From almost Rs 8k in February to Rs 1.3k this month - the reduction in my phone bill is due to a simple activation of Vodafone’s uniform roaming tariff facility across Maharashtra. Even last month, I experienced the stark difference in the bill. It was only about 500 bucks more than this billing cycle.

Sure, it’s a great facility, but I have problems. And I’m not sure if addressing it to the parent company helps, or is it more to do with the process trickle down in the HR bloodline or the training hands hired. Or is it a pure communication problem?

Unlike most other cities in the country, a Bombay number is treated as an out-of-territory number vis avis Maharashtra. When I first moved to Pune, my bills sky rocketed. I wasn’t sure if it was my internet data usage, or texting or calls. And I hounded several of their contact centers as well as the customer care helpline repeatedly. Of course nothing came of it since each one of them had a different answer, including the website.

One would expect that a company of Vodafone’s size would make sure every face of the company speaks the same language. That, every communication invites interest. Now I have had at least three problems I can list at the tip of my fingers right away:

Outdated form on the Vodafone website, so you end up filling out a second one all over again at the contact centre. If one is in a hurry, or budgets time for several chores in the first week of her or his  arrival in a new city, is this how thou shalt waste her or his time? What a service oriented approach, iSay!

Very poor language at every customer care interaction – whether at their contact centres or on the phone helpline. Logically, if one cannot speak one language, then one switches to another that one is more comfortable with. I understand that most people in this country are short for education, leave alone any level of proficiency in their own mother tongue, English - I won't even get there. What the authorities seem to fail to understand is that the key to solving user problems is clear communications. In whichever language that both parties may comprehend. Why then, are there at least two choices on the electronic auto response system, if your live customer executives are going to neither make sense of what they tell you, nor of what you tell them. Classic case of looking London, Talking Tokyo!

Inadequate information on services, and therefore added inconvenience to the customer. So while on the helpline I am being told that a particular set of documents is valid, either more is actually required at the contact centre level, or worse still, the specifics are not furbished to the last detail.

Dear Vodafone,
I will not be able to dream up your exact documentation requirements.
Yours truly,
The Average Customer-on-the-move

I wish their customer executives would've told me much sooner that it was possible to simply activate this facility! I would not have wasted so much time and energy racking my brains and bothering my dad and friends here to provide me with some evidence of my innocence and banality of citizenship; that I deserved a cellphone connection just as much as the owner of Vodafone. Photocopies of phone bills, bank statements, rent agreements and what not!

Why do documentation requirements keep changing from time to time? Considering the excellent ability of our defense forces to protect us – our intelligence and technological advancement, I don’t reckon adding to the paperwork is going to ensure security to the country in any way. Drugs continue to be peddled; ammunition continues being transported and our buildings and monuments still burn.

It was a fluke call to customer care when a senior executive wanted to know why i wanted to terminate my Bombay number. When I told him I'd found a temporary prepaid connection to solve my expensive problem, he finally came out with the solution! Is that also an indication of our tendencies as a country to not supply those we serve with proper answers?

Or is it the norm at Vodafone to practice the policy of zero-information-unless-dug?


Parth said...

Dropping into say hi. I have no beed with Vodafone though :) I have reserved it for AT&T here. Things are the same everywhere. Hope rest is good. Badhu mast.

Priyanca Vaishnav said...

Arre kem chho Parth kumar? :) nice of you to drop by.
I reckon my relationship with phone companies is a longstanding one of irk and relief. i read your stuff on spark off n on :)

Parth said...

Why off and on madam? I am on only once a month on that magazine :)

Priyanca Vaishnav said...

because reading in general has become something of a luxury thanks to the intensity as well as bulk of work! but your writing is always a delight! :)