I have been a Globe subscriber as far back as when I got my first mobile phone in 1998, and our family has been Globe users since then. As longtime subscribers, we would qualify for loyalty rewards, such as free handsets or monthly rebates. And we would avail of these concessions. We are very well aware of the conditions that these rewards entail. The subscriber will be bound by a 24 month holding period, during which we cannot terminate the said contract nor downgrade the plan which came with the handset, or otherwise be subject to a pretermination fee. In the past, we had very positive experiences availing of these rewards.
But after what happened to us this time around, we could not believe that Globe would treat their loyal subscribers in this manner. If loyalty truly mattered, we would not be lead into signing a loyalty reward agreement that is deceptive, misleading and malicious. This agreement would have us pay for a P600 amortization (“ULTIMA SERVICE”) for handsets they offered for rewards that were described as FREE, without us knowing.
On separate occasions, we took out handsets from two accounts under the “MyRewards MyGlobe Loyalty Program”. These were an IPhone 4S 8GB White on May 2014 and an LG G2 Mini White on August 2014. As part of their Standard Operating Procedure, the subscriber will be made to sign a recontracting agreement that has, among others, the following terms and conditions:
1. The handset is for “FREE” or with “cash out of state cash out amount: (___)”
2. That the subscription is locked up or recontracted for a period of 24 months from availment.
3. That the subscriber shall enroll the account to a “My Superplan”
4. That the subscriber shall not downgrade or terminate the plan for the entire duration of the holding period. Or otherwise be subject to a pretermination fee and administrative fee.
This was initiated through the hotline, and these were the conditions mentioned to us by the agent, and we agreed thereto. Before delivery of the handsets, we signed both agreements for the two handsets. We have copies of the recontracting agreements, should you be interested.
On February 6, 2015, as we were checking our monthly bills, we noticed that we have been charged P595.00 for the LG G2 Mini and P600 IPhone 4S, described as an “Ultima Service” under the heading “Best Ever mySuperPlan Peso Value”. We then backtracked to previous monthly billings and this charge recurs in all of the monthly bills dating back to the signing of the recontracting agreements in May and August 2014. You will find photos of the monthly bills below.
I called the Globe Customer Service hotline 211 at around 6pm, and spoke to agent who gave her name as “Ann”. I requested that these charges be credited back to the accounts as consumable peso value, which we use for phone calls and text charges. As a result of this “ultima service”, the available consumable peso value would not be enough to cover these charges. Hence, phone calls and texts become top up charges. Essentially, this fee dubbed as “ultima service” was in fact an amortization for the handsets we took out that were supposedly FREE. After over an hour, the agent repeatedly denied my request saying that these are valid charges, nor were they hidden. She insisted that we agreed to this when we took these handsets from Globe.
I insisted that I have read the agreement, which was in front of me, during that call. I read and re-read it, and nowhere in the agreement did it say that there was in fact a charge that would be deducted to the peso value of the Best Ever MySuperPlan. The agent in reply, said yes it was free, and that there was no cash-out required on our part. I told her but because Globe was deducting from the peso value allotted from the plan, that handset is not FREE.
Then the agent Ann, offered as a compromise, that if I wanted, that this charge no longer be deducted from my consumable peso value, and instead, be added to our monthly service fee. And then this infuriated me. We had no way out but to pay for this “ULTIMA SERVICE.” These options should have been explained and laid down to us when we first inquired about the reward, and moreso, indicated in the contract. And not now, when we can no longer terminate the contract without paying a substantial penalty.
I asked her to escalate my complaint to her supervisor, since there was nothing she could do at her level. It was over an hour after that she turned me over to her supervisor, a certain “Ben Francisco”. He explained to me the mechanics of the MySuperPlan, insisting that we agreed to this. I said there was something intrinsically wrong with the written agreement subscribers are being made to sign, upon acceptance of their supposed FREE handsets. Only to find out afterwards that there is in fact a charge. Had we known that this was the case, we would not have availed of the handset in the first place.
I have asked repeatedly throughout this conversation with the two agents that it was clear to me, it was beyond their competence to resolve this complaint. It was only after an hour and a half that “Ben Francisco” recorded the complaint, and generated a ticket for it. When I asked him for details on where to elevate my complaint. He gave me the generic email@example.com email address for customer complaints, and the generic corporate address indicated in the billing statement: 32nd Street, corner 7th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig Philippines 1634.
This is the manner by which Globe treats its loyal postpaid subscribers. We are subscribers who stayed on the linefor 1 1/2 hours. Yes, we are the distraught ones who did not find resolution to our complaint. Worse, we are the ones who only have written agreements that are supposed to protect us and our rights. But then, these agreements do not reflect what subscribers are really in for. I surmise these are the same pro-forma agreements millions of subscribers sign when they avail of their so called loyalty rewards. Given my experience with the customer service hotline last February 6, when I was made to feel that as a consumer, we do not have any recourse to be protected against these deceptive, misleading agreements. I think now, how much more, the million others?
There has to be a way to protect individual consumers against these non-transparent promotions. We have elevated this complaint through different channels, to Globe Legal, Globe Customer Service and the DTI. I received a call from Globe billing this morning, and apologized for the manner by which my complaint was handled. But the agent told me that they could not fix it.
I am writing this on my blog for Globe to know that transparency matters. In this country where consumers always get the raw end of the deal, it is the least they can offer us. Truth is, the loyalty we attribute to Globe is more of laziness to find a more worthy service provider, or that we don’t have much of a choice that we are left to stay.
From a very dissatisfied and exasperated Globe subscriber,
A Handset With a charge called “Ultima Service” is not FREE!