Come Christmas, a lot of unexpected visitors knock my door every year. This year too, announcing the season, a few Xmas cards flew in from different parts of the world and settled on our shelves. We already had a Christmas carol service sang in our house last night and a couple more are due to call in. Christian movements I am part of, mailed that they are planning something for this Xmas and along with our happy Xmas wishes, they needed the blue and green Gandhis in my wallet. Flyers coming along with the newspaper increased dramatically and the beautiful ladies wearing colorful attires caught some of my family members’ attention. A few familiar guys, my credit card bill and Airtel broadband bill, joined a bit late and were found abandoned in the corner of a shelf. However, there was a shocking gift in one of those, which already made my Xmas this year.
It was that weekend, I decided to go through my forsaken bills. I stared for a while at my Airtel broadband bill for the previous month and by just reading the total bill amount alone, I started sweating. Before I fell on the chair, I asked for a glass of water, facing the kitchen and pat came the reply, “Sure, do you want a cake piece with that?” “Hell no, it is not going to be a happy Xmas for us. Keep the cake and come and see this”, I said. The digits that constituted Rs.32,387/- (yeah, Thirty two thousand three hundred and eighty seven it is) danced before my eyes. I picked up my cell phone, rehearsed the known few harsh words, prepared myself to blast Airtel broadband guys, but instead cooled down myself with the glass of water, called my friends, wished them “Happy Xmas” and had some funny discussion on this. One of them joked, “Macha, you don’t need to submit anything else for claiming your telephone reimbursement for 2 years. Nice Xmas gift, right?”
I had read somewhere that Airtel recently spent around Rs.300 crore for their re-branding exercise and it seemed like Airtel was eyeing my sponsorship also through that inflated bill. Was it because of the fears that the 2G spectrum issue may cost them more money to the Government?. Anyway, after dozens of calls to their customer support executives and spending a lot of money on call charges, I had them look my case with urgency. I did a search on the Internet and got all possible mail ids (given below) I could get to reach the top most person to complain about this. A few days(read weeks) later they gave in and acknowledged me that it was a problem at their end as something went wrong in their software during the re-branding exercise (looks like a few others too complained) and said they have given me a discount of Rs. 30,800.
Phew!!, Xmas discount!? That was one heck of a discount I have ever got on anything. I wanted to shower them with bad words, something which I don’t have much expertise in. I had only one thing to ask them. “What if I didn’t complain and followed up continuously? Wouldn’t you have taken the money happily and made a fool out of me?” No answer. Later I got another 1000 rupees discount too, but that is another story.
For a few days after that, I forgot the message Jesus spread the world by his birth or why people celebrate Xmas. After all he said to love people, not corporates. Thoughts of revenge had grappled my mind’s control. I fervently wish I could punish Airtel directly for the false charges. But other than sharing the same last name, I don’t have a connection with the tainted CVC, P.J. Thomas. Also I knew that the time or money I spent won’t come back to me, not forgetting the mental agony I went through. But I desperately wanted to present Airtel an Xmas gift to satisfy my soul.
Everyday after the incident, whenever I connect to the Internet, I go to google.com and type “prepaid” or “broadband” or “digital TV” or any combination of keywords that I think of, which makes Google put an Airtel ad in the sponsored results. Even those “gmails”, which listed relevant text ads next to them, were also noted promptly. I happily click on the sponsored Ad featuring Airtel and I was happy Google getting the rewards in dollars. Even bing.com and yahoo.com got their shares sometime. I wish Wikipedia too had some ads displayed in their pages and I would have been happy clicking Airtel ads there too. For a few days, this exercise continued and my friends who had similar experiences with Airtel in the past, vowed to help. It was a gifting time to the sites who had helped me someway, all at the expense of Airtel.
Happy Xmas, Airtel. I know you are wondering why your Adwords/Ads spending shot up this Xmas season with no much increase in revenue. I know it. Probably a few of my friends know it too
PS. 1) Airtel broadband customer care email ids
Local call Centre, Mylapore/Guindy – “121″ <email@example.com>, “121″ <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Customer care, Tamil Nadu <Care.Tamilnadu@airtel.in>
Nodal Officer, Tamil Nadu – <email@example.com>
Appellate Officer, TamilNadu – <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nodal Officer, South India – <email@example.com>
Appellate Officer, South India – <firstname.lastname@example.org>
OmbudsPerson Delhi – <Ombudsperson@bharti.in>