Monday, March 30, 2009

This is Customer Support – May I help you?

Oh no…please don’t because you cannot!

At some point in our lives, we have all arraigned the services offered by the public and government sectors– Be it the BSNL line man who never turns up to fix your telephone connection (I am really grateful to my dad for being in the Telecom sector and therefore redeeming our lives from this single most infamous and far-flung phenomenon), the electricity bill that always shows the wrong units consumed, the cop and the postman who need to be bribed in order to get your passport on time, the data entry guy at the Income Tax office who never gets your details correct the first time on the PAN card (I remember my date o f birth printed as 1953 in my first PAN card – talk about instant waning!), or the clerk at the University Office who will never be able to trace your roll number should you need another copy of your college degree.

Well, “sarkari kaam hai, der to lagegi” (It’s a government service, therefore bound to be delayed), and so we sniveled, and we huffed and we puffed and we moved on.

Then, came the age of the Tata and Ambanis and numerous other bantam and burly private players who invaded the previously unexploited territories and challenged the monopoly of the so called public sector, offering services that were not only superior but also more customer-focused.
A key player that emerged was Airtel, the Mittal clan’s roseate cherub. Cellular services never seemed so facile; 24x7 customer support was an unheard of marvel.

And, so thwarting my dad’s top-notch attempt at convincing me to go in for a BSNL connection as according to him BSNL was equally competitive and more reliable (my dad was working for BSNL then) for my first mobile phone ever in 2003, I went in for an Airtel. It was cool and red and hip and happening, the unsurpassable medium to “Express Yourself”.

That was then, zooming in to the present – 2009.

I have been exasperated by Airtel customer service. First, it was the prepaid connection that was magnanimously disconnected by some bugger cos my identity and address proof documents had not reached Airtel. Obviously, the fact that I had bought the connection from an Airtel center and had provided the required documents to the Airtel representative, invoked little sympathy from the idiotic and uneducated call center executives. So, after lambasting a few such specimens, I resubmitted my documents only to be told a week later that my account could not be activated on account of non-availability of identity and address proof in the system.
Now, I must admit it’s not very difficult to invoke the wrath of this person called Yuvika Chaube; I am forever ready to axe the first head that blurts illogical hogwash, but this time around I thought I’d burst a vein in my umbrage. Finally, I had to take refuge with my dad who unleashed the TRAI authorities on Airtel (thank god for babudom :)) and I did have the last laugh – not only was my service restored in a couple of hours but somebody from Airtel came to my house to inquire and take whatever proofs!

My blood pressure was seemingly nearing back to normal after this fury that Airtel struck again! This time my DTH TV Cable connection was the prima facio. Now, don’t ask me why I am such a die-hard Airtel fan – I am not. All this happens to be the ill-play of providence. Okay, back to my ranting, so Fate decided one fine Wednesday evening that I do not deserve to watch any of the mainstream channels – Star Plus, Sony, Set Max, Pix etc. I gave Airtel two complete days to resolve the issue but I forget the exact phrase that crudely states the fact that a dog’s tail can never straighten (I am sorry, the flavor is lost in translation). So I metamorphosed into my Maa Kaali avatar, and gave hell (and I really mean it) to two customer care executives and their supervisors.
I used abuses, hurled accusations, threatened, and finally after four and a half days of having waged a bloody, ferocious battle, with inexorable support from my father in law, we were able to coax the much sought after “service engineer” to pay us a visit and fix the problem. For those interested, it was some minor problem with the reception of the dish and was fixed in less than an hour.

Alas, all differences between the private companies and the government sector seem to have been blurred with the passage of time. You can expect exemplary service once-in-a-while from both, but for the majority of the time, tighten your seat belts for the deadliest of rides and the most unpleasant of trysts that begin with the horrific words “Hello this is Customer Service, How may I help you?”, which actually means “You are a fool to have tried this number and immensely lucky that you were able to reach one of us. Now you can go ahead with the formality of telling us about your problem. In all probability we can do nothing so hopefully you believe in God, and that faith might see you through these troubled times.” Amen.


  1. Kudos! I proffer that this is by far your most entertaining post on this blog.. Your angst is amply visible in your words.. Effect created and wonderfully at that.. Sentiments are echoed, though the tormentor may not be likewise in my case.. Keep it up! Great work!

  2. :) thanks...u seem to be pretty silent on ur blog...lack of time huh with all the joi de vivre ;)

  3. Well you can guess so.. But will try to post as soon as I find variables in time.. Myself dying to write something.. Just that there is so much to say and so difficult to decide ;)

  4. talk about takin things( d nasty, horrendous ones ,that is) wid a pinch of salt! never witnessed ur enraged "avtar" b4..


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