Folks at office have been telling that Airtel has dropped their broadband tariffs for a while. However I dreaded calling their customer care since I spend more than 30 minutes for every complaint talking to a bunch of clueless folks ultimately achieving nothing. Finally I decided to call them on 30th March to check it out. The person who answered the call accepted that Airtel has indeed dropped their 256Kbps unlimited connection from Rs.999/- per month to Rs.750/- per month. When quizzed why did they not inform the customers about the change in rates, she said that it was informed in the previous month's bill. I tried asking her to provide more information on when this was done and she could not answer. So I raised a complaint asking her to provide information on when this was advertised and when can I be migrated. Also, since I was not informed about this new plan, I asked for a prorated rebate on my tariff since the date the plan was announced. She assured me that I would receive a call latest by 1:30pm the next day.
I waited till 1:30pm the next day and did not receive a response. I was in no mood in talking to these morons again and decided to call the Nodal officer, Mr.Prashant Kumar Goswami as listed in the bill. However when I called the number, it was again picked up by another clueless agent who said that Prashant is a busy man and he does not handle all calls :-) Very nice. I said if that is the case they should not bother listing his name in the bill as an escalation. I made the following complaints to her.
- Why was my complaint not resolved as promised by 1:30pm?
- Why was I not informed about the change in plan?
- When can I be migrated to the new plan?
- Since Prashant is busy and does not handle calls, they should not list his name as the Nodal officer and provide a generic name in the bill henceforth.
She promised that she will revert at the earliest. She also provided her name and said that I can call the nodal desk and ask for her. She was also kind enough to provide the name of one Mr.Murali who was the next level of escalation but refused to provide the direct numbers of Prashant / Shamik listed as the escalations on the bill. The next day she responded saying that the customers were informed with a note in the bill announcing of the change in plan and this was also updated on the website. I did check the website and this information was not there. She could not provide more information on which month's bill had the information about the new plans. She also said that the new plans were Rs.750/- for 256Kbps unlimited and Rs.999/- for 384Kbps unlimited and she can migrate me to any of the plans immediately. However these new plans came with a twist. Earlier Airtel offered a rebate of Rs.99 if you owned a modem. She said that this rebate was not applicable on the new plans. I was not satisfied with the response and asked her to provide this in writing. She said that she will ask Customer Care to send that email immediately. I also called up the next level escalation, Murali, about the agent's failure in providing me details about the announcement of the plans. Murali said he will revert shortly but never did.
Almost a couple of weeks passed and I did not receive any response. So I called the agent again on April 14 saying that I did not receive any emails from her. She said that the mails were sent but I could not locate them. Later I discovered that they had sent an email but I had inadvertently marked it as read. I did not believe her then and asked her to forward the original email again to me. Someone else from Customer care sent an email which said
This is to inform that adjustment cannot be provided in the bill if you use your own modem, once you opt for Unlimited 999 @ 384 kbps you will be charged *Rs.999.00/-*. If you would take new modem from company or if you will use your own modem then *Rs.999.00/-* is the rental charged and for new modem you will be charged *Rs.500.00* towards registration fees which is non-refundable.
I felt this was wrong since they earlier encouraged to purchase a modem and now there is no benefit of having your own modem. So I called the agent again and this time she was more than willing to give the numbers of both Prashant and Shamik. I called up Prashant and he took down all the details and promised to call me back by 4:30 on April 14th. But as with all other folks from Airtel, he never did. I then called Shamik and explained him the story. He said he will have someone look into it and revert the next day morning by 10:30AM. Promptly, I got a call the next day from Murali saying he was working on the issue based on the inputs I had given to Shamik. I very nicely explained to him that, had he returned my call as promised, there would not have been a need to call Shamik. He was almost useless and then another one by name Ms.Amitha Mohan called. She said the she was the head of Service Excellence and she was looking into my complaints and she will revert.
After several rounds of conversation with her, the summary is below.
- Airtel has had this plan since Dec (or may be Jan, I forgot) and that this was an acquisition plan and was only for new customers. This was not offered to existing customers and was never advertised. She also said that the plan was supposed to expire on March 31st but has been extended for a couple of weeks. She also said I can be offered the plan since I registered a complaint on March 31. I explained it to her that this is completely contradictory to what I have been told by their CC folks for the past couple of weeks. She said she will check and revert.
- She was more than willing to get me migrated to any plans that I wanted and finally migrated me to Rs.750/ per month for 256Kbps. I will get a rebate of Rs.49/- per month for using my own modem. She did not explain why both her agent / Customer care did not know about this. She again said she will check and revert.
- She also promised that she will look into the complaints to understand why it took so long to resolve and see how it can be improved. She also promised that the agents at the Nodal office will be educated to provide the numbers of the Nodal officer if requested.
It is more than a week now and she still hasn't gotten back to me yet. And I am positive she has completely forgotten this. I will mail her a copy of this post and see what is her response.
A couple of days back I checked Airtel's website and both the plans are listed.
- New Home 750 Residential - 256Kbps for Rs.750/- per month
- Home 999 (Residential) - 384Kpbs for Rs.999/- per month
So Airtel indeed has had their plans from December but they have made it public very lately. They are also not advertising this nor pro-actively migrating their customers to the better plans as they have done in the past. So if you are still paying Rs.999/- for a 256Kbps connection, call customer care and ask to be migrated. Don't listen to the CC agents if you dont get a proper response. They are a bunch of clueless idiots. Keep escalating until you get a resolution.
Also, an FYI. I just discovered from TRAI guidelines that if you escalate it to the Nodal officer, your complaint should be resolved within 3 days if it is with regards to a fault repair, service disruption and disconnection of service and within 10 days for all other grievances. Also, as and when there are any changes in any aspect/item of tariff in the chosen package, they are expected to communicate in writing to the subscribers.