Open Letter to Airtel – YOU SUCK!

Dear Mr.Sunil Mittal & Airtel,

This is your customer, lets say, a very disgruntled customer. Ever since I came back to India in Feb 2006, I have been using only Airtel products and services for my mobile connection, internet connectivity and digital TV. Since then I have recommended Airtel to a lot of people everywhere – online and offline.

In the last 4-5 years, I have heard and listened to a lot of Airtel horror stories and have disregarded them in an instant simply because I was having a wonderful time and I have not had any such issues as many other people claimed.

But change is inevitable. All good things must come to an end. And so it happened.

Ever since I moved into a new house last September, I have only terrible things to say about Airtel. Especially when all the 3 Airtel products and services that I use go bad.

Updates below under each issue

Horror Story #1 – Airtel Mobile Customer Service Sucks

I do not exactly remember the date, but sometime in December, I called up the customer service and asked for my address to be changed to the new address. Oh, I was listening to the funky new A.R.Rahman tune for more than 20 minutes before some guy came on line. He takes a look at my account details and mentioned that I have been a customer for more than 3 1/2 years. So I do not need to provide any proof of address and he can change my address right away. So I give him the new address and I was told it will be updated in 24 hours.

Then I tell him I have an another number and the address for that also has to be changed. This is my mother’s number and he says the same 3 1/2 years stuff and updates the address.

Fast forward 3 months, last week I was paying my bills online and I noticed the address in my bill and in my mother’s are wrong and still showing the old address. Immediately I shoot an email to the customer service and wait. Next day I find 2 replies – one for my number and one for my mother. For my mother’s connection, I was asked to provide a proof of address. For mine, I was asked to provide a screenshot. I reply back and mention the conversation I had in December about the proof of address not required only to be met with a copy/paste of the previous email. I reply back mentioning the same and once again I get the same response.

Immediately, I call up the 121 customer service from my mother’s number, wait for 15-20 minutes before some girl answers. I explain to her the issue, she puts me on hold for another 10-15 minutes and repeats the same proof of address crap. I ask her how come 2 customer service personnel mention different things. No proper answer. So I disconnect, calm myself down and then call back. Once again after a wait for 15-20 minutes, I get the same response and I get no answers to my questions. Any question is met by the same answer. By this time, I had lost all my patience and decide it is of no use talking to a Parrot.

Then a hour or two later someone calls me up on my number and says that because I gave the request after the bill has been generated it is showing old address and in the next bill it will be updated and without giving me a option, he hangs up. Now this is really screwed up because I gave the change of address request 2 months ago and since then 2 bills have been generated. But I am in no mood to argue, so I am being patient and waiting for the next bill to be generated.

Now that the mobile portability is an option, I am seriously contemplating on moving to Vodafone if this is not sorted out.

Update 1: Finally, after 3 months, this blog post, plenty of tweets and few phone calls later, the address change has been done. Friday morning, I kept getting calls from Airtel Delhi asking for information and later in the afternoon, someone called up and said the address would be updated in 24 hours and she will call. As usual, she did not call. But I called up the customer service and verified the address on both the numbers and they have been changed to my current one.

Horror Story #2 – Airtel DTH Customer Service is Screwed up big time

Now this story is real fun. Around October, my DTH was left with no balance. Since I moved to the new house, I was not watching a lot of tv. And because we were getting the regular old cable, we did not bother with the Airtel DTH. But then it seems the customer service at Airtel DTH are paid commissions for every top up or re-installations as they were calling us almost every single week. When we called for the dish antennae to be removed, no one turned up for a good 2-3 days and only after calling the customer service 4-5 times someone turned up or I guess we had it removed by someone ( I am not sure). But then that’s not important.

Unable to put up with the barrage of calls and sms messages, I decided to get the DTH re-installed on my new house. So on Friday 18th, February, I call up the customer service and make a request for the reinstallation. Now, since it has been a good few months my account balance went into negative and was standing at Rs. –23. To my surprise my request was not accepted since my account has a negative balance and I was told that in order for me to raise a complaint ticket, I need to have a positive balance.

Now, I am no scientist, but I am pretty damn sure that to watch the tv channels on Airtel DTH I need to have a positive balance and without one I simply cannot watch any thing. Explain the same thing to the CS, absolutely no use. So I disconnect the call and top it up by Rs.100 so that it has a positive balance of 70 odd rupees.

I call up again and now the request is accepted. I was clearly told that it will be re-installed before 2.30pm on Saturday, Feb 19th, 2011. In the evening at around 5pm someone calls up, verifies the address and said he will call back in an hour to confirm the time. I wait for an hour, nothing. I assumed he would simply show up, cancel and postpone my plans for Saturday morning and afternoon.

Fast forward to 1pm on Saturday afternoon, no one had shown up. So I call up the customer service and was answered by a girl named Lavanya who said someone will call me in 5 minutes from the concerned dept. Someone did and said an engineer will call me in 2 minutes and will come home.

215pm – nothing. my phone is silent. So I again call up the CS, again speak to lavanya but this time I had the call escalated and got transferred to one Manjula who was the floor manager at that time. 15 minutes into the conversation, I sense that she is getting irritated at me and mentions that she will speak to the engineer concerned, get the installation done by 6pm sharp and will call me by 4 to confirm.

4pm – nothing. 5pm – nothing. So I waste more time of mine and speak to another floor manager who now promises me that it will be done for sure at 6pm and he himself would call me to confirm it all.

6pm nothing. 7pm nothing. 8pm – I get a call asking if the installation has been done. Now at this point, I was left to wonder whether the guy was asking genuinely or making a fool out of me. He said he will call back in 5 minutes and the night ends. And my entire Saturday was ruined waiting for the call that never came and for the engineer who never arrived.

Next day morning at 11am, an engineer calls up and I give him a piece of my mind, ask his boss/CS to call me. Nothing till 1230pm when I call the CS, vent out all my anger and frustration, refuse to pay the installation charges. blah blah blah blah blah.. (decide it is of no use talking to a Parrot.). And finally the installation was done by around 4pm.

You might wonder why I am raising a big stink when the installation was done. The point is the CS knew well in advance the installation will not happen on Saturday. Not 1 person, 4 people assured me the installation will happen by 6pm when they fu*king knew it was not.

When my account went into negative balance, I was fu*cking bombarded with calls. So why the fu*k no one bothered to call me and inform about the installation being postponed? What is the use of giving a timeline if its not going to be adhered to? Because of this, my entire weekend was ruined. My whole Saturday was spent waiting for some engineer who never showed up and speaking to a customer service who made false promises and had the nerve to lie about the whole thing! Not to mention half of my Sunday also went for a sixer waiting for the engineer!

I do not know about you, but for me my time is precious. If I commit something, I stick to it and I ensure it is done or if it is going to be delayed, I inform well in advance. Not like this!!!

A Fu*king RANT – Airtel Broadband FUP Messages are Lame!!!

I pay a frigging 1900 rupees each month for a 2mbps unlimited broadband connection with a 40GB FUP limit. I also fully agree with the FUP (Fair Usage Policy) restrictions. But then I am VERY PISSED OFF AT SEEING THIS FUP WARNING MESSAGES EVERY FU*KING 10 MINUTES.

Give me a break will you. Once you have showed me a message, I know that I am close to exceeding the limit or have exceeded the limit, BUT FOR FU*K SAKE, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHOW IT EVERY 10 MINUTES OR SO. Not when I am logged in to my Internet Banking trying to transfer money.

The Customer service guy said I will get the alert only once in each billing cycle. But  I have seen this FU*KING FUP Message more than 10-15 minutes in just the last 60 minutes. That’s almost one every 5 minutes. AND THAT IS MAKING ME VERY VERY VERY ANGRY.

On top of this 1900 rupees, I have absolutely no intention to pay extra and get the Speed on Demand on Service which you have now started promoting in each of the FUP messages every 10 minutes.

Mr.Mittal

  1. Have you ever called up the Airtel customer service as a customer? Do you know how torturous that is?
  2. Have you ever crossed your FUP limit and been flooded with these FUP messages?
  3. Have you ever had to speak to a CS executive who just repeats the same thing over and again irrespective of what ever you tell him?

Over there on the top of the ladder, you might not see the Fu*ked up service t that is delivered to the average customer, but then as someone who runs India’s largest GSM-based mobile phone service and world’s fifth largest wireless company with over 190 million customers across 19 countries in Asia and Africa (Wikipedia), I do believe it is one of your responsibilities to ensure that customers do not regret choosing Airtel.

End of the day, it is people like me who has made you and your company what is is now.

I do not know if this will be read by anyone from Airtel or not. I do not care. But if someone does read this, I have got just 2 words.

AIRTEL SUCKS

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11 Comments

  1. Krishna

    Hi Praveen,

    I agree for the internet service but about the engineers who are suppose to come is not Airtel CS fault because Airtel does not have direct recruited engineers rather they have 3rd party which takes care of the service etc…But end of the day I do agree, it is Airtel which needs to take care of all this…I hope all is corrected now on your end and everything is fine :)

  2. Praveen

    Krishna,

    Thank you for helping me out on the address change. I wonder why Airtel CS has to make it so complicated.

  3. Alamgir

    @krishna : Dude if airtel outsources its recruiting to some third party, then this applies to other operators too, where there are little or no complaits at all.

    I have been troubled by airtel for rubbish VASs which used to get activated without intimation, on complaining the customer care guys say it is the fault of the customer WTF. now I m trying to port out my number. That too those rascals have blocked.

    Is there any way to get this into the notice of TRAI or Ministry of Telecom.

  4. Somu

    Hi Praveen,

    I been facing this kind of same problems with Vodafone too. I have tried to reach them through 111, 198, emails, vodafone centers.

    Just rolling like a football. But still problems not yet solved. The customer guys are only trained to pickup the call and make the customer cool for a time being.
    They don’t even know how to sort out or look into our problems.

  5. himanshu

    Airtel started off well but nowadays they are just money suckers,from the past 1 yr i continued paying Rs 85 extra for my broadband for some freaking DSL USAGE CHARGES i also thought that was ok,but some days before i just called the customer care and asked casually about the dsl usage charges so they explained that those charges are for AIRTEL PC SECURE ANTIVIRUS which i never subscribed also they add Rs 75 as a late fee to the total bill even when the billing date is 10 days left

  6. Kasim

    Airtel!!

    You will see services activated without your knowledge.

    You will be charged for services you never asked for.

    If you ask them for service ‘X’ and they will activate a service ‘Y’.

    No apologies………………

    They had earned enough to fill their stomach

  7. Mohamed Khaleel

    I came to know from a Nodal officer that if we call customer care for more than 3-4 times a month, then we will be blocked from reaching customer care.

    Does Airtel think that we speak to customer care for pleasure?

  8. Manjunath Bhat

    I Have faced some dramatic issue with airtel.
    I m an existing costumor of airtel for 2 years and i had one connection of prepaid of my wife for which i had asked to migration to post paid. one of the executive has come to my house and collected the documents and went on 4th July’11 and application uploaded to the sysetm on 6th July’11. unfortunatly i had gone out of state on official work for the very next week end and returned within 2 days and asked my wife about the adress verification status she said no one came to house. I just called the Mr. Manjunath Reddy for asking the status he said they have a option of office adress verification facility or else u r our existing customer for 2 year so i can grant u a post paid without anything of this.
    I said i dont want any murcy on this so asked them to come and verifiy the adress. the Manager of Airtel mr.Manjunath Reddy has taken one month for adress verification. Damn i called him and spoke to him every day for the same. visited outlet many time. Ultimately when even he stopped to pick the call from me the i decided to cancel that application and asked to make new application and the old fees wat i have paid and documents what i have given even till date not returned to me.
    I dont have pacients any more on airtel.

    just they need to add “Damn” to their name Airtel Customer Services.

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