Dialog Wimax advertisements vs. reality

The following is the text of an email sent to Dialog today on what I see as a misleading marketing campaign made worse by customer service staff who themselves know not exactly what is going on.

This is an issue I first flagged on Lirneasia’s blog.

Dear Sir / Madam,

I wish to lodge an official complaint against misleading Dialog Broadband advertisements as they have appeared recently in the print media. The advertisements claim that Nugegoda, which falls under the Colombo Metro area, is “covered”. An example of such an advertisement can be found in The Sunday Times of 11th November 2007 on page 9.

However, I live in Nugegoda and two technical teams from Dialog who have visited me over the past fortnight have not even managed to get a signal from your transponder in Nugegoda. In fact, the customer service representative I was in touch with (Zubair) himself did not know that coverage was limited and was as surprised as I was to find out this when told by the technical team that visited my residence in the first instance.

To register my disappointment at the discrepancy between what is promised in the media and what is actually available from Dialog Broadband today, I spoke with customer service representative Pradeep Balachandran on 0117 400 400 at 8.30am today (11th Nov. 2007) who informed me that:

a) Coverage in Nugegoda was limited to a 3km radius. When asked what the exact footprint was, he said he did not know where the Wimax transmission tower was located.
b) When I asked to lodge a complaint regarding an advertisement that was misleading the public, he said that I could not. Dialog, he said, defined coverage / “covered” as the 3km radius in Nugegoda (when pressed again, he said he did not know exactly what area this was and how reliable services were).
c) He had no idea when coverage would be extended

Coverage that covers only a 3km radius, of which the exact footprint is unknown even to Dialog Broadband customer service representatives, runs contrary to the impression given in the advertisements that make no mention of limited coverage of any other limiting technical factors that impede signals in the areas mentioned and promise immediate connectivity.

In fact, this is a clear misrepresentation of service availability and by extension an example of a marketing campaign that is at best grossly misleading.

Given an admiration of Dialog in general and as a long standing customer of and advocate for your mobile voice and data services, I find this extremely disappointing and contrary to the Dialog’s avowed values of professionalism and customer care.

Best regards,

Sanjana

18 comments on “Dialog Wimax advertisements vs. reality

  1. Hakim
    November 11, 2007 at 1:49 pm #

    This a part of an article I wrote sometime back:

    Even though the WiMAX specification boasts of 70Mbps over a 50 kilometer radius, scientist say it is more likely that it would 10Mbps to 20Mbps over a short distance of around 6 – 10 kilometers using external antennas and line of sight. One reason being that like all wireless communication methods, WiMAX too is greatly affected by terrain. While rock faces and water bodies act as good reflectors, greenery and large buildings hinder the progress of WiMAX signals. Another reason is the high density of usage withing the coverage area also restricts the speed and bandwidth of WiMAX. One more contributory factor comes form within the WiMAX specification, which is that WiMAX is not fully duplex and it’s largest channel is 20MHz.

    Tests in UK show

    1.2km indoors (no direct line of sight) 2 down / 2 up Mbps
    1.2km with external antenna 10 down / 9 up Mbps
    6km with external antenna 6 down / 4 up Mbps
    Driving with an indoor antenna at various distances 5 down / 5 up Mbps

    Any way I agree with you Dialog really sucks most of the time, specially their service and customer care (it’s common for may Customer Care services – the employ school leavers for cheap and they don’t know scat about what they are talking about)

  2. Deane
    November 11, 2007 at 10:40 pm #

    Quite the same with SLT though, even they have a 4 km radius issue for ‘covered’ cities, i guess it would improve over time. need a bit more competition, i think. Dialog can take things for granted.

    The packages doesn’t seem to be overly attractive to make the average ADSL user switch IMO.

  3. Sanjana Hattotuwa
    November 12, 2007 at 12:19 pm #

    I got a call today from the GM of Dialog’s Marketing Division who acknowledged that Dialog’s customer service in relation to this issue in particular had much scope for improvement.

    In a call that was extremely cordial and informative, he told me that there were 3 towers servicing the Nugegoda area – one from the city centre itself, one from a location on Nawala Road and one from Kirulapone. Bizarrely however, living adjacent to Gan Sabha Junction, around 1km from the Nugegoda Junction puts one out of reach of existing WiMax infrastructure. I was assured however that plans are afoot to extend coverage towards Maharagama, though a date was not mentioned.

    The GM agreed with me that the impression created in the media could be misleading.

    I suggested that since I have a Nugegoda address, if the Dialog ads are to be believed, I should have no problems regarding connectivity, which clearly was not the case. He concurred, though there was no mention of what would be done to redress a campaign that essentially foments false expectations (creating headaches for Dialog) and is not entirely truthful (creating headaches for customers who want to sign up / switch, but can’t).

    Sanjana

  4. Raditha
    November 12, 2007 at 2:38 pm #

    You are quite lucky that they didn’t connect you!

    I got a connection for one of the companies that I work with. They took more than a month to answer some of my questions and it took a further six weeks to provide the connection!

    Even then they failed to provide the static IP which was part of the package we signed up for. Please see http://www.raditha.com/blog/archives/001296.html for the full story.

  5. jean
    November 12, 2007 at 5:25 pm #

    Hi guys,

    Fist time i saw on the paper that dialog has introduced WIMAX broad band in srilanka. Then i went to their branch and came to know that its covers Batticaloa town from their tower only 2KM. my home is 2.5KM from the tower.

    I paid the payment and got the connection after a week the technical team came and fixed the WIMAX they put an antenna top of my roof

    in Batticaloa this is the fist time broad band i was waiting over years.

    And according to the speed its MIND BELOWING man its cool its downloading 850Kbit/sec its damn speed

    I love it a lot any way SLT guys still putting the posts to fix their ADSL but my point of view is dialog is cool and faster

    I hope Dialog will open their main broad band tower in Batticaloa as soon as possible. Because it’s already built but didn’t give connection yet.

    Enjoy WIMAX

  6. Sanjana Hattotuwa
    November 14, 2007 at 2:54 pm #

    Dear Jean,

    Clearly you are one of a fortunate few able to access Wimax. Hope I will also join the ranks and soon.

    However the issue that Dialog customer service that is the pits remains – case in point, call made to helpline to ascertain process to switch on my SMS roaming en route to airport (I had lost the little booklet they give out with instruction). A fellow who could barely speak English picks up, botches up my request, puts me on hold, first tells me that my SMS roaming is already active (which I know) then asks me whether I need help in sending SMS’s, then reverts to giving me SMS charges in the US, after which he comes back to me, after keeping me on hold for around 2 minutes, with a roaming hotline which he asks me to call up. Recognising that he was an idiot helped – since I was able to slow my speech to around 5 words a minute to communicate what I needed, after which enlightenment dawned and I got the information I wanted in the first place. In my mind, he should be fired and immediately.

    There was also the hideous incident when I went shopping for a Blackberry with the head of an organisation I work with in Colombo. The said person was of the level that he gets a cake sent by the company each year on his birthday – so clearly no excuse for shoddy customer service.

    The Future Centre down Duplication Road showed us a Blackberry but said they couldn’t turn it on, since they weren’t authorised to do so. The salesperson in the room inside where we were ushered into didn’t even know how to differentiate the models and basically said one was an older model and one was a newer model. We were trundled off to another Dialog building in front of the British Council where we were shown the device and then we had to walk to another building down Duplication Road to actually buy the device, but not before spending around an hour waiting around, both at the cashier and at the VIP waiting room on some floor above, with numerous forms to fill and signatures to get. It could not have been made more tedious.

    Dialog’s core vision and innovation seem to outstrip its ability to retain and service its existing customer base – with the result that a company supposedly one of Sri Lanka’s most valued has one of the worst customer service records that I have encountered, regrettably on par with or worse than many government departments.

    Sanjana

  7. shanX
    November 27, 2007 at 1:52 pm #

    Intresting conversation😉

    Am from Kandy, but a bit away from the city. I have been asking for ADSL for the last 2 years or so from SLT. They failed.

    Now am looking forward to get Wimax. On the first day I heard they were testing Wimax on various places, I called them. But they told to wait till they make the service public. After that I contacted them again, after I saw ads. Now they say, they only support Kandy city limits and I would have to wait till they upgrade the network around where I live. Ok. Am waiting…😀

    But is there anyway to make a special request (,afterall we are paying 30k :P), to speed up the process? Coz am tired of waiting for Broadband😉

  8. Raditha
    December 9, 2007 at 7:22 am #

    I must say the folks at dialog broadband have pulled their socks up and addressed all the issues I had with them (pleas e see my earlier comment). I am now a happy customer.

  9. Aritha
    April 9, 2008 at 11:10 pm #

    Clearly, this is what happens with any monopoly. Once you’ve got monopoly status in a market, you don’t care about the customers because now the customers are too dependent on you.

    That is why most public and private monopolies should be broken down and unbundled. This applies to electricity, petroleum, gas and mobile and land phones. Services should be unbundled so that more competition enters the market. Furthermore, newer mobile services should be licensed to share existing spectrum so that more competitive pricing and customer service is provided. We must think more on lines of what is good for the customer and not what is good for the company.

  10. With the advent of IPTV fiber plays are enjoying resurgence. It does not appear that WiMAX or broadband wireless will be ready to deliver IPTV in the immediate future. However, fixed WiMAX may offer the best potential for delivery of this potential content juggernaut. More recently some promising new compression technologies have been announced. These technologies, while still in development, could potentially allow the delivery of true IP-based TV signals, even to cellular type handhelds. One company asserts that it could deliver high definition TV (HDTV) in as little as 2.5 Mbps of bandwidth, with standard resolution signal requiring 1.5 Mbps. These speeds are within the potential reach of WiMAX.

  11. Mohammed Rizmy
    July 7, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    iam rizmy from peradeniya,
    i bought a wimax connection on December 30th of last year,and after finishing the payments they said that the installation team will come after a week,and they did so, and when they come to install it they found that there is no coverage in aour area(peradeniya, elugoda), so they said to ge my money back. i was helpless and got my money back after a month. then i asked them when will you cover our area, so they said that they would cover within 3 months,
    so last week i went to kandy arcade and asked about the wimax coverage. and again they said that i would take another month to cover our are.
    iam waiting hopefully to have my wimax.thanks

  12. mmrizmy
    September 20, 2008 at 9:24 pm #

    finally now i got a broadband connection, not a dialog wimax, but a slt broadband connection, the service is great,
    when i did the payments they said that they will install the new telephone connection with in 2 days, and within 2 days they fixed the telephone line, and they gave the connection with in 5 days s they told, and they activated the ADSL with in ten days as they said, now now aim a happy Slt broadband customer.

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