Friday, May 07, 2010

The case of the Hello Tune

I received an sms from Airtel stating that a Hello Tune (Kannada song) was subscribed to my cell phone and it was charged at Rs 10 for 10 days. This was without any intimation from me. I also received an sms stating what needs to be done if I didn’t want the Tune to continue beyond 10 days. But there was no message to indicate what needs to be done if I wanted to unsubscribe from the Tune right away and get back that Rs 10. Since I didn’t want the Tune even for 1 day, I unsubscribed immediately but I did not get back the Rs 10. Thinking that there might be a batch process that refunds the amount, I waited for one whole day. The money was not refunded.

My wife called up the customer care on my behalf to enquire about the refund. The operator informed her that I should have called up customer care before unsubscribing and the money would have been refunded upon cancellation of the Tune. The unsubscribing option was only for those who stayed with the Tune for 10 days. And since I unsubscribed via sms, the operator mentioned that the refund cannot be processed.

Much has been said about my anger in previous posts. As I overheard this conversation taking place between my wife (who was passively subduing to the fact that Rs 10 was lost because of my hurried unsubscribing action and because of Airtel’s policies) and the operator, my blood pressure shot up and I fumed. I snatched the phone from my wife and lambasted the poor operator like anything. You might even say, I almost bomb-blasted the lady! I outpoured like the famous Eyjafjallaj√∂kull and did not even allow her to get in a single word.

Worse, she knew whatever I was speaking was fair. I did not ask for the Hello Tune. Money was debited from my account without my permission for a feature that I did not want and on top of it I was blamed to have messed it all up by unsubscribing instead of calling customer care. As if I would know that I had to call customer care for unsubscribing. And why would Airtel want to make customers call customer care when they are pleasantly enjoying a concert or a movie?! Oh boy, it sure gets nice to verbally beat someone to death when you know you are in the right side of law! Its like pumping one’s fist after winning a hot duel! I got all fired up and spat fire for about 5 minutes after which the operator meekly gave the phone to her supervisor. I would have axed the CEO of Airtel too if I was asked to. It was not the Rs 10 that mattered, it was the gross injustice of it all.

I didn’t even have to speak to the supervisor for the supervisor just came on the phone and said the money will be refunded. It seemed like an anti-climax to me. I mean, here I was, all powered up to serve a 150 mph ace of a serve when the opponent just walked out on me accepting defeat! Sure enough, I got back my money in a minute’s time.

When I went to office and told my colleague about this, who was a fresher, she informed that she had been one such operator in Airtel's competitor company and the fact of the matter was that the operators were taught to convince the customers about customers’ mistakes and if the customer was meek enough and accepted the rules, the company made profit. But if the customers fought and raised their voice, they were to be immediately refunded.


So much has been said about not to be angry and to treat everyone fairly and to always be calm and soft, and lo and behold, people misuse people of such character totally! Bottomline is: if you are weak, you get trodden over!


Anonymous said...

Dear Customer,

This is to inform you that your concern has been noted and our team is eager to resolve it. In order to get to the resolution, we need to get in touch with you and gather more details about the concern. However, we are restricted by the absence of your contact details in your original complaint. Please do write in to us at with your contact details (landline or mobile phone number. We assure you that we are committed to resolve the issue to your satisfaction.

Rakesh Kumar
Airtel Customer Service Team

Harsha S Rao said...

Dear Rakesh
Let me first tell that response to this post was totally unexpected from an Airtel Customer Service Team. I am indeed touched by such a response!
However, note that the complete issue is already detailed in the post and my concern too has already been addressed and resolved by Airtel Customer Service team. My only wish is not to encounter such situations again and for Airtel not to enforce unintended services without prior notices. In case of any such issues in future, I will be glad to email at the mentioned contact details.

mvadu said...

Boy.. nice one.. I still keep my 5 year old Vodafone (then Hutch) number (for 50Rs. per month, sentimental attachments to that number). Recently when I was in India, I wanted to check the tariff of that plan. so I tried calling Vodafone cust care, and was shocked to hear the automated announcement saying "The time with customer care rep would be charged at 10p per minute".. so if this happens for a Vodafone user, he might as well loose 10Rs while talking to cust care :)