Over-Promised and Under-Delivered

It is better to promise little and deliver more, instead of the other way round – this is a valuable lesson that we shouldn't have to learn – it should be painfully obvious. And yet, when we enter the 'real world' with infinite energy and little experience but enough ambition to conquer the world, we hastily agree to overly optimistic deadlines. Most often, we end up revising the same deadlines that seemed easily manageable a month ago, apologizing to the boss/client all the time, and putting in all-nighters and watching in desperation as two new bugs surface after one is fixed. Then we grow up, and learn to multiply both time and cost by a number much greater than 1.0 before estimating anything. We still miss deadlines… but we feel less stupid about them, and can charge more in some cases… but I digress…

What I wanted to say is, PTCL botched it.

PTCL announced that they will double the bandwidth on the 1st of March. They failed to deliver on that promise, the reason: "it's a weekend, our staff is not available, we will do it on monday".

The bandwidth was still not upgraded the next week – the reason: "We need to upgrade the ports from Islamabad, so it will happen in a single transaction for ALL the Pakistani users".

Yesterday (14th of March, half the month gone), I got an SMS from PTCL when I woke up at noon, telling me that my package has been upgraded to 512kbps 'according to my request' – so I turned on my machine, but the router was still showing 256kbps. After 4 hours, I called their helpline and asked them why had they sent me the SMS when I was still getting the same old speed? The lady (who sounded overwhelmed) asked me for my phone number, and then told me that my upgrade was in its final stage, I asked her how many stages do they have, she said "four". She said it should be complete "any time now", so I said thank you and hung up.

24 hours later (almost 9AM, 15th of March, 2008), I still have the same speed. After looking at the time and realizing that it is morning already, I just called their helpline again (yes, you can call this live blogging too) and told the PTCL rep that I was getting the same old speed despite their SMS – the girl at the other end took my number, checked her system and told me "Sir, our systems are still showing 256kbps". I swallowed the compulsory "No shit!" retort (I am beginning to understand why they prefer female customer relations employees), and asked her why, with their promise of 1st March, have they been unable to upgrade the bandwidth after two weeks. Her response: "Sir, we had till the 15th of March to upgrade. You can call in one hour and check again".

Now this is not right! I can see that they had to rush their price-cuts to meet the competition, and I realize that the 1st of the month is when most of the customers would consider switching, so PTCL had to try to retain that segment of their customer base by promising them the shiny new deal – but why did they have to promise the exact date if they were unsure that they could handle the upgrade workload, why the hell are they still considering 15th of March as their deadline (which is from PTA), and more importantly, why can't they apologize about it, as they have basically swindled me out of 653.50 Rs.

After the prescribed one hour wait, I called 1236 again – this time their support gal simplified it for me and told me in no uncertain terms that "Many customers have already had their account upgraded, yours will be done soon too, perhaps in a day or two. PTCL has promised the upgrades so you will get the upgrade soon". I asked the same 'why promise…' question, and she gave me the same 'please wait for a couple of days…' response.

I would have been perfectly okay with waiting for a few weeks while PTCL upgraded, but the above situation has converted me into an irked customer (note: not a completely 'unsatisfied' customer, their actual wares are good, even though their customer 'service' is lacking) when they could have used the chance to convert me into a super-satisfied customer. I can survive with my current 256kbps, but I hate being manipulated like this. PTCL should fire its marketing department and hire a few more techs – to get things done.

Time to sleep.

3 thoughts on “Over-Promised and Under-Delivered”

  1. It would have been really easy for PTCL to announce that they will voluntarily upgrade every one’s connection speed and let them know via SMS by the 15th. Thats kind of what they did.

    I want to know who is executing the SMS without checking if your speed has been upgraded. That seems like a severe lack of workflow or severe lack of workflow implementation.

  2. Right Adnan, a simple announcement that they will upgrade the connections somewhere in the middle of March would have been enough to retain people.
    But they just HAD to announce the 1st of March as the upgrade date on their website. Their call center people do check some computer system before answering queries, so I think they do have a system in place, but it seems like they don’t have any capacity planners/doers around who can take a campaign from start to end and keep it on schedule.
    I did ask this question from their call-center girl – why send an SMS if the switch is not complete – she started blabbering about people working on the system etc. etc. I had to let her go at that, as it wasn’t her fault.
    With the hundreds of call centers operating in Pakistan and people facing dozens of very demanding average American customers, at least some customer service techniques and best practices should have rubbed off and infused our local market by now.

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