Friday, March 30, 2007

Hutch still makes me see red

In Feb 03, 2005 I had written a review (hence the title) on then Orange & now Hutch in Mumbai (see ) nothing seems to have changed till now. I am writing this to highlight what passes of as service to pre paid customers by Hutch (soon to be Vodafone, hopefully) in India, One of my family members got an SMS on Sat 24th Mar 2007 that she had to provide documents for proof of identity by 27th Mar 2007 or else services would be cut off. Both of us went to your Century Bazaar Hutch shop on Sun 25th Mar 07 and submitted the relevant form & documents, which was collected by Mr. Manish. I took a receipt for the same. Staff here also assured us that as the documents were received; the line would not be disconnected.

On 27th March 2007 another SMS was received stating that since her documents had not been received, her line would be disconnected & for further details she would have to contact 9833198331, which she did

First Call: & was told by Ms. Suman Pai who assured her that the line would not be cut & if by chance it was cut, (someone playing Russian roulette!!!) she was to ring the same number to ask them to reconnect. Later in the afternoon she got an SMS telling her that the connection was cut, as the documents had not reached them.

Second Call: She rang up 9833198331 again & a joker there had the cheek to tell her casually ‘to visit the Hutch shop again as there was a mismatch in the documents given.’ I don’t think these guys know police verification is done before a passport is issued). A photocopy of the passport was given as proof of identity.

Third Call: This time when she rang (on 9820098200) she was told by this person that they had located her documents & ‘everything is in order’ and her connection would be restored very soon. Then how did the previous person shoot of his mouth about mismatch in documents!!!

Even at 18:00hrs 27th March 2007 this was not done.

Fourth Call: When she rang up at 18:08 hrs the call was taken by a Mr. Richard & then transferred to Mr.Maddy from the document section, kept on hold for a very long time and then the call got disconnected (I presume it was an accident at their end!).

Fifth Call: At 19:39 hrs 27th March 2007 the call was taken by Mr. Tejinder and then transferred to the document section to Mr. Sajid. This time after keeping her on hold for some time she was told that her documents were in order and the line would be restored ‘tomorrow’. Then why wasn’t her connection restored in the afternoon when she was told so? It seems it takes Hutch less time to disconnect than to connect. THIS IS NOT CUSTOMER CARE BUT CUSTOMER HARRASSMENT.

What is shocking is the level of miscommunication and incompetence in this organization where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Considering that Hutch had the full year (as per TRAI rules) in which to tell their customers to submit these papers, they tell a customer on 25th March 2007 & expect the document submission by the 27th March 2007. As if the customers have nothing else to do but run with photocopies to a Hutch shop at the drop of a hat. Inspite of this, the documents were submitted well before the deadline. To add insult to injury, Hutch disconnects her line after having sent an SMS on 24th and promising that she would get an additional talk time of Rs. 100/- !! I guess all this is happening because the deadline they have is 31st Mar ’07, hence the ‘headless chicken dance’.

This is the THIRD time we (all my family members) has submitted these documents. First, when the SIM card was purchased, second time to their Hutch shop (in those days at Stanrose House) a couple of years ago, and now this. What happened to the document copies, which we submitted then? I wish I had taken an acknowledgement then and noted down the number where the verification call was made from. I was too trusting then. Frankly, if we did not have such a high subscription balance to our credit we would have shifted to another service provider who hopefully knows how to preserve it’s records. This organization seems to have some sort of informal caste system where prepaid customer are treated like second class customers, they think all pre paid customers are plumbers, cobblers or other forms of low life (evident from their treatment)

Let me elucidate on this: last year when I went to your Hutch shop at Khar. The moment I said I want an annual subscription for my pre paid card I was brusquely told ‘go outside & do it” . Even on Sun 25th Mar 07 at Century Bazaar it was the same story. The forms were issued/collected in the corridor outside the Hutch shop by Mr Manish, who incidentally was late for his post. The watchman gave us the form J, who also tried to sell us a billing scheme. I think this security guy should be rewarded for showing some interest & initiative. I always use the annual subscription & I still have a hefty balance to my credit AND all this is in their kitty before I use the ‘service’.

My experience with their customer care, on 28th Mar ’07 thru 9820098200 takes the cake. When I tried to ring up Isaac D’souza at (Hutch Nodal Officer Tel as given on your website 66645000) as I had sent him an email today morning, this number was perennially engaged I spoke to customer care exec Avi Parmar who was not aware of this dept or their other contact numbers! (Do they work for the same company?)

Later, at 1122 hrs, when I called customer care to enquire why the line had not been restored, an exec by the name Steven Ali came on the line. When I told him that these documents were given at your Hutch shop at Century Bazaar, he had the gall to ask me ‘where is the Hutch shop located at Century Bazaar’. Was this person in his senses when he asked that question? I can understand the security angle if I was ringing up a bank regarding credit card problems but this was RIDICULOUS. Apparently Hutch staff in Mumbai are suffering from delusions of grandeur, thinking that we have time to waste ringing up customer care for tomfoolery! Not all your prepaid customers are college students either; many of us opt for pre paid as it’s convenient & also we don’t enough faith in the billing systems (to put it bluntly). I think their customer care executives should be trained to behave like professionals & not to speak like they do on their college campuses.

Another point I would like to highlight is that Hutch customer care seems to have a culture where they stonewall the customer when he wants to escalate the matter. That joker Mr Steven (mentioned above) would not call his supervisor when I asked for this. In 2003, (see previous review) when I had a problem with my annual renewal by sms, the staff at the Hutch shop (at Stanrose House in those days) would not call or give me the tel number or email id of their supervisor, where as at HDFC bank the manager immediately gave me her boss’s number & email-id who incidentally sorted out the matter on the same day (AND NOT HUTCH CUSTOMER CARE). Even today when I could not get through to Mr. D’souza. When I asked the telephone operator around 1146 hrs for Mr Asim Ghosh’s exec asst, the line was diverted to Mr Samar, who sorted out the problem in less than an hour (bless him for that) but even he would not give his email id as I wanted to give my feedback about my experience on this issue. He asked me to send my feedback to Frankly I do not have faith in this email-id any more, especially after my past experiences. What always stands out is the ‘couldn’t care less attitude’ or childish attitude of the customer care dept.

In the service industry one thing has always been clear. That is, every customer may accept a mistake as long as there are no lies, arrogance or hints of cover up provided the mistake is admitted to and rectified immediately. In this entire episode over the last two days no one admitted there has been a mistake on the part of Hutch in showing indecent haste in disabling out going sms/calls, when the documents were already in their custody. Only Mr Samar was like a ray of light in all these clouds of incompetence and got things sorted out with out any fuss.

I had sent my feedback on in the past (20-12-06) of my experiences at the Hutch shop at Century Bazaar when I had gone to submit my papers, I only got platitudes. I hope in future I (or any other customer) don’t have to interact with the likes of Mr Steven Ali. Incidentally I did not get the sms after interacting with him asking for my feedback J !!! At 1925 on 28th Mar 2007 some one called Apurva (from Isaac D’souza’s office - his words, not mine) spoke to my family member saying that all this happened because of a technical problem. That’s the closest they get to apologizing J
This not a technical problem but a systemic one. If a few papers don’t reach the person who should read it before authorizing disconnection of services to a customer, it is not technical but systemic. This same person called me up on 29th Mar ‘07 with the same reasons & platitudes & I explained to him exactly what I have mentioned above about systemic faults, he actually told me they give ‘at least 48 hrs before they cut a line’ to which I highlighted to him the sequence of events and the time line, (he had actually told me that he had gone thru my email v carefully) to show they were way of their schedule and were very thoughtless, arbitrary & negligent.
Whatever this guy uttered did not even stand the test of time as within 3 hours of him giving that spiel I got to hear that many Hutch subscribers have had their connection cut even though they have given their documents well in the time allotted. So whatever this ‘gentleman’ told were all lies and not only is the problem systemic, it’s also VERY widespread. Not only that my family member received NINE sms stating that they would revert back soon for the email sent to them. I suppose this is also a ‘technical problem’ or maybe even out of spite !!!!! For those of you who are frustrated by their help disk, I suggest you check out these url’s, or or & also a cc to TRAI at so that they are aware of the (QOS) Quality Of Service meted out to hapless customers. Using the toll free numbers to speak to their helpdesk ‘can be injurious to one’s health’; if you don’t have BP problems you might end up with one. This is not an exaggeration as I am suffering from severe headache for 2 days after interacting with people mentioned above :)

I hope someone will take some corrective measures to stop this customer harassment & that soon with a new name, livery, logo etc the customer will also get unbiased better quality service, or is that hoping for the impossible.


Anonymous said...

Liars & cheats coupled with untamed arrogance. This will always in a booming market

Shaunak said...

>> ’ I don’t think these guys know police verification is done before a passport is issued

This is the dirty sector of Indian Telecom. You expected to find logic here?