Update: Due to popular demand (continuous “hits” on this thread as well as new comments) I am bumping up this April thread. This is an important topic that was raised during this blog’s infancy. So whoever missed it, here it is. I’m sure bloggers, in particular, feel strongly about the topic. Discuss.
My ISP Fasttelco has been in and out of service all day today.
I memorized this number: 88 6666, due to the sheer amount of problems they seem to have lately.
“What modem do you have?” asks the Rep.
“Ok, switch it on and off and service will return.”
That was the initial time I called. Service disappeared after 20 minutes.
“What modem do you have?” the Rep asks.
“Habibi, if you have a problem just let me know and I will log on later,” I answer.
“Let me check.” 30 seconds later: “Yes, we have a problem with some of the “Centraals” – which area do you live in?”
“I live in ….”
“Yes, it might be why. Try again in 15 minutes.”
I try again in 30 minutes to be on the safe side. Turn modem on and again. It works. I know its active because the Skype icon is green and has a check on it, a sign the internet is on.
15 minutes later: dead.
“Hello, you guys have been having a problem all day. And apparently it still hasn’t been resolved.”
“What kind of modem do you have?”
“Listen, habibi, if you doing maintenance or have a problem can’t you send an email out or warn in advance or if it’s an infrastructure problem can’t you just let us know the actual -”
“Yes, it’s a problem and we are doing our best to resolve it,” admits the Rep.
A Comcast Screen
Now let me take you on a brief flashback to the U.S.; Washington DC to be exact. I had Comcast Cable for a brief amount of time (after fiber optics had been laid out in my area). I could access over 300 channels and was ecstatic with my cable modem, super fast and always stable.
That was the year 2000.
It’s 2006 in Kuwait, we’re fat with cash ($43 billion off oil sales) and many companies are popping up (apart from Qualitynet and Fasttelco) but the Ministry of Communications infrastructure and technical problems continue to plague us. Prices might be going down slightly, but they are still – in ratio to the services offered – very expensive. If you had slow down problems with Fast or Quality in 2001, or frequent disconnects, among other dilemmas, then you still have them today. Not much has changed.
Do these companies actually invest in their infrastructure and try to improve bandwidth and services, or do they just invest in marketing and by offering “gifts” to the Ministry of Communications employees to control their stranglehold?
If Kuwait is serious about being a signatory to the WTO treaty then the 3rd Mobile Telephone Company should be a foreign one in my opinion, preferably an American or Western one, not some European-Kuwaiti-Asian hybrid with an inexperienced Kuwaiti management handpicked by special interests or groups.
Give me Time Warner cable or Comcast over any ISP in Kuwait.
Give me Verizon or Cingular over Wataniya or MTC in Kuwait.
Give me AMC Theatres over Cinescape any day.
Give me Barnes and Noble over Kuwait Bookstore or Jareer any day.
Is this a rant? You bet it is. We are a rich country. And everywhere you look, you see construction, but the infrastructure and technology services here are abysmal. By the time we get High Definition Television (HDTV) it will probably be the year 2015.
You and I know no matter how much surplus Kuwait makes either from oil or investments it will be squandered; we will end up with substandard companies and services based on the cheapest tender or being allocated to someone’s powerful cousin. And we’ll end up with pipes being dug out of roads every two years so someone can make a maintenance fee at the expense of our environment and people’s health, safety and comfort.
This is the era of marketing in Kuwait. Pretty billboards, nice ring tones, artsy commercials, all hyping products, promising you comfort and efficiency. There is a serious disconnect; however, a lag, a large distance between what marketing promises and what the product itself and the customer service can deliver. This is true everywhere, but is especially true in Kuwait.
Who loses? You, the customer loses. You have no choice and are forced to pay for substandard services.