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Next-Gen Applications- My foot

Posted by tggokul on April 10, 2007

I am sure by now you would have guessed that I am not in a great mood. Thanks to the awful customer experience I had at India’s premier Telecommunications provider Airtel’s showroom.

Airtel is my service provider for landline, mobile and broadband services. Now that is ‘triple-play’ ūüôā I have been Airtel’s most loyal customer for the last four years and so far I have never had any major complaints against them. Their services have been pretty good and even when any of the services had gone down in the past, they have always been quick to respond and resolve the matter within hours.

So, I¬†went today to one of their outlets close to my house to pay my mobile and broadband bills. I don’t do it online because I had an harrowing experience¬†once when they charged me for a wrong amount and I ended up talking to their¬†people¬†atleast once a day for one month before it got resolved. So I always pay by a credit card in person so that I get a receipt that can be used in case of any issues.

The place was not too crowded, maybe three-four people before me in the line. But then it took the guy in the billing counter a lot of time to service even one customer. After an half hour wait by which time he had serviced like two people, he started to get the details from the guy before me in the line. 

Only at that point were we made aware that there was some systems error and they could not connect to the central servers to get the customer records!!! So much for their capability to cater to the needs of one billion people!!! Anyway at this point, I was kind of furious that they had not informed the people in the line about this. I would have gladly walked away had I known about this earlier. The due date was at-least couple of weeks away. But since I had already waited in the line for so long, I decided to get done with this today and not go through a similar experience at a later time.

The guy before me had some kind of a speech defect and was having difficulty letting the guy in the counter know his phone number. Got to give it to the Airtel employee  He was very considerate and was trying to help the person.  Since the systems were down, as a stop-gap arrangement, they were actually giving out handwritten receipts. The employee relaized that he had ran out of such sheets and went to look for another book.

This is where it got really annoying. The guy was searching frantically for atleast fifteen minutes and could not find a single book. By that time another guy came to that counter and got the Landline systems up. So effectively they could cater the landline customers but not the mobile ones ( Oh god, please make IMS a reality so that our records will be in  HSS). The new guy asked the guy before me again for the details and got impatient when the latter was not saying it coherently. He bluntly brushed him aside saying that his connection was disconnected and he had to go another showroom to get that fixed.

The speech-impaired dude obviously was pissed but just walked out since he didn’t want to create a scene right there. So I was next in line and my landline bill was about to be settled. Exactly at that time, the previous Airtel employee finally found his ‘book’ and started to service customers behind me. The minute he opened up another counter, total pandemonium broke out and there was a mini-stampede with people rushing to the other counter.

Obviously the¬†outlet’s¬†air-conditioning was not working. It got so hot and suffocating that a few of us just walked out of the place right then hoping never to set foot there again. But I wanted somebody to be held accountable for what happened. I called up Airtel’s customer care to lodge a complaint. And guess what, the guy who talked to me patiently listened to my outbursts and then said, ‘Sorry sir, we can’t register your complaint since our systems our down!!!!’.

That is when I realized forget Next-gen applications. Just¬†make right the present. Anyway, I am just going to pay my mobile bill online and hope they don’t screw up.

6 Responses to “Next-Gen Applications- My foot”

  1. anonymous said

    Moral –

    Everything new has challenges
    Make the current work and make the common man use it efficiently.

    Thats where the technology or invention/innovation will stick

    Case in point – look at a phone – it went from holding a receiver and ear piece in two hands to a cell phone (some people juggle with this while driving now – thats a different story) – and innovation has helped make billions use it!!

  2. Preeti said

    I am sorry but I really am not able to appreciate the relevance of what Anonymous says.
    He a talking of the evolution of mobile phones from its older counterparts…
    How is that relevant here. I thought we were discussing Airtel’s inefficiency in doing what its supposed to be best at!!!

  3. anonymous said

    Author says
    “Oh god, please make IMS a reality so that our records will be in HSS”

    Then ends with
    “That is when I realized forget Next-gen applications. Just make right the present. Anyway, I am just going to pay my mobile bill online and hope they don‚Äôt screw up.”

    All I am saying is give it time – no need for a revolution here. Let evolution take its course.


  4. Name said

    The advancement in technology is no solution for incompetence. 3G and IMS (I am involved in the standardization process) is not customer friendly. The development and the adoption of these standards are motivated by revenues and competition.

    While the investment in these technologies are huge, the restrictions in place to ensure returns on investment are not focussed on customer requirements. While I am not a human rights activist, as an engineer who contributes to the standardization of wireless technology, I am aware of the limitations that would be in place for the consumer who would have no alternative but to accept it on the carrier’s terms.

    While this does not bear relevance to your post, it does intend to address your euphoria on 3G and IMS.

  5. […] over unlike some western countries, I would never leave Airtel because even though I have had issues in the past with their service, they still are way better compared to […]

  6. […] over unlike some western countries, I would never leave Airtel because even though I have had issues in the past with their service, they still are way better compared to others. Let Others Know […]

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