A Message To Airtel: Indian Consumers Are Not Fools

Airtel is one of the biggest private sector firms in India and is a testimony of our rapidly growing telecom sector. But as it increases in size and operations, it has started to neglect the most focal point of its profits: the customers. There are plenty of examples and cases to prove this and although, I’ll say from my point of view; I am sure that these hassles will echo with a lot of Airtel customers like me.

The call rates in India are minute-based, i.e. the pulse is of one minute but as soon as you reach 59 seconds, two calls are charged instead of one. The other day, I, visually irritated, called up the Airtel customer care. What I got as reply to my complaint was actually hilarious. The guy said that I should try cutting my calls at 58 or 57 seconds to avoid being charged two calls. Moreover, he said that, I may have cut at 59th second but the system takes time to cut calls and so it exceeds 59 and two calls are charged. Why is this hilarious? I am a telecom engineer myself and I fully understand the logic. But in worst case possible, the system will not take more than some microseconds to cut a call. Hence it can never exceed 60 seconds. But still Airtel charges us for two calls if we cut at 59th second. Isn’t this a blatant way to deceive innocent customers? Or it may be their system’s fault which recognizes a minute to be only of 59 seconds.

The second thing is of course, their network; which, no doubt, is excellent outdoors but is weak or poor inside houses. As compared to other telecom companies, Airtel’s signals are relatively poor inside houses. This leads to massive call dropping. In worst cases, we end up making 3-4 calls instead of the desired one and in the process; Airtel makes a cool amount which is 3-4 times what it should have made. This problem is not even a new one. When I contacted Airtel’s technical officers in my area, they did make sincere efforts to rectify the problem but eventually couldn’t. The problem was diagnosed to be from the main center. I don’t know what or where the main center is but the problem of weak signals is everywhere. I live in Delhi and have this problem. One of my friends, lives in Kolkata and she also faces these problems from Airtel while other networks work fine. That definitely proves a big problem from Airtel’s side.

I happen to be on their receiving side quite too often. In a recent thing, I asked one of their vendors for a 3 month call pack worth Rs 125. What I instead got was the 6 month one I didn’t want at all. When I asked the vendor, he simply replied that although both the 3 & 6 month packs were written on their “available” list, the 3 month one must have been discontinued by Airtel without informing them so they were not in a position to do anything. Now look at my predicament. Whom can I blame: The vendor or the company? In the end, I really can’t do anything about it, can I? Irrespective of who’s at fault, I got locked in for 6 months because these packs aren’t cancellable.

Through this article, I am not trying to castigate Airtel or anyone. Also, I am not trying to prove that Airtel is worse off than some other company. I am just stating the facts. I just want them to know where they are lacking. In some time, number portability among mobile operators will be introduced. That will adversely affect those who don’t believe in top quality services unless they mend their ways. Companies should understand that Indian consumers are not fools and have a host of measures in their stride to bring poor service providers to book. I hope the companies understand this fact.

Mayank Sharma

[Image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/saibotregeel/1339738900/]