Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Crap That I'll Miss: Responsive and Pro-active Utility Companies (and the ease of paying your bills)

Okay, I've not been blogging at all. There is a good reason. I'M MOVING!

However, I have been collecting these things in my head. However, I've got to write this one right now. Why?

Yesterday I needed to make a phone call back home to track down my landlord in San Francisco. I picked up my home phone, called the number and waited for an answer, NOTHING.

Okay, it's not a rush really, so I went on to something else. I tried another number later in the day, nothing. Now this is weird.

So I use my cell phone to call my home phone and it's not ringing and my fax machine isn't ringing either.

Hmmmmmmmmm...did I forget to pay my bill? Nope. But now it's after business hours.

I call Korea Telecom (KT) at 9:07am this morning. I told them that my phone was dead. She took my cell phone number, checked it from her end and called me back at 9:11am. They're also my ISP, so she asked me if my Internet service was up and running. I told her that was fine. She then said she'd send someone out between 10am and 11:30am today.

Usually, I can live with that but today I'm scheduled to be on the radio at 11:30am. I tell her this and she says she'll see what she can do. I get a phone call from a KT repairman at 9:24am. He says he's en route.

He shows up a few minutes later, checks everything, finds a cord that's been snapped, replaces it and my phone is ready to go at around 9:47am. I know this because that's around the time I start playing around on Facebook again and that's the time I started writing this.

So just to summarize: It was less than one hour from my first phone call to KT to a working home phone.

Layer this on top of a week ago when KT was calling me to install a new fiber cable modem. I think they're laying the ground work to upgrade speed across the country to 1 GBPS by 2012. I'll be returning to a country that's just figured out that it's a good idea to install broadband lines throughout the nation.

On top of that, I just pay my bills on the Internet with bank transfers to an account designated just for me (so that when I pay KT knows I've made a payment and credits my account immediately).


When I go home there is no way I'll see that high level of service. That makes me sad.

Bye bye efficient utility service:

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  1. Funny you should mention it, we just got our utility bill for January and December was unpaid and added to the January bill. WE'RE ON AUTOPAY!!!

    When do you leave the "land of the morning calm?"

  2. I don't do autopay on anything and I've got a Korean credit card in addition to utilities. I don't like the idea of money just vanishing without my approval.

    I leave in early March, but you wouldn't know that by the state of my apartment: clutter central.

  3. Hey props up to KT for being responsive and quickly identifying the problem and repairing it. I believe Time Warner cable/internet can learn from them and not just focus on price lock gurantees. Also I heard Verizon has a service known as Fios and it's suppose to be very good.

  4. With the economic downturn, I doubt that any utility company can compete with the high level of service here. Hell, even the cell phone companies back home DON'T compare quite yet.

    I'm sure there is some good service. I've signed up with T-Mobile and, thus far, they've not been bad. I'll see how good they are in comparison though when something goes wrong. That's when you need customer service to come through for you.

  5. Just out of curiosity, what speed was your Internet connection in Korea and what did it cost? Also, thanks for this post!

  6. You made me dig up my Korean bank book 'cause I just can't remember. I had ADSL and it was 30,000 won a month with no requirement to tie into other services or contract.

    I honestly can't remember the speed, but I remember the functionality. I could run multiple downloads/uploads or data streams and not have issues. Here if I run a YouTube video or iTunes radio stream, have it playing in the background and then click over to load a page, the buffering problem starts and the sound breaks up.

    My Time Warner wifi speed is at 54.0 Mbps...good Lord I'm in the dark ages, and I'm paying more for it. I'm pretty sure the Korean speeds was about double. Their upload speed is a bit slower though.

    It's painful dealing with an ancient and unresponsive system. I just hope nothing goes wrong with it because I doubt I'll ever get same day service from Time Warner...ever.

  7. Thanks Regina, I passed through Seoul on business in June 2008 and asked several people I met about their home Internet connections. As I recall (I should have kept better notes!), a 100 Mbps connection was ~$28 US at that time. It appears 30,000 won is currently $25.17, so your experience reinforces my recollection. Thank you.

    Here in Boston, I have Verizon FiOS service which claims to be 20 Mbps/5 Mbps and only(!) costs $59 per month. However, when I run http://www.speedtest.net/ I only achieve 20/5 Mbps off hours. In the evening it's more like 12/2 Mbps. I suspect you 54 Mbps connection is only the Wi-Fi link. The service behind that link is probably much less. http://www.speedtest.net/ would tell you.

  8. It sucks here, for sure.

    I miss my 100 Mbps connection. Thanks for making me home sick for Seoul :(

    I remember using SpeedTest.net. I just tried it and I'm sad: 7.25 Mbps download and 0.49 Mbps upload: SpeedTest Result for my NYC Connection.

    Just.shoot.me! Wait, I'm in the USA and people have guns here. Repatriating is a bitch, and I'm going to be recalibrating to USA-mode for awhile.

    I take that back. How about a strong drink instead?

  9. Thanks! I'm a bit ashamed as I used to bartend that I only have filtered water, diet soda, unsweetened soy milk and a bit of juice in my refrigerator. I'm going to have to settle for a cup of green tea :(

    Looks like I need to pick up some good beer.

    Anyway, glad I could help. More people here need to travel because looking at the SpeedTest rankings, of course South Korea is number one for download speed but the USA is 28th! That's just pathetic.


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.