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Paytm problems and Issues with Mobile Wallets In General

Given my extreme usage of online services, it was only a matter of time, before I ran into some issue with mobile wallets. I always suspected that mobile wallets will let me down in the hour of need, and I now I have proof. Further, this is an indication that perhaps, it will be sometime before our economy becomes truly cashless, and why, even someone as obsessed about online services such as me, can only trust cash.  

The other day, I was travelling for work purposes, in a city far from where I live. I am talking at least 100 kilometers away. This distance becomes important later. I purchased some cakes worth a small amount of 80 rupees. I asked the vendor if he has paytm, and he said yes. Happily (I am always happy when I get to use digital money, and I have been like this even before this demonetization stuff happened) I whipped out my phone, scanned the bar code, and made the payment.  

I got an SMS, and I also got the successful transaction on my app. As I always do this, I showed the shop keeper that I have paid him. I proceeded to collect my purchased products, but the shop keeper stopped me. He said that he has not received an SMS or any updates on the app. I once again showed him (confirming that it was indeed his phone number, to which he agreed) my phone, the SMS and the paytm app transaction confirmation. The shop keeper refused to take this proof. He said that unless he gets and SMS, or the transaction shows up on his phone, he does not think payment has happened.  

I told him that he must then get into touch with support, and they should solve it for him. He flatout refused, and said that I must pay him in cash. I was on my way to a meeting, so I had no choice but to pay him cash, with the happy assumption that paytm will do a reverse charge. 2 days later, I know now, how wrong I was. 

Sequence of Events

For the sake of easy reading, I have divided the sequence of events as instances of communication. 

Instance 1  

I created a ticket through the app, mentioning the incident.  

Instance 2 

Support folks reply and say that, they can confirm the transaction. The email makes no mention of any of the details (like the confusion with the merchant). So, its clear that they did not bother to read the entire contents of my email.  

Instance 3 

I reply asking them to please look into my issue. I ask them to reverse the charge, after confirming with the merchant that cash has been paid.  

I also asked them for their office address, so I can write a complaint or visit the offices personally if the occasion should arise. 

Simultaneously, I contact their support twitter handle, air my grievance. There hasn’t been any responses at the time of this writing.  

Instance 4 

Support folks reply that, they can confirm the transaction. This is the exact same thing they said last time.  

In addition to that, the support folks tell me that, they are no longer responsible and now I must travel to the merchant (who is like at least a 100 kilometers away) and sort things out with him.  

In other words, paytm wishes to take no responsibility for the incident (they never sent him the transaction SMS and nor did the merchant app update the transaction details) and essentially washing their hands off the whole thing.  

Incident 5 

I replied again, asking them to provide me with their office address, so I can write a letter of complaint. So far, I don’t have a reply yet.  

[I will update the incidents if paytm should choose to respond] 

My Learnings 

I am a big time proponent of online stuff. I have been using online banking since 2006, and since then, everything I do, transactions as small as 10 rupees, has been done online, if the other party agrees. Since I turned consultant almost 4 years ago, I have always said no to cash, even forcing people to pay me online.  

Hence, when the demonetization drive started, I liked it. Now, even sundry purchases with the local shop owner (like tea and biscuits and other small shops and hotels) will take digital money. Still, I always felt that app based services (who don’t have a office to walk into or a phone number to call them directly and speak to a human) can be shaky when it comes to providing support. 

Poor access to support when it comes to say, booking a cab or food or hotel or even products such as phones and computers, are okay. If I don’t like a service provider, I can say good bye to him, and move on. I can ditch said product and simply buy another.  

With money, I cannot ditch money can I? The 80 rupees I lost is a small amount, but will I ever trust paytm with a big ticket purchase? Heck, if anything, I will stop using paytm altogether. However, this comes with collateral damage. Paytm is the biggest mobile wallet player in town. If the biggest player in town shows such ignorance, can we, consumers trust other wallet providers?  

I will update this section if someone from paytm contacts me and resolves the issue. Till then, I will simply have to stop using their services.  

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