The Not-So-Early Smart Retention Handset Scam on Retention Hotline *887

I’ve been a long time subscriber of Smart Communications Inc.’s post-paid plan. A little over a month before I can claim my retention handset,  I received a text message from Smart starting that I can claim for early retention.  Since the Samsung Galaxy S5 was available on my plan,  I opted to take it. I was instructed by SMS to call *887 for their phone sales channel / retention hotline. I thought I was getting a good deal since I was getting the Smart retention handset earlier. I thought wrong.

When I called *887 for the first time, I was answered by a very welcoming voice of a female customer service representative. I was told that the process would take around 2 weeks. I still proceeded with the application, two weeks is still earlier than a month right? Besides, they assured me that they would SMS me when the handset and my new SIM was ready for delivery.

After 2 weeks there was still no update from them. I called their *887 hotline again. I was advised that my application was approved and that my order was already forwarded to their warehouse  for allocation of a handset and then scheduled for delivery. I was a bit annoyed. I told them to just cancel my application and I would just wait for my retention date, two weeks from that time. They asked if I could wait another week for my order to be delivered. I again agreed because I believed they can fulfill their promise.

A week passed and no Smart retention handset and new SIM. I called them again and followed up. They said that the handset was due for delivery, and again requested that I wait another week. They promised that they will give me a tracking number for the delivery and an SMS update when the handset is about to be delivered. Feeling frustrated and helpless I again agreed.

Exactly one month from my application, and three days before my retention date, the handset is delivered. Since I was not informed that they were about to deliver it, I was not at home. During my application, I elected my mom as second recipient. The delivery guy demanded an authorization letter even when my mom was presenting her valid IDs. When she couldn’t produce the letter,  the delivery guy just told her that he would return the next day and quickly left.

When I learned about what happened, I was fuming mad.

Why?

  • First, the mere fact that I elected my mother as second recipient means that I already gave her authority to receive the handset in my behalf.  The first representative I talked to didn’t mention the need for an authorization letter for the second recipient. She said that the authorization letter was needed only when both me and my mom was not avaliable to receive the item.
  • Second, they did not SMS me or call me when they were about to delivery the handset. I couldn’t stay at home the whole week just to wait for them to deliver the item. Also,  how hard was it for them to just verify with me by telephone?  They have my phone number on record anyway.
  • Third, when I called their customer service hotline again to complain about the misdelivery, the representative was insisting that it was my fault for not preparing the authorization letter. When I explained that I was advised that it want necessary,  she insisted that it was their policy. If that’s the case, their policy is flawed.

Adding insult to injury, when I asked them to activate the new SIM card, they told me that it would be activated within 24 hours. After 36 hours and 5 calls to their Retention hotline *887, the SIM card is still not active.

It seems there are two systems that are working here: the Smart Sales Channel / Retention Hotline *887 and the regular customer service *888. The sales channel works so slow and inefficient that if ever you get trapped in their system, Smart’s regular customer service cannot do anything. Even if you go to their Smart wireless centers, they would just tell you to call *887.

I hope my experience is an isolated one and that this is not the normal process of claiming your Smart retention handset through their Retention hotline *887.

My suggestion, if you want to get your Smart Retention handset, just wait for your retention date and go to a Smart Wireless Center of your preference. Stay away from Smart Sales Channel / Retention Channel *887.

Kyochon Philippines is Now Open

We were recently invited for lunch to try out the newest Korean export to the Philippines, Kyochon Philippines Korean Chicken! I am not really knowledgeable of what is the best Korean fried chicken, since my experience is only limited to Bonchon — to which I am not even a fan. I am happy to say that Kyochon changed my impression of Korean fried chicken. I’m actually liking it.

Their flagship store in the Philippines is located at the ground floor of Megamall B, Mandaluyong City. You won’t miss it: it’s along Krispy Kreme near the escalator. The new Korean Philippines restaurant is pleasant and the staff are very accommodating. kyochon002 During the lunch, my wife and I was joined by fellow bloggers Josephine Bonsol, Ferdz Decena, Jonel Uy, and Annalyn Jusay Zoglmann. We also had the pleasure of being  on the same table with  Carol RH Malasig of Rappler.

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L-R: Carol RH Malasig, Lydia Lee, Josephine Bonsol, and my lovely wife, Leila Patalinghog

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L-R: Jonel Uy, Annalyn Jusay Annalyn Jusay Zoglmann, Lydia Lee, and Ferdz Decena

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L-R: Ferdz Decena, Kyochon Marketing Manager Chanky Tiangco, Jonel Uy

What makes Kyochon unique is its 3 promises to its customers.

The Kyochon Promise

The Kyochon Promise

Quoting their big sign in the store:

“KyoChon MAKE (MAKES?) THREE PROMISES: first, we won’t make fast food

second we only use natural ingredients

third, we only make healthy chicken with honesty”

I was psyched to see and taste if their food fulfilled their promises. We were served three types of their fried chicken:

  • Original series with what else? Their original recipe.
  • Red Series which means red hot.
  • Honey Series, basically the sweet stuff.
  • Soonsal Series, the breaded chicken strips that has, to me, rice pops.

Here’s my honest and none sponsored review of each chicken series.

Original series

Kyochon Original Series

Kyochon Original Series

This series is composed of chicken parts in garlic and soy sauce, light and salty. This is my favorite from the set. Why? It’s like plain chicken fried just right! Crispy and tasty, without the artificial flavoring. Beats Max’s any day, all day.

Red Series

Kyochon Red Series

Kyochon Red Series

The Red series is the spicy set. In my opinion, this red series is not for the faint of heart but if you want really spicy fried chicken, this is the way to go. It’s like they cooked the chicken first then just squeezed “siling labuyo” as a glazing. It was so hot, I thought it was a chili pepper that looked like chicken. Seriously, if you want very chili wings, this is it. Get ready to sweat.

Honey Series

Kyochon Honey Series

Kyochon Honey Series

Ah, yes, the honey series. This babies are sweet, crispy, and just right for sweet teeth who want comfort food in the fried chicken kind. This is another favorite of the sets.

SoonSal Series

Kyochon SoonSal Series

Kyochon SoonSal Series

These chicken strips are rice-battered, savory and crispy. I’m not a big fan of extra-long chicken nuggets. Fortunately the soonsal chicken pieces are not the McNuggets kind, and are very tasty chicken crispies. But, I’m a little on the fence on the round white, rice-crispies like stuff on the outside.

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Kimchi Rice with Egg

Aside from the chicken offerings, you should also try the different rice offerings ESPECIALLY the garlic butter rice. My tablemates loved it so much they ordered two cups. And of course, there is also the kimchi rice that comes with egg topping.

Did Kyochon make good on their promises? I believe so.  Their food doesn’t taste like fastfood, is not greasy, and doesn’t give the bloated feeling after.

If you want to experience good Korean fried chicken, go and check out Kyochon Restaurant at Megamall, it’s gonna be great.

Kris Aquino, the Haciendera, as depicted by Lucky Me!

I seldom watch local television, and when I do it’s usually just for the news. Yesterday, as I was watching TV Patrol I saw the latest commercial of Lucky Me Lomi featuring Kris Aquino and her son, Bimbi.

Amazingly, Lucky Me embraced the not-so-famous fact about Kris Aquino: she is a haciendera. In the commercial, Kris goes back home to their provincial family residence and you can clearly see the number of servants they have. There’s even one that looked like a farmer welcoming her back.

The finale of the short commercial is Bimbi inviting a servant’s daughter, who was hiding and peaking to see what Kris and her son was eating. Bimbi asks her if she wants to eat and she nods yes. They enjoy the meal together.

Here’s the video, for your viewing pleasure.

I am really amazed how the marketing people of Lucky Me! assumed that the fact that Kris Aquino’s family owns  highly contested vast tracks of land in the province where a handful of farmers were killed is already acceptable and that farmers in this big track of infamous land are excited for the return of one of their hacienderas.

Usually, marketers would review their endorsers background and avoid the negative points. But, Lucky Me! marketing team, I guess, felt it more attention-getting, and effective by highlighting touching the highly controversial topic of Kris Aquino’s family history. As they say in old-school marketing, publicity, good or bad, is still publicity…or something to that effect.

The details of the commercial was also very suggestive: you have a lot of servants, an overexcited farmer, and a homely, and plainly dressed kid.

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Screenshot 2014-05-07 23.41.00

I think the marketing team also believed that giving a meal to the girl is already a big sign of Kris’ generosity and negates all the issues about that part of history. I guess that’s how Lucky Me! Lomi makes you feel: everything is alright.

Putting the farmer there was memory trigger that set up the recall of the hacienda references.

Perhaps there would be less controversy with this commercial if Lucky Me! didn’t highlight the fact Kris Aquino is that rich, was raised like a princess, had a lot of helpers growing up, and their family is still withholding farmland that farmers should have.

 

 

Forgive But Don’t Forget

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I often take some time off from my busy schedule to just sit down and do some idle thinking. One particular afternoon, my mind wandered off to the topic of forgiveness.

Here’s how the ideas played in my mind:

If you forgive it means you understand and accept the act and you are willing to move on beyond that act. But, to forget means to be vulnerable to the same act all over again. My suggestion: Forgive and Learn.

Learn to know who you can trust. Learn to know who you should not trust. Learn to avoid the same mistakes.

As one of Albert Einstein’s quotes goes,

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

To apply that quote to an example: You are insane if you keep letting a person or group of persons hurt you again and again because you forgive and forget them every single time they hurt you.

The prevalence and wide acceptance of forgive and forget mentality has damage and corrupted our culture to a terrifying extent. We have convicted criminals in government, elected again and again.

We have political dynasties whose criminal track records go as far as the American occupation but are still in power.

If we take a look at current events, the show of arrogance by the Mayor of Makati and his family is an example. As everyone on the Internet knows by now, the Binays blatantly and shamelessly forced their way into a closed entrance gate of a private and exclusive subdivision in Makati. Their reason for doing so: according to them it’s their privilege because they are in power.

Now, this type of arrogance is being discussed online and a lot of people are expressing disgust. But the sad truth is, after a while, the masses, the urban poor majority, and the uninformed and uneducated people will forget this incident. A lot of these people will just forgive the act because the Binays will give them dole outs — or false hopes. Binays are notorious for doing that. I can predict that when the 2016 elections come, the dark forces (pun intended) of the Binays will win. Why? Because a lot of people have forgiven and forgotten. (If you want to sign a petition condemning the arrogance of the Binays, please go here).

Now, this is my plea to every Internet user in the Philippines: Forgive but don’t forget. Help others not forget, too. Keep the discussion alive on the issues that have been exposed. Keep asking questions on official government social media channels. Keep resharing the (horror) stories of these criminals in the government or anywhere.

We, the people who are privileged enough to access the Internet, have the responsibility to know, inquire, verify and share information that will expose the criminals and wrong doers.

To save our future, we must all forgive but don’t forget.

Squatters and their victims

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Like in most sensational crimes, too much focus is given on the criminals. The victims, the ones that got hurt, that got offended, and sometimes killed, are usually left out. In some more depressing turn of events, the victims are even painted as the bad people.

With the increasing attention on the issue of informal settlers, most people and organizations forget and/or neglect the victims of the squatters,  the hardworking people that owned the land that these illegal settlers settled in and claimed as their own.

My family is a victim of these squatters. We have a tiny piece of land in Rizal that my parents worked hard for. When it was time for us to develop it, we found out it was overrun by squatters. We decided to let it go because we will be up against 200 or so families plus the government officials who let them stay there. Also because the Lina Law, or Republic Act No. 7279, Section 28 states that:

(8) Adequate relocation, whether temporary or permanent: Provided, however, That in cases of eviction and demolition pursuant to a court order involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, relocation shall be undertaken by the local government unit concerned and the National Housing Authority with the assistance of other government agencies within forty-five (45) days from service of notice of final judgment by the court, after which period the said order shall be executed: Provided, further, That should relocation not be possible within the said period, financial assistance in the amount equivalent to the prevailing minimum daily wage multiplied by sixty (60) days shall be extended to the affected families by the local government unit concerned.

That basically means the government has to provide them with a new home or pay the squatters before evicting them off the property.

What about the landowner, who compensates them? Who gives them a replacement lot? What about the dreams of my parents to have a lot that they can pass on to their children, or even build a retirement home on? Don’t we also have rights as citizens? Aren’t we the ones who paid the real estate tax year after year? Doesn’t that sound a bit unfair: we pay for the land yet someone else uses and abuses it?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why some people squat on land they don’t own, but it doesn’t mean I agree with it.

If you take possession and claim someone else’s property as your own, that is stealing, plain and simple. Stealing is illegal. Hence, squatting is illegal. Let us not fool ourselves with terminologies.

At the end of the day, squatters get a free house or some money, while the owner of the land gets the burden and the headache.
Who’s the victim now?

Social Media Parenting Event Photos

Here are some of the photos taken during the successful first run of Start Learning PH’s Social Media Parenting Seminar featuring Yeng and Michelle Remulla, and yours truly. It was a very informative event and the parents were awesome!

I’m looking forward to the next run. See you all there!

Social Media Parenting

Social Media Parenting

My work in social media focuses more on how big and small to medium companies can leverage social media to strengthen their brands and increase profits.

But behind the scene, I actively research sociological impacts of social media on children and family.

On October 19, 2013, I will be joining parents extraordinaire Yeng and Michelle Remulla on the first Social Media Parenting Seminar organized by Start Learning PH. During the seminar, I will share the results of my research on benefits and dangers of social media, as well as give tips, advice and best practices on how to maximize social media to strengthen your relationships with your children.

There are limited seats in the venue so please register now to reserve your slot in the event. To those who want to learn social media parenting, see you at the Social Media Parenting Seminar.

Thank you.

My Lazada Christmas Wishlist for Gadgets

With the calendar flipping over to September, we are now entering the unofficial start of the Philippine Christmas season.

As diligent natives, most of us are already making mental and actual lists of things to buy for ourselves and for others.

Since I’m a big fan of online shopping ( I was even called an online shopping expert by a morning television show) and also a gadget aficionado, I’d like to share to you my recommended Lazada Christmas Wishlist /checklist for this Christmas season. Why Lazada? Well, for one, all these gadgets are available from the online shopping mall, www.Lazada.com.ph. Two, I am very satisfied with their services.

My recommendations are based on any or all of the following things:

  • First hand experience
  • Specs
  • Online reviews
  • Gut-feel

So, listed below, in no particular order, are my recommended gadget purchases for this Christmas.

Tablets

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

The power and form-factor of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is perfect for portability, reading, and sketching. Imagine all the awesome features of the original Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 compressed into an 8-inch frame, that’s what the Note 8.0 is.  God-willing, I’ll probably buy this for myself this Christmas: it’s that nice.

Haipad Zync

This tablet is simple, cheap, and good for Internet browsing, e-book reading, social networking, and music playing. And suprisingly, based on a video review posted here, it’s a very capable tablet. Just be wary of its battery life: 2800Mhz won’t last that long before you start reaching for the charger.

Samsung ATIV PC Pro

What else can you ask for?

  • It’s a tablet that runs Windows 8.
  • It converts into a notebook computer.
  • It’s powered by an Intel Core i5 processor.
  • It has a stylus pen…
  • … and has S Note.

Mobile phones

Sony Xperia Z

It’s big, powerful, it’s made by Sony and it’s dust-, and water-proof. ‘Nuff said. (Also, it’s made by Sony, their brand is their guarantee.)

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is already an awesome phone. What can make it better? Why, water-proofing and dust-proofing, of course! That’s where the S4 Active comes in: it’s the S4 with added protection to fit your active lifestyle, hence it’s called Active.

Laptop

Asus VivoBook S400CA

I’ve been using the 11.6″ version of this laptop for the last three months and I highly recommend it to first time Windows 8 users. The touchscreen gives you the full Windows 8 experience, but you have to take note of the glare. It’s relatively thin and light (compared to most laptops) and the Core i5 processor is very handy for processor-intensive applications like Photoshop and AutoCAD.

External harddrive

Seagate BackupPlus 1.0Tb Portable Harddrive

Almost every aspect of your like these days is digital. The best way to keep those digital assets (photos, videos, music, files) is have a backup or several backups. Having a 1Tb portable harddrive is a practical way to save those assets. Just make sure to back up the back up. Sh!t happens, better be ready.

Cameras

Canon A2500

This small point and shoot camera from Canon is one bang-for-buck device. Don’t let its cheap price fool you, it produces good images when outdoors and acceptable image quality indoors. And for its price, it’s all worth it.

Canon Powershot G15

The G-series of Canon’s Powershot family of products has always been considered prosumer (above consumer-level, but not professional level). The G15 is no exception. It still feels and performs as solid as its predecessors. If you want a durable everyday camera that doesn’t weigh as much as a DSLR, get this one.

Samsung Galaxy Camera

We personally bought this camera just to try out if all the hype by Samsung has any basis. After using it for 5 months, we can safely say that his camera is fun to use and very handy when you want a quick (high-quality) photo to share on your social networks. Image quality is at far with most point-and-shoots, and the zoom range is very handy. Even if you’re not that good with photography technicalities, the presets on this camera will give you great results, it’s like having Adobe Photoshop inside your camera. By the way, this camera is an Android device so can basically install all the photo apps you want. Just sayin’.

So there you have it, my Lazada Christmas Wishlist for gadgets you may consider getting this Christmas. You can buy them for yourself, or you can buy them for others.

In any case, if you want to know more about the devices I recommended, use Google. 🙂