Digicel Trinidad and Tobago – A Review

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.

15 thoughts on “Digicel Trinidad and Tobago – A Review

  1. I never expected digicel to be any grand show stopping experience to put bmobile in the shade.

    I knew they expected or predicted the ‘hype’ of having a new company to draw in a certain amount of customers, however i fear that is the only thing that drew the stragglers to them.

    Their marketing is poor and made more ineffective where bmobile matches each of their deals.

    The only good thing that is relative to the situation is that competition has forced general rates lower.

    The quandry exists where we must pay extra to call between companies. Are we all doomed to be be walking around with 2 cell devices, thereby increasing the amount of radiation we are exposed to daily and hence our chances of cancer ???

    Ahhh …. the difficult choices of life.

  2. Personally, I think digicel has accomplished the most important thing: It has created inroads and driven prices down. Granted, they did not do nearly as well as anticipated, but they aren’t doing as badly as publicity would have us believe either.

    There have been several occassions when digicel ran clean out of stock. In other words, they did in fact outsell their anticipated volume. Also in my experience, a great many people have two phones now…a bmobile and a digicel.

    Here’s the other catcher. I honestly think bmobile engaged in a scam to make it appear as though they had more customers than they really did. A quick glance at the sheer numbers outside their branches on a daily basis makes one wonder: Just how many phones can one person have?

    My suspicions were confirmed in my mind the day I saw a good sized bmobile BUS parked up outside a bmobile outlet.

    So now the question is, how will things progress in the future? Well, I’m not sure if text messaging between the networks is working yet. Last I checked, there was an issue on the bmobile side that was still awaiting resolution.

    bmobile and digicel rates aren’t as greatly different as it may seem – bmobile does not account for VAT in their advertised rates while digicel does. bmobile is also still unable to offer full GPRS or roaming on prepaid accounts. And finally, the digicel network is much clearer not because of fewer customers, but because of the lower frequency band they operate on.

    All that said, I have to hand it to bmobile for a far superior marketing scheme. They know the Trini market much better than digicel and it shows. Yet, I think that within the next 2-3 years, we will all be surprised to find just how many people are actually on the digicel network. Remember that right now, bmobile has the advantage of being the incumbent company that was also a monopoly.

  3. This Digicel review has been noticed by
    Global Voices
    and I hope it brings in more discussion.

    I think fire had the most realistic expectation of Digicel, judging from what I am seeing. She is also right in that simply by entering the market customers benefited from better prices. However, competition can only be good for customers if both companies, not only survive but, make profits. I don’t think any of us should wish for either company to go belly-up if we want to reap the benefits of lower prices and better service.

    Sirius, my critical review of Digicel was an honest opinion based on what I experienced and what other people I met in Digicel stores expressed openly. It is no secret that countless potential customers experienced only frustration and apparent incompetence by the Digicel bandwagon. The reason I was even in Digicel store says much about bmobile. My expectations of Digicel were high and therefore to meet another bmobile in red instead of green was a bitterly disappointing experience, time five. The fact I was willing to go through this ordeal five times before giving up should also say much about bmobile.

    Surely, with Digicel’s extensive experience in the Caribbean and more than enough time to analyze the Trinidad and Tobago market, you would have expected their estimation of the market needs to be one hundred times better. I would say an untrained school boy could have done a better analysis of how many phones to stock and what type. Digicel is still content in having no more than one or two models of the maybe fifteen models displayed, in stock. That’s pathetic. How come Digicel got this so wrong? Some say arrogance, some say incompetence, some say if bmobile can exist on hype so to can Digicel. That is what I am fed up of and that is what I am saying in my review. Remember, you only have one chance to make a good first impression but I gave them five chances, all of which they blew. If they want my business they have to come good and that’s what I am saying and that’s what they are not doing.

  4. Hi,

    I’m the person who linked you on Global Voices.

    Just out of interest (and assuming you record stats for your blog): did you notice increased traffic as a result of the link?

  5. Hello Gloria,

    Thanks for listing the Digicel Review on GlobalVoices.

    There was an increase in visits to this blog since it was listed. I estimates there was about a 20% increase.

  6. Personally, I am a Digicel customer. In times past I would be singing their praises, but I now have a more realistic opinion of the service they provide. Nowadays I prefer them only slightly to bMobile… If they do any stupidness, ah gone!

  7. Hmm…I think Sirius has a point. As a T-Mobile customer myself…I probably don’t have much to say about the cell phone providers in Trinidad…but I’m glad that someone came along to create some competition. That’s the thing about markets though…soon there will be other more successful attempts. Hopefully.

  8. Welcome mad bull, the average Jamacian from the Cayman Islands 🙂

    Welcome back hs 🙂

    I am always bothered when the competition is simply between six of one, half a dozen of the other.

  9. I have switched to Digicel and have no regrets
    Their service in my opinion is far superior to B mobile
    However I am disappointed with their marketing
    strategy and their advertisement etc
    it leaves much to be desired

  10. I had my Digicel phone for more than two weeks and I have nothing to complain about. I do get better reception in areas where bmobile is poor, and that might have something to do with the lower frequency Digicel use as compared to bmobile. Lower frequencies propagate better. One important point is that I didn’t experience any dropped calls from Digicel but still one or two with bmobile.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t compared the cost of service yet because everyday both companies are mixing it up with specials. I don’t think the dust has settled on the cellular market because Laqtel is due to make their appearance soon. How this will affect these two giants? Only time and clever marketing will tell. Right now, I don’t have a clear preference but Digicel isn’t all that bad.

    p.s. yes, yes, I am walking and driving around with two phones and it doesn’t feel too good 🙂

  11. Digicel bringing old phone that nobody want clean it up and sell us it for big money them is reel ,,,

  12. I have been using Digicel for some time it has been very faithful. I will use Digicel any day over another. DIGIGEL MOST OF THE TIME THE BEST.

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