Saturday, January 05, 2019

Airtel Store in Ekkattuthangal, Chennai - Poor Customer Service

In Airtel Store at Ekkattuthangal, Chennai, right from the store manager to the store representatives, nobody cares for the customer. I've been an Airtel customer for the last 10+ years. I had used the Airtel stores in Ashok Nagar and Nelson Manickam Road in the past and they were very good. My fate, I landed up in the Ekkattuthangal store recently, and I had a terrible experience. Over the last 10 years, I would've easily paid them Rs. 1+ lacs for service and I'm totally disappointed with the treatment that I received. No wonder why Airtel is continuing to lose its market share / profits to Reliance Jio.

I had to change my phone from a post-paid corporate account to a pre-paid personal account. It took me nearly 20 days to finish the process, got tossed around to 3 Airtel facilities, with 4 visits to the Ekkattuthangal store, several follow-ups over phone calls (which seldom got a response) and eventually they said, they can convert it only from post-paid corporate to post-paid personal account. Every visit to the shop costed me nearly 2.5 hours, as I had to commute from Choolaimedu (the place where I lived) to Ekkattuthangal.

At first, I reached out to the local Airtel booth in my office to initiate the corporate/postpaid to personal/pre-paid account transfer (with all the documentation), The rep in the booth said, I'll have to go to a Airtel store to do the same. I went to the Nelson Manickam Road store for help. They said, they are a franchise store and I'll have to go to any of the Airtel owned stores to do the transfer. Hence, I landed up in the Ekkattuthangal store.

Visit #1: The store rep in Ekkattuthangal Airtel store (Mr. Srinivasan) collected my application form. I told him specifically that I had been already bounced to 3 different stores... and I don't want to go through any more hardships. He said "Once your corporate settles the outstanding bills, we can finish the transfer the next day". I followed-up with my corporate and after a week, they confirmed that they had settled all of the outstanding bills. I tried calling the store rep, but didn't pick my calls at all.

Visit #2: I again went to the shop. But, this time, the person to whom I gave the application was absent... and others couldn't trace my application at all. They said they'll search offline and get back to me. They also warned that I'll have to submit a fresh application with proper documentation. After a few days, I didn't get any calls from the store. I again called them. They asked me to come to the store with all the documentation.

Visit #3: I took photocopies of documentation and visited the store again. This time, I spotted Mr. Srinivasan and he found my application again. He said, he doesn't have the login name / password for the portal to initiate the transfer. He said, he'll complete it and confirm to me by evening. I waited, waited and waited... and no calls/confirmation from Mr. Srinivasan. When I called him again in the evening, he said I had to convert only from post-paid corporate to post-paid personal, as the IT application has a technical glitch. They asked me to come to the store to file a fresh post-paid application.

Visit #4: I reached the store with a lot of frustration. When I raised the voice, the store manager Ms. Saranya started showing some sense of urgency. But, they couldn't complete the conversion. They said, they'll have to reinitiate the KYC process again for my post-paid connection and it will take at least a day for the transfer to be complete. I told them, I had been a customer in the past, I have neither changed my phone number or residence for the last 10+ years and moreover, I furnished my Aadhar too... and couldn't understand why a new KYC is needed. I had to escalate to the Zone Manager Mr. Narayanan (Ms. Saranya's boss), to accelerate the KYC process. They managed to finish the process in 2 hours, however, my phone number is still to be converted to post-paid/personal account. I hope the number will get converted tomorrow.

Reasons why I feel that the Airtel Store in Ekkattuthangal Chennai offered a bad customer experience:

  1. No proper communication / No updates from the store rep. I had to continuously follow-up several times to get some updates. They don't give any attention to a long time customer, especially someone who have done several lacs worth of business with Airtel. 
  2. Occasionally, when I get to Mr. Srinivasan, he would continuously promise me that the process will be complete in the evening or in 4 hours. But, nothing happens. He is a liar and not fit to serve corporate customers / customers who are professionals.
  3. During my 4th visit, Mr. Srinivasan said in an angry tone - "Sir! You'll have to visit the store a few times like this... if you really want to get your number converted" (in Tamil "Sir! number change pannanum-na indha maadhiri than naaalu (4) anju (5) thadavai alayunum"). The last time I heard such statement was in an RTO office. I worked for a leading service provider and if I had made such a statement to the customer, I would've been fired the same day. 
  4. Store manager Ms. Saranya tried to justify what happened to the customer instead of listening. When she was not in action for 3 days... she didn't handover the login name / password to anyone. Did she assume that no customer will come for a post-paid to pre-paid conversion request, for 3 days?
  5. There is no ledger or process in the store to properly track the incoming applications / service requests. They didn't even give me a service request id or challan to track my application. I was shocked when they said my application is missing and it couldn't be traced. 
  6. Even the customer care numbers are not of use. When you call them, they redirect you back to the store. Customer lands up in a helpless situation. 
Hope Airtel will do something to fix these gaps in the Airtel Ekkattuthangal store.

[Update from 1/6/16: My phone number was finally converted to my personal account. Ms. Saranya followed-up with me to confirm that]