Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mobile woes!

Remembered an ad of Idea where AB Jr. in the guise of the village headman says that henceforth everyone will be called by his / her mobile number. The ad had a powerful underlying message preaching abolishing casteism with subtle humour. I enjoy watching those ads every time.

But this post is not about casteism, it is about the number highlighted in the picture, my alias almost. I have been using this number for the last 6 years, and at a time when people change their boyfriends / girlfriends with the same speed they change their sims I have remained faithful to my number. I still remember my first phone I bought in Coimbatore, a Nokia 5110 (remember the model?), ok some of you may have been in primary school then so I permit you the memory lapse. Many phones have come and gone from Nokia to Motorola to Sagem to Sony Ericcson but 9840080405 has been an extension of me. I don’t know what is so special about the number, but I do remember vaguely that when the girl who sold me the connection offered a list of so called “fancy” numbers this was not popular as it totaled to 8. Just to be rebellious and to show that I’m not superstitious I took it though I generally do not like odd numbers. There was a time when my job dictated that I switch to Cheeka’s brand (the pug in the earlier Hutch ad was a female pup called so), but even then I had two numbers 9884480405 and 9840080405. I was looked upon as someone big to have two phones back then but now I know how commonplace and painful it can be.

So why this post today? Actually I have been frustrated to the point of changing my number by the customer service of my mobile phone company. You may have spotted that I use Airtel and Airtel has been ranked as the most innovative telecom company by Business Today in their latest issue for outsourcing all their non core activities. I think its time that somebody called up Mr. Sunil Mittal and told him that customer care is CORE to his business. The bottom line is that the customer care simply SUCKS! If you have his number do send it to me, I have a good mind to call him myself

I have endured so many false commitments and non resolutions of complaints despite being under the protection of TRAI guidelines. The modus operandi of the customer care is very simple:
1) Get one very badly trained officer to handle your call
2) After hearing your complaint promise a resolution in 48 hours (as mandated by TRAI)
3) If you become demanding, subtly disconnect the call
4) Send you a message asking you if you are satisfied with the interaction and giving you a reference number (as mandated by TRAI). They forget to give you recourse if you are not satisfied.
5) After 72 hours if you invariably find that your problem is not resolved then you call them again and the iteration resumes at step 1.
6) If you ask to speak to a superior you will be probably directed to mail to 121@airtelindia.....
7) If you do mail to the id, you will get a vague mail extolling why they think customer care is very important and give you another Here we Go round the Mulberry bush.

The final straw that broke the camel’s back (actually I have a severe back ache from yesterday, thankfully not from Airtel) is when I find that my Dad’s caller tune was arbitrarily changed by Airtel. When I called customer care Here we go round … started all over again.

I thought that I might as well blow up another 15 bucks and after diligently searching their painful and extremely slow website I managed to get the direct dialing code for the classic Tamil song. I dial that to find that I get their painful IVRS which bills you 3 Rs/min and will test your patience by at least 20 minutes before you find your song. Obviously they make more money when you go through the caller tune IVRS then when you try other means. Simply put it they make Chennai auto drivers look like angels.

This post is nothing more that a simple release of all the frustration that has been building up in me since January08. I remember vaguely the day when someone called me and said that owing to my long standing relationship and my bill payment history I am being given the status of a platinum customer, meaning I get to bypass the painful IVRS on dialing 121 and will be able to talk to the officer directly. It was a really wonderful New Year gift but it lasted only till my next call when I got the IVRS. For two months I had to fight with them and finally after threatening to go to the consumer forum I got this privilege, frivolous though it may be. Last week when I called 121 I got the IVRS and when I asked the officer I was told that I am in the Gold category based on my bill payment. Several calls and heated arguments later one officer conceded that I was a Platinum client till February but since then I have been downgraded based on my “billing history”. In a space of 30 days and despite paying my bills I get downgraded!!

I am still in a running argument with Airtel and I have decided that I will not rest till I get some redressal. I have mailed the nodal officer who apparently will only work on week days and has switched off her phone today. I am writing this public that you may know and maybe will support me. I am approaching the print media and maybe one of the many news starved TV channels if they will care to hear me out.

Wish me luck!


Still Searching said...

Oh my God! So frustrating.. I remember when I first got my Idea connection in Delhi (before that I was only using prepaid cards), I had a very hard time getting what the salesman promised me and the service I actually got!! I remember calling him and shouting because of what he did, and several heated arguments later I finally got what I had been promised..

Best of luck to you, it's a good idea to go to print media etc to get your voice heard...

Bubbles of FireWhiskey said...

ok... i can seriously help you here... airtel had been giving me major hassles as well so i got the emails of the operations and network heads (in maharashtra) emails and sent them a very strongly worded mail about my problems and about the incompetence of their customer care... the problem was that two towers over here had been shut down and they didnt even know about it! the problem got solved in the stipulated 48 hours... so do you want the email addresses? let me know the circle that you are in... my email's on my blog profile...

Mr. Poplatho said...

Yes yes correct... Very frustrating. I've just surrendered my connection and im writing postcards to all my friends. And by the way if you are insistent enough you can talk to the floor manager... =)

Mr. Poplatho said...

Psssst... Nice way to give your number out. Let me know if anyone calls you and i will do the same in my post... LOL

Be careful what you put up on the web... its gonna remain here for as long think you shouldnt be giving out such information on the web. Atleast do a xxx for the last 3 digits.

Gayatri said...

whoopsie! :|

Airtel messed with the wrong man! =D

I'm with you sir! FULL SUPPORT! =)