In gringo lingo, this Claro practice is called “bait and switch”

they gave me this
They gave me this…

Claro pulls the bait and switch

by Eric Jackson

Hey! They’re big, bad Claro and they’re now bigger and badder due to a merger / acquisition deal. They don’t have to answer to customers, especially since they have divided up the wireless modem turf such that THIS customer has no option for Internet service, except to go someplace that has free WiFi for as long as they’ll tolerate a scruffy old hippie using it.

That’s how this story comes to you. Your editor paid Claro on a contract for unlimited monthly data service, and without even being asked got switched to a more expensive limited deal. As in paid for a month, and got three weeks.

…but I paid for that.

Do I make an issue of it? I do here, and then there WILL be complaints to Claro management itself and to government regulators.

Not that it’s likely to make much difference. In a business culture wherein it seems that everyone in management – of both private companies and the government and its dependencies – cheated their way through a fourth-rate US university business administration school with a C+ average, there are certain universally-taught norms:

* We gave you what you ordered, even if you have receipts that say otherwise….

* We have never had this problem before. The problem is that there’s something wrong with YOU….

* Who are YOU? We’re the multi-billlion-dollar multinational company, punk….

* If you publish that we’ll get your journalist license canceled and have you thrown in jail for criminal defamation….

* The guy who sold you that contract? He doesn’t work for us anymore….

Maybe they will surprise me, say that there was a mistake somewhere in the system and correct it. I’m not holding my breath.

Do I want to pretend to see through the sensors of an inhuman creature that has human cogs but neither eyes nor a soul of its own? Claro, or whatever they end up calling the entity when the merger is all done, deals with a society in which a lot of people will sell their vote for a bag of groceries, or take the groceries and pretend, but vote for someone else. Corporations doing business in Panama, domestic and foreign, have to deal not only with the products of horrible schools but with wise guys who play the juega vivo games of the private sector. Ripping off a customer and personally pocketing the proceeds rather than letting them accrue to the company’s account is not an unknown scheme here.

The cliché is that a fish rots from the head down, that the one on top is who sets the tone for a corporate culture from top to bottom. Except that he’s selling out to a new entity, I could put the human face of Carlos Slim on my annoyance. Then play on popular resentment against billionaires, xenophobia against Mexicans, racism against Arabs or so on.

But you see, The Panama News ain’t Fox. The editorial stance here is to play to readers’ intelligence, not insult it.

SUCH A DEAL! When the Internet service goes out, they switch you to this. But then, all this stuff about free navigation that doesn’t work when you chip runs out three weeks into a 30-day contract. Moreover, find another way to connect and you can’t readily connect to a customer service place where you can register your complaint and have it addressed.


And the deal is, limited rather than unlimited service, at a higher price.



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