Useless credit card and hapless customer care!

This is my experience with HSBC. I hold an HSBC Gold credit card. I made the payment towards the last statement balance by dropping a Canara bank cheque in their drop-box in Technopark (which is removed since then – may be due to cost cutting!) in the first week of March 2009. I got to know from HSBC that it would take up to 21 days for the clearance process, since it was an outstation cheque. Immediately afterwards, I found that a temporary purchase restraint was loaded on my card since the one I dropped was a high value cheque! The restraint effectively made my card inactive and useless. They told me that the restraint would be removed automatically once the cheque is cleared. I waited for them to debit the amount by clearing the cheque, but nothing happened. I was informed by Canara bank that the cheque was cleared on 23-Mar-2009! It has been more than 5 weeks since I had dropped the cheque, and still the card is inactive. During this time, I contacted the customer care through online and phone modes at least 15 times. They just don’t know what to advise! They ask me to do this and do that, but nothing seems to work. In general, it was a hopeless affair with them.


Frustrated with the customer care, I contacted people in the top brass and kind of threatened that I would contact Banking Ombudsman. The very next day, the restraint was unloaded and my card became active again!

‘Misleading and problematic’ Yahoo Help and ‘incapable and apologetic’ customer care!

I have been using a Yahoo alias with my primary Yahoo account. But I wanted to have that alias as the primary ID. So, I searched for any viable option to do this, on their help pages. Finally, I got this link, which made my search fruitful. If only I realised I was getting into trouble!
I followed the instructions there. Deleted the alias first and then tried to sign up with that alias. To my distress and frustration, the system told me the ID existed. To verify this, I sent mails to the deleted address and all of them returned undelivered, bearing the reason that the ID did not exist. I contacted Yahoo support. They tried to convince me that it is not possible to reuse a deleted ID. Further, the issue was escalated to their priority support and then to some other teams. Some people replied that I can reuse the deleted ID after six months, and some said I can never reuse it. I invited their attention to the above link, but they seemed to ignore it. Finally I shot a mail, asking them a clarification regarding the information available on the said link. And, this was the reply I got:

“The page in question is problematic because it appears to imply that the process is quick and easy. The reality is that it can take at least six months to free up a Yahoo! ID after it’s been cancelled. I apologize that the page is misleading, and we will see to it that it is adjusted accordingly.”

and this was another reply:

“This means that the system has received this ID as terminated, to date I have never seen a Yahoo! ID that has successfully been recycled. So you probably will never be able to re-register the YID. I do apologize for this inconvenience”

But what help is this information to me? Filed another request to make the ID available again, as I only followed their instructions and got into trouble. Headless people there! They might correct the information on their webpage, so I took a screenshot before that (see image).

Update: Out of frustration, I deleted my original Y! ID as well. 😐

Airtel Customer Care: Express Yourself and get maddened!

Oops! I had a tough time with the Idea Cellular Customer Care the last time and I decided to opt Airtel thereafter. But this is not any better I must say. I have been using an Airtel post-paid connection and there has not been any problems regarding the payment. Just about one and a half months ago, I got an SMS from Airtel that I would get SMS worth Rs 3000 per month for a small payment of Rs 30 every month. I thought it to be a good offer and subscribed to it. At that time, I didn’t know that they were inviting me into some trouble. *Nostradamus was great!* He could predict! Just a couple of days later, I got another SMS from Airtel that I would get Rs 1200 worth local calls for a one-time payment of Rs 300. I thought it to be another great offer and subscribed to it too. *Nostradamus was great, really!* I cannot predict. I was getting into more problems.

I am a modest caller with a small credit limit of Rs 600 and I seldom transcend it. I called up the customer care number 121 and a lady attended my call. I asked whether I should make any interim payment since there were chances my credit could go past Rs 600. She replied me very politely that there was no need for an interim payment and that the amount of Rs 300 would not be counted to my credit limit since that was a payment for a service from Airtel. I was happy and so was she when I rated her 5/5 for her services!

Came a call just about a week ago from Airtel that I have exceeded my credit limit and thence my outgoing would be blocked in no time. I was appalled! I explained to her the information I received from Customer Care. But she was in a hurry (at least it seemed to me) and she hung up the phone laughing ‘heavily’. I was blank for a while. After the blanks were filled, I called back the Customer Care and, honestly I don’t remember what I told the one who attended my call. 

I was really confused with this thing – Airtel gave me exemption for Rs 200 worth local calls and Rs 3000 worth SMS. Ideally, my outgoing should be considered only after exempting these figures. But the problem is that Airtel counts all these services in your credit at the time of usage and will deduct them only at the generation of your bill. In effect, I will be exceeding my credit limit whenever I send out my 601st SMS and that my outgoing would be blocked. In effect, this wacky judgment will not allow me to use the services that I have subscribed to. Ideally, they should exempt the Rs 200 worth calls and Rs 3000 worth SMS at the time of usage, or at least, they should wait for my outgoing to exceed Rs 600 after all these deductions. I was dismayed to find their calculation!

Then I spoke to many at the Customer Care including their team leader. It was an experience of being at the receiving end of misdeed and at the giving end of wrath. Though the team leader tried to step in for her executives, she finally agreed to sort things out. She promised to call me back in an hour and I agreed. At that time, I didn’t know that her one hour constituted 48 normal human hours! *Believe me, Nostradamus was truly great! He was amazing* Later she called me back and promised me that my outgoing will not be blocked as long as I have not exhausted the 3000 SMS per month. That was a relief!

But came an SMS the next day that my outgoing would be blocked that day! The whole process repeated and finally overcome with choler, I shot a mail as before (with Idea) to all the Airtel Customer Care centres and its in-charges in India. I got favourable replies from all corners, both automated and manual mails. Finally, they sorted the things out! Phew! I can make outgoing calls to anywhere, they will not block it, as long as I have at least one SMS left to complete that quota of 3000 per month! Thank heavens! If you cannot be a Nostradamus to foresee such dangers, you have the option of chain mailing all at the helm about your problem! They will resolve the issue, once they see CC’s to all of their contacts!

Let me tell you one thing, there are some extraordinary recording systems to track your conversations with the Airtel executives. They will capture all sorts of sounds, even something that you have not spoken or heard! BEWARE (The team leader told me this)

Here is my mail.

Hi Z et al,

This is to invite your attention into some very serious issue.

I have been using an Airtel post paid connection, (details). I have a credit limit of Rs 600 and I have never asked for condonation regarding the payment of my bills. As per an offer SMS I received on my number, I subscribed to the CELEBRATE offer by which I would be able to make Rs 200 worth local calls for 6 months for a one-time payment of Rs 300. I contacted the Customer Care at 121 and the Executive (a lady) who attended my call told me that the amount of Rs 300 for the particular offer should be paid with the next month’s bill and she told me precisely that this amount would not be accounted in my credit limit. But when the bill was generated, one lady called me on 24th July at 2.24 PM from the number 9895312345 and told me that I have exceeded the credit limit and that my outgoing would be barred the same day. She misdemeaned towards the end of the call and hung up without my consent. She was gloating about something I didn’t know. The behaviour did not befit a Customer Relations Officer.

I called back the Customer Care and they informed me that the amount of Rs 300 was also counted towards my outstanding. I tried to explain the information I received in this regard and the executive finally handed over the phone to the Team Leader Ms X. She heard the matter with concern, but only seemed to be justifying the goofy steps explained to me by the previous executive that gave me misinformation. She said she would do everything possible to sort out the issue. Anyway, my outgoing wasn’t barred that day.

The next morning, on the 25th July, I received an SMS that gave me the information that my outgoing would be blocked since I exceeded the credit limit. I called up the Customer Care again and they gave me the information that Ms X would come later and would call me back. That did not happen. I called up the Customer Care again in the evening after about 7.15 PM and the person who attended my call tried to explain things all over again. Finally, at someone’s directive, he disconnected the call to my anguish.

I called back later and got to Ms X again. I asked for the details regarding the two Customer Care executives; first the one who misinformed me about the billing info and created all the mess, second the person who misbehaved to me and hung up the call disrespecting the customer on the line. She was reluctant to give info regarding them and promised to give me their details the next day, so that I can complain against them. She also told me that she caught up with the lady who gave me all the misinformation and had listened to the recorded system. Surprisingly, she told me that no such wrong information was conveyed in that particular call. How can this happen?

Please consider this mail as my formal complaint against:

1. the lady who gave me all the wrong information (Ms X has details pertaining to her) at the number 121
2. the lady who called me up from 9895312345 on 24th July at around 2.24PM who misconducted; and
3. the person who attended my call after around 7.15 PM on 25th July at the number 121
4. Ms X for trying to mislead me by misrepresenting facts about the recorded conversation which I had with that Customer Care Executive who misinformed the details, and trying to defend her team member when her claims were so shallow..
5. Ms X who promised to call me back to give the names of the said executives so that I can complain; but did not. (I also SMSed her later regarding this, but she did not respond)

I would highly appreciate a quick and honest reply from you. Please understand that Customer Care, in effect, is a paid service, available only to the customers subscribing to Airtel. Please bear in mind that we are at nobody’s mercy to avail these services.

Though this issue is related to the Customer Care of Kerala, I am CCing all the available contacts for this mail, because this is such a serious issue and I want to invite the attention of all the concerned people with Airtel into what mayhem is happening in Kerala with the Customer Care and the behaviour of your employees. Soon you will find this incident appearing in web searches for Airtel Customer Care. (*:D*)

Thank you.

Moral: Milk for crying babies only!

PS: – Those who face similar problems and want to contact Airtel, may mail me for the Airtel contact email addresses.

Idea Cellular Customer Care: An Idea can change your life; really!

Worst! It cannot get any worse than this!

These are the only words in my vocabulary to explain about the behaviour of a group of people to a layman. It is about the Customer Care (?) section of Idea Cellular Kerala.

All the issues started on the 27th of January this year. I could not listen to an SMS from Idea on the 26th at first. I saw it on the 27th. They gave me a toll-free number as part of ‘some’ Republic Day offer. As far as I know, a toll-free number means the caller wouldn’t be charged if dialled to that number. With this little knowledge, I dialled the number. They gave me two options – I could listen to the President’s Republic Day speech or participate in a contest. I listened to the speech at first. Later I switched to the contest. A female voice gave me 5 questions, one after the other with some options for the answers. All I needed was to type in the number for the option which seemed correct to me. I did and got all the 5 answers correct. I was bemused to hear the questions and the options for the answers! There were questions like ‘On which day do we celebrate Republic Day?’, ‘Which country became Republic on 26th January?’ etc. Now you know what all were the options!

The female voice congratulated me (for what?!) and the call was disconnected. I checked the balance and saw that I lost Rs 35 for dialling this toll-free number! I rechecked the meaning of toll-free in my Dictionary. It could not give an alternate definition. I checked and was shocked to see that my Dictionary was printed in 2002! God, did THEY change the meaning of this word after 2002?! So, I called up the Idea Customer Care and inquired the meaning of the word. They also gave me the same meaning. Thank God, my Dictionary is up-to-date! So I inquired how I lost Rs 35? The man who attended the call tried to defend his firm (loyal he is!!!) by giving goofy answers. Since he could not convince me how I lost my money, the call went on and on and on. After exchanging questions and sappy answers for about an hour and 15 minutes, I overheard somebody asking him to hang up. Our conversation was in English and the divination came in Malayalam. Suddenly I switched to Malayalam and asked who was the blighter trying to interfere. My Customer Care Executive told me that he was not allowed to reveal the names of colleagues. I told him that no Cust Care Executive anywhere in the world has the privilege of disconnecting the call also. He apologised to me for the misbehaviour of his colleague many times. I also told him that unless he revealed the name of this gadfly, I would complain mentioning the incident and indicating the date and time. He was trapped. He gave me the name of his collegue! (Withdrawing my previous comment; He ISN’T loyal!) I asked him to hand him the phone. He was reluctant to. I was required to repeat everything I told him previously. He handed over the phone to his colleague. (He is NOT loyal at all!) The colleague came and asked me the matter! I was baffled again! I was required to repeat the incident in words. He said, he was asking to hang up, not to the person who was speaking to me, but to some other person!!!! I told him that the previous person has already apologised for you! He also was trapped. He said sorry! I asked him “Why apologise? You said, you were talking to some other person and why do you need to say sorry now?” He was double trapped! He pleaded just the way he could. He was apologising even when I was firing off at him. Finally the apologies stopped and he was mum. I also cooled down and said okay, I wouldn’t complain and hang up. I got an SMS that the complaint has been registered.

After two days, I got a message at 10 AM that I have won a free (!) dialer tone from Idea for participating in the contest. If I didn’t need that I was required to SMS them ‘NO’, within two hours. Is this something like the terrosists giving deadlines to release the detainees?! I had more serious work to do in office, so I didn’t bother to SMS. Later, I called them back to know about it. The person who attended the call told me that there was no charge for the tone and it is absolutely free and that I can cancel it at any time. I was satisfied. After sometime, came my dialer tone. It gave me (and my callers) the impression that it was recorded from a Radio set that was built in BC 1200. It was horrible! I called them back and shouted to deactivate this stupid tone. I came to know with a shock that Rs 10 was taken from my kitty for activating the tone and I needed to pay an extra Rs 7 for deactivating it. What alien rules!! I was bursting with anger and the executive who attended my call Mr Sarath was equal to the task. He asked me why didn’t I SMS back within the deadline. I said I had other business. He shouted at me: “You have time to make your calls and have no time to SMS?” I was baffled again! I inquired him who he was to fix my priorities. The exchange went on for more than an hour and this tomfool finally disconnected the call. I was angry like hell. I called back and reported this to one of the supervisors Mr Rini who was present there. He only seemed to be supporting his subordinate.

The next day also, I came to know that Rs 30 was lost from my account as charges for the dialer tone! I called them and this time it was one Mr Anthony (first name I don’t remember) who attended my call. He dittoed Mr Sarath’s action. I decided I wouldn’t let go of this incident easily. I called back and asked the executive to call his supervisor. He (Mr Abhishek Kurien) told me that his supervier was not there! I said “So, your supervisor Mr Roshan Gopal (he had given me the name) has not reported there at 9.10 PM on 2nd Feb 2006?” He also was trapped. He told me that he was there, but was attending a meeting. I realised that this was a collective effort from them and if I wanted to crack the nut, I needed to go beyond them to file the case.

I visited the website and took the email addresses of all the people who were in charge of the Customer Care section of Kerala as well as other states. I chain mailed them about these incidents. Came a call from Idea after two hours and it was a lady in charge of the Service Delivery and Quality section. She told me that she was calling at the directive of one Mr Hari Moorthy whom I mailed (!) and promised me that they would study the case and contact me later. Later came a call telling me that my complaint was correct that I was unnecessarily charged for the toll-free number and the dialer tone. She also told me that she would cancel the dialer tone without any further payment. She also sent me my call and charge details by email.

By the evening, I got back all the money that was taken from my account! The only one who seemed to befit a place in the section seemed to be this lady. My sincere and honest thanks to her.

I realised the meaning of the Idea slogan from this incident. An Idea can change your life! Yes, they changed my life and gave me mysery for some days and finally extinguished the fire created by themselves to change my life back to normal. Is it hightime, they changed their shibboleth to “An Idea can cheat your life”
Here are my messages to Idea and their Reply:


Dear Hari Moorthy/ Rajat Mukarji/ Carson Dalton and others,

This is to inform you about a misbehaviour from the part of a Customer Care Executive of Idea Cellular.

I am a prepaid user and I had lodged two complaints against two schemes of Idea through which I lost money unwarrantably. The complaints were about a Republic Day offer and a free dialer tone. I had dialed one of your Toll Free numbers under a Republic Day scheme and lost Rs 35 unwarrantably. I also got a dialer tone after a few days and to cancel that I had to SMS back Idea with ‘NO’ within two hours. I was busy and how could have I sent you a message in the meantime?

I contacted your Customer Care Centre at Ernakulam, Kerala by the number 458, yesterday 1st February 2006 after about 8 PM. The Customer Care Officer who attended my call was Mr Sarath. I told him that I didn’t have time to type in NO and SMS it back to Idea since I was busy with my work. He told me that I would have to pay Rs 7 towards cancelling the dialer tone. Otherwise they would take Rs 30 as fee for the FREE dialer tone. I tried to make him aware of my case and after some time, he misbehaved to me. He said I was wasting his time.
The following are excerpts from his talk to me:

“Why didn’t you have time to send an SMS? It wouldn’t take two hours. It is just the matter of a few minutes. You were able to make a call to the Republic Day offer and why didn’t the same you have time afterwards?”

He behaved so badly that he went on to hang up the telephone without my consent. I know, no Call Centre would entertain such a behaviour. Please tell me, what has this particular man to do with my businesses? Who is he to fix my priorities? Who gave him permission to behave like this?

I lodged a complaint against him to the Supervisor Mr Rini who was present on the spot. I got the impression that he was only supporting Mr Sarath. I would like to let you people know that I don’t intend to talk to any person in your firm personally. All I had to do was contact Idea to register one of my complaints. It has been done also. What if you people are behaving so poorly like this? This could be badged as a poor behaviour from the part of Idea since all the executives there represent the firm.

Summing it up; I must get back my lost money and the dialer tone should be cancelled without any further payment towards it. I also want you to avoid my number from SMS messages like these from Idea in the future. Please take immediate actions and let me know about the status of the issue. Otherwise I would be impelled to sue Idea on charges of cheating, belying facts and misbehaviour. I do not wish to take actions against you as I know it would affect the popularity of your firm and would create a black mark in the minds of your customers. The rest lies with you.

Hope to get a favourable reply from your part by a date not later than next Tuesday, 7th February 2006. I am sending the copies of this mail to the addresses of all those whose names have been listed on your website.


Reply from Idea

Dear Mr. Sreejith,

You are a valued customer and it is with great distress that we take note of your concern.

This is further to the tele-conversation we had dated 2nd February,06. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused. We would like to clarify that the call charged Rs.34.95 is credited on 01/31/2006 15:30:56 and your balance became Rs.240.77 and Rs.10 charged for the song also credited on 2nd February,06 11.53. Also, we would like to inform you that the rental charged for dialertone Rs. 30( shown as negative amount below) will get credited today and dialer tone is cancelled ,as per your request without any additional charges. Please find the adjustment passed in your account.

This has been a rare instance of deviation from our set standard and we assure you such repetition will not occur in future. We are a customer friendly organisation and we regret that our actions have given you an erroneous perception of the quality of our services. We shall, through our continuous effort try to deliver the kind of service you expect from us.

We also would like to reiterate our commitment to you and would request you to not form any lasting impression of our services. If you need any further assistance, please feel free to get in touch with us.

We assure best of our attention

Thanking you.

Sincerely yours

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