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The Nuisance That Is Digicel Jamaica

August 9, 2010


I’ve been a Digicel customer since the tender age of 10, when my parents bought me my first cell phone for Christmas. I’ve had a vast number of new phones since then, but the network remained the same, even if I changed my number.
These past seven years, I’ve experienced a myriad of problems with the network; including dropped calls, failed SMS messages and credit mysteriously disappearing from my account. Since becoming a BlackBerry user a mere eight months ago, I’ve had to experience a whole new set of problems, even more aggravating and irksome than the old ones.
As you may know, a BlackBerry is useless without BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), because most, if not all, of the features on the phone require BIS. (Sidenote: why do people purchase BlackBerries, then refuse to activate a plan? Why didn’t you just stick with your Nokia 3310?)
Thus, upon receiving my BlackBerry, I dialled *136# to set up my plan and I’ve been using BIS (provided by Digicel) ever since.
My issue with the service is that it’s so expensive, yet so unreliable. View rates below:

7 days – J$499
14 days – J$899
30 days – J$1599

Please note that these prices are NOT inclusive of a 25% General Consumption Tax.

So yes, BlackBerry service is a bit expensive, but it’s a luxury experienced by thousands of Jamaicans. Quite often, the service malfunctions. Sometimes, it seems to happen just to my phone, sometimes to everyone in a wide geographical area. Getting through to Digicel’s BlackBerry helpline is almost impossible during this time and if you do get through, you’ll hear something like “I’m not seeing a problem, have you tried doing a battery pull?”.
When the service goes down, my phone is a brick. I cannot send or receive messages using BlackBerry messenger. I can’t send or receive emails. I can’t browse. I can’t tweet. I can’t do anything but make calls, send texts and play BrickBreaker.
Mind you, customers are not compensated for this inconvenience. Sometimes it’s down for up to three hours, yet we are never reimbursed. If your service is to expire on January 1 at midnight, at 11:59 on December 31, you will receive a text message informing you that your plan has expired, complete with instructions on how to renew it. That’s all very well, Digicel, but what about my three hours? If I pay for 168 hours of something, yet only receive 165 hours, am I not being robbed?
Another irritating habit of theirs is deducting credit from your account for using data services. If I have a prepaid plan for unlimited data services, why am I being charged again? Once again, I am being robbed.
After they have completely drained your credit, they resort to sending out bulk messages from +451.
“Insufficient funds or Unauthorized Service for data session”.

I know I’m not the only one experiencing these problems because I see and hear others complaining about the very same things.
Woe is me, I’m seriously thinking that it’s time to “move up”!


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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Khaleel permalink
    August 9, 2010 11:12 pm

    The service charge isn’t that bad compared to other networks abroad, and Claro and Lime are about $100 (not including 25% GCT) for the full BIS package.

    In terms of outages and being reimbursed, that’s basically how it is for monthly packages of all types. Lime or Flow don’t give you an extra day when your internet service has been down for the day. You aren’t paying per hour, but per month, and most companies have justified that if they’re able to return the service to you with 24 hours then they can skip the reimbursing. To go in and adjust an entire system, give a handful of people three extra hours and probably disrupt the service of thousands of others is not feasible no matter how you look at it.

    Last thing, the +451 messages are for WAP services. If it is that you’ve been using your Digicel WAP browser instead of your default Blackberry Browser or if you using a third party browser that ends up on the WAP version of a website, then you will be charged for WAP services.

    WAP is not apart of BIS and so would not be covered by a BIS Data plan (unless explicitly stated)

    Just my two cents

  2. August 9, 2010 11:19 pm

    I’ve been offered that explanation before. However, I don’t use the WAP browser or any other browser but the native browser. Also, I don’t use any WAP services at all.
    I can agree that the rates are relatively reasonable, but I still say that the service costs consumers too much to be so unreliable.
    I was without BIS for two days once, tried getting compensation from Digicel, but eventually gave up because it was futile.

  3. Ryan Mattis permalink
    August 9, 2010 11:23 pm

    You cannot bash the phone company for one tiny blunder with absolutely no knowledge of what is going on.

    What you need to realise is when there is an issue with BIS, 9 times out of 10, it has nothing to do with the phone company providing the service to its customers. Remember that other time when BIS went down because of the introduction of the new blackberry messenger 5.0? Digicel was FLOODED with complaints all because of an individuals inability to be aware of what happens OUTSIDE out the this country.

    Digicel is the middle man, the connection to RIM, they don’t own BIS, its not their fault why BIS didn’t work at a particular time. Why else do you think you are PAYING for the service? Thats another thing.

    Do you know the price of BIS in the US? Lets break it down:

    A regular phone plan (dependent on which phone company you choose) will cost you approximately US$30-50. This is NOT inclusive of data services or text messaging (again dependent on the phone company for some offer text messaging in your package). Since we are talking about Blackberry’s –which is useless without data services — a regular BIS plan will cost you US$20-25 in addition to your US$30-50.

    Do the math, $20-25 is roughly JMD$1700-2200 which is LITERALLY the same price that you would pay out here, so complaining about the cost of it is no excuse…at all.

    Oh, if you plan to “Move up!”, you should ask an existing Blackberry customer how well that works on Edge devices. Just a thought.

  4. August 10, 2010 7:42 am

    Evidently you completely missed my point. You’re comparing data rates to other places in the world and to alternative Jamaican networks. I never said that Digicel was more expensive than anybody, I merely said that the NATURE of the service is too costly for them to be fucking up so often.
    Why is it, then, that I’ve never heard friends and family members in the US, Canada or UK complaining about this issue. Even Claro users in Jamaica are better off than Digicel users. Not saying Claro is perfect, because I’m well aware that they fuck up every so often as well.
    Thus, I can safely conclude that it is DIGICEL that is at fault. Surely, I can agree that RIM is to blame occasionally, but it must be the fault of the “middleman” if other BlackBerry users in Jamaica and worldwide are inconvenienced far less often than I am.
    As I said before, I’ve NEVER heard any of my friends in America, Canada or England lamenting about lack of EDGE or 3G.

  5. Sophie permalink
    August 10, 2010 10:32 am

    I live in Britain and I’ve had 3 blackberries. I had a 8900 on Vodafone and I had a plan wiv 500 txts, 250 mins and unlimited data for £55 a month. I got a bold 9000 on the O2 network and had a similar plan. Recently I upgraded to a Bold9700 on the Virgin Mobile netwrk and I get unlimited everything for 70 quid a month. Never have a ever had to deal with dropped calls or no internet plan on my phone! Except once sometime last year and it was a worldwide prob wiv RIM. I’d be well pissed if my netwrk went down so often

  6. SexyChev permalink
    August 10, 2010 10:52 pm

    lol dis is cute N funny i luv it ….sexy chev gives u 4 stars btw gimme a shoutout in ur blog

  7. August 16, 2010 11:51 am

    Perhaps you should move up. 22431EB7

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