Sunday, August 12, 2007

De forté of Airtel... customer service???

If you've ever wanted something done that you can't do yourself, what's the first thing you do?

Find someone who can get the job done right?

What happens when it's your job to do it? Picture a customer care person who's being asked a question on the phone. Now picture the question as being the metaphorical equivalent of the question of the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

You sit some poor kid who's fresh out of school following which they're given diction and voice training for a while and a crash course in how to read scripts from a screen at one end of the line and erm... a customer asking a few questions beyond the scope of the script at the other end. The result is either a very frustrated kid or customer.

I'd rather spare most of these guys from such ordeals... I've heard them squeak "we'll have to get back to you on that" before asking me if there'll be anything else I can maim them with. Airtel (conveniently) provides a mail address where you can write to them if you have any queries, so I thought since there's no real time exchange of information, no one has to be embarrassed by their knowledge (or lack of). Also, in case they don't know the answers they can either look them up or ask someone who might know.

I thought wrong.

This is my mail exchange with customer care in Bangalore (I've got a roaming number from there while I'm sitting in Delhi - Delhi customer care maintains that they can't give me any information since I'm a Bangalore customer and I need to contact them directly).

Me:

Hi,
My number is 9xxxxxxxxxx.
I'd found information on your page which says I can get EDGE services on my Airtel mobile for Rs. 299/month. The link to this page is at
http://www.airtel.in/Postpaid_otherservice.aspx?path=1/6/7/9&cid=4
I have the following queries:
1. What is the monthly download limit on this?
2. Are there any other charges?
3. Will I have to pay extra while roaming in Delhi on Airtel's network for EGDE access?
4. What sorts of speeds could I expect assuming I use an EDGE enabled device?
5. Are any IPs/domains or ports blocked?
Regards,
Sunil


Airtel:

Dear Mr. Sunil,
You have inquired regarding the EDGE services for your Airtel number 9xxxxxxxxx,
We would like inform you this will achieve the delivery of advanced mobile services such as the downloading of video and music clips, streaming, full multimedia messaging, high-speed Internet access and e-mail on the move, multiplayer games etc.
EDGE provides three times the data capacity of GPRS. Using EDGE, operators can handle three times more subscribers than GPRS; triple their data rate per subscriber, or add extra capacity to their voice communications. EDGE uses the same TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) frame structure, logic channel and 200k Hz carrier bandwidth as today's GSM networks, which allows existing cell plans to remain intact.
It will be possible to view live TV streaming on an EDGE enabled phone ? the Nokia 6230. It will not be possible to view it on any other phone, as there is no other EDGE enabled phone that supports streaming today in India.
? The service can be subscribed and accessed from the Airtel Live portal, and can be seen under ?Live TV? on the wap portal
http://live.airtelworld.com/
? Service will be chargeable per channel per month.
? To begin with, CNBC News channel will be offered, subsequently Aaj Tak, Sports and other entertainment channel will be added as we continue to strike agreements with other TV channels.
? The CNBC channel will be offered free of cost for the time being
To access live TV, a user must have subscribed to Airtel Live portal. If not, then he needs to be provisioned for Airtel Live portal before he can access live streaming.
The settings will also be made available over the website. In a nutshell, the APN is??airtelfun.com, proxy is disabled, and the UDP port range is from 1024 ? 65535.
Currently Nokia 6230 is the only phone which supports video streaming on EDGE. Please note that by using this setting, you will not be able to access the Airtel live portal (to down load rich content like Games. Wall Papers ring tones etc) He needs to alternate between the settings as he normally does between Airtel Live (earlier called Airtel Masala) and Airtel Online.
Alternatively, you could also contact our 24 Hours customer care service by dialing 121(toll free) for same.
Regards,
Renuka Devi
Customer Support Service
Airtel


erm.... Okay Renuka... whatever you say. Not a terrible advertisement for the Nokia 6230, but you could have used a little targeting on that one.
Me:
Dear Renuka,
Thanks so much for the detailed response. I would however like responses to the questions I've asked which were:
1. What is the monthly download limit on this?
2. Are there any other charges?
3. Will I have to pay extra while roaming in Delhi on Airtel's network for EGDE access?
4. What sorts of speeds could I expect assuming I use an EDGE enabled device?
5. Are any IPs/domains or ports blocked?
Please assume I do not have a Nokia 6230, do not want to stream TV on my phone and do not want to download any content from Airtel's portal - I just want to surf the internet on my phones - one Nokia N91 and one O2 XDA Atom Life.
Thanks again,
Sunil

Airtel:

Dear Mr. Sunil,
You had inquires about the EDGE facility on your Airtel number 9xxxxxxxxx.
What kind of speeds will be available?
2 dedicated time slots will be available for EDGE. Depending on the air interface, the quality of coverage, other people in the cell area, speeds will vary between 40kbps-200 kbps. The bandwidth will get shared among as many users as present, who are using GPRS/ EDGE in that cell at that particular instant.
Live TV: (available on both Post and pre paid)
Live TV streaming is still a new concept in most countries (in the few networks where it has been deployed), the experience depends on the bandwidth available. Equally important is the RF tuning and optimization done at the BTS level, which can perceptibly change the user experience.
Typically, streaming is done at 5-10 frames per second (a TV shows 30 frames per second), so it is important to have the right expectation even before you start to view a live TV stream on a phone.
? It will be possible to view live TV streaming on an EDGE enabled phone ? the Nokia 6230. It will not be possible to view it on any other phone, as there is no other EDGE enabled phone that supports streaming today in India.
? The service can be subscribed and accessed from the Airtel Live portal, and can be seen under ?Live TV? on the wap portal
http://live.airtelworld.com/
? Service will be chargeable per channel per month.
? To begin with, CNBC News channel will be offered, subsequently Aaj Tak, Sports and other entertainment channel will be added as we continue to strike agreements with other TV channels.
? The CNBC channel will be offered free of cost for the time being
? The service will be available to both pre paid and post paid customers.
To access live TV, a user must have subscribed to Airtel Live portal. If not, then he needs to be provisioned for Airtel Live portal before he can access live streaming.
The settings will have to be given to the customer over a telephone call, and will also be made available over the website. In a nutshell, the APN is airtelfun.com, proxy is disabled, and the UDP port range is from 1024 ? 65535.
On a Nokia 6230, the detailed steps for providing the settings are as follows:
1. Click ?Menu?
2. Go to ?Media? and press ?Select?
3. Scroll down to Media Player and press ?Select?
4. Scroll down to ?Streaming Sett? and press ?Select?
5. Select ?Active Connection Settings? and press ?Activate?
6. Now Scroll down to ?Edit Active Connection Settings? and press ?Select?
7. Enter Connection Name as ?Streaming? and press Ok
8. Scroll down to ?UDP Port Range? and enter 01024 ? 65535. Click Ok
9. Scroll down to ?Connection Settings? and press ?Select?
10. Scroll down to ?Proxies? and press ?Select?
11. Scroll down to ?Disable? and press ?Select?
12. Scroll Down to ?Data Bearer? and set it to GPRS (default)
13. Scroll Down to Bearer Settings and press ?Select?
14. Select ?GPRS access point?, enter Airtelfun.com and press Ok
15. Set Authentication Type to Normal (default)
16. Set Login Type to Automatic (default)
17. Leave ?User Name? and ?Password? blank (default)
18. Go to Standby Screen, and access the Airtel Live portal now.
19. Click on Live TV link on portal, and select the channel you have subscribed to.
20. After this, you will receive a SMS with the link to view Live TV.
21. Save this link as a bookmark (by entering it manually in ?New Bookmark?)
22. Once this bookmark is saved, select it to connect to the TV streaming server.
Regards,
Yuvaraj B
Customer Support Service
Airtel


Hmmm... are we getting a little better now? Yuvaraj could have left the info on speed and skipped the spiel (sic) on the 6230 and Live TV though.

Me:

Hi Yuvraj,
Again, I would like to ask for responses to my queries rather than hear the sales pitch on Live TV. I have received a response only to the 4th point.
The queries were and still are:
For Edge services @Rs.299 /month as mentioned at
http://www.airtel.in/Postpaid_otherservice.aspx?path=1/6/7/9&cid=4:
1. What is the monthly download limit on this?
2. Are there any other charges?
3. Will I have to pay extra while roaming in Delhi on Airtel's network for EGDE access?
4. What sorts of speeds could I expect assuming I use an EDGE enabled device?
5. Are any IPs/domains or ports blocked?
Regards,
Sunil


Airtel:

Dear Mr. Sunil,
Regarding your mobile number 9xxxxxxxxx
You had inquired about the EDGE phone for your Airtel mobile number 9xxxxxxxxx.
We would like to inform you that there is no limit for downloading in the EDGE phone and charges as per the downloading items.
The games will be chargeable on a per download basis, and will be priced at Rs. 99 per game. The game will expire after 6 months.
Further, we would like to inform you that 2 dedicated time slots will be available for EDGE. Depending on the air interface, the quality of coverage, other people in the cell area, speeds will vary between 40kbps-200 kbps. The bandwidth will get shared among as many users as present, who are using GPRS/ EDGE in that cell at that particular instant.
To access live TV, a user must have subscribed to Airtel Live portal. If not, then he needs to be provisioned for Airtel Live portal before he can access live streaming.
The settings will have to be given to the customer over a telephone call, and will also be made available over the website. In a nutshell, the APN is airtelfun.com, proxy is disabled, and the UDP port range is from 1024? 65535.
Further, any clarification you can contact our customer care center 121(toll free) for the same.
Regards,
Karthik
Customer Support Service
Airtel

Okay, I forgot to tell Karthik that I wanted to use this facility to connect to the internet - I was slightly bugged with this entire conversation by now though - the series of mail was going back and forth for quite a while by this time (yep - I made sure the entire series went back each time).

Me:

Okay... one LAST time before I post this hilarious conversation on my blog.
You DID respond to one question on the first mail and two on the second.
How about trying for the remaining two this time?
The queries were and still are:
For Edge services @Rs.299 /month as mentioned at
http://www.airtel.in/Postpaid_otherservice.aspx?path=1/6/7/9&cid=4:
1. What is the monthly download limit on this? (answered - no limit)
2. Are there any other charges? (answered - charges are only for downloading games etc from Airtels site)
3. Will I have to pay extra while roaming in Delhi on Airtel's network for EDGE access?
4. What sorts of speeds could I expect assuming I use an EDGE enabled device? (answered - low speed or high speed dependent on network availability and usage at the time)
5. Are there any IPs/domains or ports blocked?
Please note : I'm still NOT interested in hearing about Live TV.

Regards,
Sunil


Airtel didn't respond to this mail at all for 8 days, so I sent them this reminder.

Me:
Any update on this? It's been quite some time since I wrote to you asking for this information.
Regards,
Sunil

Lokesh (the person who finally responded the next day) didn't really feel like getting chatty like the other customer service people did, so sent this mail.

Airtel:
Dear Mr. Sunil,
You had expressed concern on Live TV for your Airtel number 9xxxxxxxxx.
We request you to kindly contact 7070 (toll free) from black berry hand sets for all the quiries about the Live Streaming.
Regards,
Lokesh
Customer Support Service
Airtel

There comes that Live TV thingy again, but a Blackberry???? What's the story on that one?

This guy really didn't want me to get any info, so pushes me off to the Blackberry and email tech support people at Airtel specifically telling me to call from "black berry hand sets". Damn... maybe he read the series and figured since I'd shelled out so much money on the two phones I've got that I wouldn't be able to get my hands on "black berry hand sets" and wouldn't call. Problem customer that I am, I tried anyway, and was instructed by the IVR to dial 121 - back to the old drawing board.

I fail to understand from all this why they would offer a service and not tell any of their customer support folks about it. I checked the link and the content of the page and it still says the same thing. One customer support person even assured me (on the phone) that there were no other charges for this service - at Rs. 299/month I would have high speed internet and would only have to pay for downloads from the Airtel portal. I'd feel a lot safer if I got this in writing in a mail or something since I've been burned in the past (and the only unlimited data card plan is 899/month for corporate customers).

Anyway, I'm sending a link to this entry to some folks at Airtel in hopes that I'll get some response (possibly even a comment) to my queries (if you'd care to check, my last reference number was 92083120782).

Later,
De.

5 comments:

Bhupesh said...

this nothing but different kind of cut-paste work.

Tarun said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha ....!

but let me tell you live tv from airtel was just on testing phase and it dsnt wrk anymore ..so no use of bugging CC guys ..

http://airtelyouthclub.blogspot.com/

Elena said...

Interesting to know.

kalpanakasupa12 said...

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