An open letter to Indian carriers – make it easy for users to love you

indian-carriers-on-twitter

My relationship with my carrier of 11 years has been a rocky one in the past few months. Staying faithful to a carrier for over a decade is a difficult task, especially with rivals tempting me with better plans and friends rubbing it in my face when my phone had no coverage while theirs had four bars each. It is not easy. Yet, I stayed faithful. Yes, I was being tempted, but to cement my faith I got myself another connection from my carrier. And that’s when things started going downhill.

It started with me finding out that my carrier was cheating on me – it had been overcharging me Rs 300 a month for a data plan that no longer existed. The foundation of my 10-years of faith in the carrier was being shaken and a few verbal volleys later, the carrier changed my data plan but refused to refund the money it had overcharged me for more than two years. That’s when I realized that it was a one-sided relationship.

We kept having a few squabbles every few weeks since then, one of the latest being getting harassed by spam messages and calls, whose frequency increased after I publicly complained on Twitter. But the biggest shock was yet to come.

After returning from Computex on Thursday, I realized that something was wrong with my secondary number (prepaid) that had been active for over a year. I called on that number to find out that it was “temporarily out of service.” The customer care executive told me that they had deactivated the number because my paperwork while getting the connection (a year ago, mind you) wasn’t complete. Not convinced, I asked what was missing, I was told that while all my papers were complete but a signature at one of the many places a subscriber is required to sign was missing.

Essentially, my carrier deactivated my number without intimating me for something their representative forgot to get on the paperwork. To top things, they cannot retrieve the original paperwork and get my signature on it and insist I do all the paperwork again, visit their store and fill the form again if I want to reactivate that number. They can send a person home to collect my bill payments but they cannot send someone over to help me remain their subscriber. So much for being a subscriber for 11 years.

And it isn’t just me. Take the case of my friend, who also happens to be a subscriber of the same carrier. All she wants is that the carrier send her monthly bills so she can pay them. She refuses to pay them till she gets a bill, which I think is only fair. Yet, she gets hounded by the carrier every day with calls and messages. They finally sent a representative to her house to sort the problem, but it turns out he was a network guy who was told she had some network-related problem at her place. How daft can one be?

Talking about being daft, I think the folks handling every carrier’s social network channel wear the crown. It does not matter what you write, just include the Twitter handle of any carrier in the tweet and see how they respond to it with a standard “let us know how we can assist you” tweet. Follow it up with something snarky and they want you to DM them your contact details so they can “get in touch with you” to “resolve” the problem. It doesn’t matter if you actually have a problem or not, they can resolve it.

Here I am tweeting in as many words as possible that I want to port my entire family’s Vodafone connections to Airtel and the best that Airtel can come up with is a tweet asking how they can assist me. Had I been Airtel, I’d be jumping with joy and reaching out to share details of how I can port it and what special plans they can offer. But it seems that’s either beyond their pay grade or their intellectual ability. And it is with every carrier, not just Airtel.

I can’t understand why carriers cannot make their users love them. I am yet to come across anyone who loves their carrier. Why can’t they make things easy for their users? Why can’t they offer me a single monthly bill for all the numbers I have that would make it easier for me to make payments and also for them to reach out to me? Why do I have to do the paperwork again for a new number when I am already a subscriber for over 10 years with a credit limit of over Rs 25,000? Why can’t people trust them? Why can’t they be more intelligent on social networks rather than coming across as bots? Why?



  • shad0w

    its funny that a ‘tech’ blogger like you was being overcharged for two years!
    but leaving that aside, all indian carriers just want to suck in the money through totally unfair means which is just unethical.

  • Udayasoorian

    I want to know whether All Indian Carriers data speed is as promised as they advertise. When I check speed test , it’s well below their advertised speed . Speed is very low even in central part of a metro city. Why we should pay full amount for data connection when their speed is half of their advertised speed .

  • Karan

    Kudos to Rajat for writing such an awesome article about what average customer feels about their respective network. Mind you this has always been a one sided thing. They won’t ask for your permission before increasing the monthly tarrif. But they won’t reduce the same tarrif if you don’t call them and give a request for the same. I’ve been thru the twitter thing too. Its a set of drafted replies with name of person tweeting at that time. Thought twitter makes it easier for customers like us to contact the companies but the role of twitter ends there and then only.

    The customer care executives are mostly 12th pass and you can’t expect aature reply from immature undergraduates. They too have a drafted set of replies and they don’t have the intellect to deal with real world problems of the customer. Ask their ID number and they would freak out.

    My point is that customer is the king NOT for these companies.

  • http://www.munjalsavla.com Munjal Savla

    Dear Rajat, I completely connect with your feelings. I ported 20 numbers to Airtel after a relationship of around a decade with the previous company and I think it was the worst decision ever. They are all in a competition of who can give the worst customer service possible. I feel Airtel is the worst of the lot. Their SNS guys are worse than bots, their call centre guys have no clue what they are talking about. Absolutely pathetic. I feel all these companies ask their employees to NOT listen to the customer, no matter what you ask you always get the same response! Its time for some fundamental changes, but as you know, it does not matter to them as a poor customer can’t really do much against the pure injustice doled out to him

  • http://www.munjalsavla.com Munjal Savla

    Dear Rajat, I completely connect with your feelings. I ported 20 numbers to Airtel after a relationship of around a decade with the previous company and I think it was the worst decision ever. They are all in a competition of who can give the worst customer service possible. I feel Airtel is the worst of the lot. Their SNS guys are worse than bots, their call centre guys have no clue what they are talking about. Absolutely pathetic. I feel all these companies ask their employees to NOT listen to the customer, no matter what you ask you always get the same response! Its time for some fundamental changes, but as you know, it does not matter to them as a poor customer can’t really do much against the pure injustice doled out to him.

  • nkspro

    My boss was once charged 11000 on a 2500 plan. I told him to switch to another carrier and he said “all companies are the same. First 2-3 months would be good and then same thing would happen.” I have also tried almost all the service providers here in delhi and none was I happy with. I then tried old and rusty Mtnl. God, what a service. No any services are activated unless you ask for it, not even roaming. Best part is you can view the list of services that are currently activated on the website – how transparent. I have been customer of mtnl since last 2 years and following me my family members, some of my colleagues and friends, my boss all are on mtnl. Only problem I faced is when porting your number or taking a new connection is cumbersome and lengthy processnbut after that everything is good. One thing more, mtnl/bsnl is the only provider with pan india 3g roaming

  • Ashish Sharma

    Lol…Mr. Agarwal, you just jumped from a frying pan into the fire…May GOD bless you.

  • Ashish Sharma

    You just jumpmed from a frying pan in the fire…May GOD bless you

  • Nkp

    I am from mp. Here also airtel and Vodafone suck. Reliance and docomo services and customer interaction is very good but network suck bsnl is ok but 3g speed is extremely low.(it feel like 2g).idea is also excellent but taking new postpaid sim requires four to five visits. Nice post by the way

  • Jayant

    Well I have no idea about how airtel, vodafone handles issues but for me Aircel has been very good. I was here in Bangalore , roaming and experienced some problems related to network, as I was unable to find Aircel network anywhere, I sent a mail to their team, and the next morning I had a guy to sort out my problems. So for me so far Aircel is so good.

    • nkspro

      Yes, Aircel is good too!

  • http://hindiblog.org/ amit

    All she wants is that the carrier send her monthly bills so she can pay them. She refuses to pay them till she gets a bill, which I think is only fair. Yet, she gets hounded by the carrier every day with calls and messages.

    Thats pretty much same for a lot of carriers, banks (reg card statements). They don’t send you the bills but want payments by telling you how much you owe!

  • Ravikanth

    Carriers love our money, they do not love us and do not want us to love back. Even with handful of carriers, we have this situation, something is crazy here.

  • Dilmeet Singh

    @To all People Here,

    Mr Rajat, what You have experienced is the story of nearly all Mobile Subscribers in India. To all people mentioning Names of various Providers, It’s just not correct because with every customer, there is a good or bad experience attached! The fact is that due to no proper authority over telecom operators, poor expenditure over Training & Etiquette of a Representative by the Companies and Cold Attitude towards Customer’s be it new or old, What we have is a Horrible Situation where Companies are only focused in numbers on their network and zero thought on making Customer’s proud to be associated with them!

    Here I mention a few of my experience’s

    *I have been a Airtel Customer and it took me numerous mails to make them realize that they were just being plain stupid! Till date I am with them because the higher officials have always been so helpful and have made sure that they are ever ready for prompt action. However I fail to understand why I have to lock horns with them after every 3-4 month :)

    *The Experience with Vodafone was Extremely Pathetic as even the higher officials didn’t understand my mail in Simple English which was due the error on their employee’s part of activating service not at all required. They excelled in proving themselves right and were proud in robbing me!

    *Reliance activated a service without any consent of mine but an email was good enough to stop any further non sense.

    *MTNL never got my paper work even once out of 3 times I tried and Accountability Zero! But few of my friends who got through reported network issue as the only con.

    *Idea took two weeks to verify documents and activate my number! And at the end never got balance as promised.

    * Aircel were courteous and extremely customer centric but no 3g and poor network made me say them good bye

    So If you see clearly, just ignore the names and you see that it’s across the board! No proper regulation, no focus on being customer centric, unnecessary service activations etc.

    The companies will continue this unless there is any kind of unified control and charter to adhere to. I used all Prepaid SIMs to see where will it be less of headache but since it’s everywhere I chose the one with which it is easier to fight with! :)

  • Arjun

    Lol.. i feel sorry for u.. relatively Vodafone is way better.. uve made a very poor choice switching to Airtel.. they are the worst..

  • Airtel

    How can we be of your service?

    • Vodafone IN

      Hello All! Please share you numbers for further assistance. Thanks

    • TRAI

      Let us TRAI you.

      • Hon. Minister Kapil Sibbal

        I’ll make sure that nothing goes right. Oh I mean nothing goes wrong.

        • Andriod

          Apple Sucks!

        • Apple

          ANDRIOD is a shit! GTH!

  • Yusuf

    I agree with you on each and every point. Esp the Data connection one. This was the main reason I left Airtel. I had a 2G Plan of Rs.400 per month (for 100 MB!!!) This was in 2009-10.

    Later I found from their website that this plan was discontinued long back, and same 100 MB was being offered at Rs.99 ! I called up to demand why they did not shift me to this plan, their curt reply was simply that I didnt ask !!