Monday, November 28, 2011

Vodafone India: how bad can customer service get?

Interacting with MTNL always makes my blood pressure rise. But Vodafone has proved that a privately held MNC can do a worse job of customer service than a public sector undertaking. So bad is Vodafone's service, in fact, that it has shaken me out of my slumber and got me blogging again.
First stage: I travel to Thailand. The international roaming function does not work, so I can neither make nor receive calls during my stay. I don't mind that overmuch, since it's not a work trip. A while after I return, a message arrives saying 99 rupees have been deducted from my account for International Roaming. In other words, IR gets switched on automatically when I travel abroad, though it does not work. Then I keep getting charged each month unless I deactivate a function I have no idea was ever activated. The news about the IR-related deduction arrives, as do all Vodafone messages, at 4.30 am. Maybe the company believes disturbing customers' sleep helps keep them loyal.
Last evening, I recharge my Prepaid account for a thousand rupees at the ATM. I get a message telling me my recharge has given me talk time of 7.04 rupees. A second message says my Data Pack is active. I have not applied for any Data Pack, but I presume that's what has gobbled up most of the recharge money.
This morning's 4.30 am SMS says International Roaming has been stopped because of insufficient funds in my account. Had the proper amount from my recharge been credited, I'd have lost a chunk of it because I'd forgotten to deactivate IR. Small mercies.
Once I'm fully awake, I try getting to the bottom of the Data Pack mess. Vodafone provides three Customer Care numbers: 198 and 111 can only be called from a Vodafone Mobile phone, while +91 9820098200 works from any mobile or landline. 111 is a chargeable call, and 198 is toll free. The two serve exactly the same purpose, but most customers are used to 111 from the old days, and have that number saved on their phones. Nice trick.
I call the three numbers in turn and, in each case, am provided a series of options by an electronic voice. None of the options relates to my problem. Not only is there no way to lodge a complaint, but there's also no way to get past the electronic messages to speak to an actual human being.
Here's where MTNL does better than Vodafone. 198 on MTNL is a number dedicated to complaints, and one which gives you a docket number at the end of your call. Vodafone's website states, "You can contact our Nodal Officer with the complaint docket number (the unique complaint number you get when you register your complaint at Vodafone Care) anytime from Monday to Friday, between 9:30 am and 6:00 pm." The problem is, you will never get a docket number, because Vodafone Care does not allow you to actually complain about anything.

When Vodafone was Orange / Hutch, if one didn't choose any of the nine options offered by the recorded message on the customer service number, the call would be transferred to a customer service executive. That no longer happens. India might be the call center capital of the world, but, after Vodafone bought a stake in what used to be Orange / Hutch, they've downgraded customer service functionality. And it was never very good anyway. In fact, one of my Time Out columns focused on its shortcomings. Naresh, Time Out's editor at the time, printed the piece even though the magazine was (and is) published by the Ruias, who owned Orange / Hutch and hold a large stake in Vodafone. I wrote, in that column, "I’ve concluded that customer service in India is a simulacrum. It does everything it is supposed to do except serve customers. It’s a bird which looks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, but is not a duck."
Vodafone's Customer Care has refined the simulacrum further, taking it to a new level of sophistication.

29 comments:

Pankaj said...

Girish,

I agree. They say they are "Happy to Help", but it seems they forgot to leave out "Ourselves" at the end of this slogan.

I had a problem about a new connection which was activated and then got deactivated after a week, ostensibly because ID papers had not been submitted (actually they had been!).

An e-mailed complaint to their customer care number in Tamil Nadu, with a copy to the Nodal Officer for Tamil Nadu (e-mail IDs taken from their web site) finally achieved what my several calls to their Tamil Nadu customer care number could not achieve. I got a call the day after I sent the complaint mail and the problem was rectified.

You could try this if you haven't already, and if you still want to continue with Vodafone.

Pankaj

Vodafone India said...

Hi Girish,

We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to you. Kindly share your number with us here http://bit.ly/tSBsnH so that we may be able to address your concerns as soon as possible.

Regards,
Vodafone Customer Care

Vodafone India said...

Hi Girish,

We tried calling, but were unable to reach you. Please share an alternate number here http://bit.ly/hzNUch so that we may be able to contact you and resolve the issue.

Regards,
Vodafone Customer Care

Girish Shahane said...

The number's correct, but I switch it off when I'm in a lecture, as I was today. You should try calling back after a while.

Anonymous said...

I think vodafone should change their slogan from happy to help to happy to screw. My life is getting worse after activating the blackberry services.
9673966266

Anamika Bhutra said...

I agree. The data service as well Customer service is extremely poor. I was wrong in choosing Vodafone over MTNL due to MTNL's poor custoemr service. But now I think even MTNL is better than Vodafone. Even after their promise to send the engineer on my complaint for poor network coverage, no body turned up. Now they are refusing to give refund for the Stick.

DD said...

Yes, Vodafone is helping themselves only, I am using prepaid for certain purpose, even though I have post connection, Yesterday night I had Balance of Rs. 111/- Morning its - 54 (Minus), They said you have downloded data while my Data usage has still a balance of 787 GB, when people are using prepaid how there can be minus balance? now they want me to recharge so they can eat up Rs. 54/- too it is open loot

Deepak

DD said...

in above comments there is a typo error balance is 787 MB thanks Deepak

kannan said...

Poor service as well as poor customer complaint resolution. They will deactivate your no without notice or any reason. And if you want to complaint, it almost impossible to reach the customer care executives.

Anonymous said...

A K Saraf
My wife took a postpaid connection on 4 th of Feb no 9930461020 since then phone has been activated twice for short periods.
When you call 198 which is the number to lodge complaint, they refuse to note any complint. The two sentances they keep on repeating are we are sorry for the inconvenience and please visit vodaphone stores with xerox and original documents. Whateveryou say their answer same. The answers from 111 the customer service are aso same. Both these can very well be replaced by Answerig machines with above aforesaid sentances recorded.
After three days after my sending a couple of mails to customer service one gentleman Mr Rajesh from Vodapone informed me that they want a relationship proof because the telephone bill submited as address book was in husband,s name.
The same was submitted in the vodaphone stores and the phone was activated only to be disconnected after few hours.
All my mails to Vodaphone care and nodal agency to settle are acknowledged but no action.
I remember the Nurseray pem All the king,s men could not put Humpty on the wall.
The sloga "Happy to Help" should be changed to " Happy to Harass"

Surendra said...

I too agree with all comments.
I have been facing problems on GPRS and voice clarity. first they said it is handset problem , i chnaged to an iphone 3gs, still problem persisted. each time you call they register a complaint and nothing happens. they even told me i have to change my plan to min Rs 500 data plan , I did that too but nothing happened. I am frustruated and on the way to change to some other service providers, can any one share who is the best in the market?

Anonymous said...

Yes!! It seems the dis-service virus has spread its tentacles wide & deep. I'm a vodafone customer since the days of 'Orange' (9820839535). In April 2006,I ourchased another connection thro' their franchise / agents Global Direct for which I paid Rs 599/-(500/- towards membership & 99/- towards activation (9833995840). It is clearly printed on the schedule of charges that 'membership fees will NOT be refunded if the connection is dicontinued before April 2007'. After nearly 6 years, I requested for disconnection of this number and naturally refund of Rs. 500/-. After 3 mails to Customer care? the number was disconnected and my last bill reversed but refund of Rs.500/- has been elusive even after 2 visits to their Churchgate Gallery followed by several mails and tele-talk and forwarding them all details and scanned copies of receipt from Global Direct & the schedule of charges. An old customer of several years (since the days of 'Orange') and senior citizen is being made to run from pillar to post for a paltry Rs.500/- the flimsy excuse being that the amount in question is NOT reflected in the account.WHAT ROT!

Minoo F Todywalla
Enquiry No.341176221
Interaction Ref No.575074

indianist said...

Vodafone people have deducted Rs.30/- from my main balance, i did't activate any service, Thanks for giving Vodafone Customer Care Numbers and E-mail IDs

Anonymous said...

I have been getting unsolicited messages on my new vodafone numbers. Again, none of the IVR options cater to seeking DND facility. And worst, connection with a human being is not possible.
It is a SICK company intent upon extracting the maximum out of a customer without paying the least heed to customers' needs.

Anonymous said...

hi Girish,
i agree with you!! i bought two new vodafone numbers... coz i was having network problem with my existing DOCOMO number...
on the first week of use i made an internet data plan recharge of about Rs.100(not a large amount but as a student every penny counts to me). i received a message saying recharge has been successful.
but when i started using it they deducted balance not my main account.. which was about Rs.110 down to Re.1.... but after that the balance start to deduct from my data balance which was supposed to happen from the start of the activation plan... i came to know of it when i made a call next day...

the next incident happened next week when they deducted about Rs.200+ from my main account without giving me any prior information, when i made a complain they said they are sorry about that... haha... but what about my money that they have stole?? ifor a few days i couldn't make any calls or even recharge my account online coz the minimum balance required to use internet is Re.1(now i knew why they left the last Re in my account earlier..)
and the next time, it was again about an internet plan... i activated an unlimited 2g data-plan. My friend made a call for activating 3g call from my num to which the vodafone-representative explicitly said there wont b any deduction from my account and even when asked 2g plan he said, he said dont worry about that... when it was activated my 2g plan was deactivated(which doesnot happen in Docomo.. as my friends used earlier told me) and the data transaction were charged from my main balance of some Rs.200+ (which again went to Re.1)...
when i complained they said they are sorry about that... when i asked them to file the case they said they cant do it!! haha... may b he doesnot understand the problem when people call for complaining.. then i asked him to transfer my call to the nodal offficer coz i dint have sufficient bal to make a toll-call.. to which he refused... how annoying..isnt it...!!! i thought to let try to call the nodal officer using my last Re in my account... but the balance turned to zero b4 i could speak to anyone on the other end!!... haha

to get my problem resolved i made about 10+ calls to the nodal officer's number provided to me by customer care officer(btwn 10am-5pm)... but what i got was a frustrating response and that was same as u said "they dont even allow us to complain"... then how could i have given them a complaint number!!

honestly speaking i have a very tight college schedule... which extends from morning 8 to 5 in the evening and just because of them i wasted about 4-5 lectures including some lunch-meals as well, coz they kept me waiting for like 10-30mins on a charged call...
at the end of 1month i felt so tormented that i would have killed any vodafone officer if i'd have met any... thankfully i dint...

and then this was not the end if u' have thought... since internet is an important and useful thing, which i really need all the week for my different study prupose and again made an unlimited 2g-data pack recharge... and this time it was again awful deed from vodafone... on one morning i got a message stating that my data plan has been deactivated..why?? i was given a reply that they are giving free (lemme quote this)'50mb data plan to all its customers' wth??!!!! they cancelled my unlimited plan for a mere 50mb which again came to my notice coz my account bal was again flushed down to Re.1!! this was tremendously annoying for me coz... every week i spent about 8hours on call with customer care representative coz of different issues!! each time they gave me this and that reason!! and what's seriously pathetic of their service is that after deducting the main balance they dont oblige to give u a free call to the required person... and all they do is to say sorry!!!

Anonymous said...

next is what...??? after that above incident i was so frustrated with their service and support that i used some abusive words and warned them that i would take necessary for unreasonable deduction and mental harassment...
and what happened after that.. they gave me a complain number... which i hardly bothered to take... they reactivated my 2g plan with an extended period of use(2-3weeks to b precise)... my main account balance was restored to the amount it was earlier(when the last case happened)..

but honestly i was pissed off at their service... and customer care support... i wasted about Rs1400+ on internet and some Rs.600 from my main balance excluding my time and patience...

but when i was about to think they are doing good... what happened is, none of the customer care number works... even the toll-number doesnot work,,, all i can connect is some daily offers system voice... which doesnt provide me any option to directly contact any cust-care representative.... and i dont understand wth is wrong with vodafone service...

seriously if this is what u get after paying extra that is literally sucks!! and why they can't give a direct-num to call customer care representative(and obviously toll-free) like Docomo does for customers who have monthly usage of and above Rs.50, i guess, which is pretty decent figure.

probably i'll discontinue both my vodafone-numbers by the end of july... haha!! :D

Anonymous said...

Hi,

even i have been facing the same problem. pathetic customer care service with vodafone. at any point you cannot talk to a customer care executive. i recharged my mobile number for 250/- this morning and for which i was charged but did not get the top up. now if i have to resolve this issue.. whom do i talk to?? none of the provided option helps. i have been using vodafone since 5years now and this might make me change my number. Vodafone sucks. and this has not been just once they activate unnecessary services and start deducting the balance, was once lucky enough to get hold of an customer care executive and got the amount refunded. now there seems to be no way you cant just get hold of any one. just horrible.

Huzefa said...

I concur to the fact that Vodafone customer service is DE-graded... I have activated my 3G plan on July 5, 2012 of INR 199 that includes 500GB+500GB valid till August 19, 2012. I net charges started deducting on July 21, 2012 and under the impression that i have exceeded my limit, I re-activated the plan. The customer care tells me that your previous plan is still active and within the limit! They refuse to refund the amount.!!

Anonymous said...

Hello

I would start by saying that I have done the biggest mistake of my life by using vodafone service. I was happy using airtel for the past 10 years.

Now my problem is that unfortunately I bought vodafone mifi device and a postpaid connection for data usage on the device. My primary reason for buying the device was to use good quality Internet while on international roaming. I bought it from Raj Bhavan road store. I was told that once it is activated in india it will work on international roaming as well and no further queries or paper work is required. But now when on roaming, the device is not working as in there is no Internet connection, which further means that if the international roaming service is not restored by today evening, I am going to have a huge loss in my business(all thanks to vidafone). On calling the customer care I am being told that international roaming is not activated on my number and it will take another 2 days to get activated. And that too after I make a request o ur Vodafone store an they do verification and all.

My question is don't you train your staff before employing them? I asked them repeatedly if anything more is required for international roaming and they no it is all perfect. And now I am into this mess.


And at last

I HATE VODAFONE

I am being punished for leaving Airtel after being their loyal customer for so many years. Vodafone sucks.

Faria Zafar
9885075397
9908389304

Irfan Husain said...

Vodafone charged me for internet data on my billing number several months between 500-550 rupees.Even when I disabled data service directly from my phone I still got a 149 rupees for data services in my last bill.

Just one reason that Vodafone network is good at my home otherwise I am so sick of their charges and their serives.

I wonder postpaid customers are actually enjoying good plans and they are screwing postpaid customers.

Irfan Mumbai

Anonymous said...

HI ppl ..hers ma case ...

One of the worst telecom service provider ... now i undrstnd d revenue model of Vodafone Postpaid ... first dey will hide sum useful info wrt 2g and 3g ..den charge u a bomb .... evry 5 days dey will increase ur credit limit widoit ur consent ... on callin up the call support thousand times dey will take ur one request ... and top if it u have to follow up with dem for months .... evytym u complaint ur case will b taken into a high prioirty bt dersw now written commitmnt to it ... lack of communication btwn the Store incharge, Cal support, Credit collection and the complaint dept .. store ppl will tell u dat "Ur Wrngly chargd money will b creditd to u ikn ur next bil and we will ensure dat u get interruptd services frm our end ..." bt evry week dey will restrict ur service ....

I have faced many probs cz f such a service gap frm vodafone and reuqest othr POSTPAID CONSUMERS to b aware and be clear on certain terms weneva u switch to vodaofne r take a new connection ...

n yes Vodafone ..heres my few thousands f complaint number ...

1. sr#s22824060
2. 1248437780
3. 1255032936 (d latest wherin the store manager ensured dat ur services will b active and we wont harass u ... its been a week now and i still get calls frm 02271636900 ... ) and plzzzz i dnt want ur customer retention calls making me undrtsnd abt ur processes and nt solving ma issue ...evry diff executive gvs a false commitmnt ...

Anonymous said...

Totally agree.. I have a vodafone 3g data card. Calling up the customer care for any help is a nightmare.
I was having difficulty recharging online since vodafone website is confusing and was unable to recharge. I called up their customer care for help but to my shock & dismay their agent was very rude to talk to, leave alone any help...any this has happened on a few occasions.....even normally their agents are not pleasant to talk to….THEY DON’T & WON’T HELP YOU….Moreover I have felt that they don’t know their stuff…whats happened to Vodafone which claims to be worlds no 1 mobile company?
Airtel & Tata customer care are very nice & courteous.....for the same reason I have decided to get an airtel 3G.

Hutch days was so much better...

Anonymous said...

Verry poor customer care service... i had called them as my balance was deducted unnecessarily...but tat executive doesnt evn bother to chek..neva got a good response..he just kept the call abruptly without resolving the problem...tats not the way to talk to customers..Horrible service by executives..never thought vodafone is like dis...i wouldnt hav opted fo this if i knew !

rahul aggarwal said...

I have been complaining to them since last 3 weeks. I am in international roaming and they charged me my monthly fee and the good thing is they are not even giving me service. Have complained like 100`s of time but no use. Cheap people. Our server is not working or it will take 24 hours. they have no knowledge about there work. I am for sure switching to airtel.

Well talking about MTNL you call customer care and press 1 or 2 for english then 0 and you get in touch with a help support. Where as in Vodafone all you get is shit, most of the time they are advertising and all. They think people are kind of fools or something. I mean kya yar isi bekar service ke liye humne vodafone liya hai. Airtel is best. There customer support is real nice. Had problems earlier that were resolved that very moment. Vodafone not worth it.. 0/10 .......

*8376000089

Anonymous said...

It is a worst service i am trying to talk with customer care but it is not yet ... so i want my problem to solve since 2 days my messages were not delivering and may message blnc is redusing that it was sent so i need a solution for that....... my no is 8142814960

Anonymous said...

What the f there is no way to talk to vodafone customer care executive. Company is literally harassing customers.

meghmala chouhan said...

pathetic- I totally agree to the above posted comment- i tried to contact customer care executive for more than thousand times but all waste of time. I think vodafone should shutter down their businessess and should go to hell...
I dont think , if they really understand the meaning of Customer Care... I guess they sleep for more than 24 hours a day..

Pathetic Services of Vodafone Customer Care... I seriously feel Vodafone will not answer any customer call even If the poor customer die making continuous calls to them....

Disgusting services of VODAFONE>>>>

Anonymous said...

I agree.....i am paying for my net when I am not receiving this service since 3 days and everytime I call the customer care, they ask me to wait. For how long is not what they inform. And now on top of it, my phone network is also gone. So I am carrying a phone with literally no connection to the world. Vodafone Sucks

gs said...

This is a query..can the vodafone customer care guys personally contact any particular customer? I had a query with regards to a friend's number and gave her number to a guy who answered my call to 198.. I aint blaming anyone here..that guy told he needs to check details and he put me on hold after a while the call got severed..can anyone tell me if these guys can misuse a number given to them..? Is there any such possibility?