Monday, April 29, 2013

The three mistakes of my first trip abroad...

Apologies for the long time that is going to be taken to read this longish note but trust me it will be far shorter than if you were to get involved with the "Partner care executives" at Airtel

This March, I finally decided to get my passport stamped. Airtel, my hitherto favourite service company in India, I decided, would be my "telecom partner" for the epic journey (My first mistake!)...

Early March, I decided to visit the Airtel Relationship Centre to activate international roaming on my post-paid number. I was told to come 2-3 days before my departure. Seemed strange but I did. I was asked to deposit Rs.3000 for activation. I did. Surprisingly, they discovered later that the activation required a new sim and they didn't have a new sim for my series of numbers. Of course, they didn't bother returning my 3000.

I took a pre-paid sim and activated international roaming on the same. To reduce the charges abroad, I decided to take the 1299 plan (my second mistake). Now this was the 24th of March. There was no way I could test the activation and hence travelled to HK.

Imagine my surprise (or shock), when on landing I find out that I'm not able to make any call! I was travelling separate from my family and reaching out was essential. Alone in a foreign land, with no way to reach out to my folks, I admit, I did have a few beads of sweat on my forehead. Thankfully, my phone rang and at the other end was my dad. I was relieved (for a short while). Soon, my phone went silent for a long while. I travelled to Macau and somehow managed to reach my folks in the largest Sheraton of the world!

I tried calling myself a few more times on my return to HK (using my dad's phone) but my phone didn't ring. Essentially, the 1299 pack had not been activated on my phone...! So on my returm I thought of reporting the same to the customer care and lodge a complaint for the same (Why do I keep making these novice mistakes - my third).

Below is the journal of my complaint and how its going. I shall keep editing as it progresses..
First call on April 2nd, 2013
Airtel Ref No: COGCI20402076575 - on a chat with Kanit, the following facts were established:

  1. 1299 Recharge on 24/3 - 30 incoming/outgoing free
  2. Outgoing Not happening
  3. Incoming 5 calls
  4. CSL Network selection - OK
Call 28 minutes: Rs.5 2/4/2013 0800 Hrs
Call 2 minutes: Rs.0.50 0845 Hrs
Call 7 minutes: Rs.1.50 0850 Hrs - Call cut after being put on hold!
Call not being taken after 5 attempts - the last successful call was cut while transferring to a partner care executive!
Dialled from another number - 8294639940 and requested call back.
Jitendra Kumar called from 9661096610 - 5/4/2013 ~14:00 hrs -
He first denied having detailed information about my complaint citing incomplete receipt of information regarding my complaint.
Then when I gave him the complaint reference number, he read the mail with me. Surprise surprise - he had the complete email!!
Then he says there are no records of 1299 pack and recharge done by me. Unfortunately, he didn't realise that he was dealing with a guy who had the compelte records on mail.
Then I gave him the detailed time of recharge - he accepted there was a recharge and put me on hold.
Then he says there was some issue at the "client side" and that Airtel would get back to me within a day.
Talked to Lalit Kumar: Jitendra Kumar's Senior - Given a new reference NUmber: CBNRA30405319516
Get an e-mail reimbursing Rs.100 to my account!!! I ask them not to reimburse charity amounts to my phone!
Anurag: 6/4/2013 ~12:50 Hrs Transferred to senior - Raja
Nodal Officer: 9934334865. Mr. Rizwan Ansari
Call from Deep 6/4/2013 ~15:35hrs - Postponed date to 8/4/2013 09:44 hrs. Reports no transaction of 1299 - CONRC3040642363100
I post my concern on the Airtel India FB page.
8/4/2013 ~11:13 Saurav (Gurgaon Office - 9717894448): Confirmed that the recharge of 1299 has happened on my number - Needs a day to check and get back.
11/4/2013 ~11:38 Extremely rude call.
  1. He denied me having made the transaction for Rs.1299 while the completed transaction has been established multiple times - Once by Saurav (on the 8th of April) and once even by the nodal office.
  2. When I mentioned that I had already sent the bank detail and the confirmation of the transaction, he again denied me having made any transaction!
  3. When I asked him to transfer the call to a senior executive, he refused to, saying "Humaara Senior department nahi hai"..!!
  4. When I asked him who do I contact, he said he'll connect me to a senior department!!
  5. When I questioned him why I was lied to and demanded to know his name - I was told, (verbatim) "Achha sir, main aapki call senior ko connect nahi kar raha hoon" like it was a threat! And then the call was extremely rudely disconnected.
12/4/2013 ~14:01 Call from Poonam - Delhi Office - Asked for bank statement till today - to forward the same for reversal
I sent the same. Twice.
14/4/2013 ~10:21 Tapesh Kumar
ICICI recharge 1299 25/3/2013 not 24/3/2013 but claimed 1299 no recharge
Rana Pratap senior official 10:40 14/4/2013 Confirmed recharge. Took a 24 hr deadline
Missed call 15/4/2013 ~08:50 hrs. I Wrote back asking for a direct number or call back. They sent an SMS saying the complant was resolved because I was not reachable!
When I tried calling back, as usual, my number has probably been black-listed and hence the customer care doesn't receive my calls.
17/4/2013 ~12:27 Ankit from the Nodal Office
Internal Airtel Network slow. Hence information detail not accessible. Will call back within two hours. If not, call Nodal Office and arrange for callback from Ankit Talan.
23/4/2013 Received a mail saying there was no erroneous deduction. Wrote back saying it was more an issue of "service not received" than "wrong deduction". This mail was sent by the Andhra Appellate!
29/4/2013 ~11:05 Ankit from the Nodal Office
Internal Airtel Network slow. Hence information detail not accessible. Will call back within two hours.
Called later saying this issue is in the "mail department" and since I called, this issue cant be resolved on phone. Ankit Talan called back in the evening and handed over to Maya.

Maya, while courteous, was highly impatient trying to settle me off with mathematics that didn't sum up. So the cost of SMS went from Rs.250 to Rs.100 to Rs.25 depending on how you wanted to adjust for it mathematically.
Then she told me I had received an incoming call at 12:45 in Macau - when in fact I was in HK waiting for the the ferry till 2pm (Makemytrip can confirm the same if required)! So apparently, I was charged Rs.100 for the same. I asked even if we assume that I was charged for the Macau incoming call, why wasn't I able to dial any numbers! Why wasn't I able to receive any calls when I was back in HK?
She had no answers and went to check on the website. Apparently she couldn't find the 1299 plan online (yes they have changed the plan now - but but but.. I have the screenshot of the plan stored)!

Without letting me speak, she just kept repeating that she had checked! When I asked for the mathematics to work out, she didn't have an answer (don't blame her, she was well past her office timings - god forbid if she's unsafe because of a late night auto ride). She even offered to restore my services if I hadn't received them. So essentially, as I paraphrased for her, she was asking me to go to HK again to get the benefit of the Rs.1299 pack. She did realise her mistake and said she'd call me the next day.
So this is the status till today. apart from the 1299 that I didn't receive the benefit for, I must've already spent more than Rs.100 on calling the nodal office (the calls are not free, u see). I've decided to take this case to the end - lets see how Airtel copes up with a guy who likes to maintain all records and is willing to go the distance.

Update:1 07/05/2013 Finally Airtel convinced me to spend another Rs.50 in getting the itemised bill as I couldn't prove anything otherwise. I did. To my shock, I've been charged for calling my own number!

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