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Consumers flood cyber forums with bad service woes

Last updated on: May 20, 2010 17:40 IST

Consumers flood cyber forums with bad service woes

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Priyanka Joshi and Seema Sindhu in Mumbai


A majority of India's 600 million cellphone users appear to be dissatisfied with the services provided by handset and telecom service providers.

They have lodged hundreds of complaints against players including majors like Nokia, Reliance Communications, Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel and Samsung.

Take the case of Gopal Arjyal who regrets the day he bought his Samsung Corby handset for Rs 9,048. He has posted his complaints on several online consumer forums including www.consumercourtforum.in.

His problems started when, soon after purchasing the handset, he realised the phone had a faulty incoming call alert. But to his dismay, even after visits to an authorised dealer centre in Pune, the call alert issue persists.

"Now, the incoming call and vibrating alert are not working on my Corby and on checking the official website, my device warranty is being shown as claimed. Moreover, there is no clear procedure to modify my complaint," Arjyal rues.

Sunil Cutina, head of customer satisfaction at Samsung, counters: "We have over 700 service centres across the country where customers can walk in. We register complaints immediately and our minimum service time is 15 minutes. Around 90 per cent of the calls get resolved the same day."

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Samsung, adds Cutina, encourages customers to voice their grievances on www.supportindia.com , the company's website for customer redressal.

Arjyal is not the lone disgruntled voice. There are hundreds of such voices that are fast populating online consumer forums like www.consumercourt.in, www.consumercomplaints.in  and www.consumercourtforum.in.

Data collected over two days (May 17 & 18) from these sites reveal that nearly 500 complaints were filed against RCOM, and around 300 for Airtel and 200 for Vodafone. Over 220 complaints were filed against Samsung and around 140 against Nokia.

Most complaints revolve around lack of service. For instance, Nirmal Patra, who invested Rs 16,000 in a dual-SIM Spice D-111 handset, had to ferry it thrice to the company's service centre in Laxmi Nagar (New Delhi) to get his phone repaired.

Patra voices his complaint on consumercourtforum.in : "I was unable to receive calls while using the CDMA SIM-card and now I have given my phone for the fourth time to the service centre."

Patra, who purchased his mobile phone from Hot-Spot (Rohini in New Delhi), was told that Spice Mobiles has a service centre in the same vicinity. "But now, every time they refer me to Laxmi Nagar or Noida centres despite being the owner of their extended warranty card," he says. A mail to Spice Mobiles remained unanswered.

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Mona, an engineer working with an IT giant, bought a Nokia 5800 Music Express few months ago. But what she got for a hefty sum of Rs 14,500 was a phone that switched off automatically every time she used applications like music, pictures or web.

"Once I was browsing through some family holiday pictures and my phone switched off automatically and all the pictures got deleted. No matter how many files I delete, it doesn't free memory and hangs a lot," she complains. Nokia, in its reply, counters: "There are over 1,100 consumer touch points for Nokia Care across the country, with 700-plus care centres across 400-plus cities."

Customers at the entry-level segment, too, face a similar dilemma. Nokia 1202 (approximately Rs 1,300) user, Rajiv, opted for a low-cost device. He says: "The phone has a sound system problem. Every time I speak, my voice echoes. And even if it is a low-end phone, it still hangs."

Despite getting it serviced from the company's authorised dealers in Faridabad (UP), his phone faces sound problems. Nokia, the market leader in India, maintains that 95 per cent of the time, consumer's devices are redressed within 24 hours and 75 per cent of the time it is redressed across the counter within a period of one hour.

"Devices that require certain component repairs can take longer depending on whether it needs to be taken to the repair factory," a Nokia spokesperson says.

Mobile phone manufacturers like LG, too, boast that after-sales services is a key focus area for them. "We have unique programmes like Hour Service and Pick Up Service that ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and efforts are now on to expand the reach of these programmes," says Sudhin Mathur, business group head (Mobile Communications) LG Electronics India.

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Customer woes are not restricted to device manufacturers alone. Aggrieved consumers like Rajesh Kinra says, "Reliance Telecommunication advertises a calling plan -- unlimited calls to any network inside India with a recharge of Rs 599 per month -- and I fell for it. Not only does the operator provide a limited time (30 minutes) every day, but it also cleverly never mentions this information in its broadcasted radio ads."

When Vodafone pre-paid subscriber Tapas Kumar Mukherjee received an SMS offering him unlimited music on a toll free number, he called back on the mentioned number which turned out to be an advertisement. The same day, Mukherjee got another SMS that claimed he was now a subscriber of Vodafone's music junction.

"It (Vodafone) had already deducted Rs 30 from my account without any requests from me," he notes on consumercourt.in.

Vodafone in its reply states, "We follow well-structured policies and standards for various categories of customer service activities. The turnaround time for each service activity is communicated to the customer and we strive to resolve customer complaints within the communicated timelines."

Airtel subscriber, Harjen, too, was automatically added to Airtel's Hello Tunes service with a subsequent deduction of Rs 15 for the service activation.

"I am going to the consumer court to settle things if necessary actions are not taken soon," says this irate customer. Despite deactivating the service and getting a confirmation for the same, he was again charged Rs 15 for Hello Tunes, for the second time in the same month. An email to an Airtel spokesperson remained unanswered.



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