It all began at 8:45am, February 7, 2012. After dropping my daughter in school, I headed to the Swift Networks office at Alausa shopping mall. My goal was to upload another episode of our youtube photography show (PICTURE THIS) to youtube.com/elophotos. We upload two episodes every week and were already behind on one episode because we were unable to upload the previous friday’s episode.
Upon getting to their office at the shopping mall, I bought 1hr of airtime on their “hotspot” network. I already had 44mins left from my account and figured I would need at least 1 hour extra to upload the 2GB HD video that failed to upload the last time I was there (friday, february 3, 2012). Immediately after paying N150 for the 1 hour I needed, I was accosted by the security man that if I was going to use my laptop to browse in their office, that will not be allowed.
I didn’t understand at first. You see, I had been coming to that same office an average of 2 times a week for the past 5months and was surprised when I was told that I can’t use my laptop to browse the hotspot in their office. “Is that a new rule?” I quizzed. The gentleman that sold the hotspot airtime to me further explained that they don’t normally allow people to come to their office to browse due to the fact that their office space is small and they need to attend to other customers that have more important business to do (e.g. buying new modems, paying for airtime subscription, etc).
Apparently the N150 per hour that I was paying was not enough for them to allow me use their space to browse. This is where my issue with them began. On their website (www.swiftng.com/products/hotspot), it was (and still is) CLEARLY stipulated how the hotspot service works. Quoting what is written on the 2nd paragraph on their link
“How does SWIFT Hotspot work?
…You will need a laptop, mobile phone or even a portable PS2 with wireless internet capabilities to get connected. Go to any SWIFT Networks hotspot with your laptop and connect to the wireless network. You will be prompted to login. Purchase a voucher and enter the PIN to gain access to the internet.”
Nowhere on this page is it ever mentioned that after I’ve paid for the voucher, I won’t be able to use the hotspot at the “hotspot” location. If I had known that, I would not have been insane enough to waste N200 un-subsidized transportation fare to a location that is out of bounds to me.
The gentleman recommended that if I can stay anywhere outside & within the LSPC (Lagos State Printing Corporation) shopping mall, I would still be able to access their hotspot. I wasn’t about to walk into any of the 150+ shops to ask for permission to use a service that I paid for elsewhere. He concluded that a usable location will be a coffee shop located just 200 meters away from the SWIFT office.
Being the gentleman that I am and considering the fact that it will require much energy (on my part) to demand a refund of my N150, I left their office and headed to the coffee shop. I paid N700 for a cup of coffee and croissant (the most expensive breakfast I’ve had since the removal of fuel subsidy) in order to be able to have a sit at their table and browse with my laptop. If I had known that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my goal of uploading the video, I would stayed in my office and had my usual N120 bread & beans breakfast.
I connected to the wireless network and was taken to a website where I had to log on to my hotspot account (with username: firstname.lastname@example.org) in order for me to add the 1hr airtime I just bought. The cummulative total I was left with to browse the internet was 104mins.
About 5mins into my browsing, I got a message on my computer that the “server was reset” and as a result my internet connection was lost. For over 40mins I tried to reconnect to the internet but it would not go. More importantly, I tried to get the internet site where I could sign off from my account but all was futile. It was very frustrating knowing that I was wasting precious time & money.
It was during my “struggle” to reconnect to the internet that a very important SMS entered my Nokia 101 dual-sim phone. You would not believe who sent the SMS. SWIFT NETWORKS. What a coincidence, I thought. At 9:04am, the message delivered to me read thus:
SWIFT. Unhappy with our services? Simply call 017101010 or send SMS to 08181460901 or email email@example.com. Include your account name, user ID and problem
Talk of a divine coincidence. It was as if someone had recently been promoted to the post of CUSTOMER SERVICE EXECUTIVE and was bent on making all customers satisfied. I was unhappy but impressed; unhappy for my resources (financial & time) that was wasting & impressed that there’s an office in charge of resolving issues like these.
I eventually resorted to taking my laptop back to the Swift network office in the complex so they could try to log me out since my time was already running. I spoke with someone I presumed to be the Manager & was surprised when I was told they don’t have an idea how to log me out. I was really shocked. “So my time will be used up for something that is not my fault,” I asked. Her response: “I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do.” She mentioned that the engineers were responsible for issues like this one and that the engineer on duty had not resumed for the day. This was 9:30am and I was of the notion that workers resume work by 8am. She suggested that his fellow colleague help me try to log out. After 15mins of “googling” the logon site, the gentleman gave up.
It was then that the engineer on duty finally arrived at the office. He was immediately questioned by the manager as to the reason why he was just coming to work. His reasons were not acceptable. I was further surprised to eventually discover that he didn’t know how to log me out. It was very frustrating knowing that by now the time I bought would have been exhausted. To make matters worse, the incompetent engineer started accusing me for closing the logon window in the first place. It is illegal to cut off someone’s head else I would have gladly…….. I was trying to explain to him what happened and he was accusing me of being the cause. If I were not a Microsoft Certified Network Professional, I would have agreed with him. It was painful. It is painful.
As he continued to answer the Manager on the reason why he was late, I proceeded to shut down my laptop. Besides my laptop battery was fully depleted and it was obvious he wouldn’t be able to perform any magic within the remaining 1min of battery time. I felt cheated. I felt angry. I am angry.
I’m angry for the time and money wasted in the early hours of the first working day in the week. This wasn’t the first time this had happened. However, this was the first time I decided I was not going to let this go without getting the attention of the management of SWIFT Networks.
What is more painful is the fact that I’m a swift customer (user id 18816) who bought their 4G WI-FI modem with the sole purpose of uploading these youtube videos. My office is in agidingbi and was surprised when I discovered that the service was (& still is) not as fast as you’re advertising. I was of the notion that 4G implies that it is the 4th Generation of cutting edge internet bandwidth and speed. I remember once asking one of the engineers I met at the Alausa office why it takes 6hrs to upload a 200mb video with my 4G modem compared to the 20mins it takes to upload the same video at SWIFT hotspot location. Could it be that their offices use 10G networks?
I was told that if I wanted the FULL 4G potentials of the network, I would have to request for a “dedicated” bandwidth and would be paying about N250k (approximately $1500) monthly for the service. INTERESTING. I wish had known this before subscribing to the network else I would not be paying for the “Liberty” plan while at the same time visiting SWIFT office twice a week for heavier file uploads. It’s very frustrating.
Perhaps the company should consider changing the name “SWIFT Networks” because it is definitely not SWIFT.
If I hadn’t gotten the sms from SWIFT asking if I was “unhappy with [their] services”, I probably would not even be writing this. If the MD/CEO is reading this (& I pray to God he or she is reading this), there a few things your organization can do to make me a “satisfied customer.” Grant all and I’ll become one of your ardent marketers.
First, I think you should consider firing that engineer that resumed work almost 2hrs late and didn’t feel it was wrong. His job is like that of a medical doctor in the ER of a hospital: his absence will result in the deaths of patients that could have been saved. The least you can do is to query or suspend him. Either way, he should be replaced with someone that has answers to all your network questions.
Secondly, I feel you should emphasize to all employees of your organization the importance of world-class customer service. The gentleman that directed me to the coffee cafe was the staff that I found to be the most courteous in the branch. I’ve been using the hotspot at that location for over 5months now and feel he deserves to be the one in charge. Even the way the Security personnel addresses customers sometimes is not too good. You loose a lot of customers everyday and might not understand that it’s as a result of how they were treated by a security offer, manager, or any other staff. I run an organization that strongly believes that the customer is right; if they are not satisfied, I wouldn’t remain in business for long. Infact, the level of satisfaction my clients get is in direct correlation to the amount of referrals I would get. With what I experienced, I definitely can’t afford to refer another loved one or enemy to SWIFT Networks. Pls address this.
Thirdly, please consider revising your choice of words in describing the hotspot service provided on your website. It will save you stress and a possible future lawsuit from one of your unsatisfied customers.
Fourthly, I feel its only fair if you compensate me with 3-6 months complimentary internet service on my account. This is not blackmail in any way; it’s just a way for you to prove to me that you’re really a customer-friendly organization. Note that the reason I’m posting this to facebook, twitter & my company’s website (elophotos.com) is so that you would be more conscious of the hundreds of unsatisfied SWIFT customers that have given up on airing their issues. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get this resolved.
If you feel my 3-6month complimentary internet service is too much, pls consider giving me a refund of the N1200 I wasted on that faithful day (coffee & croissant N700, transport to & from swift office N200, 104mins of hotspot airtime N280, panadol for headache N20). I have been kind enough not to include a refund of what 1 hour of my time costs. If you choose to refund me the N1200, pls kindly include with it a refund of the amount I paid for the 4G modem as I would be returning the modem never to use your services again. My name is Seun Akisanmi & I can be reached on 08023008873 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For every “unsatisfied” SWIFT Networks customer reading this, pls kindly send your grievances to their customer care email and let’s pray they address them. Customercare@swiftng.com
Feel free to share this on your social media network and let’s hope we get a SWIFT response.