Friday, August 8, 2008

Cells, Connections and Catastrophes

And it so came to pass that I had to get a cell phone. A wise man said that 'Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough'... I guess it was George Bernard Shaw…. I guess it is true.

Anyway the process of selection of a cell was not a piece of cake. After going through a lot of sites on cell phones on the world wide web, to get the cell phone, and ending up right back to square one, I gave up and went to the nearest mobile store and looked at the mobile phones that were on display there. This helped - because the mobile phones in the store were an insignificant subset of the universal set. To further fasten up the search I reduced the ‘required’ features to - mp3 player, enough inbuilt memory to store a decent number of songs, and FM player [I had polyphonic and color display too, but there were no cell phones with any of the above features without color and decent sound, so adding these features to the ‘required’ list was redundant; so I scratched them off]. After spending about thirty five minutes in the store, I ended up with Motorola W230.

I reached into my pocket to pull out the cash and buy the phone, as I had spent enough valuable time on this already, the female behind the counter sheepishly informed me that it was out of stock, and I had to wait for a week, to actually get my hands on one of them.

I had to use all my energy to bite back several sentences that jumped in my head which were made up mostly of [not-so-usually used] four letter words.

I was walking out of the store, when she called me back and told me that there was one last 'piece' in another Mobile Store outlet in Malleshwaram and they could get it for me the next day. That sounded agreeable, as after about 21 years without a cell phone, an additional day is nothing. So, as asked, I gave her my land line. True to her word, she called me up the next day. I told her that I would be there to collect the mobile within the hour. But she sounded unhappy, and asked me couldn't I come sooner.

The shop was two bus stops away. I was there within eight minutes.

As I was walking into the store, I bumped into this guy, who it turned out, was on his way to Malleshwaram to get me my cell. The damn phone wasn't even in the store. I didn't want to return home empty handed, so I waited there.

He did not return for another 48 minutes, and by that time I had sat at all chairs in the store; stared at all the models in the huge ads put up, handled every mobile phone that was on display; watched Enrique Iglesias have a good time with Kournikova, on a Moto cell along with the security guard; attempted to swing his lathi in intricate patterns without seriously hurting myself or anyone within the swing range; went out and had a coke; came back; and was reading the insanely boring specifications off a box of bluetooth headsets, when the guy walked back in. His late-coming was received by the store employees with comments which were creative and almost musical.

But I was relieved. I grabbed the box from him and departed from that place. I haven’t gone back in again. Hope I never have to.

And this is just the beginning.

This was Sunday. 13th of July.

Monday dawned. The only thing I could see on my display was 'Emergency only'. I thought it was nigh time to change it.

I went to the Airtel dude in TI, entered my name and gmail id into the sim application form, paid the activation fees, got my sim and promptly incubated it into my cell. I was promised that it would get activated within 24 hours. And so I waited. Patiently.

For three damn days.

I then got to know that my sim with the promised number -9008022333, had some “technical” problem and could not be activated, so he had sent me a replacement sim with this female. This Mahatayee [allegedly] after a hard day’s effort of finding me and failing miserably; gave up and returned the sim back to the Airtel dude. I went and collected the sim-2 from him.

I chucked the original sim and put the new sim with the number- 9008966445 into the mobile. This sim was supposed to be pre-activated, and there was not supposed to be any delay. This was Thursday already, and by now I had grown to detest 'Emergency only'. The no-waiting-for-activation was good news. I eagerly restarted my mobile. It chimed merrily, and said 'Aloha' like it does every time it is restarted.

But then I saw 'Emergency only' staring right back at my furious face.

The Airtel dude promised profusely that it will be activated by that evening.

Thursday afternoon dragged into evening. Evening turned into night, night into Friday, Friday into Saturday.

It was Saturday night when I was about to call the Airtel dude for the 7th time, in exasperation; just for the heck of it I restarted the cell, and it said
'Airtel
19-Jul-08
'.

I was :D.

The first thing I did was to call my land line. It rang. I was :D :D.

I called my mobile number then from my land line, and it recursively said "ee number chalane alli illa. This telephone number does not exist. ee number....'.

I was back to x-(

evilsense was online then, and I rung him up and he told me that the incoming phone number was 9xxxxxxxxx. And it was.

That is my damn mobile number.

I change two sims, contact the Airtel dude everyday, call Airtel every other day, wait for a week, then end up with a mobile number that another 'Aniruddha' from Intergraph was supposed to get. For the next two days the only thing I do is to try and convince disbelieving Airtel 'verifiers', that I was perfectly sure that my initials are P N, and that I was talking to them from TI; and that I certainly lived in 119, VHBCS Layout.

People these days, somehow just don't believe that. Check my previous post for additional proof.
:P

Anyway, I at last convinced them to change this number- 9xxxxxxxxx to my name.

Later, next week sometime, I got a sms saying:

"Your bill plan - AES 199 kk, Monthly Charges - 199.0
Local Outgoing Charges -
To Airtel Mobile - 0.4
To Other Mobile - 0.4
To Landline - 1"
That is crap because I have a receipt with me that states clearly that I have purchased a sim for the 299 New Airtel Corporate Plan.

After another round of phone calls /conversations, and meetings in the TI reception area with the Airtel dude, I had vocal confirmation that the plan had been changed.
I sighed and accepted that. Things were quiet for sometime then.

Another week passed. The monthly bill was supposed to come by August 3rd. I still hadn't got it by the 4th. So, jobless as I was, I smsed Airtel *121# and inquired about my billed amount.
And I got a sms back saying:

Your amount due as on 04-Aug-08 is 251.16.

Shite.

Again that is bull crap because the minimum charge has to be 299/-. That’s the monthly rental for the Airtel 299 corporate plan.
I smsed bp to 121, and it happily declared that my bill plan was still AES 199 KK.

I went back to the Airtel dude, and as always, he called other Airtel dudes, and they called each other some more and later I got another sms saying that:

Your bill plan – 299. New Corp Plan – KK. Monthly Charges – 299.
Local Outgoing Charges -
To Airtel Mobile - 0.5
To Other Mobile - - 0.5
To Landline – 1.
Whew!!

And then I got my bill in my mailbox day before yesterday.

Jeezuz!
[The sentences that sprung up in my mind, this time, were juicier, with some five letter words included to add more color and tang.]

Nothing, in the bill, except my house address on top left of the page is right.
My name has no initials mentioned.
The mobile number is not mine. It was what I was supposed to get. It is 9008966445. My number for the nth bloody time is 9xxxxxxxxx.
The amount mentioned is not the amount I have spent. I am not even sure that my account number is right. If the bill period has anything to do with when the sim was activated [which the Airtel dude told me would be], then even that is wrong. The dumb sim got activated on the 19th and I have expenses from the 2nd of July. There is no billing plan mentioned even.

Aaaargh.
[I am running out of new decent expletives to use... onomatopoeia ne gati]

So, I decided I would take up matters into my own hand, go to www.airtel.in and check stuff out by myself. I went to the site, entered the mobile number and registered myself. I get the password on my mobile. I logged in. The first screen that greeted me is a form that has all fields mandatory. I fill out name, age and other usual stuff, and then discover that in the mandatory date of birth field - the dumb ‘day’ scroll-down button is screwed. It only says ‘day’ when scrolled down. There is no way to enter any number in that space. Hence there is no way to enter a valid date of birth. There is no way to complete that form. No way to check anything.

Aaaargh [some more].

But at least I got their email id.

So I sent them a mail:

"Sub: Problems with my bill.
Hi,
I have two issues to raise.

1. The bill that I have got is not mine. The phone number is wrong. My sim has been activated to 9xxxxxxxxx. But the bill is under the number – 900866445. This matter is regarding Bill No – 797180227.The billed amount that is shown in my mobile, is also different than what has been sent to my email account.

2. I cannot register in www.airtel.in. The date of birth tab is mandatory in the registration form. The month and the year scroll-downs work well. But the ‘day’ tab is stuck. There is no way to input a valid date into the form. And without filling that tab, there is no way to go to the next screen and see any other details.
I would be pleased if these issues are solved soon. I have brought this issue up several times already, but nothing has been done.
I cannot pay the bill which doesn't have my mobile number.

Aniruddha P N"

I got a reply back saying:

"Dear Mr. Aniruddha,

Thank you for contacting Airtel.

You have expressed concern over the receipt of wrong mobile bill and the inability to access the date column in our Airtel website for your Airtel number 9xxxxxxxxx.

We understand your concern and will work towards resolving the same.

To enable us to process your concern, kindly send us the mobile bill that you received for us to initiative further action regarding the same.

Further, we would like to inform you that the invoice dated 03/08/08 for the above mobile number would be delivered to the email address anirudh@gmail.com within 8 days from the bill generation date.

Also, with regard to your concern over the inability to access the date column for your mobile number 9xxxxxxxxx, we kindly request you to select the "month" drop down list before selecting the "date" to complete the formalities.

If you still face the same problem, we request you to call our 24 Hours Customer Care service 121[Toll Free] for more online assistance.

For further assistance, mail us at 121@airtelindia.com or SMS to 121 (toll free).

We value your association with Airtel.

Warm Regards,

Kamei N
Customer Care Executive
Bharti Airtel Limited"

So, i replied back:

"Dear Sir,

I have attached the mobile bill that I received on 3rd August, as you had requested.

The email id that you have mentioned in the mail is not mine. You have indicated an email id - anirudh@gmail.com. But my email id is aniruddha.pn@gmail.com. I would like it if you could send the new bill to this id.

Also, I still have the same problem in www.airtel.in. No matter which way I choose – that is month first or day first, I still can’t get the scroll-down option to work. I still am not able to log in.

Thanking you,
Aniruddha P N"

This last mail was sent by me at 7:49 PM (2 hours ago)
I’m awaiting their response.

Till then, so long.

PS: I always wanted to blog about this. But more illogical stuff kept happening. I decided today that crap that has happened till now is worth blogging. It is here for your entertainment.

9 comments:

evilsense said...

AArch!!!

When you told me that there was some mistake with mobile phone numbers, I guessed that maybe you will get f88ked in bills.

And by the way don't activate FUN messages, ROTFL :)

Dha said...

@evilsense:

hehe.. long time since i heard about FUN messages... are u still getting them and sacrificing two bucks daily?

:P

Sandy said...

Dude you could have saved all these troubles if you had bought a airtel sim from any roadside shop... connections from those guys never had any problems!

Dha said...

@sandy,

This should have been tagged under 'Stuff that only happens to me' :P
Loads of others bought their sims from the same Airtel dude. Majority of them have no complaints.

Also, the 299 corporate offer was a decent one. 750 minutes talk time free to any mobile, with 200 sms free per month. That was another reason why i bought the sim from him.

who'da known it was gonna turn out this way?

Rakesh Babu G R said...

Get a postpaid dude.
Recharging janjat wont be there.

Dha said...

@takaal

hehe..
this is a postpaid sim, man..
there are no corporate offers for prepaid sims...

Srikanth said...

You can start a comic series on your problems man... like Dilbert or RK Laxman's common man...

Long but Great read

vk said...

Dont you still see it? YOU ARE NOT destined to own a cell (SIM incl) :-D

Dha said...

hehe...

the mp3 player in the cell, man.. that's the only thing that hasn't caused any pain till now..

its not all bad, thus

:)