problem with the new system and they themselves corrected some of their errors.
But it has yet to explain what caused the problem, how it affected the customers, and what they are doing to resolve it. By doing so, they can assuage the public’s fear and assure them there is a course of action in case they are affected, and not leave them guessing and figuring out for themselves what they can do. After all, that is what Public Relations means.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.
Globe responds to billing concern
(Here is Globe Telecoms' response to an opinion article of ABS-CBNnews.com's Multimedia Editor, Fernando Sepe, regarding a billing issue. The letter is from Ms. Yoly Crisanto, head of Globe Telecoms' Corporate Communications. -- Eds.)
Globe proactively reviewing customer billing
We write in response to the opinion article of Mr. Fernando Sepe uploaded in ABS-CBNnews.com last July 19 about his billing issues.
We understand the frustration that Mr. Sepe felt about his billing concerns since unfortunately, he was among those selected subscribers who encountered a problem in their billing. We know that the journey in modernizing our service delivery infrastructure and business support system to provide our customers with a better service experience is not easy.
As Mr. Sepe himself narrated, Globe has been proactively communicating to customers about billing challenges largely brought about by our recent systems migration, and has taken appropriate measures to address bill disputes. In his case, he indicated in the article the series of reversals done particularly for his data charges.
At this point, It is important for us to state that while Mr. Sepe felt the need to publicize his experience, Globe has been going through all billings in the last four months so that this experience will not be replicated in other subscribers. Thus, we were able to make the appropriate billing adjustments as recounted in the article, whereby bill reversals were credited to his account in the past two billings.
Another proactive service measure is the creation of a special action team two weeks ago to double check and continue reviewing all the billing statements, on a per customer basis. We want to assure our customers that we are taking this step to ensure the quality and accuracy of their billing.
As a result of the QA process, any additional bill adjustment due to our customers will be reflected in their September to October billing statements.
We welcome subscribers who may want to seek clarification about their billing statements and will be given priority in all our customer contact points. Our @talk2globe twitter account for social media has been strengthened with more customer service advisors. Likewise, we have improved the menu for our 211 hotline to handle billing concerns. One can also go to our Globe stores for proper customer assistance.
In addition, we are extending further assistance to our customers in the form of installment offers for those who experienced delayed billings. Please contact the said customer channels for information on how to avail of the offer.
We value our customers and the feedback they give helps us serve them better. We wish to express that we are thankful for the patience and understanding our subscribers have shown in this journey of providing a much improved service. It's getting better everyday. We have no other wish but to have the happiest customers.