With and estimated 1.3 billion dollars invested in Trinidad and Tobago, along with probably hundreds of thousands of skilled man-hours in planning and implementation, you would have expected Digicel to be blowing away the competition. This is not even close to happening if I am to judge by how empty their scores of stores (that rhymes) are and how so few people I know actually have a Digicel phone – I know of only one so far. I have a feeling Digicel expected to be successful simply because they thought people were unhappy with bmobile and liked free red tee shirts. For their investment sake, I hope this was not the case. “More customer service” is a good catch phrase but without customers it remains only a phrase.
My five experiences with Digicel were all bad since they seem to only be selling these scarce phones to friends. The Trini culture of “contact” to get anything might be the way these stores prefer to conduct business. I am sure the novelty of The Red has now worn off and I think Digicel has missed, not only the boat, but also the entire ocean. I, like many frustrated and fed up people, will not be begging Digicel to pay for a service anytime in the near future because customers don’t beg to pay when there is a competitor available, even if that competitor is bmobile. We are not that desperate. Any cell-phone company hoping to compete, and which cannot anticipate or cater for the public needs, must be headed for failure. A superior network is all well and good, but you need customers to use it, otherwise it would be like the proverbial tree falling in the woods with no one to hear it fall. Sadly, I have to say, being red now looks like being dead.
update (11-05-2006): If this were not true it would be very funny. I was told today that Digicel (or one of its franchise holders – same thing really) in Grand Bazaar now has phones but they cannot sell any. This amazing hi-tech company cannot do any activations because they have no paper and customer-hopefuls should return in a few hours. Yes, that’s correct, no paper is what I understand they are telling potential customers. When probed further the sales attendants are saying they have no paper to photocopy something or the other. I imagine Denis O’Brien would be pleased. So much for more customer service. All this from a company without a customer base and is proposing to be the leaders in the cellular market. That’s a joke. I would throw a big party if I were the folks at bmobile. Apparently the stupidity continues, only better than before.
update (15-05-2006): Today, on page 25 of the Guardian, Digicel has a 3/4 page advertisement saying their rate, until the 15th June, is now 3 cents a minute after the first three minutes. On page 26 of the Guardian, bmobile has a full-page ad saying their rate is now 25 cents a minute after the first three minutes. There is no cut-off date for the bmobile rate. These rates apply to Red to Red and Green to Green – you know what I mean.
I assume the war between the Red and the Green will continue until they both have achieved some level of stability. I am still without a Digicel phone and as tempting as the 3 cents offer is, I won’t do this at the expense of my customer-pride.