EDITORIAL | In a pandemic, service providers must step up

It should go without saying that in a pandemic, utilities such as Internet service, phone, electricity, and water, among others, are extremely crucial.

In a period when many are dependent on these utilities for livelihood or schooling, even short periods of downtime translate to massive losses.

Yet many who are involved in these utilities seem to still think of these essential services as luxuries, add-ons to make living comfortable, and not the necessities they are during this global health emergency.

Sadly, this outdated and grossly incorrect understanding informs the way they deal with customers who demand for improved service, or at least transparency in terms of the status of inevitable repairs and maintenance activities.

This is most apparent in the way they answer the customers’ inquiries and clarifications, in ways which are insincere, condescending, and sometimes downright insulting.

Of course, they often opt to ignore any such calls and messages to their hotlines and social media accounts – a whole other form of rudeness altogether.

And if that weren’t unprofessional enough, many of them also appear to lack the basic ability to post advisories or updates regarding downtimes, rendering subscribers incapable of making the needed adjustments.

These service providers seem to be unable to fathom that in a pandemic, utility companies must go above and beyond merely supplying the basic services to providing a sense of support, trust, and stability to consumers.

Open communication lines, a responsive, respectful support system, and frequent and honest updates serve to provide the much-needed relief to an already-distressed public. So are rebates, grace periods, and similar relief actions.

These show that such service providers genuinely care about the consumers at all times, not only when the bills are due.

If and when service providers discover that their systems are ill-equipped to handle the demands of the contingency, they better step up.

Otherwise, they should have the humility to seek help.