Why You Should Never Have Direct Debit Set Up With Airtel…

by Sharell शारेल on October 31, 2012

in Daily Life in India

Post image for Why You Should Never Have Direct Debit Set Up With Airtel…

… (And Why I’m Glad We Didn’t).

Prior to us living in our new apartment, Airtel was our Internet service provider. When we moved, they assured us that they could transfer our connection to our new place, no problem. However, a day before it was scheduled to happen, they called us to say that it wouldn’t be possible because they in fact did not service our new apartment building.

So, we terminated our connection (or so we thought) and settled our bill.

Much to our surprise and irritation, that hasn’t been the end of our relationship with Airtel. Their customer service department has been repetitively calling us, reminding us that our bill for the past couple of months is pending, and demanding that we pay. No matter how many times we tell them that we have not had a connection, they do not stop.

Of course, this is not the first time that we’ve had problems with Airtel customer service.

Today, I became so fed up with it that I took to tweeting about it to try and get it resolved. Although I got a prompt reply (see above), it only led me to believe that bewakufs handle the company’s Twitter account as well.

But, there is a bright side to all this. We did not set up a direct debit facility with Airtel for the payment of our accounts. Unfortunately, a friend of ours did. Apparently, it took him more than six months to get Airtel to stop taking money out of his account after he canceled his connection with them!

Update One Day Later:

And here’s the followup Twitter conversation after we got yet another annoying phone call this morning. Sounds really familiar. Ya just gotta laugh I guess!

19 people like this post.
© Copyright 2012 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

Related Posts You May Like:

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Anand October 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Airtel are better off. You have’nt had a chance to interact with BSNL. They are the worst of the lot.


Sharell शारेल October 31, 2012 at 6:56 pm

They are government owned aren’t they?


Priya November 1, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Nonsense, BSNL is far and away the BEST Broadband Internet Service Provider.

That’s right, the Government’s Broadband Internet service is much better than that of any private provider.


Hmm November 5, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Yes, BSNL is better. I used BSNL for ages and had no trouble. Recently we had to shift to private providers, and recently I found out that reliance changed our internet plan without informing us. We had a plan that gave us 10 GB day download and 15 GB night download. They scrapped this plan.. but usually ISPs don’t change the plan for those customers who already use this plan.
Or at least they notify the customers. Instead, they changed our plan to 5 GB download and we got twice and THRICE the bill. Now we contacted them because the internet is too slow and now they say they will change our plan NEXT billing cycle. Convenient!
Never had any trouble with BSNL. Didn’t even need to contact customer service ever!


Piu November 14, 2012 at 12:36 am

BSNL internet is great if your phone line is good – esp in newly developed townships, as the BB package is most valuable. Once you face problems – if you reside in a suburban area – with noisy phones that go dead in the rain, etc.. you’re in for it. You will be kept hanging.

But BSNL Does not make errors of the sort like pvt companies falsely charging you. They do make you run around a lot filing complaints in different divisions across different localities.


Anand October 31, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Yes they are govt owned. Friend of mine had a internet connection with BSNL. and his internet connection was not working, he called up numerous times, no one attended his problem for weeks together and one fine day the response was like this ” sir this is BSNL if you want the connection, keep it or close it. we dont care..”

and above Anand was not me. How come it accepts two same user names!!??


TAMASHA! October 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm

How irritating.
No service is ‘direct debit’ in Nepal.
In fact our internet service here requires prepayment 6 months in advance.


Sharell शारेल October 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Oh gosh, sounds like a recipe for disaster. I bet they wouldn’t care too much for service quality as they’ve already got the cash well in advance!


TAMASHA! October 31, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Happy Halloween by the way!!!
We are having a bit of a party & sleep over for the kids in my sons’ class at school. Eating popcorn, & watching American horror movies. It’s rather difficult explaining Frankenstein & Dracula to Nepali & Tibetan children- but they seem to like it anyway. ;)


Lyn October 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Oh no, this is yet another reason for my fiancée not to set up ANY direct debit payment. He is running around to pay EVERY bill individually. Thing is that I am planning to take this burden from him since his working hours are a mess… Guess I won´t try to convince him to change his payment habits after all.

What I love about the Twitter Exchange is that it´s sooo not Social Media speak: for the same, earliest possible to your satisfaction, working on your concern? Classic!!!


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Trust me, don’t go anywhere near direct debit! I don’t even have a post paid connection for my phone.


viksdes November 1, 2012 at 9:35 am

Customer service in India is worst than anywhere in the world..there is a severe lack of co-ordination amongst people. Multiple people calling to resolve same issue is quite common.


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm

It would be really useful if just one of the people who have called could mark our account as canceled, as they said they would do!


Laanisa November 1, 2012 at 11:16 am

Mmmmmm Airtel, so many fond memories of our discussions. :) I’ve given up on calling them as its bad for my blood pressure. But i am still getting charged Rs10 each month for something called “love chat” Lol……. I’m also charged Rs10 for something called “Bahut bahut bein” I think….
India :)


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 11:59 am

Again, we got ANOTHER phone call from them this morning!! But love chat.. that’s funny!! Just don’t be tempted to avail of the service since you’re being billed for it! :-P Ugh… can you imagine!


Amit November 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Love chat? For Rs10? Sounds like a adult service, you are getting a really good deal there, enjoy it. :) India is awesome.


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Oh, I’m sure there must be hidden charges somewhere! ;-) It’s probably just a subscription fee. Then there would be a per second charge too!


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm

And here’s today’s Twitter conversation, which sounds remarkably like yesterday’s!



Abhinav November 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Sharell शारेल you got airtelled what a shame


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I think their heads are full of air… not brains! :-(


Abhinav November 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm

You know Sharell शारेल the Head HR of airtel one told me that their whole organization is outsourced Call Center, HR Management, Telecom Operations everything the only thing that Bhari owens is the Airtel Brand


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 7:32 pm

That explains a lot. And obviously there is very poor communication, if any, between the outsourced departments.


Laanisa November 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Aahhhh it makes me upset just looking at that last message! :) I know I have to laugh at these things but i never knew how, I feel like going to their office, and plead to them to use their brains just a tiny bit, please some common sense! LOL I even stopped going to the Costa coffee’s and the likes here as it takes them 20 minutes to get my order done and its always so disappointing, my coffee is dangerously burnt and hot and my sandwich cold, it should be so simple.
India! :) :)


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm

If I go into their office, I won’t be pleading with them. I’ll be grabbing them and trying to shake some sense into them!! (Doubt it would work though). Oh well, at least they’re not getting any money from us!


Pratik November 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm

They give contact to third party to call you for payments , and those third party have no way to listen your response and knock off your number from the list.
They will call what ever number is given to them.. so best thing.. use a call barring software on ur phone and block there number :)


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Hmmm, interesting. That’s for sharing that bit of useful information. I can see why all this is happening now.


Sai Kailash November 2, 2012 at 11:43 am

Hi Sharell,

This is a disaster, The best way is to get all your documents lined up,including those of the twitter chats and go to the consumer protection cell. I wont be surprised if they send you a bill.In the next twitter message ask them how much time they needed. Good luck

Sai Kailash


Cyn November 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I might scare you a little, Airtel was our provider in Bangalore, we called them in advance to discontinue the service, sent an email, they called us a million time for us to pay 2 months of bills that were due, after many arguments on the phone I retorted 7 months later to scream “F…off” to them and hang up, nearly a year later they sent a lawyer intimation or something to DH’s permanent address, and refused to listen to us, or even aknowledged that we had sveral email regarding the disconnection of the service and the fact we moved to another state! For them it never happened and we were wrong, so we ended having to pay for the two damn month we were supposed to owe them.
What is making me sweat is that in our current building it’s Airtel again! Not looking forward to having to discontinue with them once we move out!


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Sigh. That really doesn’t surprise me. We have also screamed at them. Let them send a lawyer and go to all the trouble of taking it to court if they want to. There are so many circumstances of them continuing to charge people and not acknowledging the disconnection (just do an internet search). They can’t keep getting away with it. They are the criminals –they’re robbing people!! And it’s some cheek to then try and intimidate people by sending legal notices.


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm
linda-sama November 1, 2012 at 7:10 pm

one of things that infuriates me about India, the customer service! it sucks. as one of my good friends tells me, “see what we Indians put up with? we just accept.” I told her that’s the problem!


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Unfortunately, yes, it is the problem. Oh dear, maybe this comes back to my other post about people being apathetic in India. Well, they’re going to have a war on their hands with me.


Manny November 1, 2012 at 8:03 pm

India needs more angry gories….. It would do India lot of good!

Bless y’alls heart.



TAMASHA! November 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I don’t know Manny.
We don’t have many ‘quality of service’ issues here in Nepal since the Maoists took over.
The ‘ends’ always justifies the ‘means’ here in Maoistan.
A local family was unhappy with their internet service here in town so they entered the provider’s office, threw all the furniture out the door, broke all the windows & threatened to set fire to the building.
No more ‘service’ problems from that internet provider.
Maybe I should should direct one of our local youth ‘cadres’ to visit Sharell, I bet they’d like Mumbai!


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Oh yes please! Actually, I stormed the office of our first internet service provider, I got so annoyed with their ongoing poor service and feeble excuses. I didn’t even need to throw any furniture around to send them scurrying, and problem solved too! :-) I’ve mellowed out since then (apathy is setting in :-P ) but not enough to stop the sh*t from hitting the fan soon, if they keep this up!


Manny November 1, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Hopefully one day we’ll see, y’all with your pitch fork storm the Bastille at Safdarjung Road. And the rest of us would make sure we are behind y’all 100%

Yeah..we got your back! :P


anna November 1, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Looks like those Twitter messages you are getting are just automated responses, Sharell….bet every customer receives exactly the same one, and all the guys/gals in the Airtel office are on one looooonng chai break, laughing their asses off…..!


Sharell शारेल November 1, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I was laughing at the start too, but not anymore. After my reply (where I told them that I was clearly NOT satisfied and wasn’t likely to end up satisfied), they’ve send me a direct message.

But my alternate number? I only have one number, and I haven’t given it to them!! So why the heck do they want my alternate number? Anyway, looks like game on…. if they bother to call.


Anand November 4, 2012 at 4:52 am

Its the indian english talking here…just add a fancy word here and there to display that he is really looking into your problem..


Inaie November 2, 2012 at 12:21 am

I ‘don’t have the energy to laugh…did you slam the phone on their faces? yelled at them?


Sharell शारेल November 2, 2012 at 12:29 am

My husband started off being really polite with them, then he became more forceful, then more irritated… then this morning, I heard him shouting the “f” word at the caller numerous times. I thought, that must be be Airtel again! ;-) I was right!


Orange Jammies November 2, 2012 at 2:37 am

Lord. I’ve had the same experience with Vodafone. It was like dealing with someone who had Alzheimer’s AND an IQ of 35, all at once. And all this just to STAY ON as a subscriber while we live abroad! Finally, after many fabricated bills, we get a monthly reminder to pay Rs. 0 that I promptly trash.
Even sighing seems like a waste of breath with these guys!


Sharell शारेल November 2, 2012 at 3:18 am

It’s all just sooo absurd! I can’t believe these companies aren’t concerned about offering decent customer service. I’m sure if one of them got their acts together, they’d dominate the market.


Laura November 2, 2012 at 2:44 am

And this is why so many folks in the U.S. are unhappy that so much customer service has been outsourced to Indian call centers. Believe me, the responses we get aren’t ANY different from the runaround you’ve been getting. You’re just fortunate enough to not have to go halfway around the world to scream at them in person!!


Sharell शारेल November 2, 2012 at 3:16 am

Unfortunately, it’s the same situation in Australia, Laura. And despite how upsetting some Indians find it when I say this, it greatly contributes to negative perceptions of Indians there. People are just tired of being harassed, given excuses, and talking to customer service reps that make no sense.


Rakhee Ghelani November 2, 2012 at 9:35 am

Oh dear! I have found Vodafone to be more responsive on Twitter, but it doesn’t mean they have fixed all my problems.

You have made the safest decision, never give your account details to anyone in India.


Perzen November 2, 2012 at 11:17 am

The greatest issue with all the call center reps and everyone else which provides sub standard service finally boils down to “you get what you pay for”. These assistants gets a piddly sum of money (in comparison to the inflation) and are told to just follow a set speech and not veer from it at all. The representatives are trained to leave their brains at home and just rely on the script – except that the script is really faulty too. I believe that Reliance is worse than Airtel though. We told them to remove our number from their list but they keep calling us. When my dad shouted at them and told them to F** off, we infact got someone else from Reliance calling us to shout at us about our behaviour to them – very very weird and strange.


Karsten November 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm

This is sadly quite common for customer service in India I think. I wrote this piece: http://wp.me/pZL4Z-qy after my second latest trip there.

Keep up your good work and nice storries!



Liz Scully November 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Oh I feel your pain with Airtel.

I find they can’t understand my accent on the phone – and once went to the full effort of going over to one of their shops to sort something else. Thinking that it would take twice as long, but at least I could speak to someone face to face… well no.

They waved me over to sit down and then passed me the phone and made me call customer services from the shop. All the inconvenience of going over there and I still ended up having the ‘hello, hello, madam, could you speak English’ conversation. Grrr.


Sharell शारेल November 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm

That’s where it becomes invaluable to put on your best Indian accent! :-P


Shelley November 2, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Yes, this happened to us too. SO glad we didn’t set up direct debit. Sigh. I am constantly struggling with the customer service here. But GOOD news. We are moving to Canada..permanently. I leave November 26th with the kids, and my husband in the next few months once he ties up loose ends here. SO excited for a new chapter! It almost feels like a new book!


Jennifer Fabulous November 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Omg this sounds like a nightmare! You are definitely a lot more calmer than I would have been in that situation. It doesn’t sound to me like they are working on your concern at all. In fact, the company sounds incredibly shady. I feel terrible for your poor friend who set up direct payment.


Bronwyn November 3, 2012 at 5:15 am

Dearest Sharell!

I just noticed that a couple of people had found my new website via yours. I wanted to thank you so much for again including me/keeping me on your extensive and fantastic blogroll. I promise to post nostalgic Bombay stories every so often ;)

Missing you and hope you and my favourite beautiful city are feeling the love.



Abhishek Singh November 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

I have the airtel broadband for the last 3 years and recently got it disconnected as I moved to a different location. The situation with me was also similar. They even send me a legal notice to pay the bill. Over several years, i have used the services of almost all Telecom service providers and these are the issues that are common with all of them and you really have to chose the bad among the worst. So here is what I do to stay out of trouble.
Whenever I make a request to any service Provider, I make sure that I ask them for the Service Request # / Ticket # and the name of the Person who is taking my request. This way I avoid everytime telling them the whole stories by referring them the SR# and the name of the person who took my request. Also, I ask the CSR to read out what request they have written in the system. In case of any dispute, I always refer them the SR# and the date of the request.However, there is another twist. Sometimes the status SR# will be closed in the system without anywork being done on the ground. But still you can use the SR# as a reference and threaten them to go to the court.

I am not sure Sharell but Airtel does sends an SMS mentioning the SR# for the request that you make. It also updates you by sending an SMS when the Service Request is closed.
Normally I keep those SMS for record. and If the situation is becoming worse, I show them as Proof. Currently, I am using the airtel mobile connection, reliance + tata Photon datacard ( all postpaid). Follow the above steps and I am sure you will not have any issues ever. Atleast I never had so far.


Sharell शारेल November 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Thanks so much for the really helpful tips, Abhishek. Wise advice and it’s much appreciated. It’s so shocking and rotten how so many people have experienced this problem!


Abhishek Singh November 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm

So many people experience this kind of problem because organizations do it deliberately. It’s like this. If the organisation has 1 lacs connection and if it charges even Rs 1 extra in the bill and they know that not many people will fight for Rs 1. Most of the people will go ahead and just pay the bill. Even 10000 people noticed and the organisation has to reverse for those 10000 connection, still it will end up with Rs 90000. This kind of tricks brings additional revenue to the organisation.
I know lot many people after playing few verbal volleys get tired and then they pay up just to get rid of them. A lot many people do not even see the fine prints in their bill. If you would have seen the bill carefully, there is also an appellate authority for each telecom circle whose phone # and email is mentioned over there and it does work. Do try it out next time whenever you face this kind of issues.


Ravindran Nair November 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Sharell, are you going to believe me I understand what you are going through.

Call up your Kiwi freinds and drop the name Telecom to them.

Why Telecom, why are you so useless at providing broadband? WHY?


Sharell शारेल November 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Are they government owned?


Nirav November 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Haha.. I suppose this class of problems is universal. During my first 3 months here in Chinchilla I faced the same issue with Telstra..


Sharell शारेल November 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I believe Telstra outsourced its customer service/call centers to India many years ago. :-(


Abhishek Singh November 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

It’s certainly not correct to blame poor customer service just because it’s outsourced to India. Remember, there are SLA’s ( service level agreements) and metrics which the Service Provider organization has to meet. There are periodical reports which goes to the parent organization and unless the parent organization is not ok with it, the service provider from India cannot continue providing the service. So do not ever blame just because the call centre is in India. Actually, the problem lies somewhere else. Whenever any organization decides to outsource, they have to show to their management that by outsourcing there will be an improvement in quality and savings in cost. for quality what they do that they increase the metrics for example.. If the current target for First call resolution is 60 secs, it becomes 40 secs when it comes to India.


Sharell शारेल November 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I’m not just blaming the behaviour of CSRs in India. Of course the parent company is responsible for implementing such a cost cutting measure and poor metrics that don’t reflect the quality of service experience for the customer. Just because a problem is resolved in a shorter amount of time, it doesn’t mean it’s been resolved well. There are so many times a CSR has tried to fob me off no doubt to end the call as quick as possible. For example, being told that the problem is at my end (it’s your router, madam), when I know for certain that it’s not!


melbourne desi November 5, 2012 at 7:48 am

No. It is Phillipines.


Sharell शारेल November 5, 2012 at 11:25 am

It was India way back when they started outsourcing years ago…. I still remember the uproar over it.


Pepper November 4, 2012 at 11:00 am

*Shudders* Remind me to never set up a direct debit fascility in India!


thinktank November 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm

This is absolutely atrocious. How can something like this be allowed to go on? Doesn’t company have any liability for an outsourced department? I have had to deal with similar issue and the entire experience was infuriating. These guys can’t even speak English properly and with lack of liability, anything they say or do goes. How can something function like this? The sheer lack of empathy and basic professionalism is baffling. How can CUSTOMER SERVICE be so apathetic to a customer?!?


Anjali November 5, 2012 at 5:25 am

This is hilarious!


Ravindran Nair November 5, 2012 at 9:10 am

@Sharell. Telecom used to be government owned. Now it is privatised.

They have been increasing the quality of the broadband. But new Zealand still has one of the worst broadband among the OECD countries


Chenko November 6, 2012 at 1:11 am

The people working at customer service centres get paid about 8 to 10 k rupees a month and have no job satisfaction. We get to talk at 10 pause a minute, download movies and music at dirt cheap rates, we should pay more to expect better service.
I don’t know how it is in the developed world but most people in India talk to customercare people as if they own them. Things have improved and will improve but it’ll take time.
As for your problem Sharell take them to consumer court screw them!! I’m sure you’ll get nice compensation and something good to write about.


umots November 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

You know how India ends up with so many techies? The customer service of tech companies are so bad that you learn not to bother calling them up and try to fix your own gadget.


Brittany November 9, 2012 at 4:01 am

Girl you should go straight hood and go straight to their office with bills and evidence in you hand. Then really give it to them with your first and last name! I repeat make sure they know your first and last name! They’ll think twice about messing with you and making sure you give em’ an impression that they’ll never forget!! If I was in India I’d help you too!


Piu November 14, 2012 at 12:33 am

Sorry Brittany

The office will ask you to contact the hotline. So great is indian customer service.

I’ma shoot an email to Mittal who owns Airtel.


koolj November 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Hahahaha!!1 I think they have the same answer for every query


Leave a Comment