How to fight an Internet Service Provider…and win!

The problem:

Your internet is out.  This isn’t the first, the third, or the 20th time this has happened….this month alone.  You’ve called and called and called.  When you finally DO get someone that understands English (somewhat), the only response you get is one of two things:

  1. I’ll make a notation on your account (their favorite)
  2. We’ll send someone out there within 24 to 48 hours (they probably won’t show)

Being the smart consumer from a developed country, you don’t fall for this, and demand to speak to a supervisor.  You’ll be put on hold for what seems half a decade, only to be told that the supervisor is on another call and will call you back.  They won’t.  Welcome to the Chinese trained brick wall called Philippines Customer Service.

The playing field:

The choices of ISP in the Philippines is a slim one.  The majority of them are DSL or USB “Internet Sticks”.  If you can avoid these, then ABSOLUTELY AVOID THESE.  The service is horrible.  The signal is horrible.  And if you think that SMARTBRO Internet is going to be 3MB/s to 7MB/s like they promise, think twice.  Their customer service will tell you that 275KB/s is “within acceptable range”.  To be honest, I use Sky Cable myself.  It’s 5MB/s for 1,000php/mo (2,000php for the wireless modem plan).  More importantly, IT’S CONSISTENT.  My speed hardly varies, and my uptime is usually great.  In fact, during Typhoon Mario, I didn’t lose Internet once.  With DSL, it was a given that it would go down and stay down for at least a month.


I’m going to just save us all some time here and say that I’ve used almost all of the ISP’s here, and talked extensively to people who’ve used the ones I avoided.  So far, every single one but Sky has blown chunks.  So if you can, use Sky.  It’s the closest you’re ever going to have to Internet like a developed country.  That’s your comparison.  It’s either Sky (passable) or everyone else (early death from a heart attack brought on by stress).

Getting VIP treatment.

Here’s the trick.  SOUND IMPORTANT.  It’s not hard.  Firm, even tones.  Good English.  And a little name dropping.  That’s right.  You see, there ARE two agencies the ISP’s fear.  It’s the Department Of Trade And Industry (DTI) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).  Now…DTI has been itching to get into the mix.  They WANT to go after these ISP’s.  The problem is, nobody calls them. Most Filipinos don’t even know they exist, and the ones that do can’t be bothered with the process of filing the proper complaints.  Can’t blame them, though.  The bureaucracy around here blows the mind.

OOPS!  Did that name just come out?

So, picture this.  You’re going back and forth…back and forth…finally you ask for that supervisor and get the scripted excuse.  Instead of blowing up, just inform them that it’s fine.  You have the Undersecretary of the Department Of Trade and Industry waiting for your email response as to how <insert your ISP here> has handled your problem, and you’ll generously wait for one hour for the supervisor to call you back.  Also, make sure to get that supervisor’s name before you hang up by saying something like “Oh, may I also have your supervisor’s name to include in my report?  They especially want to know if I was called back.”  That’s how you get some people moving.  You will very likely get your call back.  If not, call again and reapply, this time a bit more firmly, and with a reminder that the first failure to call has been reported, and that DTI wants to know if they are completely ignoring you.

Back it up!

Of course, you’re no paper tiger.  You’re an educated foreigner who knows how to write a good email.  You just need a target for that bad boy missile of an email you’re going to write.  Fear not.  Start with this email:

[email protected]

That’s the office of the Undersecretary.  She can get the ball rolling for you.  But there are some important points here:

  • Do NOT start off with just emailing her.  Go through the process, writing down names and dates and incident report #’s.  Have all of your information, including the responses you got.  You have to show that you made a solid effort to resolve your problem, and that they’re simply not giving you good service.
  • Be VERY respectful and courteous in your communications with DTI.  If you start ranting and calling people names, you look like a loony.  You will definitely get more traction with these people if you sound like a level headed guy who’s trying to resolve a problem in a civil manner.  That’s the kind of people that they want to stand up for.
  • If you aren’t the writing type, and are unsure about your grammar, then have someone you trust to proof read it for you and make corrections.  You want to sound very professional.  txt spk and such do not apply.
  • DO NOT give this lady’s name (or any other name you get) specifically.  ONLY use the reference “Undersecretary of Department Of Trade And Industry”.


So there you have it.  I, personally, have developed this system over the past 4 years and multiple ISP’s.  I now have the cell # of a supervisor for my ISP (that’s a big no-no for them to do, btw).  If I have a problem, I contact her and get the job done right.  And all because she thinks I’m a big shot connected with government agencies.

Give it a try, and good luck!

Published in CENECO, Globe, PLDT, Useful Information, Utility Companies


  1. Profile gravatar of Glenn Holland
    Glenn Holland

    I’ve sent a lot of emails to small businesses in the Metro Manila area and I never get a reply from about 99% of them.

    I’ve even translated the text from English to Tagalog (using Google translate) in case they don’t read English and I also submit some inquiries through their on-line “Contact” form.

    However the failure rate for email response is still extraordinary. I’ve asked the question about email reliability on another site pertaining to expats, and they tell me that the Internet service in the Philippines is at least poor and intermittent.

    They also said that small businesses have their website put together and placed on line by a developer. However once it’s on line, the owners don’t make much of an effort to monitor the email contacts generated from the site. For example if you send an email to [email protected] or [email protected], it may as well go to the cosmos and you will never get a reply.

    Some have told me the only way to contact a business is if you know the owner’s personal email address. That way, he will get your message along with other personal messages like “My daughter’s birthday party is on Friday night at 6:00 PM”.

    So there you have it – an example of “Black Hole On Earth” where the electromagnetic waves of communication cross the horizon never to be seen again.

  2. Profile gravatar of Penance
    Penance Post author

    A good point. However, I actually did get a reply from the office of the undersecretary for DTI. Everything was being forwarded right up, and Bayantel got a phone call. The next thing I knew, I had a supervisor overseeing everything from soup to nuts. It turns out that a technician had set up a copy of our account at a different location In the city that was bumping me off. Read I to that as you will.

    The moral being, don’t just complain. Use their own system to your favor.

  3. Profile gravatar of 30-30

    when i was a kid in my country,, somebody’s lane was full of snow.. the guy phone up the premier of my province and wanted some snowplows moving snow, pronto.
    next day there were two snowplows clearing the road, hahahaha

  4. Profile gravatar of Captain PFB
    Captain PFB

    My experience with Sky Broadband is the worst of the worst of the most horrible nightmares. I have Sky Cable, and I had gotten the Sky Broadband with it. After dealing with less than dial-up speeds on the infrequent occasion it actually achieved connectivity at all, for about 2 months, and about 15 visits from “technicians”, “engineers” and other complete morons with a title, I cancelled the Sky Broadband.

    Globe as been the most consistent with speed and connection. 100% for about 60 days straight so far. But that wasn’t the case from the beginning. Initially I went through about 3 weeks of “technicians”, “engineers” and other idiots with titles trying to get the connection to work. It was horrible, but once they made the right GUESS, it’s been fabulous. You just have to give them about 3 weeks of guessing and trying this and trying that before they nail it. Sad, isn’t it?

    But Sky Broadband couldn’t even give me a working connection for a solid 2 months. I think I gave them a more than fair opportunity.

    Gawd this country is pathetic.

      1. Profile gravatar of Captain PFB
        Captain PFB

        Oh hell, the folks at the DTI and I are nearly on a first name basis after 10 years here. Sometimes it works, sometimes the DTI is as unconcerned, unorganized, and full of broken promises as the rest of them. Remember, they are Filipinos too. And with Filipinos comes baffoonery, lies, broken promises, etc. DTI is not immune.

  5. Profile gravatar of Fr. Bong Bong Jolog Jun III
    Fr. Bong Bong Jolog Jun III

    Kaine, you’ve very clearly just been lucky. The ISP’s here are impervious to threats. The simple truth is that they just don’t give a fuck. If I was using the internet to visit Facebook, or download the odd movie, I’d probably find the slow, unreliable level of service here marginally acceptable. As a person trying to run an internet based business, I’d have to say that I find Philippines based ISP’s to verge on overt criminality. The levels of systemic failure, overall ineptitude, willful deceit, overcharging, contempt for customers and unambiguous stupidity still takes my breath away. The NTC are little more than a telco controlled, rubber stamp organisation that takes care of telco’s. Their interest in resolving consumer complaints is zero.

    I can’t comment on the DTI, as I’ve personally had no dealings with them. I do know that it’s a Philippines based bureaucracy and is staffed by Pinoys. That means the likelihood that the majority of the DTI’s staff are technically brain-dead would be high. I’m sure they’d make all the right noises – just like the NTC does. My interest in even finding out is non-existent. I know at a deep level – even before picking up the phone – that contacting them will be a complete waste of my valuable time. Nothing short of a revolution will see Philippines ISP’s become anything more than the government sanctioned, criminal enterprises that they are right now.

    Filo is way too generous in describing these people as buffoons. In fact, he’s being damned insulting to buffoons by making the comparison. I think of Philippines support staff (PLDT in particular) as somehow, sub-human.

  6. Profile gravatar of Todd

    We do not have cable internet here in are area even though there is a big enough population to have it here. I heard our cable company is going to have it soon but when that will be, I have no idea. Soon means something different to me than it does to Filipinos.

    As far as going to DTI? It has never done anything for me. I just go to my wife’s uncle who is a big time judge in the area. Threatening legal action has worked like a charm for me. Looks like I am going to have to use it again though. I have had Globe Tattoo @Home LTE service using a sim card modem (Not a usb stick) and have had nothing but problems. So I guess I will call the judge up and ask him for some help since Globe does not want to fix my problem. Sad that you even have to do this!!!!!