I have been a Bharti Airtel customer for over 5 years now. In fact my entire family has an Airtel connection. We have 6 connections amongst us. That’s how much business we give to Bharti Airtel.

Recently I shifted to Mumbai and I thought of picking another Airtel connection so I could use it for reviewing phones and the occasional Blackberry phone too, since only Airtel provides prepaid (pay-as-you-go) connection for Blackberry phones. So I bought an Airtel connection (my 7th) for the same purpose and I submitted the necessary documents at the time of purchase also (11th of February).

For approximately 10 days I was able to use the phone before it went dead and I received an SMS stating –

As per Govt. directives services on your Airtel Mobile have been discontinued due to non-receipt of your Prepaid Enrollment Form. Kindly deposit it at the dealer from where you purchased your Airtel Mobile & enjoy uninterrupted services.

This message was sent to me on the 24th of Feb, 2010. I checked with the store and he confirmed to me that the documents had been picked up by the Airtel people and he had given them the documents. I contacted higher ups in the store (A retail chain) and the ASM for Maharashtra also confirmed to me that the documents had been sent. I followed up with the company and they kept of telling Airtel to resume service for my number but Airtel’s people were least interested. Now I work with Spice Retail Ltd. and I bought this from my store so I was able to get some senior people talk to Airtel employees. These people assured me that services would be restored but nothing of that sort was done. This little ‘game’ had gone on for more than two and a half months.

Finally I contacted Hardik, an Airtel employee who works in Airtel Mumbai at a senior post, but he refused to even take my calls. Such was the arrogance displayed by the people whose job it is to SERVE. Later I got in touch with Airtel over twitter – @Airtel_Presence and they asked me to email them my problem.

After a few days I got a call from them and they told me that this number was registered to someone else and that person had purchased the number back in Jan. 2008 and it was used last in Jan.2010 and since it had not been used till March, it was going to be withdrawn and put in the pool in March 2010 itself. This is the rule that has to be followed by each and every operator in India. A rule which has been set by TRAI and DoT. As per this procedure the number when put in the pool must remain dead for a minimum of 180 days before it can be reintroduced into the market.

But, this rule was blatantly flouted by Airtel and they introduced this number in January itself (the number was packed on 13th Jan. 2010) and introduced into the market.

The person went on to add that the number was working. But I checked and told him that it wasn’t working. He called me again and told me that Airtel will have to see how the error happened in the first place that I received a number which was technically owned by somebody else.

I told him that he was most welcome to carry out the investigations but I did not have time for it. I requested him to send me another SIM card (fresh connection) and take this SIM card and carry out the investigations at their own convenience.

I was promised a resolution by Saturday, 1st May, 2010. Then on Friday I got a call from him stating that issue would be resolved on Monday as Saturday was not a working day. I was forced to agree on that date by them. He even asked me why I had not submitted the documents again, to which I asked him about what had happened to my previous documents which I had submitted and were collected by the person authorized by the company. He had no answer.

Yesterday, I contacted Airtel on twitter and through the email address and I did not get a single response. It was only after I threatened to go to TRAI did I hear that they were working on it. I very clearly stated to them that I was promised Monday as the date of resolution against the issue raised by me and they had to deliver.

Airtel being the big company that it is, thought I was bluffing and that I would not escalate this issue further. But I intend to escalate this issue further until it is heard and resolved. Now if that means dragging Airtel to court for deficiency in service, then let it be so.

Involving TRAI and DoT also is an option since they have clearly broken the law here.

This entire fiasco has made one thing extremely clear – Airtel seems least interested in servicing their customers. Their employees are only concerned about their salaries and bonuses, the customer be damned.

The manner in which Airtel has responded is worse than how a school child would respond. Such unprofessionalism and lack of work ethics complimented with and absolute desire to not work displayed by the employees at Airtel shows the sorry conditions in which a customer is treated if he has a problem.

It is as if we have made a mistake by complaining about the quality of service, the lack of attention towards other aspects of service, etc.

This attitude is not acceptable!

Sunil Mittal has worked hard to make Airtel such a big brand but I would like to bring to his notice how the brand he created is being diluted by the sorry men his company employs.

I am eagerly awaiting MNP to come, I will shift to another service provider, one who actually values the business he gets from me and will listen to issues faced by me. I do not wish to give business to a company that has forgotten the basic fundamental of it’s existence.

Processes and procedures are important in Customer Service, but they have to first look at the customers’ benefits and then the company’s. In this case it is reverse, the company comes first, let the customers go to hell.