complaint against Aircel iPhone for 10000 a scam to harass consumers
Important: We are running this story to forewarn all the consumers who just like us got all excited about iPhone priced at Rs. 10,000. It is actually pretty unprecedented. But this attractive scheme can possibly entail a bout of very shoddy service and harassment. The catch here is that Aircel locks you for a 6 month post-paid scheme and so if anything goes wrong there, there is probably no mode of redressing your grievances given their non-responsiveness (given the experience of at least one of our reader-consumers)
A complaint against Aircel or for that matter any other telecom company makes me cringe. A completely unwanted reminder of the troubled times I have spent with my phones and sims and 3G cards and net cards and calling cards and receiving cards and cards that shall not be named.(The plurals are totally intended.) Sob! Sigh!
Now you know why I do what I do.
My sorry tale of telecom troubles aside, a country that rejoiced when it was finally empowered with the hallowed 3G soon realized that with power (or network or spectrums) comes responsibility which apparently can’t be spelt by the telecom companies in India (they spent that time in learning how to spell a scam). The end result is a disgruntled bunch of really very annoyed consumers who want to switch to landlines in the earnest. True they don’t move but they let you talk–which is apparently what a phone was actually supposed to do!
Below is an email that a consumer wrote to Aircel after a horrifying experience with their touted 3GS scheme.
She is yet to hear from Aircel.
I write with reference to certain grievances in relation to my new Aircel subscription (iPhone 3GS with 6 month post-paid plan for Rs. 12,999).
On July 22, 2012, I made enquiries at the Aircel store in South Extension, New Delhi, to ascertain the procedure for applying for an iPhone 3GS with a 6 month post-paid plan for Rs. 3,000. I was informed that there was no availability of iPhone 3GS on that day, and further, I was given to understand that I would be called as soon as stock of iPhone 3GS became available and I would be able to purchase it on the same day as I received the call. In fact, I was also told that I should aim to reach the store within half an hour of receiving the call in order to purchase the phone, since there was great demand for the phone and it was being sold on a first come first serve basis. However, I never received a call or any further information.
Over the next few days, I called up the Aircel Store in South Extension on a number of occasions but the line was either busy, off or there was no response. I also called the Aircel toll free number, where I was made to wait for an executive to attend to me interminably, and eventually I did not receive any response. I finally got through to a sales executive on July 25, and was informed that there has been a change in the procedure and I would first require to fill a form, submit my address proof and identity proof along with a photo, subsequent to which Aircel would verify my address, immediately after which I would receive a call from Aircel to confirm that I could purchase the phone from the store.
On July 26, I visited the Aircel Store in South Extension and filled out the form and submitted the requisite documents. I was provided with an Aircel SIM card and its corresponding phone number. I was informed that my address would now be verified by an Aircel personnel, subsequent to which my Aircel SIM card would be activated, and I could then purchase the phone from the Aircel Store.
I told the Aircel sales executive attending to me that since I am working, I am not likely to be at home during the Aircel timings for verification (10 am to 6 pm) on weekdays and requested that the verification be done on either Saturday or Sunday. She said she would try her best to make sure it happened on Saturday, July 28. However, no representative came to my residence on July 28 and as usual, all calls to the Aircel Store in South Extension and the Aircel toll free number to follow up on this went un-answered. On July 29, I finally got through to the. store and was assured that my verification would definitely take place on July 29. However, nobody came to my residence for address verification and all subsequent calls to the store went unanswered.
Finally, on July 30 at around 6.15 pm, an Aircel representative came to my residence for address verification. I was asked a series of questions, including those pertaining to my employment and how long I have been working. I was unable to understand why details of my employment were necessary or relevant for applying for a phone connection; however I provided Aircel’s representative with all the information sought.
On July 31, I received a phone call from another Aircel representative, who subjected me to the same line of questioning as that of the Aircel representative who had visited my residence on July 30. I was additionally asked some further questions, such as whether I live in rented or owned premises. I would like to point out that I had already provided documentary proof of residence to Aircel at the time of submitting my form, and frankly, this level of repeated interrogation by Aircel was quite baffling to me.
After this, I did not hear from Aircel. I tried calling the Aircel Store in South Extension at least 20 times on August 1, but to no avail.
On August 2 at about 11 a.m., I finally got through to the Aircel Store in South Extension on the phone. I sought information about the status of my application, and asked if I could now come and collect my phone.
I was told that my verification process had been ‘Negative’ as per the internal report generated by Aircel. This was extremely surprising, given that an Aircel representative had physically verified my presence at the address provided by me.
The Aircel representative informed me on the phone that the reason my verification process was there was an outstanding amount of about Rs. 750 on the phone number assigned to me. I was also asked if I knew one Mr. Ishan Mehta against whose name the aforesaid outstanding was due. I said I did not know any Ishan Mehta, and since my verification had already taken place at my residence, it could only have had a ‘positive’ result, and this was clearly an error at Aircel’s end. The Aircel representative stated that my verification process could not have been positive as the records showed that Mr. Mehta’s dues were outstanding on my Aircel number. I was assured by the representative on the phone that he would check this issue internally and give me a call within an hour. However, I have not received a call from Aircel till date.
The following grave concerns emerge from my experience with Aircel detailed above:
1. Aircel’s system of consumer redressal is non-existent. There is not one aspect of my experience with Aircel that was satisfactory, as is clear from what I have stated above. This, coupled with a total lack of professionalism, ensures that no customer will repose any faith in Aircel’s products and services. I note from the Aircel website that there is purportedly a system for ‘Customer Grievance’ redressal in place, including an “Appellate Authority”. This is, frankly, laughable, considering that Aircel cannot even guarantee their call centre or store executives to respond to calls, let alone provide any assistance to a customer.
2. I was informed that my verification process had been returned with a ‘Negative’ note because one Mr. Ishan Mehta had an outstanding due on the SIM number provided to me. I have the following problems with this:
(i) The process of address verification is limited to a customer satisfying Aircel that (s)/he resides at the address provided by him/her. Presumably, once a customer does so, the process of verification must necessarily be concluded as ‘positive’. In my case, I submitted documentary proof of residence, met an Aircel represntative at my residence confirming that I lived there, and also answered seemingly irrelevant further questions on the phone as part of this verification process.
However, I was informed that my verification process was ‘negative’ on account of the outstanding dues of a third party on the phone number assigned to me. I fail to understand why my verification process was prejudiced by factors completely outside my control, and which have absolutely no bearing on my proving to Aircel that I reside at the address I claim to reside at (which, it may be reiterated, I successfully proved). This verification process is limited to a verification of the customer’s address alone, and it is not understood how any extraneous factors can bear any nexus to it.
(ii) The SIM card and corresponding phone number had been provided to me by Aircel. So it is not understood on what basis Aircel can ask me to justify a previous due on the number, the assignment of which to me I had little control over. This was absolutely audacious, inexplicable, inexcusable and utterly illogical.
If Aircel has been unable to recover dues on a certain number, this is Aircel’s concern alone. In fact, if Aircel was running its operations with any modicum of competence, it would not assign a SIM card on which it is still trying to recover outstanding dues to a new customer.
But to ask a customer if they know another customer who has an outstanding debt to Aircel, impliedly alleging that such debt is the new customer’s responsibility (since it has a bearing on the new customer’s application) is absolutely appalling and lacks even the most basic degree of professionalism.
3. Aircel’s verification process entailed asking a series of seemingly unnecessary questions. The level of enquiry did not seem proportionate to the product/service being provided. I have been a user of both pre-paid and post-paid services from Airtel and Vodafone in the past, and I have never been subjected to this degree of interrogation, and yet been provided far more superior services from these operators. And in return for this inordinately elaborate process of verification, I was not even provided the promised product/services by Aircel!
In fact, given the shoddy manner in which this company is run, I have no faith that I may be getting an un-used, non-defective first hand iPhone 3GS! If Aircel is recycling phone numbers on which Aircel still has outstanding dues – and subjecting a customer to questions about whether they personally know another customer, who defaulted on a contract which the new customer is obviously not privy to, displaying a shocking lack of professionalism, professional courtesy and common sense – then there is no guarantee that the iPhone 3GS instruments that are being sold are also being recycled! Of course, I have no way of ascertaining this for sure but given the horrifying experience I have had, I would rather not take a chance with a service provider like Aircel.
Therefore, I call upon you to please cancel my application. I have not been provided a reference number for the application, but presumably it can be tracked through the SIM card number provided to me, viz. +91971641****. In case you wish to collect the (hitherto un-activated) SIM card from me, you may do so after providing me with 72 hours’ advance notice.
Tadka Take 2
I personally love the common sense bit. But since when have we started expecting companies in India to possess this rare faculty. What I really wish is to have more and more aggrieved consumers stuffing the lack of this common sense down every company’s throat they come across.
I didn’t mean to be violent but the extent to which these companies take their consumers for granted is suffocating!
What is interesting about this story is the downright stupidity of asking your new consumer whether they know the old consumer and holding the new consumer liable for the debt of the old consumer! I really don’t have a comment befitting this corporate buffoonery. And what exactly was the logic behind the interrogation? Sure there must be ways of ensuring security without turning the process into a consumer harassment circus.
To be fair to the company, we are yet to hear from Aircel and when we do, we shall update the story. But, even if an issue is eventually redressed, it does not really take away from the fact that it arose in the first place. True consumer welfare is not in redressal, certainly not after a full fledged harassment cycle is completed. The welfare lies in a situation where the issue does not arise in the first place-a fact companies in India rarely give due credit to.
Update: Aircel did finally respond to Parul and following is the account what exactly transpired during the calls in Parul’s own words.
I received 2 calls from Aircel today. The first caller told me there is a handset ready for me and I can buy it, almost as though nothing had happened. I then made a reference to my e-mail and then he apologized, and requested that Aircel be given another chance. I said I have no faith in their service and in view of the way things progressed with my application, I didn’t wish to enter into a 6 month contract with Aircel and suffer.
I then received another call from another Aircel representative who apologized for Aircel’s mistakes and requested that I buy their handset. I told them I was supposed to get a call back a week ago but didn’t and since the only reason they were suddenly being responsive was because I had written a strong e-mail to them. So I couldn’t repose any faith in their service and risk entering into a 6 month contract with them. She had the audacity to say that they did tell me a week ago that my verification had been negative! I said that was their mistake and couldn’t believe they still couldn’t acknowledge that. She then apologized for “the goof up” and asked me to buy their phone. But I said I don’t want to go down that road with Aircel.
Thanks for all your help! I think it’s important to make other customers aware of their ridiculous level of service so others don’t suffer the way I did.
The path of redressal never runs smooth and this entire fiasco ended precisely as we had expected it to-with no real solution to consumer’s problem. This is not to say that redressal never really happens as we experienced plenty of cases where companies have successfully resolved the issues. But the onus for such utopia lies only and only with the brands.
Do you have a similar story to share? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure you are heard!