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Old 16th April 2009, 14:36   #1
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Default Issues with Customer Care : Mobile Phone Companies

Hi all.

I have had a couple of poor experiences with airtel customer care, and am really fed up with them.
Would like to recount them here in order to vent some of my anger.

First:

I wanted to get airtel live activated on my phone. Called up customer care, and got to know that an SMS to 121 with 'LIVE' as the message would do the trick.

Fine, I say. So I send that message. Get a reply back saying "Your mobile phone is not supported. Please call 121" for support.

All righty, these windows mobile phones are not that popular in India, so they probably don't have automatic settings for them, I say to myself. Decide to call them up again.

Get through to a customer care rep. Tell him about my problem and blah blah blah. He tells me to identify my phone mode.

"Asus P320"

"Kaunsa sir? "

"Asus P320"

"Sir main samajh nahin pa raha hoon"


"A-S-U-S P-3-2-0" I tell him.

(very unsure) " ASUS ? "

"Yes"

"Sir, chinese mobile hai kya ?"

"No, no. Windows mobile hai"

" ? "

"Forget it. Connect me through to your superior please."

*Get disconnected*

Now at this point, I am really fuming. After going through the million menu options (Press 2 for english, Press 3 for extras, blah blah) just to get to the customer care rep, he has the cheek to disconnect me. Thank his stars I didn't catch his name!

Go through the entire ordeal of the blasted menu driven system. Get another rep on the line.

This time, I tell him I have an HTC Touch, figuring that they are a lot more common, he might have heard of that, and as the Touch and the p320 are basically the same under the skin, they would definitely share the same settings.

"Kaunsa phone sir"

"HTC Touch"

*After a couple of minutes*

"Sir, main aapko bataana chahoonga ki aapka phone Airtel LIVE supported nahin hai. Agar aapko internet access karna hai to aapko mobile office activate karna padega. " (Rs 400/ month for mobile office)

"What? I have GPRS in my phone. What more do you want to activate Airtel Live?"

"Sir ye advanced mobile hai, ismein sirf mobile office chalta hai"

At this point, I tell him to give me the detailed settings for Airtel LIVE, which I would configure myself.

Again the same response. Not supported on your phone. I keep pushing him.

"Arey aap mujhe settings de do. I will set it up myself if I can, otherwise fine."

"Sir main aapko bata raha hoon ki aapke phone mein supported nahin hai."

"Aap bas mujhe settings de deejiye"

Surprise, surprise. GET DISCONNECTED AGAIN !!

By this time, I've memorized the sequence for getting through to the customer care reps (2239 works, for rajasthan circle at least)

This time, I keep it short, and ask him for the settings directly. Tell him it's an HTC Touch. Get the same reply. Not supported.

I ask for his name, and then tell him to connect me to his superior.

"Sir, hamare upar koi nahin hai. Aap mujhe problem bataayien"

"Accha to aap Sunil mittal ji bol rahe hain?
Aap apne manager ko phone deejiye aur agar aapne phone disconnect kiya to main aapki written complaint de kar aaonga airtel head office mein.
"

This is enough to shut him up and he puts me on hold. After a couple of minutes, some guy comes on the line, presumably his manager.

Same drama repeated. All I'm asking you are the manual settings for airtel LIVE, you morons. Why do you have to keep telling me that it won't work on my phone? Just give them to me already.

So finally, this guy gives in. Dictates the settings, which I write down in 30 secs flat. For which those idiots made me go through this ordeal for over 20 minutes.

Why airtel, why?

Before anyone asks, the settings didn't work. I went online and found some info on how to activate airtel live on windows mobile phones. People have done it. Although I haven't tried it yet, I am pretty sure I would be able to do that once I get the time.


Second:

I am running low on balance. I mean really low. Make a call and forget about the balance. Balance runs out in the middle and I get disconnected. Fine so far.

Left with a balance of Rs 0.83 now.

Decide to send an SMS to the guy I was talking to, telling him about this, and that I would call him later.

I can do this, as I have got a free SMS pack.

Quickly draft a message, and click send.

"Your message cannot be sent", comes back the reply from the network.

Try again. No luck. Although I know this must be due to the balance I (don't) have, but still, I expect the SMSs to go through.

Call up the reps .

Tell him about my problem. He says it's due to my balance. It needs to be atleast Re 1.00 for me to be able to send an SMS.

I ask him why.

He replies in the exact same words that you need Re 1.00 balance to make a call or send an SMS.

I say fine. But why ?

He starts telling me the same thing again!

I cut him short, and tell him that I have understood what he is trying to tell me, and would he please move on the the 'why' part ? Or atleast where is it mentioned anywhere in the terms of service?

He tells me to go to the airtel.in website and read the info there.

Fine. I will do that, I tell him and reluctantly close the call.

Log on to the net, and while I can still sms anyone through 160by2 dot com or indyarocks dot com, I want to get to the bottom of this.

Find the following info on Airtel website.

"Note : All services which do not affect talk time value including incoming voice calls / SMS shall continue to be available to the Pre-paid subscribers during the entire validity period even after the talk time value is exhausted."

Get pretty miffed again. And this is from Airtel.in, their official website.

Call up 121. Punch in 2239 to get to them.

A lady picks up. Hopeful that she would perhaps be a little more receptive to my problem, I explain the situation to her, and get the same response. Only this time, I'm ready with my counter reply.

I tell her that I found the following info on the airtel website.
I start reading out the above mentioned line.

And I hear a click.

I am absolutely outraged.

Not to be demotivated, I call up 121 again.

And then I realize something's different.

At the beginning of the call itself, I hear the automated voice telling me to call 12131 for any queries related to prepaid cards.

Weird, I think to myself. As this is something which was never announced earlier. Must have added it right now, I say.

Punch in 2239. Hear a voice telling me something I totally ignore, and then the line goes dead.

Call up 121 again, this time going through the menus carefully, and get to the point where it says "Press 9 to speak to our customer care executive"

I press 9 only to hear the following.

"Please send AIRTEL to 121 for all your problems. Thank you for calling airtel."

That's it. The line goes dead.


Call again.And again. Always the same response.

Call around 20 times in the next three hours. No luck. I had this feeling for a long time. But now it's all but confirmed.

AIRTEL HAS BLACKLISTED ME !!!
THEY WON'T LET ME TALK TO CUSTOMER CARE ANY MORE !!

Mind you, this was during off peak hours, and the first couple of times, the call went through in the first attempt itself. So there's no question of excess load on the customer care cell.

Has anyone of you experienced such a situation? Where you haven't been able to talk to the customer care center because you were being adamant about your point ?

And what do you guys think about the fact that I wasn't allowed to send an SMS when I ran out of balance? Especially with a free SMS pack !

Vodafone has no such conditions. You are allowed to send SMSs even with zero balance provided you have an SMS pack.


Well this has been a much longer post than what I had planned for. But I am still totally out of my mind right now. And I need answers.

AIRTEL, ARE YOU LISTENING ?
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Old 16th April 2009, 14:44   #2
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I have had many such phoneblocks, if i may call that. Have given up Airtel CC.
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Old 16th April 2009, 14:45   #3
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I dont know if its Airtel specific, but i hate these menu driven options blabbering "press 1 to say you are alive, press 2 to get a life, press 3 to give me a life.... " and so on.

Having upto 1-2 sequence of options is fine, but anything more and they are walking on thin ice.
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Old 16th April 2009, 14:46   #4
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Dude,

Simple, take out and throw that SIM out and get a better service provider
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Old 16th April 2009, 14:47   #5
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Indeed a major joke , their customer care. However, I have heard experiences like these on Vodafone too. Though their ads talk about customer service, the guy at the call center has always been the same.

Go here to read some of them. Its no wonder that both Airtel and Vodafone are in the top 3.
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Old 16th April 2009, 14:49   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
I dont know if its Airtel specific, but i hate these menu driven options blabbering "press 1 to say you are alive, press 2 to get a life, press 3 to give me a life.... " and so on.
He he. Never seen the funny bone in Benny.
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Old 16th April 2009, 15:09   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esteem_lover View Post
I have had many such phoneblocks, if i may call that. Have given up Airtel CC.
Damn. So it's a common practice at airtel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
I dont know if its Airtel specific, but i hate these menu driven options blabbering "press 1 to say you are alive, press 2 to get a life, press 3 to give me a life.... " and so on.
LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAVAN KADAM View Post
Dude,

Simple, take out and throw that SIM out and get a better service provider
Just waiting till that number portability comes in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neoranjit View Post
Indeed a major joke , their customer care. However, I have heard experiences like these on Vodafone too. Though their ads talk about customer service, the guy at the call center has always been the same.

Go here to read some of them. Its no wonder that both Airtel and Vodafone are in the top 3.
Thanks for the link. Some of the posts highlight the malpractices being carried out at airtel and vodafone quite succinctly.
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Old 16th April 2009, 15:09   #8
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Airtel customer care for mobile phones is pathetic to say the least.

With landlines and broadband it is a little better; but frustrating to explain the same situation over and over again to some dummy behind a computer screen.
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Old 16th April 2009, 15:11   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d3mon View Post

AIRTEL, ARE YOU LISTENING ?
Send them a small legal notice - and see how quickly they respond! Make sure you make Sunil Mittal the 1st party!

I used to have an Airtel connection when in Bangalore . I had to visit their customer care centre on Bannerghatta road once for some excess billing issue (very common ) - took me 3 hrs for my turn to meet the executive! I had a cousin working in Airtel for over the last 10 years (from JTM days) - called her and my issue got resolved. From them on she used to run interference for me - hence all my problems used to get resolved double quick.

I am going back to Bangalore now - and I think I will try BSNL this time!

Last edited by kb100 : 16th April 2009 at 15:17.
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Old 16th April 2009, 15:19   #10
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At Airtel Karnataka, Customer Service is pretty good!

Most of the time they could resolve my issues/queries.
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Old 16th April 2009, 15:45   #11
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Since 2000 i have been forced to use Skyceel which later became airtel.
I have suffered many a times with their pathetic customer care.
If number portability comes up, i will be the first to move out of airtel.
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Old 16th April 2009, 16:01   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d3mon View Post

Find the following info on Airtel website.

"Note : All services which do not affect talk time value including incoming voice calls / SMS shall continue to be available to the Pre-paid subscribers during the entire validity period even after the talk time value is exhausted."

Get pretty miffed again. And this is from Airtel.in, their official website.

Call up 121. Punch in 2239 to get to them.



And I hear a click.

I am absolutely outraged.

Not to be demotivated, I call up 121 again.

And then I realize something's different.

At the beginning of the call itself, I hear the automated voice telling me to call 12131 for any queries related to prepaid cards.

Weird, I think to myself. As this is something which was never announced earlier. Must have added it right now, I say.


Call up 121 again, this time going through the menus carefully, and get to the point where it says "Press 9 to speak to our customer care executive"

I press 9 only to hear the following.

"Please send AIRTEL to 121 for all your problems. Thank you for calling airtel."

That's it. The line goes dead.


Call again.And again. Always the same response.

Call around 20 times in the next three hours. No luck. I had this feeling for a long time. But now it's all but confirmed.

AIRTEL HAS BLACKLISTED ME !!!
THEY WON'T LET ME TALK TO CUSTOMER CARE ANY MORE !!
That statement stating incoming means ONLY for incoming, whether you have a balance or no. (depending on prepaid validity) They have stated it correctly. You will not be able to send anything out of your phone, be it sms/data or voice.

Last but not the least its best to mail them the responses are better and you have a record of your communications.

I'm a platinum customer and believe you me, its a pain to deal with Airtel, because of
1) The agent is not aware of GPRS functionality and blackberry.
You get bounced around between blackberry customer service and airtel customer care.

One agent told me " reformat your phone and reinstall Blackberry connect for Nokia (E90)." I was like wow, man we reached the end of the earth here.
I have a lot of data and numbers on my phone, a reformat of a phone takes me atleast a day of the phone out of use.

I solved my query by switching off the service on the phone and restarting blackberry service - problem solved. Service started again.

2) Be very specific on what you want - ask them for settings for xyz phone for airtel live. I know its tough but then heck, Airtel has not provided the agent the data to answer your query. (i.e. they have a database of functionality of phones) which is not provided to the agent as this constitutes less than 2-3% of customer queries.

Again changing a provider means changing the number, the truly golden sunrise of the Telecom service industry will come upon number portability, it will be expensive to change providers yes, but services will improve vastly as the customer has the option of going with his existing number i.e. no more intimating x200 people of a number change, stationery change etc etc.

Re:Debar you pester them they will debar you, better to send in a mail. check the ::Airtel::Mobile Services Home Phone Broadband Data Cards Internet Wireless Internet Voice Office website for the mail id of your respective circle's customer service, also mark a cc to the nodal.officer@ respective circle. This helps in a speedy resolution.

Hope this helps.

Cheers
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Old 16th April 2009, 16:11   #13
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@mmmjgm

They very clearly state that the services which don't affect talk time INCLUDING incoming voice calls/SMS can be accessed.

Surely this doesn't exclude outgoing SMSs, does it? Especially as that is FREE for me. And that means that it does not affect the talk time. So it clearly falls under that statement !

And even the automatic network message informing me of my balance that I get after each SMS says "Last call charges Rs 0.10" while my balance isn't reduced.

Surely some "jugaad" tech being used in Airtel's databases ?

And good idea for sending in that mail. I will simply give a link to this thread, and let them read it at leisure

Last edited by d3mon : 16th April 2009 at 16:13.
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Old 16th April 2009, 16:31   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d3mon View Post
@mmmjgm

They very clearly state that the services which don't affect talk time INCLUDING incoming voice calls/SMS can be accessed.

Surely this doesn't exclude outgoing SMSs, does it? Especially as that is FREE for me. And that means that it does not affect the talk time. So it clearly falls under that statement !
Read through it again. It says

Quote:
.... INCLUDING incoming voice calls/SMS can be accessed.
An incoming SMS is not charged. Now, doesnt it appear a lot clearer?
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Old 16th April 2009, 16:32   #15
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Dear d3mon - There is nothing you can do because the big bosses sitting high up in Citadel Towers pretend that there is no problem because some exceutive wearing a tie tells them that so and so % of customers are "attended" (attended mind you, not delighted). The Bosses go back into deep slumber because they earn in crores so nothing matters to them. Even if they are unceremoniously sacked, they can retire with lots and lots of money. I can only pray that - heaven help the corporate world in our country. I am a part of it, I see nonsense happening everyday so I can confidently make such a comment. Just throw the SIM card out but the next fellow may be equally worse. The key is to keep things simple. Use your phone for calling people. For internet, sit at home provided it works.

The greatest problem that business faces today is - GETTING THE BOSS BACK TO WORK, WATCHING HIS CUSTOMERS AND HIS PRODUCT.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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