The Adrian Loveridge Column – Going With the FLOW

Adrian Loveridge

It would seemingly appear that one of our major telecommunications companies, only relatively recently exposed to real competition and after decades of a virtual monopoly, has finally woken-up to the reality that most successful businesses are service driven and orientated.

Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we live in the hope that this is a real and genuine attempt to address and remedy, what is in any overall and fair consideration, has been long periods of what only can be described as delivering appalling customer ‘service’. Despite the many challenges we have had with the company, endless series of trading names they operate under and numerous management changes, we have remained loyal and faithful for almost 30 years.

Looking back through our accounting records, I recently found the initial deposit request of a $1,000 demanded and paid on the 28th November 1989 before phone connection would even be considered. Unlike other utility entities, not a cent in interest has been paid on this amount for the entire duration. Nowadays that deposit represents around three times our monthly billings.

In my humble opinion they have a long way to go. In our case three accounts and two companies requiring differently addressed cheques if you chose that method of payment. Opt to pay online and one account does not allow you to print out a receipt, where another does.

If, as frequently happens, you wish to report faults, then you succumb to the mercy of call centres, often finding answering staff who can barely speak English and where repetitive conversation to get the point across, is the norm.

I could go on, but these annoying and time wasting obstacles would easily be identified if senior managers within the organisation became customers for a day. It’s really as simple as that. Then for those at the top to ensure staff, at lower pay scales actually do the job they are being paid.

Another monumental dereliction of duty, at least to me, is that as the leading communications company, they have not played a greater role in our national economic recovery. Yes! I am aware of some of the philanthropic works and partnerships they have supported, but there is a massive void, especially in placing the emphasis of helping small business start-ups and growth.

So many more entrepreneurs could build their business by being able to accept online payments, as the marketing officer of one of our credit unions so eloquently pointed out in this publication recently. Again, this is not rocket science and it greatly concerns me that during our current fiscal challenges, that such obvious opportunities are not being better exploited, when it is clearly a win-win scenario for everyone.

As any small business expands, they use more communication options, resulting almost always in higher revenue generation, more taxes and increased employment. Purely from a tourism perspective, why don’t they have a SIM card issuing office in airport arrivals area and ensure visitors are made fully aware of this facility?

They could easily partner with the Barbados Tourism office.

Let us all hope that the full page ‘ads’ in the press (at the consumers expense) are not again lip service and we will witness a true transformation of this very privileged company, whatever its current name is.

15 comments

  • Bernard Codrington

    Very insightful and instructive,

    I think that if service providers would treat their customers as if it required the mind and skills of a rocket scientist we would be far better off in this country. Problem identification and a methodical approach to solutions are lacking.

    At this point in time I do not hold out any hope for improvement because we are not in the problem solving mode. Engineering problems have been converted to a public relations problem and we get a lot of talk and no action. Lots of excuses. Lots of explanations. We are even getting explanations of persons ,rather than issues that concern us as taxpayers and consumers.

    Yes. We use ‘technology’ to keep the customer on the phone for half an hour with electronic robotic excuses followed by a complaint taker 1000s of miles away. That is supposed to be progress.

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  • The huge sums being spent on the PR campaign by FLOW would be better spend paying some salaries locally in the service center?

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  • Bernard Codrington

    @ David at 9:06

    I agree. The commercial banks need to follow that suggestion as well.

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  • It was interesting (ironic?) to listen to an employee of the BTMI on a local radio station encouraging Barbadians to embrace tourism. It was ironic because the thought flashed through the blogmaster’s mind that members of the government should be asked to engender the same feelings to ensure they allocated resources to develop and maintain the product/infrastructure to protect the goose laying the golden eggs.

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  • Bernard Codrington

    @ David at 3:06 PM

    It was ironic. The new Mantra: If you have a problem ,public relation it out of existence. Lord ,have mercy !!

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  • @Adrian

    Have you noticed that you have two(2) accounts with FLOW, ONE A Flow# and another # that is C&W. The C&W # DOES NOT SHOW ON YOUR bill however but must be the one used for ONLINE BANK PAYMENTS. Have been complaing to FLOW-C&W about this issue for years as it’s confusing. Would appear the companies official name is still C&W even though they use FLOW.

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  • @Wily

    You can have the accounts consolidated to one bill BUT you must visit one of the physical stores.

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  • @David

    You don’t understand, it’s only one BILL WITH TWO different account #’s, one account # for FLOW and another hidden account # for C&W. In order to pay online the only account # that is recognized is C&W, to pay at the bank or Flow office the only # recognized is FLOW account #. Online payments through Scotiabank only recognize the C&W account #. Any payments made, by either method, will get credited to the same account.

    My initial investigation of this leads me to believe it’s some form of TAX SHELTERING or MONEY LAUNDERING scheme being used by C&W and FLOW. As you know C&W and FLOW are companies registered in numerous countries worldwide and as such can easily manipulate their finances and payment of taxes.

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  • Of our three accounts 2 have cheques made payable to Cable and Wireless (Barbados) Limited and the other Columbus Telecommunications (Barbados ) Ltd.

    Also, did I just hear on VOB just now correctly? The new ‘Customer Service’ centre at Windsor Lodge is ONLY for RESIDENTIAL customers. So BUSINESS users still have to call a barely English speaking call centre somewhere else in the Caribbean?

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  • @Adrian
    “So BUSINESS users still have to call a barely English speaking call centre somewhere else in the Caribbean?”

    It’s not nice not to INCLUDE INDIA & PAKISTAN in the non intelligible call center lists. I always enjoy after talking to one of these call centers for 20 minutes plus they then ask WHAT COUNTRY YOU CALLING ABOUT only to tell you that you must call a different call center number. Too bad AK47 bullets won’t go down the phone line.

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  • @Wily

    This is the way of the future. This is how large companies are reducing structural cost to maintain profit margins being negatively impacted by competition and other market factors.

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  • @David

    I agree with you, however CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCKS with this philosophy.

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  • Bernard Codrington

    @ David at 2:08 PM

    It need not be the way forward. Purveyors of goods and services need to take into consideration the needs of the consumers. No consumer; no demand for products; no profit. Consumers have the upper hand.

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  • @Bernard

    Have no problem with the ideal your have posited but there will be tension on this issue in a capitalist world. Always!

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  • Flow is the absolute worst. I now limit my service to what the other companies have yet to offer in my area. Their so called customer service is customer disservice. No ad can win me back. I wouldn’t even read them.

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