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A Heads-up on Planet Telecom


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This is going to sound like sour grapes, and I guess it is to some extent.  But, it's also a warning to those of you still using Planet Telecom.

We had PT internet for almost four years.  We used their 3 MB service and paid $200/month for it.  You can do your own math for how much PT received from us over those years.  And, we were good customers.  We authorized PT to bill our credit card in advance of receiving the service each month.  

Cable Onda bought MobilNet and started offering 9 MB service in our area for $133/month.  I guess you could say that the decision to switch to Cable Onda was a no-brainer.

I notified PT on April 15th that I was canceling their service.  I had already paid for service through April 30th, but the contract required 30 days notice for cancellation so I figured I would have to cough up another $100 for 1-15 May.  Wrong.  PT's position was that I could only cancel on the 1st day of an unpaid month, so I would owe them $200 for the entire month of May.  Since their antenna and modem were removed on April 15th and returned to their office in David on April 18th, I was actually paying $300 for a period in which I was using none of their bandwidth.  

On April 18th I notified PT that the authorization to direct charge my credit card was terminated effective immediately and that any final payment associated to cancellation would be by cash, check, or bank transfer.  On May 4th they charged another $200 to my credit card.  I have started the dispute action with my credit card company.

Over the years, I have said a lot of good things about PTs customer service.  Stupid, stupid me.  But, I've vented now, and I feel better.

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1 hour ago, JudyS said:

And another word.  Don't ever authorize automatic payments from your credit card.  It can be very difficult to stop them.

Yes you are correct.  Before withdrawing the authorization for automatic payment, I asked my bank if they could do a stop payment for anything coming from PT.  The answer was that my only alternative was to cancel the card and wait for it to be re-issued in a new account.  I am very selective about who I give auto-pay authorizations to, but PT seemed to be cut from a more ethical cloth than most.  Nothing like a good lesson learned.

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As I read your explanation, I do not think it is sour grapes.    Realizing of course, that there are two sides to every story, I will make several comments.

1.   The 30 day notice is both a money grab on an outgoing client as well as a minor protection to the service itself.   Internet Service Providers buy their bandwidth from an upstream provider.   In other words they get the route to the Internet from someone else and need to pay for it.   The 30 day notice gives them a chance to adjust the amount of bandwidth they are buying otherwise they get stuck paying for more than they have sold.   It is a balancing act and they likely buy bandwidth by the month as well.   Bandwidth is something that cost the same whether it is used or not used.   When a client says they didn't use it, it is not like the provider can then sell it to someone else.  The provider still has the same expense and still pays for it even when you do not use it.   On the other hand, they are getting a month and half of payment and notice, not just 30 days.   That is not fair nor the spirit of the contract.

2.   It is perfectly reasonable to think that you are a long time customer that purchased a large amount of bandwidth thereby giving them a very nice profit.   The day you give notice, you are no longer a great customer and many companies treat you as if you are less than a loyal client.   That is just the sad state of doing business with many companies.   They fail to realize the bad press they get by doing so and that appreciation they had ends the moment you give notice.   Your either a great customer or a SOB that went to the competition.

3.  I have publicly written about Planet Telecom, both in glowing terms of their service as well as the disappointment of their very high cost ... their service is the most expensive in this area.  Both are wireless services, not cable.   Cable Onda Wireless Internet is currently around $11 per meg ($45/4 megs) and Planet Telecom is around $83 per meg ($125/1.5 megs).   It varies a little depending on how much bandwidth you purchase but the difference is shocking given you are comparing like services.

I had hoped by this time we would have seen a price drop from Planet Telecom.  I do not understand how they plan to stay competitive when they are charging more than 7 times as much for the exact same service.   Word is quickly spreading about the Cable Onda wireless service and how it is so much more reasonably priced.

In one part of my business in the US, I sold dedicated bandwidth to clients.  The longer the client had service, the more of a discount they got.    In other words, they got rewarded for not switching.   It stopped people jumping back and forth as competitors dropped their price and made my clients loyal.

 

Edited by Twin Wolf Technology Group
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7 minutes ago, Twin Wolf Technology Group said:

As I read your explanation, I do not think it is sour grapes.    Realizing of course, that there are two sides to every story, I will make several comments.

1.   The 30 day notice is both a money grab on an outgoing client as well as a minor protection to the service itself.   Internet Service Providers buy their bandwidth from an upstream provider.   In other words they get the route to the Internet from someone else and need to pay for it.   The 30 day notice gives them a chance to adjust the amount of bandwidth they are buying otherwise they get stuck paying for more than they have sold.   It is a balancing act and they likely buy bandwidth by the month as well.   Bandwidth is something that cost the same whether it is used or not used.   When a client says they didn't use it, it is not like the provider can then sell it to someone else.  The provider still has the same expense and still pays for it even when you do not use it.   On the other hand, they are getting a month and half of payment and notice, not just 30 days.   That is not fair nor the spirit of the contract.

2.   It is perfectly reasonable to think that you are a long time customer that purchased a large amount of bandwidth thereby giving them a very nice profit.   The day you give notice, you are no longer a great customer and many companies treat you as if you are less than a loyal client.   That is just the sad state of doing business with many companies.   They fail to realize the bad press they get by doing so and that appreciation they had ends the moment you give notice.   Your either a great customer or a SOB that went to the competition.

3.  I have publicly written about Planet Telecom, both in glowing terms of their service as well as the disappointment of their very high cost ... their service is the most expensive in this area.  Both are wireless services, not cable.   Cable Onda Wireless Internet is currently around $11 per meg ($45/4 megs) and Planet Telecom is around $83 per meg ($125/1.5 megs).   It varies a little depending on how much bandwidth you purchase but the difference is shocking given you are comparing like services.

I had hoped by this time we would have seen a price drop from Planet Telecom.  I do not understand how they plan to stay competitive when they are charging more than 7 times as much for the exact same service.   Word is quickly spreading about the Cable Onda wireless service and how it is so much more reasonably priced.

In one part of my business in the US, I sold dedicated bandwidth to clients.  The longer the client had service, the more of a discount they got.    In other words, they got rewarded for not switching.   It stopped people jumping back and forth as competitors dropped their price and made my clients loyal.

 

Dan, I don't know you, but I have always found your commentary to be balanced.  This is no exception.  Your point concerning the time it takes to adjust purchased bandwidth is very valid.  I have no desire to see PT take a burden on my service cancellation.  That said, 30 days notice is the contract requirement, and that is what I am willing to pay for.  

I do hope that PT can find a way to compete with CO on bandwidth and price, and that they will rediscover their original formula for succeeding with superior service.  That would be awesome!

 

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Time for me to jump in here....

First off, Planet Telecom owes an apology to Mr. Wooderson for putting a charge on his credit card without authority, that has now been reversed and happened as a result of changes in our staff and the manner in which we charge credit cards when the card holder is not present in our office.

Our company policy is clear and we do not charge any credit card without the cardholders permission.

With regard to the charge:

Our contracts are explicit in that we require a minimum 30 day cancellation notice. This is the same as cellphone providers and many other internet providers both here and in most countries around the world.

We insist that a cancellation request must be made in writing or via email. This is to minimize the chance of any misunderstanding.

The equipment used to receive internet belongs to us. If we need to come and get it at the end of your service term, we charge $25. Clients who don't want to pay that fee are free to return the equipment to our office. This policy is not any different from other providers. If a client does not confirm the request to remove equipment or does not return it after 2 months we invoice for the equipment and then report the debt to the Credit Bureau of Panama.

These points are all covered in the contract our clients to are required to sign. It is not buried in fine print but is contained in the first item in the contract. The contract is available for all to see at: http://www.ptpanama.com/public/PTPInternetContractFinalEnglishWEBVer20120724.pdf

With regard to our plans and prices:

We are painfully aware of the market space in which we work, our newest competitor is also one of our suppliers and sells bandwidth to their clients at prices 75% less than they sell it to us wholesale, what do we think they are trying to do? 

The contracts we have with our suppliers are all long term, 1 to 2 years, we are not able to reduce our bandwidth commitment while under the term so the idea that we manipulate what we buy depending on what customers leave is simply not true, we are frustrated with many of the same types of things all foreigners find frustrating about living and doing business in Panama.

Our clients are very familiar with our products, the strength of our network, the manner in which we handle support and in general, the way we do our business. 

We have had some success in renegotiating contracts with our suppliers and are impatiently waiting for them to increase our capacity, we are in the process of offering more for less; however, given the diverse locations in which we provide service, it is being staged in a way that will allow us to continue to give our customers the speed, reliability and service we are well known for.

We anticipate being able to provide our new plans to all of our residential clients before the end of May.

We will reach out to each client with our offer as soon and as we are comfortable in being able to provide the additional bandwidth without negatively affecting other clients on a particular segment.

Thanks

Dave Veilleux

Planet Telecom Panama

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12 hours ago, CanPanDave said:

Time for me to jump in here....

First off, Planet Telecom owes an apology to Mr. Wooderson for putting a charge on his credit card without authority, that has now been reversed and happened as a result of changes in our staff and the manner in which we charge credit cards when the card holder is not present in our office.

Our company policy is clear and we do not charge any credit card without the cardholders permission.

With regard to the charge:

Our contracts are explicit in that we require a minimum 30 day cancellation notice. This is the same as cellphone providers and many other internet providers both here and in most countries around the world.

We insist that a cancellation request must be made in writing or via email. This is to minimize the chance of any misunderstanding.

The equipment used to receive internet belongs to us. If we need to come and get it at the end of your service term, we charge $25. Clients who don't want to pay that fee are free to return the equipment to our office. This policy is not any different from other providers. If a client does not confirm the request to remove equipment or does not return it after 2 months we invoice for the equipment and then report the debt to the Credit Bureau of Panama.

These points are all covered in the contract our clients to are required to sign. It is not buried in fine print but is contained in the first item in the contract. The contract is available for all to see at: http://www.ptpanama.com/public/PTPInternetContractFinalEnglishWEBVer20120724.pdf

With regard to our plans and prices:

We are painfully aware of the market space in which we work, our newest competitor is also one of our suppliers and sells bandwidth to their clients at prices 75% less than they sell it to us wholesale, what do we think they are trying to do? 

The contracts we have with our suppliers are all long term, 1 to 2 years, we are not able to reduce our bandwidth commitment while under the term so the idea that we manipulate what we buy depending on what customers leave is simply not true, we are frustrated with many of the same types of things all foreigners find frustrating about living and doing business in Panama.

Our clients are very familiar with our products, the strength of our network, the manner in which we handle support and in general, the way we do our business. 

We have had some success in renegotiating contracts with our suppliers and are impatiently waiting for them to increase our capacity, we are in the process of offering more for less; however, given the diverse locations in which we provide service, it is being staged in a way that will allow us to continue to give our customers the speed, reliability and service we are well known for.

We anticipate being able to provide our new plans to all of our residential clients before the end of May.

We will reach out to each client with our offer as soon and as we are comfortable in being able to provide the additional bandwidth without negatively affecting other clients on a particular segment.

Thanks

Dave Veilleux

Planet Telecom Panama

Thanks Dave.  As soon as I see the reversal, I'll get square with PT on the balance due for cancellation.   PT subscribers need to have a full understanding of how PT interprets the following part of the contract:  

"Subsequent terms of this Agreement automatically renew on a monthly basis without further action by you unless you give Planet Telecom written notice of non-renewal at least thirty [30] days before the end of the monthly term in which the notice is given. You are purchasing the Service for full monthly terms, meaning that if you attempt to terminate Service prior to the end of a monthly term, you will be responsible for the full month's charges to the end of the then-current term, including, without limitation, unbilled charges plus prorated or discounted install fee if it has not been paid completely at the beginning of the contract, all of which immediately become due and payable. "

Under PTs interpretation, there are only 1 or 2 days of each month that anyone could cancel without incurring charges for an additional month.  And, subscribers couldn't cancel at all in February without incurring charges for an additional month since there aren't 30 days in that month.  I like to think that I am a practical person with some common sense, and my interpretation is that 30 days advance notice is required for cancellation.

I'm pretty well done with talking about my issue with PT in public.  I do advise PT subscribers to be aware of your interpretation of the cancellation provisions in the contract.

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