Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Me and Indian Telecom Players

When 3G auction started in India, Uninor stayed away from it, They responded "India is not yet mature for 3G". I didn't understand what the meant by that then, but my experience with mobile operators prove that 'Indian telecom companies are matured for nothing yet'.

Here's my story.

Lemme start with my first mobile phone. It was a Nokia 4300 (which had radio)and I took Escotel (current Idea Mobile) post paid connection. Unfortunately on the 1st day itself, the phone was stolen . I was upset and immediately went to Nokia office in Cochin, called up Escotel customer service and reported the theft and even gave a complaint at local police station. A month later , Escotel sent me my bill! Stunned and I called them up (calling Escotel customer care from Bsnl landline was not free!) and asked why am I sent the bill since I have already reported phone theft/sim loss. The customer care executive replied I should have given a written complaint to inform theft and also I will get my security deposit refund only if I present myself at their Ernakulam office in person!... GRrrr....

>If they really had good customer care, they should have told me about giving written complaint when I called to report the theft.

Months passed.I am now having a GPRS enabled cell phone and had activated gprs service from Airtel. There is a shortcut key to start internet in my phone and by default it goes to some Airtel home page. Since the connection is too slow, I pressed center button once. (the screen was still loading). Few minutes later, I found my balance lower by Rs30. !!! Later I realized that, in the home page of Airtel, the focus is, by default, set to a button which says "Download abcd game Rs 30. only". So when I clicked center button that download got activated and 30rs was gone, with NO CONFIRMATION asked.

> Its great business acumen to put default focus in home page to a 30rs download, but this is not the way to treat customers. (remember, mobile internet was not that common yet!)

Next one was with a CDMA landline from Reliance. We got a bill (along with a warning/threat) from them around 1 year after disconnecting the service. Got escaped from it anyway.(we replied with a counter notice with the help of an advocate)..

Similar story happened with us with Airtel Broadband, Mangalore. After disconnecting their service, one day we took the modem/phone to the local airtel office and asked if we have any pending bills. The customer care officer checked and said, "There is no need to pay the last bill amount (around 799rs) as we are entitled to get Rs1000/- security deposit back from them. Also keep the modem/phone at home, their representative will collect it from there.".. We went back home and one day a courier came from Airtel. We were all excited about getting some cash since it was month end and our wallets were almost empty. We were stupefied when we opened the envelope! It said "despite repetitive request from our executives, you have refused to pay due amount to Airtel and also you refused to surrender the equipments". It also threatened to initiate legal action if not responded in 15 days. Got really frustrated with the language they used, and I complained to nodal office. (the issue got solved in a weeks time with 3 or 4 Airtel executives deluging me with apology phone calls)

Next is with Vodafone! I took one add on pack from Vodafone, which deducts 56rs per month for getting all STD calls @Rs1/min. One day I recharged for an offer by which all my std/local calls rates were slashed to 50paise/min for 1 year. Still, that 56rs was deducted every month! When called at customer care they said I should explicitly cancelled that plan!

> No words to describe these kinda stupid rules to squeeze customers.

And the latest ones...
Airtel is back!!
I activated GPRS connection with Airtel. Went to a local airtel office and asked what should be done to get unlimited GPRS for a month. They said recharge for 98rs and 1 month GPRS free. I did as they said but still money was being deducted for GPRS usage! Tried calling customer care, but I was not able to connect to customer care executive. It took around 4-5 minutes to navigate to GPRS section , but there was no human support there.. Just automated advertisements of their offers and craps. I spend more than 2 hours finally to get to speak to an executive. He said he is from GPRS tech support, but he didn't even knew basics of mobile phones!
He said my balance is getting reduced because I have recharged with 98rs flexi recharge, instead it should have been paper recharge, which used a different set of settins bla bla bla.... I asked whats the difference and informed that it was a local airtel office which recommended this recharge. Then he said" I am from GPRS tech support, you should get in touch with regular customer care to get information on recharges". I wasted my next hour dialing customer care no to speak to a executive but failed! Somehow I found a *55%#5* or some number like this and spent another 98rs to get GPRS free.

And the latest one happened a week back..
Airtel again.
I got a message from Airtel, "dial *55*## something... to get 10 minutes free std/local minutes!!"..

Excited about it, I keyed in the number and Immediately a message came "Rs 5 have been deducted from your account for this service. You 10 minutes free call should be used with 24 hours! "

Is this what they call "free" ??

All this happening from a company headed by one of Asia's most acclaimed entrepreneur.

Hundreds of another instances have occurred to me/friends/relatives.
Yes, India is faster growing mobile market in world, but unless Indian operators learn basics of customer care, I don't see much future for them..


1 comment:

  1. Cijoo...It's good that u bring out the real facts in public...we need to make the etrepreneurz accountable...for that we people have to respond...For the common man it's not the amount for which the 3G spectrum was bought doesn't matter..but it's about the service he getz...

    We Indians have to be much more conscious about our consumer rightz....we need to spread the awareness....