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Why I am leaving Airtel Mobile

The story starts in the month of December 2015. I moved to a new place (and our office moved at the same time) and I realized that my Vodafone 3G was getting spotty at both my office and also at my new residence. I spoke with Vodafone (who are simply amazing as I continue to be their customer for my other number and in process of going back to them as I write this) and they said that in Bangalore (as with Karnataka circle) they don’t have their own 3G network and that they were sharing whatever Airtel Mobile gives them.  

In fact, the Vodafone girls and guys (love them!) were extremely polite, calling me back, following up on my issues and so on and so forth. They said that when it comes to 3G, they are limited by what Airtel provides and their hands are tied, at least until they get their own network. Eventually, I decided to do the only logical thing. Switch to another network, and even at this point, the Vodafone girls and guys were very polite (as always) and told me to come back once they have their own 3G/4G network.  

I asked around and found that Airtel Mobile has the best network. I borrowed a friends Airtel SIM, used it at my new residence, and then at my office. I wasn’t getting great speed but I was getting somewhere around 1 mbps which was good enough for me. So, after doing this trial thing, I finally sent the MNP/Porting (with a heavy heart) code to Vodafone, subscribed to the most expensive plan that Airtel Mobile offers to customers and boom, just like that, I was on Airtel Mobile.  

And, thus started my 3 months of hellish experiences. Three months, where I was crippled in terms of mobile and data connectivity.  

The problems started the very first day of getting the new SIM. I immediately noticed that the data connectivity was poor at my office location and also at my residence. I thought perhaps it was a glitch and that the issue is something else, like my SIM is new and the MNP stuff is affecting is. Then, couple of more days passed and I noticed that I was speeds of less than 50 kbps. For reference, 1 mbps equals 1000 kbps.  

Obviously I was disappointed. I called up customer care and that is when things really started to go downhill.  

  1. When I called care (it was midnight) the rep took the call and then simply...let it idle. I figured he probably just went back to sleep. He did not even put me on hold. He just, let it be. 

  1. I called again, the rep took the call, told me that note down the issue, and then...well...he just ended the call. No case number nothing. 

  1. I called again and this time too, I got an agent who was simply not 'alert' and sounded very sleepy to help me out. I gave up on him half-way through the call and decided to end the call. 

After this incident and after having generated a very low opinion of Airtel Support (and it hurt me even more because I was on the highest plan they offered and was expecting some kind of a VIP experience. I had this expectation because when I was on Vodafone, I was a platinum customer and was treated as such) and its service in general, I decided to do some investigation of my own and collected some data.  

Next day, I drove all the way from my residence to office. Every kilometer, I would stop and run a speed test via the speedtest app. The weird part was, I was getting upwards of 5 mbps, every time I tested. I ran multiple tests and each time I got fantastic speeds. So, I knew that Airtel 3G is good but I also realized for very odd reasons, Airtel 3G was not good at my residence (where I spend half of my day and weekends) and at my office (where I spend the other half of my day and weekdays). 

Armed with this intel, I called up Airtel Mobile care later in the evening (I would have preferred to call at midnight but by now I know that although Airtel Mobile care is round the clock, their tech support is sleeping during midnight hours) and spoke to a executive. I told them how I am getting good speeds and connectivity everywhere except at my residence and at my office. They listened to my whole story, said they will investigate. A few days passed and I got this SMS.  

Image

So,  

  • My phone with the same airtel SIM can get high speeds at many places except at my office and residence. 

  • My phone with the different SIM can get high speeds. 

  • My phone, a Mi4 device still under warranty and a medium range, branded device. 

Despite all this data, somehow, the technical investigation department decided that my phone must be faulty and I must buy a new phone! 

That is when I realized that, yup, while Airtel is a great brand and everything, their mobile support is out of touch with its customers. When that happens, it's time to let go.  

For the next three months, this is how my phone life was. Note that I cannot do MNP unless 90 days have been spent on the current network, and my number has been around for more than 8 years, so changing my number was not an option either. 

  • I bought a second phone. Yes, because of Airtel I bought a second phone and used a SIM from another network (Actually Vodafone. They launched their own working, fully awesome 3G/4G network in January). Then, I turned on mobile sharing on my second phone, and connected my main phone which is on Airtel Mobile.  

  • That means, for these three months, I was carrying two phones (when I go for a walk, do some light shopping, have dinner with friends) in my pockets all the time! 

  • As if the data problems were not enough, even the phone service went down after February. Calls would get constantly disconnected, voice clarity is not there and myriad other issues.  

Anyway, now, the 90 days period is over. I can now happily port over to Vodafone. This brings me to the man question, as to why, I wrote this blog post. 

  1. The main reason is, whenever we send that porting request, usually customer care will call and ask, "why am I leaving"? Instead of explaining to them about my ordeal, it is easier if I just show them this blog post. 

  1. Second, airtel is by far the biggest service provider in the country (and I am huge fan of their broadband services. That is why in the entire blog post I have specifically mentioned 'Airtel Mobile' instead of just 'Airtel'. Airtel Broadband service (where I am also a platinum customer) is just amazing and I love those girls and guys. If they are that big, they must be doing something right. Perhaps, my case was unique and someone could look into this issue. 

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