In mid june , I paid for a monthly 10GB Airtel data package in order to do my work stuff which involves liaising with different foreign partners via skype and email and researching a million different things. Everything went well for two weeks till my card stop connecting to the Airtel network. Given that some of my friends nearby also had issues connecting to the internet, I thought it was a general problem. I promptly called customer service , described the problem and was advised to go to the Fort Portal customer centre given that was the city I was in. But since it was a Saturday and I had no urgent work , I put it off till monday. That weekend I blissfully toured the crater lakes in the area and went swimming hoping that the problem would be resolved . It wasn’t .
On monday , I trudged to the customer centre who patiently listened to me and said they couldn’t fix it but would refer the issue to Kampala and get back to me. They didn’t. Over the next 9 days , I called the Airtel customer service hotline about two to three times day . Each time the conversation went something like this :
‘Hello , Welcome to Airtel, My name is ….. how may I help you?’
‘Hello , my name is Abid and I am calling to check up on the issue I had raised earlier.’
‘Please describe it again and someone will get back to you within two hours. ‘
No one ever did . I would call back after two hours to repeat the same conversation and listen to crammed responses. I was always requested for the same information I had give a multitude of times before. I started to wonder whether the company had invested in an issue-tracking software at all. One time , a miracle happened and an airtel agent called me to inform me that i had no data on my card and that everything was fine. It wasn’t . My card could still not connect and i couldn’t even check the data balance.
After nine days of frustration , I spared eight hours and traveled a total of 600 Km to and from Kampala . I stormed the airtel headquarters where I was disarmed by a bright smile from a pretty girl at the reception who showed me to the technical guys. At this point , I knew the questions that were going to be asked and promptly gave answers before they were required. For the umpteenth time , I left my details and was assured I would be back on network in no time. Two days later, my data balance was more or less restored , validity extended by a month and the issue was closed.
Though the matter was successfully resolved , it left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. Clearly the customer service representatives are utterly clueless on technical issues and have no idea of what they are saying. Communication between the Airtel technical department and Airtel customer service departments seems to be virtually non existent since one cant forward a simple issue to the other. But above all , the fact that it took 11 days and the physical presence of a client to have an issue sorted out means there is something wrong with the problem resolution process in Airtel. Granted it is way better than the process at MTN where airtime that magically disappears is never found , it still has holes to fix.
One Airtel representative told me that they had given me back more or less the data that was remaining . A good thing but doesn’t at all take into account that I was off the network for ELEVEN full days without so much as an apology or explanation .
And it wasn’t anything that I, the client, had done. It was totally a problem with Airtel.
For resolving the issue in a record eleven days , I give Airtel kudos, sort of.