Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How Airtel Wrongs its Pre-Paiders!

I am a marketer... & I've been working for over 5 years now... my work involves long hours, late nights & traveling... all the things that people dread.. but i still love my line of work! a key thing about being a marketer is we always need to be connected.. to work... to colleagues.. to vendors... to partners... to clients... we hapta be available online 24x7.. not that we don't have time for ourselves... but what happens if you have a delivery time line for 12 midnight today & you expect the vendor to send you the .tif file at 9PM... what do you do? do you stay in office till 9 for a .tif file? Do you come home & sit on your lappy till 9? or do you just have the outlook installed on your iPhone so you can receive the .tif file & forward it to the printers in Singapore via a touch while you are partying out with friends???

The last one sounds like a good option eh? I do that... I am always online... even when I am on leave.. the mail exchanges never stop... hey.. can you share the no. of the vendor who made the travel backdrop... contact shared via iMessage... vendor shares the layout of the eDM... it gets finalized over BBM.... what a great event we hosted.. posted on twitter! Boss gets awarded the leader's choice trophy... picture posted on facebook... Wanna make the picture look vintage.. Instagramed it right on my phone... have a meeting at a location i don't know.. hey you "google maps"... during the meeting the vendor suggest why not use flash banners like ABC company did at their website... google ABCcompany.com... Friend calls between the meeting to check on tonight's plan.. *call disconnect.. whatsapp sent - In a meeting.. will call you back..

The life of a marketer is exhausting.. so what do we do to relax? I love listening to new music... so i tune into Jango from the phone while heading home... sometimes i go for a run... i track my distance & calories burned with mapmyrun... i also unwind by running around (i mean temple run).. sometimes i watch movies.. thank you so much bookmyshow app... sometimes i jam with my club... or house party at my photographer friends' studio... we take a few pictures.. share them via whatsapp... omg.. the no. of whatsapp groups that I am on is not even funny man! but, the fact is... all these are the things that make my exhausting life exhilarating!

one day... one of my office colleagues asked me for my phone to make a quick call... as soon as he disconnected the phone & was in the process of returning it back to me, he noticed something amusing... "Last call charge - Rs 3.42, current balance amount - Rs. 286.39".. i think he was more like in a shock than amused... he handed me the phone & said (like I am not aware of this fact) - "you have a pre-paid" (it sounded like i gave him my phone a post-paid & he did something to it that made it a pre-paid... i said "yes" & he just looked at me... absolutely befuddled!

See, the thing about working is, most people carry a post-paid... & the thing about iPhone is.. there are so many things (read updates) that keep happening (read installation) to it automatically... that carrying an iPhone without an Internet pack would mean you must be the kid of Tata/Birla/their equivalent... see.. accessing the outlook... exchanging iMessages.. chat over BBM/whatsapp... twitter/facebook updates.. using instagram/google/google maps/mapmyrun... tuning into Jango... playing temple run... all these things require a tap into the world of the Internet.. not to forget the numerous app updates & software upgrades... all these things require the Internet... it is obvious that anyone who knows how much I use the Internet would be more than shocked on knowing that I am on a pre-paid plan..

But this has a reason.. my dad is on the post-paid plan & neither him nor I can ever understand what the extras are that he is billed for... Did you know that these telecom companies thrive on their post-paid clientele & bill them for VAS like it's nobody's business; they actually think post-paiders are too ignorant too check their bills... The fact is.. pre-paid is safer than post-paid because -
a) you see an immediate update for every deduction that happens
b) you are not on the radar of these telecom giants, their focus really is minting from the post-paiders
I have kept both a pre-paid & a post-paid connection... & I know for a matter of fact that when my pre-paid billed me INR 500-700/-, my post-paid charges were INR 2200-2500/-

I have been a loyal customer of #Airtel for over a decade now... & I noticed this pattern on the 2 - 3 times i shifted from pre-paid to post paid.. Though, i never could figure out how my 500 became 2500, the fact is... i know it did... & i guess i have a rough idea how.

Recently, (the last week of December'13), I got a message from #Airtel saying "your Internet pack will be renewed within 3 days".. I checked my balance & it said 150 something... so I relaxed... suddenly just before New Years, I was unable to access my FB or send any whatsapp/BBM messages or even send regular text... What the hell... i check my balance & at 11 in the night, it says, 0 balance... 0... i had not seen a 0 balance in ages.. i could not even connect with the customer care cuz you have to pay 50 paise for every 3 mins, you know. So i got myself a recharge & called the customer care the next day... they told me that as I did not have enough balance.. my Internet plan was not renewed & hence all my balance was used up  for Internet usage.. They said I had 120 & needed 125 for the recharge... My obvious question was.. should I not at least get a message from you saying it has been deactivated???

That's when the customer care mentioned that the renewal is showing as pending hence I did not get the deactivated message... They suggested that now as my no. is recharged, the pack will get auto renewed & I should relax... so... anger subsided.. I thanked them for resolving my query & disconnected... 3 days later I was unable to Google something... I tried facebook, didn't open... whatsapp, the network just dint come... & then I did the *123# & to my horror.. it was 0 balance again. Oh the hell! How on earth is this possible. I got another recharge along with the Internet pack & called the damn gold care thingy in the glory of my anger.. "namaskaar.. #Airtel me aapka swagat hai.. mai XYZ aapki kya seva kar sakta hu"... Hi, Im Geeta... i called about this before.. my Internet pack dint get renewed... pending... recharge... will get auto renewed.. 500,.. now 0..." i told him my entire story... "ji, madam, mai aapko batana chahunga ki aapnay Hindi IVR mei call kia hai... kripiya apni samasya hindi mei bataye"... this had it for me... I am angry & the ass is asking me tell him my problem in Hindi, instead of English... so, here's is the concern with that.. As I am born to a Malayalee father & a Sindhi mother, the language that comes to me naturally is English... & its a known fact, that when people are extremely angry or extremely loving, they converse in the language they are most comfortable with... so, when i am shouting/fighting.. it is english... my hindi just fails me there!

so i tell the guy transfer my call to someone who knows english... he tells me he will arrange for a call back within 4 hours... I get a call back the next morning & we reach a conclusion that #Airtel will reimburse the 620 hit that I had to take as my Internet pack was not renewed & i did not get a deactivation message either. I casually also told them that I need to be connected to the English call center instead of the Hindi one next time on... they told me how to change my selected language... I told them my selected language is English, they asked me to try this one more time & then call back. I tried & called back & someone said the same "Namaskaar, #Airtel mei ...." script. I asked him if he knows English, he said yes... I told him that I was just checking if changing my IVR language worked or not for changing my call center preferences... & then disconnected.

A month passed & i forgot about this incident... & then I got the Internet pack will be deactivated message.. I called the customer care saying I want this to be auto renewal.. "yes... autorenewal... i do your Internet pack... autorenewal.. yes.. no" I was connected to the Hindi call center again.. i told the guy that I need to be connected to the english call center.. he said "main aapko batana chahunga ki apni bhasha ko badlanay ki liye.. kripya XYZ karay" I told him my language is preset to english.. so he pretended he did not hear that & hung up the phone in my face... I got irritated, but as the Internet pack was done, I did not bother calling again!

Another month passed, we are at 28th Feb 2014 now & I got the Internet pack will be deactivated message again... what the hell on this earth??? I called up #Airtel again to ask what this deal is.. some guy (think his name is Abhishek) answered who knew English.. he told me "maam, I can do an Internet pack on your phone which will be auto renewal based... but I will advise you to rather call back after 2 days & get this done on March 2nd, as you have enough & more balance on your current pack"... satisfied.. i hung up.. I would have even recommeded that this is the best Gold care executive of #Airtel that i have spoken to in the last 4 - 5 years, if i would have gotten that survey #Airtel used to send before... I personally feel their quality of Gold Service Advisers has drastically dipped... I wonder if they are even trained in the processes... & i wonder if that's the reason why that "give your valuable feedback" thingy has been stopped... Guess #Airtel already knows how much their current Gold care advisers suck!

so, 2 days later when i call.. its the same fight.. OMG... somebody talk to me in Enlish.. "I will make you call back.. my supervisor.. u dont understand.. I dont understand" at 9 in the morning, while trying to make the guy understand my complain... i wanted to bang my head on the wall so hard that it smashes... I called 3 - 4 times as the advisers kept hanging up on me.. I was told how to change my language (which wasn't my complaint).. i was told that someone will call me back (nobody did)... so i got pissed & wrote #Airtel a mail... & guess what response I got from Mr. Santhosh Rao.K

Dude... Did you even read my mail... it clearly said my language is preset to English.. & thanks to you, now I know that #Airtel charged me an extra 36 for Hello tunes... I always suspected you charged me twice/thrice for the Neon ringtone I have had for years now.... how many 36s is that 1 accountable for?

The #Airtel dude tells me the steps to change my IVR language to English, when my mail clearly stated that your "brainless gold care executives" tell me the process of changing my IVR language instead of registering a complain that I am being connected to the Hindi call center instead of the English one... This is something that #Airtel has to look into not I...

Most of the times I call #Airtel... its gold customer care has trouble following me as they do not understand English... they conveniently pretend that they cannot hear a thing & they hang up... if it were a one off incident... I would have ignored... but I think its a part of the Airtel strategy... If you cannot understand the customer & the conversation is becoming a drag for you our darling gold care executives, feel free to hang up the phone in our pre-paid customer faces.. they do not mean much business to us any which way!

All I wanna ask is -
Hey you.. #Airtel... is that really the way you are planning on treating your loyalists? Really? If this is how you treat us pre-paiders... i can't even begin to imagine how you loot your post-paiders.

Signing off!
An infuriated-wronged pre-paider.

P.S. Am I only the one who has noticed this?


  1. I've faced a similar situation with airtel where money was just deducted without any intimidation. However it was fixed too. I got a full refund of the amount after a couple of emails to airtel customer care.
    A satisfied customer right here!

    1. well that sounds great... so there are odds that they will reimburse... how long did it take for you? its been over 2 months for me... also, my concern is more than money.. its the amount of hassle.. the no. of calls i have made... the way their customer care behaves... the fact that they do not even register the complains... pretend to hang up the phone etc... & then there is the big auto renewal that never gets auto renewed.

    2. it took constant emails on my side and threats to switch over to another network. but yeah a two weeks.
      i emailed them almost everyday i think! the call center didnt work for me. its really annoying!
      i can hear the 'Namste main airtel se bol raha hu, main apki madad kar sakta hoon' lol
      the written complaint is proof so yepp try that. good luck!

    3. omg i typed this huge reply and it didnt send *sigh*
      anyway i wrote constant emails to them an it took two weeks. phone calls are annoying and futile. emails are written complaints so keep forwarding it. and you will get an acknowledgement soon. also threatening to switch to another network helps too hehe.
      good luck!

    4. hahahaha... no.. it came to me for moderation before publishing!

      so.. i hapta baddger them for 2 weeks!!! :O
      Thanks for the heads up!

    5. hahah i feel dumb now :P
      and yess threats and constant emails :D

    6. you know what.. writing to Airtel was a much better option than trying to complain via their customer care.. Hate mail has gotten me a reimbursement :D

    7. Hehe told you it works!
      *jumps in glee* yayayayay! ;D
      Sorry too much excitement!

    8. many thanks... Money refund is exciting.. Maybe we should jump together!!!

    9. haha I agree :P :D
      the purpose of this article is defeated now *sigh*

    10. actually I used multiple means to drill this complaint.. I shared this blog @ their twitter.. & that's when the 1st call actually came... When I wrote to them the 2nd time... I promised them that I will make the story public if I don't get a response by 12 noon the next day.. no response.. so the post.. suddenly im getting 4 calls over this!

      huhuhuhahahaha *devil's laughter*

    11. haha remind to NEVER get on your bad side :P

    12. hahaha... cross our fingers!!!

    13. Hahah I have them crossed already. Besides I have cute puppy eyes to my advantage. Tell me they'll work on you!

    14. I highly doubt that.. I use the puppy eyes waaaaay too much to fall into their trap you see!! :D

      Let's hope that you never need to use the cute puppy eyes on me..

    15. Haha I'll think of a way. In the meantime hehe I'm safe :p

  2. I see you really enjoy writing in this style or rather you dont write at all....you talk. :)

    I don't remember if I had my share of these sort of calls, though I am not using Airtel but Idea but I am sure they have their own set of situations too. :)

    1. yes.. i do.. actually this is the only style i know... so maybe I'm not a writer at all.. just a chatter box! :D