Archive for November, 2005

Its high time

I am a proud user of Airtel’s broadband & telephone services. Previously I was using the services in Northern India. Currently I am using it in a Southern part of India.

While in the North, I had subscribed to the Home 699 plan. The plan was newly launched then and promised the user 128 KBPS with unlimited data transfer. I, being a CS graduate and a RIM user, knew how companies make fool of customers. Hence, before subscribing to the plan, I did my home work. I enquired the Airtel customer care whether the speed is 128 Kilo BYTES or 128 Kilo BITS per second. Thankfully, I was told that its indeed KBPS(Kilo bytes per second: for kilo bits, “kbps” is used). I also double checked the same with the marketing person who was striving to make me an Airtel customer.

Although promised to be installed within 2 days, it took them 4 days and INR 200 worth of my phonecalls to get it working on my apartment.

Then I started downloading stuff! I was getting around 60 – 80 KBPS speeds. Although my room mates were satisfied with the speed, I was not. I wanted every bit for what I was paying for! Hence, I dropped a mail to the customer care saying that I am not getting the promised speeds. They called me up. After the usual on the phone stupid tweaks (like disabling anti virus, anti spy wares etc.), when I was still not convinced the sweet lady on the other side told me that a representative will visit me. I tried telling the sweet lady that there is no problem from my side, but she still insisted. I could not contradict a sweet lady like her!

The representative came the next day. He saw the download speeds and was surprised! Not because I was getting lees than what I was promised, but because according to him, I was getting more than what I should get :|. According to him, the speed of the plan was 128 kbps (kilo bits per second) and ideally, I should have got only 16 kilo BYTES per second!! WTF X-(.

1 Kilo Byte = 8 Kilo Bits.

I showed him the mail I received from the customer care. He immediately noted down the name of the poor chap who replied to my complaint and called up his boss that this fellow is giving wrong information to the customers. I was speechless. What could I say? He told me that he cannot help me and left.

My room mates convinced me to leave the subject as is.

Coming down:

In the ubiquitously denoted as the IT city of India, I live at my relatives house in one of the posh localities of the city. Here, before my arrival, my younger brothers had managed to get a broadband connection. Of course Airtel broadband. It was a 256 KBPS or kbps (I don’t know) plan. We were getting a maximum of 30 KBPS download speeds. So i guess it was the latter. But it had a 1 GB data transfer limit attached to it.

I called up the marketing executive here to migrate it to the unlimited data transfer plan. he gave me the customer care numbers and asked me to place my request there. The Airtel land line was out of order (But surprisingly, the broadband was working!), hence I called up from my good old RIM. After the usual keypad pressing to get to the right department, I pressed the required key to express my interest to talk to an Executive, who, according to the sweet lady’s voice coming from the other end, were dying to help me.

1 minute… 2 minutes… 3 minutes… I waited for 15 minutes! I guess the sweet lady was lying. WTF! I even wasted all my call charges.

I then dropped a mail (after hunting for the customer care address) to them expressing my interest for the subject matter.

1 day… 2 days… I waited for 3 whole days for their replies! I guess their mail server was down or everyone was busy bursting crackers. WTF!

Then I called up the marketing person again and expressed my concern. The decent guy understood my concern (and probably smiled!) and said that he would do the needful. The next day I also received the replies to my mails (along with the apologies for the late reply, of course!) and the plan was migrated in another 2 days. Marketing people do have powers!

The difference was noticeable. I was able to get download speeds of up to 40 – 50 KBPS, although, not as fast as the northern India. So, I guess that the technical person who came to cater my complaint in northern India was a fool. He himself didn’t know about the services offered by the company.

I went to the site to check about the status of my plan. Although, there is nowhere a subscriber can find out what plan is he subscribed to (WTF again!), there is an alternative way to find it. One has to check the usage of ones plan. For unlimited plans, there is no usage displayed. hence, one can know whether he has subscribed to unlimited plan or not.

I saw a link flashing on the website regarding some new tariff plans introduces. Like a typical Indian customer who always hopes that the tariff of his subscribed plan be reduced, I clicked on the link. A pop-up sized window appeared with one of the worst Flash based forms I have ever seen. After filling up the very slow form (Phew!) asking about my usage and speed requirements, I clicked on submit. The plans and tariffs appeared in a matrix like structure. The window was so small that only the row and the column headers were visible. To make matters worse, the stupid website developer did not keep the option to re size the window! WTF!

Its getting lengthy, lets get to the conclusion fast:

What I mean to say is that its high time now that the Indian telecom companies put some time in improving their websites and customer services. With more and more people going for broadband connections, it is really a pity that customers are fooled this way. When the company representatives themselves do not know about the schemes and the services of the company and have such poor websites, what can the poor customer do?