Kick and Tell!

mtnl.bmpThe honeymoon is over. In fact things are so bad, divorce is very much on the cards, I have even found myself a replacement. I have had enough! My calls have not been received, my problems have been ignored and I have been made to feel like a small little insignificant unimportant twit. Before you begin to anticipate a scandalous breakup story, let me share a few facts. Dolphin- the amazing MTNL telecom service, is being dropped by me in favour of its private, supposedly more efficient and consequently un-riching cousin Airtel. My choice of words till now may have indicated to all and sundry that my levels of dissatisfaction with telecom operators at large are almost proportionate to the bills that MTNL has been sending me.

It all began two months ago, when a bill of a grand Grand hit me. Yes and hit hard. From a modest Rs.300, to the very immodest 4 –digit figure, I had made cell bill history in my family. My parents of course weren’t amused. Frankly neither was I. It may not seem that big a deal to you, it may still belong to the realms of reality for many. Reserve your opinion till you hear my call rates- Rs. 1.20 for local, Rs. 1.75 for STD, and messaging 25 paise local and Re 1 for STD. If the altitude of the call rates has left you gasping, imagine my plight at receiving the above mentioned bill, despite the low rates. No I haven’t found myself a new chatty Boyfriend, No I haven’t started to dinner talk on the cell, No I haven’t done anything drastic enough to bring about the kind of inflation that my mobile bill experienced. When my mother blessed me with the connection, at the start of my college life, I couldn’t help but feel smug at the more than fair deal I thought I had struck. Now I am just struck, with bad luck, a worse telecom operator, and the worst of it all- the poverty only a college student can inflict upon him/herself.

The only problem is that for this once in my life I am actually not to blame. Now every young adult has enough things he/ she did to take blame for, which are denied nevertheless, so when something like this happens, it’s a real tragedy. Moving away from the melodramatic I shall now elucidate upon the circumstances that have brought me to this- and Airtel. In the 21st century what does a consumer (who is God) do when faced with a problem? Approach Customer Care of course! Exactly what I did. As you may have guessed my encounter with this particular ‘care’ has not been fruitful, infact some of it has even been funny. Leaving out the mundane( Your call is in waiting…music…your call is in…your call is in waiting……music…….music…SLAM!) when you mercifully do get connected ( 1/10000 times) this is what you get. Sample-

CC: Good __ sir…sorry ma’am. This is fksdhgilgiy ghi ( some coded language) How may I help you.

Me : (explain my problem)

CC: May I have your name.

Me: Malavika

CC: Nice name ma’am

—–at this point the connection is disrupted as often happens with my dear Dolphin—–

Me: what?

CC: Nice name ma’am

Me: Surname? Vyawahare

CC: No. No, Nice name ma’am.

Me: V-Y-A-W-A-H-A-R-E

CC: NICE NAME MA’AM! (mutters- what’s wrong with your connection???)

Me: ( You should tell me what’s wrong!) Oh…uh huh so what about my complaint?

CC: Ma’am please stay online while I check your details..

Music…your call is important to us, please stay online….music….your call is important to us please stay online….music……music…….music….music……music…SLAM! Thanks buddy you made my day.

I should have been prepared, my earlier attempts to get the GPRS activated in my phone was a mini disaster too. Initially having innocently subscribed for GPRS, and patiently giving my details and agreeing to shell out Rs.50 activation charges, I tried configuring the thing. Nothing happened. 20 calls to Customer Care later, it still wasn’t working. Their inadequate knowledge, inability to convey instructions or understand the customer’s problem is funny at times and appalling most times. How to activate GPRS with a Dolphin connection still remains a mystery. I did not pursue that, but this billing problem really took the cake- and my money. Fortunately in the Billing mystery I am not as clueless about what’s going on. Recently much to the amusement of my friends when they called on my number, some old lady who did not happen to be me, answered. My attempts to call my friend lead to the appearance of a number on my friend’s display screen, that did not happen to be mine. I am almost sure, that if I were to call that number, an old lady would answer, or maybe I will…basically you get the mess that MTNL has landed me in. To their credit this cross connecting business has not happened to me again, I am not so optimistic about the cross- billing though.

I clearly recall the day when our professor had told us, how in the not so distant past, people had to wait almost 3 decades to get a phone connection in India. The collective giggle that broke out amongst us was a clear indication of our assessment of the absurdity quotient of such a situation. My experience has made me wiser, judging from the way MTNL has taken care of me, I shudder to think of a situation where the Customer Care knew that the poor thing at the other end did not have the option of an Airtel or a Vodafone et al. Unfortunately even today, competition has not ensured efficiency. I don’t have any grudge against MTNL or its attempts to become competitive ( sorry guys I am not giving them a clean chit yet), but it seems that the focus is only on competing for the users, schemes, AD campaigns, you name them and they have them, but what about pure as they call it- Customer Care?

Malavika Vyawahare