Friday, September 10, 2010
Technology and D'Pinoy
Someone once told me that if there is one country that happens to be most advanced at technological advances for gadgets, it is the Philippines. And he added that the Filipinos are tech-savvy. Whatever that meant.
I begged to disagree.
Let me be sarcastic about it. We pretend to be tech savvy. We pretend that we are "knowledgeable" and that the incorrigible Pinoy will always find a way to get hold of the latest gadgets and gizmos in order to show the world that he is at par with the major advances in technology.
The operative word is PRETEND.
Let me cite an example. A few weeks ago, I purchased tickets for the upcoming "David Foster and Friends" show at the Araneta Theater on October 23. Obviously, I wanted to get good seats. I went online for Ticketnet and voila - they inform me that they will email me if there are available seats. Duh? Okay. I remind myself that this is the Republic of the Philippines. The Banana Republic. The country that pretends to be high tech!
I remember that when I got tickets for the Broadway show "Wicked" during my New York vacation, I could select the seats in the theater, buy the tickets online with my credit card, an email is then sent back in less than 2 minutes and I can print out the ticket from my home. This was how I got tickets for the Empire State Building entrance as well. Buy online, pay online and print my ticket from my home.
Anyway, the following day, I receive an email from Ticketnet informing me that they have PRESELECTED SEATS for me and that the seat numbers were __ and __. So much for selecting seats. I guess because this is the Philippines, even seats to the show required some form of graft and corruption on the part of Ticketnet. Why am I not surprised? So off I went to one of the Ticketnet outlets. Where else? Shoemart Department Store. When I got to the counter the girl was accommodating, She told me to please wait awhile. They needed to reboot the computer.
They close it when it's not in use and no one is buying tickets.
You could actually hear the poor computer with its green monitor (something I had in the early 1980s) whirring to a start. The salesgirl taps the sides of the monitor and the lights brighten up (a little).
She then asks me to what show am I purchasing tickets for?
I give her a printout of the email Ticketnet sent me (which indicated the seat and row).
She looked at it and then typed in my last name. Another first name popped on the screen. Then she started pressing one of the function keys and the first names of each person with my last name crawled slowly on the screen...I was tapping my fingers on the top of the desk. 15 minutes had gone by and she was still scrolling the function key, hoping to see my name pop up. Then she stops and says she cannot find it. Stops her work. Squats on the ground so she can pick up the phone to call Ticketnet. What the hell was the phone doing in the lowest part of the shelf?!?!?!
Another 5 minutes had gone by and she asks for instructions. When it's over she goes back to the screen and types my last name and the FIRST LETTER of my first name and then my name appears. She tells me how much the tickets are. I give her my credit card and she tells me it should be cash.
Cash?!?!?!? Who pays with cash nowadays? I ask her nicely, don't you accept credit cards?
She says they do. But the Ticketnet people put a code that the payment was in cash.
I tell myself, how presumptuous of Ticketnet! They wanted the money at once. (Sigurista!)
I told the girl that I would have to go to the ATM to withdraw. She said she could fix it by calling Ticketnet to change the code. Clap clap clap for the SM girl. Slap slap slap for the people at Ticketnet.
The girl then squats again on the floor and calls Ticketnet to change the code. Another 5 minutes had gone by.
After she talks to the Ticketnet person, she stands up again and then TURNS OFF THE COMPUTER! OMG!
My face was aghast.
She smiled at me and said that she needed to reboot again. That was the instruction from Ticketnet. How can you get angry with her? Tell me.
After another 5 minutes and the same process - slaps the monitor a little, types in my last name then the first letter of my first name, she tells me that it's alright now. I can pay with my credit card.
I give her my credit card and another girl replaces Miss Congeniality. I asked - what happened to the other girl?
Apparently, someone else takes charge of payment. Miss Substitute now squats again on the floor and swipes my card. What the hell was the credit card terminal doing on the floor? My eyes rolled up. I was afraid to ask. Maybe Henry Sy has a fungshei about telephones and terminals being on the floor. I can hear Henry Sy chanting "moolah on the floor make me richer"!
After the swipe and the receipt coming out, it was time to print the tickets. It looked like the little gadget that was spewing my tickets was sputtering the letters slowly and another 5 minutes and I was done.
Note that there was NO QUEUE and NO OTHER CUSTOMER AT THE SERVICES AREA of SM Southmall. I was wondering how long it would take had there been at least 5 customers at 3pm! I was done after 35 minutes.
Two tickets. Thrity five minutes. Jeez....Banana republic....we should hang our head in shame.
We don't even need to go to the extent of purchasing tickets for a concert to see how tech retarded the Filipinos are.
Take the SLEX and NLEX. We are the only country in Asia (and perhaps in the world, considering the places that I've been to), that has both the entrance and exit of the expressways with a barrier that slowly goes up when you go through an E-pass lane. Jiminy Cricket...what the hell is that barrier for? And why do all the cars have to come to an almost complete stop so that the Epass can be read? You should try the Skyway during the rush hours. You have a longer queue on the Epass lane than on the cash lane. What the? Welcome to the Philippines...the land of pretentious techies.
I remain skeptical about the prowess of the technological highway in this country. It is, at the very best, pathetic. I know we try, but trying is not good enough if we cannot deliver premium service for the kind of money we pay for.
This country boasts of the highest number of text users in the world. Every Filipino has at least ONE mobile phone. There is a computer in almost every 10 homes in the urban areas and 1 in every 100 homes in the rural areas (as long as the rural area has electricity). You see the youth hangout in the malls and Starbucks with a frappe in one hand and a netbook or iPAD or web browsing-capable phone on the other hand.
Let me be clear. I have nothing against those into gadgets and using technological advancements. Good for them.
What I cannot understand is how we cannot translate this wizardry into better service for the people of the Philippines. The answer to this, is because those that render service are simply cost cutting and would like to be earning more than what they need to spend for premium service. In short, it is all pretentious.