Important: As always, we are running this story because we have figured that internet services and related issues are one of the most common problems that are more often than not left unaddressed. This exceptional consumer’s tale tells us how a little persistence can go a long way in securing justice and at the same time brings forth the horrid condition of customer care in India. Despite all his persistence, what Hari could secure was only partial justice and that summarizes the whole truth of the consumer concerns in India.
There are some stories that absolutely need no tadka at all. Eye wateringly spicy is what defines the tale of this very persistent and assertive consumer. When Hari Charan approached us with his story through Facebook, we were already grappling with what we call the Aircel iPhone story (Read Warning: iPhone For 10,000! It May Not Be As Attractive It Seems!) aftermath. We were flooded with telecom ‘horror’ stories from every corner of the country (we still are and trying to figure the best way to showcase these stories without getting repetitive). But Hari’s story was unique for the sole reason of its astounding assertiveness and eventual though partial success.
Disclaimer: Much as you would like to believe otherwise, this is not a shameless placement for our elder siblings at Akosha. We swear their prominent appearance in this story is more of a co-incindence then deliberate design (the highlighting not so much…but then since when we claimed absolute sainthood!).
After all we can’t help it if they are involved with most exceptional consumer success stories!
This is the story of How Tata Indicom screwed up a simple case of “we-regret-and-refund” into what could have been a major case for litigation.
I had an issue. They dragged it for 7 months before owning up. I threatened to sue them. They apologised and offered to waive off all charges and clean the slate.
Before we go ahead and read the entire fiasco – here are some “FACTS”.
The proposed 3.1 Mbps speed is only an indication of Spurt Speed – i.e. the system “might” jump upto 3.1 Mbps depending on the connection (and that includes a lot of fine-print conditions)
I was “guaranteed” a minimum 256kbps using the Photon Plus Device.
Their service in my area was really bad. (A fact that I came to know quite late)
As compensation – I wanted 10,000 bucks + waiving off all the outstanding charges + cancellation + 6 months of Internet from a rival organization as atonement for shitty customer service.
What I got – Waiver on all outstanding charges + Cancellation + Apologies.
(1) Long Long ago ( No ! Its not a dream, more like a nightmare) I bought a Tata Photon Plus connection in Chennai – Tambaram Sanatorium to be more exact. First week of October to be precise.
(2) The first month I experienced very poor connectivity. I did not measure the speed, hoping it was because I was accessing it in Peak periods.
(3) For a week in mid November – I tested the unit – in the afternoon – I got the same poor speed. This time I took screenshots. Not one of them exceeded 20 Kbps. Posted are some screenshots below.
(4) I first raised an issue on 26th November. My ticket number was 288043425. I was told that the ticket would be resolved within 72 hours i.e by 29th November 2011, evening 6 P.M. This call I made around 4:33 PM to a lady called Swathi (Customer Care) who started by telling me that the issue was perhaps with my computer and and that I should restart my computer, clear my cookies and cache and perhaps even change my browser and use Internet Explorer, but later she did take my ticket.
(6) On 29th November, around 12 Noon, “I” called up the Tata Indicom customer care – actually telling them – that they should not close this issue without resolving it and that their SLA ended in 6 hours and they better have some good news.
(7) I was then redirected to a guy called Balakrishnan who promised to update me on the status by 29th November, evening – which of course never happened. They did close the issue though.
(8) I kept quiet – for about 2 weeks after which I decided to raise another ticket – 293270983. The “automated” email said that the issue would be resolved by 10-Jan-2012. It was in this call that these guys gave so much “gas” that they were working on “building a tower” (Adra sakka !) in the area and that it would take upto January 1st week to see some results.I said to myself , “Fine. Let’s see what happens.”
(9) You wanna know what happened ? This ticket was closed ! (Yayyy for Tata Indicom !) but only this time, the issue was not resolved. Yes ! They simply closed the ticket – without even informing me ! Say hello the customer savvy Tata Photon Team !
(10) Then I spoke to this lady called Jyothi – who asked me to mail firstname.lastname@example.org
(11) So, I wrote a looooong mail. It was a long mail by any standards. The text of which is reproduced below. Any self respecting company that employs individuals who attend to their customers with some empathy would know how to respond. But Tata Indicom, Of course not ! What do you think they are ? They are private agency that runs like a government office. So you know what I got ? A Template Response !
The text of which is also reproduced below. (Second Yayyy for Tata Indicom !)
(12) I raised the issue again – via email – I got another Template response.
(13) However all this while, their Billing department worked absolutely efficiently, not failing to send me the bills promptly before the 7th of every month.
(14) Not only did they not send the Bills promptly – but whenever there was an outstanding for more than a month – they promptly called me – from their Hyderabad Office !! How’s that for promptness of service ? (Third Yayyy for Tata Indicom !)
(15) After Jyothi, It was my turn to talk to Neeraja, Shruti, Poornima, Shweta … Yup – All customer care executives – with no one having a clue about my open issue or my past issues. All that they wanted to do was to close the ticket so that the SLA is not breached.
(16) In the meanwhile, I had also raised multiple issues – 293270983, 302238311. All of which were closed, inspite of me literally “begging” the customer service person to resolve the issue before closing it. And you guessed it right ! They closed it anyway !
(17) I even had a visit from one of their technicians – HariDoss – who did the following -
Took Screenshots of the SpeedTests and sent it to his supervisor.
Restarted my system multiple times after clearing cache, installing and uninstalling Chrome and Firefox.
He installed an antenna like structure on the roof of my house, gave it a wire to my room and plugged my device into a socket from the wire. All this in the faint hope of resolving the issue. However, nothing worked.
(18) I mailed their nodal officer (Chennai) multiple times with my issue – Again Template Response !
(19) As a last resort – I raised the issue with Akosha – a third party agency – who take up issues on our behalf with the big guys in these organizations.
(20) Akosha tried hard twice – but there was no response from Tata Indicom team. Hence Akosha advised me to send a letter to Tata Indicom’s Customer Service Desk – Mumbai. They were nice enough to draft the letter for me, however it was too nice for all the running around I had done.
(21) The scathing letter that I wrote to their National Service Head – Mr. Jogesh Nayar – would have put any lawyer/head of department to shame. The text of the letter is provided below.
(22) Akosha even provided me with the receipt to indicate that the letter had been delivered. More than a week passed and still no response.
(23) I tried all sorts of techniques to get their attention – Twitter, Facebook, Emails – nothing could move them. They stood solid like a rock ! (Fourth Yayyy for Tata Indicom !)
(24) I went to their website where there was a provision to raise complaints – and I raised a Complaint again !! – Ref – M7727466
(25) Again I got a mail from one of their guys – Again another Template !! (Fifth Yayyy for Tata Docomo ! Looks like they never think beyond the Box..errr… Template)
(26) Then suddenly like a bolt from blue, I got a call from a Chennai based Collection guy – Don’t remember the name, who was more interested on why I was not paying up the money. He convinced me that he would resolve the issue and surprise of surprises ! – He never called again ! (How’s that for promptness ? Sixth Big #Win for Tata Indicom)
(27) Finally, I got to the point where there was nothing left but to send Tata Photon Plus a litigation notice, and just as when I was about to go ahead on this – Akosha advised me to wait for a couple of days.
(28) A guy called Arjun called me from the “technical department”. He went on harping about the issue was resolved in January itself (hunh ?) and that my connection was “barred” now because of non-payment of my April dues. I could do nothing but smirk. This was adding fuel to fire. I had to cut him off politely – because he was talking out of context. (I’ve stopped counting the Yayyy’s now)
(29) Finally yesterday – June 12, 2012 – Nearly 8 months after I raised my first issue and about 6 weeks after that letter that I sent to Mr. Jogesh Nayar, I got a call from Yuvraj working as an Assistant Manager with Tata Indicom’s Chennai Corporate Service Desk. He was empathetic towards my situation. Apologised profusely. Highlighted the issue at hand and worked towards getting a solution. He explained that the issue “still” cannot be solved (sigh !) and that I had to make a choice.
(30) The decision that I took was that the connection was to be disconnected immediately and that I will not pay any of the outstanding dues and bills and cancellation charges and lottu-losukku. He agreed and also mentioned that he would be the point of contact until this issue is resolved from my end and that I could call him anytime with respect to this particular complaint.
(31) He also mentioned that he was acting on behalf of his manager – who had sent him as an email – the concern that I had raised with their National Service Head. So the Akosha trick worked !
(32) He also accepted that this was a major loss-of-face and escalation and that he deeply regretted the fact that things had come this far.
(33) Today, I again received a call from him, confirming this issue + the subsequent reversals had been taken care of. A lady named Swapna (guessing her to be a Senior Corporate Manager) followed up on me with details of how things could have been handled and that they were sorry for having treated this so shabbily. They also said that they are taking up my feedback “strongly” so that immediate action could be taken.
Tadka Take 2
Brands not delivering what is promised is bad enough but a complete absence of any accountability or redressal is in mildest of terms plain, shameless cheating!
Hari had a couple of other interesting points, especially a very instructive and interesting list of suggestions for the brands which we will put up separately in a different post.
The crux of this story is simple–customer help is non-existent in India. Despite the fact that consumers are THE most important factor in any such industry, the companies continue to blissfully ignore systems that can make consumer grievance redressal at their level convenient and useful to any degree. One would be forgiven to believe that such system is a deliberate design to discourage consumers from pursuing their grievances. If that is the case, we are glad to have people like Hari around who are willing to endure and give it back to the brands in the same coin!
We are humbled — by Hari’s spirit to fight and Photon’s spirit to cheat!
(Photo Credit: Crazeal)
Do you have a similar story to share? Write to us at email@example.com and Tadka will make sure you are heard!