Customer, My Foot
Customers are important for mobile-phone service providers. Or so it would seem. Why else would they run Helpline, Customer Care/Customer Relation Centres? But a different picture comes to your mind when you call them up. Do they help you through your problems? For an answer, one has only to look at the long list of complaints in these columns.
Let us try and phone a typical Helpline. We are met with computer monotones that ask us to choose our options...press 1 for this complaint, press 2 for that, and so on. Needless to remind ourselves that the telecom revolution we witness today has come to acquire a broad sweep across the country and it’s meant for millions of ordinary people. You can’t expect them to sort out their problems by pressing some buttons. How do ordinary people relate their problem to a specific button-option on offer!
But then it’s so hard to get a human interface …a person across the line, like you and me, whom you can tell what your problem is, in simple words. If you are lucky, you might come up with an offer to talk to a company person. But –be it known --the mobile operator doesn’t encourage customer interaction. It costs to talk to him, Rs 5 for 3 minutes! You’re warned about it right at the outset. Better avoid? You are told to confirm it’s okay by you to pay. Then only could you speak to a company person. So much for concern to customer and customer feedback.
In my experience with Airtel, it took a lot of effort to talk to a company staff the other day. I was having a problem. Let me say it’s a problem of Airtel’s doing. On my prepaid mobile ,one SMS message told me to my shock that I had be become a subscriber to a certain service [I had not asked for] and they had debited my pre-paid account against the charges for that service. I tried to stop it, but couldn’t .. for the simple reason there was no exit option on offer at the number mentioned by the Airtel SMS. There was more to it. If I thought the unwanted menace would run its course and then stop, I was wrong. A few days later, Airtel sent me a follow-up SMS to say that the initial service in question was being renewed.
Quite clearly, I found myself trapped without an exit option. I was on roaming in Delhi. The local Helpline would not help, but it gave me Airtel’s number in Karnataka to contact. To stop an unwanted service thrust upon me, I ended up paying the same amount in STD charges to the company.
Win-win for Airtel. Sabbash. What about the hapless customer?
15 Oct 2011