Submitted by Grenville Phillips II,
I visited the Bahamas to examine the damage from Hurricane Dorian. When I returned, I received a message from Flow to pay my phone bill. They said that I owed $383. Using Internet Banking, I paid $400 – then Flow blocked me from making calls from my cell phone.
After three days of inconvenience, I called Flow. They said that my account was in credit, but I was blocked from making calls until I paid $140 in roaming charges.
I explained that I paid the amount that Flow gave me. She said that the roaming charges were separate. I asked whether some of the money I already paid could be transferred to pay the roaming charges, so that I could use my phone immediately. She said that to use the phone immediately, I would have to visit Flow’s office.
I have learned that with some companies, I must look on the bright side to avoid getting overly frustrated. So, I decided that it could have been worse – Flow could have blocked me when I was in the Bahamas, which would have been disastrous.
I had to meet a client at 3:15 pm, and it was 2:15 pm. So I decided to risk going to the Flow office in Windsor Lodge first. I arrived at 2:43 pm.
The cashier said that my bill was already paid and was actually in credit. I explained about the roaming charges. She said that I could not pay those yet. I had to first visit one of their customer service agents, who would transfer the charges to their system.
The customer service agent told me that I had to pay $260. I asked what happened to the $140. She said that it did not include the taxes, and gave me the amounts. When I noted that the total was not anywhere near $260, she apologised – then said that it was actually $262.32.
My bill arrived approximately one month later. My roaming charges totalled $130.84, and I do not know how they calculated $262.32.
It was now 3:00 pm, and she asked me what I wanted to do. I said that I would pay the ransom. She completed the transfer and sent me back to the cashier. After I paid, the cashier told me that I could make calls if I turned the phone off, and back on.
It was now 3:10 pm, and I turned off the phone as I ran to my car. I had planned to explain to my client that I would be a few minutes late. When I turned it back on, I still could not make calls, so I used the heavy-foot technique and got to the site at exactly 3:15 pm.
The next day, I returned to Flow who removed the block. After turning my phone off and on, I was finally able to make calls.
In my opinion, Flow is extremely inconsiderate. I explained to several of their agents that I have my Internet, TV, land-line, and cell-phone with Flow, and I always pay my bill in full. I also travel around the Caribbean and always pay whatever roaming charges they demand – whether $200 or $2,000. They were unmoved.
Why were Flow so quick to block me from making calls, especially when my account was in credit? Why block me for relatively minor roaming charges of $140 incurred a few days before – and not yet on my bill?
Flow appears blind to what is needed. They have invested in a refreshingly welcoming customer introduction. But once the customer goes beyond the pleasantries, they get employees who seem hardened from having to implement lunatic policies on their fellow Barbadians for so long.
Flow is damaging their own reputation, by unnecessarily harming the productivity of their customers. The solution is simple – liberate their front-line employees to use their human discretion. Of course, they can continue to force them to implement stupid orders like soul-less robots.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com