Monday, August 3, 2009
The song which played while I wait fuming for the customer service head is that of airtel thanking the people of Andhra Pradesh for making it the best mobile service in the state. Fiddlesticks! Ask me and I will explain the irony.
I had taken a new post paid number of airtel. Idea had demanded that if I wanted to get my ideas across to people, I should hang precariously onto the balcony of my flat for my life and my limb. The Customer Care assured me that they were trying for a better network coverage which should be through in a few days. My wiser friends nodded darkly (they had missed neither the experience, nor the meaning) and said that they had been under the same delusion for more than a year now. So I decided to move to what were the apparently greener pastures of Airtel. If my experience with Idea had been that of dealing with deluded people, Airtel was worse. They justified as to why they were 'apparently' deluded.
It all started with that message which claimed that due to negative address verification, I was going to be disconnected.I had to contact the customer care immediately. What followed was worse that getting lost in Franz Kafka's castle. And the epilogue to the story is stranger.
CCE 1 - Madam, our servers are busy now. The status of your connection will be available only after half an hour.
After half an hour
CCE 2 - There seems to be some problem with your address verification. Please contact the address verification department.
The bloke was decent enough to give me a number which did not work. So I dutifully called Customer Service again.
CC3 - Why don't you try with a different SIM card? (assumption - I travel with different sim cards at a given point of time.. He was cheerful enough to attempt to help me though) Actually your address verification has turned out to be negative, though I don't know what it actually means.
Rude words from me and my call is escalated to the team lead.
Team lead - You have to pay an additional 500 rupees by the end of today since you dont live in a family accomodation.
Polite question from my side as to why this was not told to me before elicited the same response. Change of tactics - I ask by when do I have to pay. Response - ASAP. By now I am furious and start yelling. I had the right to yell coz it had already been declared to the dealer that I don't live with a family and the payment to that effect had been made and any lame learner of English can see that the phrase 'negative verification' patently means something different from paying extra money and airtel cannot hold gun to the forehead of its post paid customers like this. Moreover the writing on the wall was clear - this process means that within a week of your taking a post paid connection, you would get a message that would shake you out of your living daylights like this. I started threatening legal action. That is when the call was escalated to the Head of the Customer Service.
I will spare the details and his justifications, but I did threaten him of legal action since all my documents were in place. In his 'I am going out of my way for your sake' capacity, he assured me of direct access to him and requested me to make the payment by 8.00 pm that night to avoid being disconnected.
Then more out of malicious intent, I call the Customer Care again to find the status of my number
CCE 4 - (cheerfully) The number is working maam and there is no need to make any additional payment.
And to the end, the Customer Care Head (poor man,...I pity his wife who has to put up with this kind of talk everyday. Must be muttering the same sales talk in his sleep also) insisted that Airtel's procedures were the best in comparison to other services like Reliance and Idea, coz they give you the service but steal your data (god knows how this happens - whatever, this is definitely heterogeneous scenarios yoked together by violence) When I confronted him the next day, he was clueless as to how CCE 4 could give a different take on the situation and instead chose to escape into singing odes in the praise of the procedures of airtel.
Whatever, I have not made that payment till date. And my number continues to work.
Disclaimer - The above is a reconstruction of the conversation that I had with Airtel over a period of three hours (plus an hour the next day). Since it is based on conversations recollected in tranquility (after having established suitable distance between myself and the events) I cannot be legally held accountable for the remarks expressed anywhere in this post. :-)