Over the past few months, the complaints against Airtel and its customer service are on the rise. Many subscribers are alleging that they have to face ‘arrogant and rude’ behaviour from Airtel's customer service representatives
Bharti Airtel Ltd, the country's largest telecom company, is asking a few of its subscribers to pay money which it claims to have "forgotten to bill" in previous months. While this has left a number of Airtel subscribers fuming, the company is citing a "technical error" as the reason for not mentioning these amounts in previous bills.
Over the past few months, the complaints against Airtel and its customer service are on the rise. Many subscribers who had interacted with Airtel said that its customer service is far away from being customer-friendly and is 'arrogant' most of the times. The company also refuses to follow and respect the guidelines laid down for interaction with Consumer Advocacy Groups.
Even Airtel's media relations department behaves in the same manner. They don't even acknowledge any communication. Our emails sent to all concerned persons from its corporate communications department remained unanswered till the time of writing this story.
An Airtel subscriber said, "I usually get a bill of Rs1,500 every month. However, this month Airtel sent me a bill of Rs3,000. When I asked about the sudden increase in the amount, they told me that due to (a) technical error, they had not billed (me) for a few days of the last month and so they have added it to this month's bill."
Another subscriber had a similar story, "Yesterday, I got a call from Airtel saying due to a technical error they under-billed me Rs600 three months back and have added that to this month's bill and that I need to pay it. They have not sent me any details and this raises a serious question. If mobile operators can just call and say they forgot to bill and now you have to pay extra, as a customer, what records or access to data do you have to verify whether it (the claim) is correct or not?"
But this is not the only case where Airtel is asking more money from its subscribers. And when it comes to prepaid subscribers and value added services (VAS), every mobile service provider mints money through various methods.
Sometime back, when this reporter was using an Airtel prepaid connection, I used to be charged some money everyday under the pretext of horoscope, jokes, caller tunes and similar uncalled-for 'value-added' services, without subscription or any confirmation of subscription from the customer's end.
Here is yet another case of a prepaid Airtel subscriber.
The subscriber, Mr Bhandare, had been receiving an SMS informing him that he has been renewed for 'free bikini alerts' for three days and had been charged Re1. He never even subscribed for the service and when he sent an SMS saying 'STOP' to 121 (Airtel's customer service number), he got a response that there are no services against his number! After being charged for 'bikini alerts' four-five times, this gentleman (aged 73) decided to disconnect his Airtel number and opted for other service.
Airtel did not even spare the Consumer Court. In a case filed against the mobile service provider by Amandeep Singh Rekhi, the Court mentioned that despite taking various adjournments the opposite party (Airtel) failed to file a reply to the complaint and as such their defence was struck down. The Court asked Airtel to restore Mr Rekhi's connection immediately and pay him compensation of Rs10,000 for causing harassment and litigation cost of Rs2,000.
Bharti Airtel's customer service and its approach are quite strange, that too at times when the industry is gearing up for mobile number portability (MNP).
MNP would allow subscribers to switch/change their mobile service provider while retaining the number. (See: http://www.moneylife.in/article/8/5586.html). Post MNP, it is assumed that a large number of subscribers, especially from the prepaid category, would move to other carriers due to unsatisfactory customer service and unwarranted charges.
The negative route that this campaign has taken is pretty interesting, but the commercials leave you as cold as airline food
Low-cost carrier, SpiceJet, has been running 'negative' advertising to make its presence felt. In the sense that they trash stuff dished out by other airlines to make their own offerings appear to be superior. |
It's not a bad idea, given the number of more high-profile airlines in the Indian skies. But then the renditions of the thought have to be stark and witty for the idea to work. Else, it crash lands.
The earlier ads in the campaign, if you recall, featured the voiceover of actor Boman Irani, as he brought out the travails of folks who made the 'mistake' of choosing other airlines. In one, a honeymooning couple is allotted seats in different rows. In another, a frequently-flying dad brings home lollipops for his very pissed-off son, because he blew up all his monies on flying. In another one, a broke dude takes his children on vacation to the same destination each year, he is always cash-starved as well.
The series continues, but now they are discussing great food on board SpiceJet. And for some reason, Irani bawa has been dumped and a younger bawa Cyrus Broacha brought in. Though in my view Boman has a better voice, especially for such commercials. In the new TVC, a harried housewife is seen being tormented as she has to wake up at an unearthly hour to serve her hubby a warm meal, as the broke bugger always takes the last, cheapest flight back home. And then we are informed SpiceJet now serves you piping hot meals, so no need to disturb the missus. Another commercial is quite off-putting. In this one, a passenger's tummy sends out loud noises, thus upsetting fellow passengers. No, he hasn't wrapped a bomb around his body (though that's what American passengers would presume), he's refused to eat the cold food served on board a rival airline, and his stomach is protesting loudly.
Well, like as I said, while the negative route is pretty interesting, the commercials leave you as cold as airline food. They are too literal, non-humorous (despite Boman and Cyrus doing their bit in the audio) and un-engaging. One needed very surprising solutions to pull off this strategy. And when they have tried to the push the envelope a bit, through the stomach-churning ad, it actually makes the viewer's stomach churn rather than leave a favourable impact. Net-net: SpiceJet has hit a creative air pocket.
Before I go away, two important questions: One, does SpiceJet offer the meals for free, or will I have to pay big bucks to get my hands on them? That is left unanswered. Two, if these low-costers are too broke to serve us a bottle of water on board, how do they find monies for such a massive marketing blitzkrieg on TV?
The company plans to spend between Rs2,500 crore to Rs3,000 crore towards capital expenditure. It also plans to introduce new product lines and improve volumes
Tata Motors on Tuesday reported a massive 102-fold jump in its consolidated net profit for the second quarter ended 30th September at Rs2,223 crore on the back of robust domestic sales, strong profitability and healthy volume growth in its subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover. The consolidated profit stood at Rs22 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.
"The turnaround in the company's consolidated net profit is mainly due to the domestic business which registered a much better performance and strong profitability with healthy volumes in Jaguar Land Rover," Tata Motors chief financial officer C Ramakrishnan told reporters.
"Both wholesale and retail volumes improved favourably as compared to the corresponding quarter in the prior year, on the back of improved market conditions and continued overwhelming response," a company statement said.
The home-grown auto giant has witnessed a 36% growth in commercial vehicle sales in Q2 FY11 and a significant volume growth in its Nano model, Tata Motors managing director-India operations PM Telang said.
"The consolidated revenues (net of excise) in Q2 FY11 increased to Rs28,782 crore, a growth of 36.5% over the Rs 21,088 crore posted in the corresponding quarter of the previous year, with a strong volume growth globally in all major markets," Mr Ramakrishnan said.
Religare Capital, a brokerage firm, opined that Tata Motors' second quarter net profit beat market estimates due to a commendable performance from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) business. JLR business reported an EBITDA margin of 16.6% - an improvement of 110 basis points (bps) q-o-q as against an expected decline of more than 100bps.
The highlights of the JLR performance were a q-o-q increase in per unit realisation of 6.6% on the back of a better product and geographic mix, and lower operating expenses resulting from cost reduction exercises/lower variable expenses.
Favourable macroeconomic conditions, good monsoons and good finance availability led to robust domestic demand during the quarter, resulting in volume growth across all segments, Tata Motors said.
In the domestic market, Tata Motors' commercial vehicle sales increased 23.4% year-on-year to 1,10,630 units. The company's market share in commercial vehicles was a robust 61.1%, Mr Ramakrishnan said.
BRICS Securities, another brokerage firm, stated that Tata Motors would be the biggest beneficiary of a turnaround in the commercial vehicle cycle.
The company plans to spend between Rs2,500 crore to Rs3,000 crore towards capital expenditure, Mr Ramakrishnan said, adding that it also plans to introduce new product lines and improve volumes.
The auto major said it plans to assemble the Land Rover SUV in India from early next year, besides it is also setting up assembly units to produce JLR brands in China, JLR's CEO Ralf Speth told the media. It also hopes to add Jaguar cars to the assembly plant at a later date, Mr Speth added. The company is also planning to assemble Land Rover SUVs in China.
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