Friday, August 29, 2008

Pissed and Happy at Airtel

I am pissed and happy and again pissed at the same time as I tap this (with agitated fingers) on my laptop at around 10.42 p.m. tonight.

First things, as they say, first: Pissed about the following:

The country’s leading mobile carrier AIRTEL has been charging me Rs 14.50 TWICE daily for a GPRS connection on my cellphone, irrespective of whether I download or upload anything or not. This is in spite of the fact that they should only charge me once, i.e., Rs 14.50 a day. That’s okay, being the patient man that I am (“P” being my middle name), because these days I am uploading several pictures for blogging through my mobile, you know, just shoot and upload, and then paste on my blog.

But today – would you believe it? – they charged me Rs 14.50 four times! Twice while I was travelling on the train and just now before I began a tirade against the abovementioned carrier. My intention is to show how callous and negligent they are to give service once they have received your money, I mean, your hard earned, sweat off the brow money.

I dialled 121 which is the AIRTEL customer service at 9 p.m. and straight away got in somewhere in their customer service spiel in Marathi, while I always choose English, which is my adopted lingua franca. After their ads and promos battered my poor suffering eardrums I got the chance to dial “9” and speak to their customer service executive (CSE, in short).

One tired, timid sounding CSE voice answered. I asked her name, which was Ms. T. Chakravarty. I let loose a tirade that, obviously, scared her and she reacted by disconnecting me. Yes! She disconnected me!

Instead of issuing fumes from my ears, I patiently sat with my notebook, writing down everything I did with the intention of writing this blog, and dialled a second time. The bell rang around 12 times and then disconnected.

I have nerves of steel in these regards, I confess, don’t go by looks alone, okay? Just today I had negotiated with a newspaper to carry an ad despite their telling me that the deadline was long over. So I am not push over material, you see. “Apro pasey “vat” che, kem,” as my friend Dhansukhbhai would day, “I have influence, what?” Bless him. [Dhansukhbhai (meaning wealth enjoying brother) is the latest character to invade this blog, who happens to be a stock investor and avid Bollywood movie watcher.]

I digress.

Then I dial again, and as wealth-enjoying-brother Dhansukhbhai would say, “Phone mali gayo.” Remember this is after the assault that my poor eardrums suffer of their offers of the day and such like. Again after ringing 10 times the line gets cut. I think it is deliberate and somebody in the call centre is playing with my patience.

Again I dial, for the fourth time, and wait through their promos shouted out by a feminine voice in a high-pitched hustling sort of voice. I don’t care blah for that kind of stuff! A certain feminine CSE by the name of A. Kasthuria answers and in broken English answers my queries, said very graphically and patiently, as she can’t understand anything spoken a bit fast. I am in an excited state and she can’t understand what I am blabbering.

I am happy because:

Then I ask for her supervisor. She tells me all the supervisors are busy, which is a lie, because supervisors are the least busy people on the call centre floor. Then she apologises and says they will look into the matter and refund me the excess charges that have been made, and I accept, because it sounds reasonable. I know it is a minor concession they are making, but what's a small concession (bribe) to an irate customers when the public do not even know they are being taken for royal ride on the mammoth elephant of indifferent customer service. My complaint number is: 0829567108, if any one is interested. My wealth-enjoying-brother Dhansukhbhai approves of all this and says, “saru che.”

I am pissed again because:

How many of you would sit through four calls, with a notebook on your knee, listening to endless promos about “offer of the day” and such like, and patiently talk some sense into such rude CSEs who disconnect your calls? Huh?

Did I hear you say “who has the time?” Yes, who has? Even I don’t have. Which means the mobile phone carriers are cheating customers of crores of rupees and we, the suffering customers, do not even realise how we are being hoodwinked. It also means that in today’s marketing parlance “customer service” or “customer support” is virtually non-existent and you have to fight it out (remember four successive calls, tens of promotional whine-ings?) to get service for the money you pay them. This world seems a hostile place for customers, they aren’t interested in this tribe anymore, the very tribe that pays the money for the obscene profits they make. Are you listening AIRTEL?

If it wasn’t for the vain hope that somebody somewhere was really reading these words, I wouldn’t have had a mobile phone even. I do a lot of accessing the net to write blogs and to upload pictures, that’s why I need GPRS. I know it’s expensive, but I can’t help.

And I feel cheated and am looking for a better carrier than AIRTEL, anyone interested in a loyal and regularly paying customer?

1 comment:

Pragya said...

Ironically, John, you have 'Ads by Google' on your site and Airtel Mobile, Airtel Chennai, Airtel Bangalore and Airtel Customer Care are the four ads that appear they are even using your ire to spread their warm and fuzzy message. Funny how Google picks up on even one word mentioned in any post to bring up ads! :)