I call Vodafone's Bombay Nodal Office about my recharge problem. A five minute wait, while a recorded message assures me my call is important. Then, a gentleman named Sushil comes on.
Me: Hello, I recharged for 1000 rupees and got only 7 rupees talktime plus a 3G data plan I don’t want.
Sushil: We have not received payment from you.
Me: But I got a message from Vodafone confirming the recharge.
Sushil: Could you check your bank account to see if any money has been deducted?
Me: OK, hold on. (I quickly sign on to my Netbanking account) Yes, 1000 rupees was deducted yesterday.
Sushil: I request you to send us a scan of the bank statement.
Me: I’ll do no such thing. I’m confirming that the money’s been deducted and I have a message saying you have received the money. I can forward that text if you want.
Sushil: It’s OK. Somebody will get in touch with you within 24 hours to solve your problem.
A few hours later I get a call from a Vodafone customer care executive. I explain the issue.
Executive: Sir, the 1000 rupee recharge comes with the 3G dataplan.
Me: But there was no information about that on the ATM screen when I recharged. I don’t want 3G and I don’t want any dataplan. I just want my talktime.
Executive: Sorry sir, but the 1000 rupee recharge comes with the data plan.
Me: I’ve recharged for years from the ATM, occasionally 1000 rupees at a time. If there was a change you should have informed customers about it. You send so many text messages otherwise, why not for this.
Executive: I’ll get back to you, sir.
He doesn’t get back. The next morning, I call the Nodal Officer’s number again. This time there’s a fifteen minute wait, after which Sushil comes on line. We have a long back and forth during which he keeps telling me I have no option but to accept the data plan. Frustrated, I ask for his senior.
Me: What’s your full name Sushil.
Sushil: Sushil Dhuriya.
Me: Put me through to your boss, Sushil Dhuriya.
Sushil: I can’t do that.
Me: The Vodafone website says there’s a Nodal Officer to whom complaints can be addressed. Her name is Zillah Vaz.
Sushil: The Nodal Officer does not deal with individual complaints.
Me: So if I want to complain that you have failed to solve my problem, there’s nobody I can talk to?
Apparently, Vodafone India plans to make money from 3G by forcing data plans down the throats of customers without their consent. I’m ready to jump to a different service provider, but I need to get my grand’s worth of talk first.
Meanwhile, some guys at the company have read my blog and are posting messages saying they want to help. I filled in the form as requested, now they want an alternative number because mine wasn't on when they called. Well, I switched it off because I attended a lecture yesterday afternoon. They obviously just tried at one time and then gave up.