Or should it be, AirtHELL? (BTW, this is Dell Hell)

My problem that I first complained and blogged about is still unresolved. Here’s the mail I sent to 121@airtel.in yesterday.

“Subject: Simple problem not rectified since March 11th – What is wrong with Airtel?

My number is 9845XXXXXX and I’ve logged in a complaint on March 11th over the fact that I’m not able to dial into a particular number – 0008004401625. This is the India bridge number of an international conference call and works with EVERY single service provider in India. I’ve personally tried this number through Aircell, Tata Indicom, Spice, Idea and Vodafone. It works.

In Airtel…landline and mobile, the message I get is, ‘this number does not exist’.

I’ve made several, several calls since March 11 to solve this issue, but it has still not been resolved. I was supposed to get on to this conference call today at 7 pm and its 7:45 pm now. Still, no help. I’m on a call with a customer service right now as I type and he gives me a number supposedly belonging to a nodal officer. I place him on hold and call that number, only to be greeted with a time announcement that that particular number is valid only from 9:30 to 6 on weekdays.

I’ve been making calls almost every other day, each lasting more than 45 minutes. No body has even been remotely helpful.

A technical person called me last week to say that the number I gave does not exist and that they’ve closed my problem entry. I asked him a simple question, ‘Did you try calling from a non-Airtel phone?’. He actually said, ‘No, we do not have non-Airtel phones in our floor’.

Don’t you think this is extraordinarily silly? That is precisely my problem and I had raised exactly that in my first complaint.

So, how long should a customer be harassed before a seemingly simple and harmless problem is rectified?

I’ve been an extremely satisfied customer of Airtel’s services and have 2 of each – mobile connection, landline connection and broadband. This is the first time I’m facing this problem and it has been a harrowing time trying to explain the same problem along with verifying everything from my phone number, billing address, waist size, passport number…and what not.

What is wrong with Airtel? Let me remind you that as I type this, my problem is still unresolved.”

I got this response.

“Dear Mr. Karthik,

Thank you for contacting Airtel.

You have expressed concern over the inability to call the particular number 0008004401625 from your Airtel mobile number 9845XXXXXX.

We completely comprehend your viewpoint and sincerely apologize for any difficulty caused to you.

Please be informed that your concern has already been registered. Kindly refer to the Service Request number 27112609 in any future communication about this concern.

We would revert to you by 24 working hours.

You could view the status of your Service Request by dialing *121# (Toll Free) and press the call button, details will immediately appear on the screen and you could also dial 12115 (Toll Free) for the same.

For further assistance, mail us at 121@airtelindia.com

We value your association with Airtel.

Warm Regards,

Customer Care Executive
Bharti Airtel Limited”

And, I mailed this today evening after making that grave mistake of not being able to take the call from 9845012345 thrice. Why? I was attending the call of the nature – I realize now that it was a miserable error in judgment – I should not have stepped inside that darn loo.

“As I type this, its 7:10 pm. I got many calls from Airtel today – none were even remotely helpful. A customer service manager I spoke to last night (Phani Kumar), as promised, called me and said my problem is being looked into. Someone named Mamta from Gurgaon called in the noon and said the problem is being looked into. On last count, there are at least 7 people and 3 departments that are ‘looking into’ my complaint.

You mean to say that all these folks are either extraordinarily incompetent or just do not care for a customer?

I get 3 missed calls from 9845012345 at 6:45 pm today evening and unfortunately I was forced to attend to a personal emergency, pertaining to my bathroom – in other words, I was taking a shit. I try calling the number back and try to get the update meant for me – a customer service person says that ‘they’ will call me in 24 hours.

Is that the price of going to shit in the evening at 6:45 pm? What sort of demented customer service is it that doesn’t allow me to get in touch with the person who was supposed to update me and tried to reach me so desperately to give me 3 missed calls?

Do you even understand the magnitude of this problem? My complaint was placed on March 11th. Today is April 2nd.

I still don’t even know what the problem is, could be or will be. One of the many people I spoke to suggested that the number I tried calling/ or its owner may not have an agreement with Airtel. Is that a joke? When every other service provider in India has an agreement to connect to that number, why not India’s largest Telco?

I have about 10 service request numbers on SMS, have spent almost an hour trying to explain my problem every alternate day in the evenings and sometime during office hours.

That number I’m supposed to call (0008004401625) is a bridge number for a client conference call. Can I tell my office that due to Airtel’s incompetence I’m not able to dial into that number and join the conference? How is that every other service provider in India supports that number, except India’s largest telco which reverts a ‘number does not exist’ message?

How is it that I’m able to call another number with the same 6 digit prefix, through Airtel? That number is 0008006501314. If that number works through Airtel, why not the number I’m trying?

What exactly is wrong is Airtel? This is the first time I’m facing such undue nonsense from Airtel, a brand that I used to admire for its prompt customer service.

This is the most disgusting chapter in my entire life – I can say it with confidence because I’ve logged in so many valuable hours speaking/ shouting/ abusing/ pleading/ begging/ explaining/ praying my problem to so MANY people at Airtel customer care.

The only outcome? From March 11, when I placed the complaint first, I still have my issue unresolved.

I’ve blogged about this earlier – on March 11. Also recently. I’m blogging this entire mail (the one below too) now, so that my blog’s readers can know how India’s largest Telco treats its customers.”

What more can I do? All I want is to have my issue resolved and get onto that conference call.



7 thoughts on “Airtel HELL…the new Dell Hell!

  1. well karthik, i dont like Airtell too, I have various interbnational publications following my tweeter feed, I think this is the systemic problem with airtel bad customer service. Lets see whatthe world has to say about such poor performance. especially when global publications start writing about this. Dont stop, you have a just cause and they deserve to fix it

  2. Karthik,

    This is strange, even I am customer of Karnataka Airtel since 2002.. I am disappointed with the kind of response from Airtel’s end.. Why don’t you goto the office that is located in Bannerghata Road, iI think that is in Divyasree towers.. Or why don’t you step into the one in Madivala, opposite to St.Johns Ground(m sorry thtz the only landmark i can recall, but ths office is in the main road).. or you have an option to goto the office in outer Ring Rad, Domlur, near to Dell.. I am in Kerala now, so I dont know what all changes happened in Bangalore since last 3 months.. and if you email me, I can give you the personal number of one of the customer care top officials in bangalore..

  3. I am very much satisfied with Airtel’s service.. It made me go for the same network in Kerala too.. here too, Airtel’s service is first class.. I maintain 2 airtel numbers.. but ur case has made me a bit disappointed with the operator.. just mail me, i will send u that number.. i don’t want to make that number public..

  4. Hi,
    The same issue is also arising with me. I am also using the Airtel Line but cannot establish the connection with the 0008004401625 No. I am happy to see the post and the Airtel will definitely resolve this issue asap��

  5. Hi all
    i m fad-up with airtel number , i got a prepaid connection of airtel, It take 4- 5 days to activate the services . Today it activate and i make a single call. I am not able to make any outgoing and incoming call , message is the number does not exist even customer care number is also … i have 100 balance but not make a single call

    Please help me

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