Did FLOW ‘upgrade’ its service?
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April 28, 2023
Did FLOW ‘upgrade’ its service?

EDITOR: I recently received communication from FLOW addressed to its customers, touting the company’s “upgrades” and accomplishments, and indicating that accordingly, effective 1st May there will be an increase in fees of between 1.7% and 4.5%.

My understanding of the word “upgrade”, and indeed my searches for definitions of the word have all revealed elements of improvement, enhancement, making something such as service or equipment, better. That has certainly not been my experience with FLOW, and the recently implemented system which mandates that all phones must be routed through a modem which is electrically powered certainly cannot be deemed an “upgrade”. It is in fact clearly a potential recipe for disaster since the result is that whenever electricity goes, telephone communication also goes. I will attempt to demonstrate what I mean by a “potential for disaster” in the following real-life anecdote.

Recently when my electricity went off in the middle of the afternoon, I called VINLEC’s emergency number to make a report. In under three minutes I was able to get a (human) response and be told that another customer had already made a report, that there was a vehicular accident in the area, resulting in a pole being impacted, resulting in the disruption in electricity supply.

As referred to above, there being no electricity, the telephone service also went. Electricity was restored in approximately 30 minutes.

After over an hour had passed, with the end of the regular work day approaching and there was still no telephone service, I dared to call FLOW to report the situation using my pre-paid cell phone. That call took me on a virtual merry-go-round, costing just under $12.00, resulting in my being given the assurance that a technician would visit my home within 48 hours to address my issue. There was apparently no need for the technician to visit my home, however it took over 24 hours for telephone service to be restored. As a consequence, at arguably the most vulnerable time, that is during the night, I was without my main means of communication. To their credit, FLOW did subsequently call to seek confirmation that the service had been restored.

Now I may be wrong, but assuming the two events are linked, that is, the vehicular accident causing the breakdown in electricity supply, and my loss of telephone communication for over 24 hours, I cannot understand the use of the word “upgrade”.

Perhaps I am not sufficiently technologically able, but I cannot comprehend how this service can be deemed to have been “upgraded”. It begs the question therefore, does FLOW have any consideration for the person, perhaps elderly, who might be alone and in need of emergency assistance? What about the person who does not have a cellphone? Or does FLOW assume every person has access to a cellphone?

I will not at this time seek explanation for that forever circling “connecting” sign one gets when trying to get internet service, or the “re-connecting” message which appears midway in a conversation, but I would ask whether those are also signs of the “upgrade” FLOW is referring to and plan to charge its customers for.

A Consumer