Imagine this: you have a complaint and approach a judge. A flunky tells you there's no way to meet the judge, and there’s nothing that can be done about your complaint. You approach a higher bench. The same flunky appears, states once more you can’t see any judge, and refuses to answer questions related to your complaint. Sounds a bit Kafkaesque, right?
Now let’s say the flunky is working for precisely the company that you want to complain against. The system is not merely broken, but perverse.
Well, that’s exactly how Vodafone’s customer care operates. The story so far: Vodafone wrongly took 1000 rupees from me (background here). I discovered its customer care line does not allow individuals to make complaints or to talk directly to a human being.
After failing with the first rank of customer care (details here), I wrote to the Nodal office. I received a pro forma response from Parmesh Giri ‘on behalf of the Nodal officer’:
We wish to reiterate that since Rs.1000 is not a talk time recharge offer but an integrated voice and data offer which has been activated on 27/11/11 hence we are unable to credit the amount of Rs.907 in your account.
Mr. Shahane, we further confirm that the details about offers/talk time are being updated on the Vodafone website however we regret to inform that we are unable to display the details on other bank websites.
Mr. Shahane, we request you to kindly refer the below mentioned link of the website for details recharge voucher for your reference:
Happy to help,
I pointed out the website link he had provided said nothing about ATM recharges, only about online recharges. Also, Vodafone didn’t need to display any details on bank websites, it could just send a mass email to customers saying the 1000 rupee recharge would now come bundled with a 3G data plan. I got no response.
So I wrote to the Appellate authority. The same Parmesh Giri responded with exactly the same message on behalf of the ‘Appellate authority’. Vodafone are so brazen, they don’t even pretend to separate their ‘nodal’ and ‘appellate’ departments.
So I’ve reached the end of the line with Vodafone. I thought of going to the consumer court, but the requirements to lodge a complaint are formidable. Unless one is cheated out of many thousands of rupees, it makes no sense. So Vodafone can keep tricking consumers with impunity.
Meanwhile, Airtel has proven equally bad in its own right. Not only have a couple of friends reported similar episodes of being cheated, a couple of weeks ago all Airtel lines went down in Bombay, and the company failed to put even a basic ticker on its website mentioning the problem and apologising for the inconvenience. I’m going to try Tata DoCoMo; maybe the Parsi – Japanese combination has resulted in minimum ethical standards being maintained.