I got an SMS from Airtel warning me that my mobile phone usage was Rs.6,000/- something and that my outgoing would be disconnected if I didn’t pay up. Pay up before my billing cycle, that is. In the last entire year, my mobile bill has never exceeded some Rs.500/- and my last bill is Rs.392/-. I just don’t like using the phone much – ask all those people criticizing me for not staying in touch. Nothing had changed. So I called the Airtel helpline and after a lot of waiting with their automated system, I got through to a “customer service representative”, (which is chargeable and not free support) who informed me that my mobile usage was over Rs.7000/- and not what Rs.6000/-. I brought up the obvious issue that something was wrong here. And after saying “I am sorry” some twenty times, he told me that I would have to look at the bill when it got delivered after my billing cycle was complete and pay the amount it said. I explained again that it was not possible that I use the phone so much and can I speak with someone to investigate this, and he repeated that I would have to pay the bill that would be generated when it arrived and nothing can be done till then. I pointed out that the SMS threatened to stop outgoing calls on my number unless I paid BEFORE the bill arrived, since the amount exceeded some arbitrary limit they had assigned to my account, and he said that in that case my outgoing calls would be disconnected if I didn’t pay immediately, and told me to pay at the earliest before finishing off with a long winded spiel about how he appreciates my call and to feel free (its paid, remember) to call if I needed to know anything else. He told me that soon I would be getting an SMS asking me if I were satisfied with the customer service I got and I should…… I disconnected. I got an SMS thanking me for contacting customer support. Then I got an SMS asking me if said support was satisfactory and to reply “YES” or “NO”, which I angrily replied with a big, fat “NO”, which I hope peeled the rubber off a few wires somewhere. That was quite stupid and I was justly treated with yet another SMS thanking me for my ‘valuable feedback’. Reliance Energy Some time last year, we suffered a few really bad power cuts. Something wrong with the transformer for our locality. Each time I called their helpline and each time the experience was similar. One of the times was around midnight. The baby had just put the husband to sleep and nodded off. The world was at peace, when…. you guessed it, but only because you know what I’m writing about. We rarely have power failure in Mumbai, and it usually is brief enough that by the time you figure out illumination, its rendered unnecessary. This time it seemed longer and I got time to wonder about the mysterious lack of electricity. With both my men fast asleep, I took the opportunity to do something about it, just in case it was overlooked in the night. Headed out. Neighbour’s house, dark. Lift – not working (I almost scratched my plan then and there). Walked down, no light anywhere. Watchman missing as usual. Was drifting back toward our wing rather aimlessly not knowing what next, when I saw a shadowy figure near the meters, poking a flashlight and investigating something. It turned out to be another resident not able to sleep without the creature comforts. We walked further, and the mysterious watchman was found sleeping. The resident took comfort in berating him, while I went on and hit the street. Everything was dark. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. No electricity for anyone. Oookay, I decided to call up Customer service to warn of an outage for our area. I just told the story in detail, because now you are going to suffer the very boring and inefficient call I made. CS: Hi, I am so and so, how may I help you? Me: There is no electricity in our area. Yogi Nagar. CS: What is your Customer account number? Me: Huh? CS: Madam (and its really patronizing, like he meant ‘dimwit’) on your bill there will be a number which is your customer account number (blah blah) Me: My number is *********** (I figured it would save time) CS: And your bill is in the name of (our builder’s name – like any self-respecting builder, he hasn’t transferred it to the members yet) Me: How does that matter, the electricity is down for the entire area! CS: We register the complaint on your name Madam (dimwit) Me: (I verified the builder’s name) CS: Can you tell me your phone number? Me: My phone number? The bill is not in my name. CS: We need it for our records.