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Newly Crowned Rogue Telecom in Ghana goes to Airtel

Posted in Africa

The uproar is getting higher and higher. Customers aren’t settling for nonsense these days. The tension keeps rising and the complaints, queries, bad reviews, outcry and distress levels are skyrocketing.

Customers are being cheated, over and over again. No one seems to care, no one seems to bother. All appear normal, yet it ain’t normal. For about 2 months now, the worst network service to, perhaps, ever surface in Ghana is in full swing, and no sign of stopping, at least incoming info reveals.

The so-called Smartphone Network, a network designed to make you Feel Free, with a logo look similar to an inflated red curled balloon, is in big mess at the moment, and they are enjoying the mess they’re causing, for themselves and their users.

If you’ve been cheated by Airtel, one of Ghana’s finest Telecoms (used to!) in recent times, you are not alone. Loyal customers keep flocking to the official homepage of Airtel on Facebook, where they handle pretty much about 98% of their customer care service. 98%? That might be exaggeration, but how well can one put it, if the average caller to the 100 toll free line, trying to reach out to the Customer Care spends over 40 minutes waiting?

Conversely, post a message to the Facebook page, and you’re sure to receive one of these:
“We apologize for the inconvenience caused. Please send us your number and we will resolve the issue.”

Sweet! You’re a fool, so you go ahead, and send in your phone number. Quickly, you get a response your issue has been logged, and you will be notified when it is resolved. You’re a happy man or woman! Not so fast.

With such swift response from your beloved network, you wished it could have been that quick, trying to know your stance whether you stand the chance of entering heaven or not. Maybe you jump here and there, excited, feeling proud of being heard. You are so thankful, and quickly share how you’ve been well received by this heaven-sent network.

Fast forward to 2 billion years, and you have neither received progress report from Airtel, nor have your issue been resolved. What at all was your problem? Simple:

You tried subscribing to Airtel Sika Kokoo Service, which is priced so reasonable that, I doubt who doesn’t join that in Ghana yet. Just 1 Cedi for a data bundle of 750 Mb, nothing even on the international market is likely to beat that, I believe.

The subscription went through, your credit was deducted efficiently. As a network that’s known to ‘always work’, you didn’t bother verifying if the service subscribed for was provided you. You hope onto YouTube to watch the latest Adele Music Video, “Hello”, which is already rocking over 300 Millions views in less than a week. Obviously, you don’t wanna be left out of the fun.

Your page keeps loading, and loading! Well, what did I do wrong. Then the light-bulb comes on. “Dang! I’ve been duped”, you say. I’m sorry, but not yet.

That incident led you to get in touch with Airtel over the phone. You spent over an hour on the line, no one picked up. One time, you got fortunate, someone did, but guess what, you were too boring he/she cut the line before you could say the next word. You promised yourself you’re never gonna go through that war-zone-like treatment to get in touch with Airtel, thus the Facebook, which seemed like a chilled coconut juice in the middle of the Kalahari!

The above scenario is a true life story. It happened to me a couple of times. I’m a living legend for overcoming that. Okay, I tap my shoulder, and Hi-five myself.

You’re experiencing something similar or worse to above experience? You are not alone! Subscribing for a service, and being refused to enjoy value for money service is irritating, especially if your line of work depends on such service, like internet data. But when Airtel takes your money, they never want to give it back. In fact, you might have to do one or more of these to get your problem heard. Either move a mountain into the sea, or a lighter-tasked one, walk into the Airtel headquarters to demand your money.

Demand money? I doubt they’ll even give to you. But how come I got mine refunded? Hmm…. The secret recipe to that was patience, persistence, and a bit of being serious. Trust me, Airtel won’t give you the money they illegally take back, unless you give them a reason to.

I gave them a reason to, and I meant every word of it. Although I got my refund, I believe if Airtel respected any of their customers, they wouldn’t wait for them to ask for refund of their money when rogue, and unscrupulously taken. At least, for the benefit of the doubt, Airtel could also have decided to freely give out bonus credits, of say, 5 cedis to every subscriber, to at least appease the damage they did, and will cause.

But for Airtel, its a big no! As a poor customer, the best option I had was to sue Airtel in court, and maybe rake in some maybe 10,000$ as damages cost? That would be pretty awesome.

And so what?
And so what? Source: Airtel

Instead of fixing their network issues, behold above! Android Lollipop, and so what?

But considering the expose regarding the judiciary system in Ghana released by Anas, it would take me two-fold of that damages cost, to even get my sue case rolling. To maintain the rolling speed? Oooh I would need to make a call to World Bank. I won’t say I’m calling from Ghana though, considering our track record of squandering money, and zeal to be irrational when cash is on the table.

And so, the best I could do is raise awareness, get a unified voice, and hopefully, when the whole world knows Airtel has deliberated gone douche, rogue, unprofessional and foolish, maybe the other networks might use the opportunity to worsen their services too, so that Ghana could keep drowning in the pool of crazy network services.

With that in mind, I shared a short Open Letter with Airtel on their Facebook page. I was expecting a billion likes by now, but heck, I got just over 5, which isn’t bad, considering when people are angry, the urge to ‘like’ things aren’t instinctive.

So, below, I share my Open Letter with everyone on here. What do you think? Will Airtel refund all the tens of thousands of Cedis they’re directly, and intentionally stealing from customers one day? If so, when? If not, what will, and should you do, assuming you don’t wanna use any other network?

Lemme know in the comments section below!

Link to Open Letter:

Dear Trickster Airtel,
Cause for Concern – Airtel has Gone Rogue, and Fraudster in Recent Weeks
You try subscribing for Airtel Sika Kokoo. Your money is taken, the service is never provided. You try to get a refund, Airtel tosses you up and down, recklessly
Consider this scenario which might not be happening to you alone in the past weeks: You try subscribing for Airtel Sika Kokoo. You receive instant feedback that Airtel Sika Kokoo is subscribed. Your 1 cedi is deducted, yet, you try browsing, but doesn’t go through. You check your data bundle to notice your money has been taken without the Sika Kokoo service provided.
I had a long discussion with customer care representatives today at Airtel, including a Supervisor.
About two weeks ago, a similar scenario above happened to me. When I tried first time, I thought I had mistaken something. Did a second time, and credits was deducted and I never got my sika kokoo. 2 Cedis gone. I called the customer care and was assured of a refund, within 6 hours from my time of call. My complain receipt number is: C1043395. The refund NEVER came.
Fast forward, and same thing happened earlier today around 8:30, I placed in a complaint (C1224761) at customer care (after waiting about 12 minutes on the line) and, the representative who answered, Williams*, confidently gave me the heads up that, maximum by 6 hours time, I’ll get my refund. In fact, I was chasing for a refund for my 1 cedi this morning, after deciding to let the one that happened 2 weeks ago go free. But realized, I’m being fooled!
After staying on the line, waiting to connect with a customer rep, for about 40-45 minutes, my call was answered. This sweet lady read a kinda script that every rep is supposed to say, when the network screws up:
Lady: 1) Thank you for choosing Airtel. 2) We apologize for any inconvenience caused… 3) **
The lady assured me, the issue will be resolved. Unfortunately, I wasn’t convinced, as I started feeling cheated, deceived and exploited, since those were the same words, lines and poems I heard when I called some time ago. I wouldn’t let her go, as I wanted to hear something different from all the lies they’ve been saying. In fact, this lady wasn’t even sure if the issue was looked at. All they do is just log a complaint, and they have NO idea whether someone at the back looks at those complains or not.
Understandably, she wasn’t in a position to offer any further assistance, as all she could think of was for me to be ‘Patient’, ‘Wait for the issue to be resolved’ and, although she didn’t mention, for me to Hope the issue will be fixed one day, eventually.
This is about 15-20 minutes into the call.
I requested to speak to someone who probably would have had some good news to share. The customer Rep connected me to her supervisor, Ebenezer. Oh dear, Ebenezer….
Ebenezer beat about the bush so well. He had no idea even if the issue has/is been/being looked at, so assured me he was gonna follow up. I’ve heard that before too.
Our discussion kinda went like this, in part:
Me: Ebenezer, can you confidently tell me that, someone or a team, looks at the complains at all?
Eben: Yes
Me: So have they looked at my issue?
Eben: I do have no idea, but will follow up on that for you
Me: Well, that is exactly what all previous customer representatives have told me.
At that point, I concluded these:
1) No one looks at those complains, nor even bother fixing them. I remember it took me close to a week before I could get my airtel money pin reset. I called on Thursday, I got the reset done on Monday or Tuesday.
2) If they tell you they’ll follow up, they’re indirectly telling you, “Dude, you better follow up on us, because you drop the call, and your complain goes bogus”
Disturbing concerns I have, are:
  • Airtel is unprofessional (or has gone unprofessional. Not the network I knew when I signed on in 2008):
  • a) Instead of informing their users about internet issues they have, they don’t, do so intentionally, and have no sense of remorse, when that causes inconveniences for their users. I could established this point, based on the fact that, when they had network issues with their network about 2 weeks ago, I only knew about it when I called them. Their excuse was, the issue was minor, and would be fixed within about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, it had lasted several hours, and was devouring customers who were trying to subscribe kokoo money, for absolutely no reasons.
  • b) Airtel always has issues with their network settings. Sometimes it comes back and all subscriptions are reset. All of that happens without the user’s knowledge. And because Airtel rides on the fact that, by using the “internet issues” excuse, they can get many users to ease up and understand them, is exploiting thousands, if not millions of their customers. They ALWAYS have internet issues every 2-3 weeks. If you’re a constant airtel user, you’ll know that. The sad part is, the network neither gets faster, nor better after whatever issues they have solved.
  • Airtel is NOT willing to refund your money: This I also established and clear from how the refund process is setup. Users don’t call a representative to subscribe for airtel sika kokoo. However, if your money is stolen by the system, instead of letting the system automatically refund, they want you to call customer care. This might seem a good way, but look at it this way: You call customer care, spend 40 minutes waiting on the line, your call is picked, you get a complaint ticket and you’re told it’ll be fixed in 6 hours time. It never gets fixed. Because they know you won’t have time to follow up on that, they take the money. Might appear small 1 cedi, but if happens to 1,000 users, that’s free 100 Cedis for Airtel. If it happens to a million users in a week, that’s 1 million cedis per week, free of charge, for services not provided. See it as unwillingly donating money to Airtel for no cause!
  • Airtel DOESN’T care about us, NOR respect Customers: Just like any other network provider out there in Ghana, Airtel has no respect whatsoever for their customers. I’m not referring to the saying “We apologize” or speaking humbly to the customers that is the full scope of what respect is or entails. If you respect someone you serve, and they are in trouble for something you caused, you try to resolve whatever inconveniences they face as soon as possible, in matter of hours. You don’t cause the sinking of the ship, and return 2 weeks later with life support balloons and rescue boats. That to me, is disrespect. If you respect your customers, you won’t allow (condone) your system stealing money from them by looking at the issue, and smiling at it for months. If you respect and care for your customers, you won’t lie and tell them, “It’ll be fixed within 6 hours” when you explicitly either don’t know how long it’ll take to fix, or the fact that, it won’t be fixed.
I started using Airtel 10 days after it was launched in Ghana (December 20th or so, 2008, was Zain at the time), and have used it as my primary network since then, thus I pretty know the network, and I think their services are gradually worsening by the tick of the clock.
As the ordinary user, my request to airtel is, Please Refund my 3 Cedis, and that’s it. That’s all I’m asking. You and I know (plus your system logs know, and won’t lie) that Airtel took my 3 cedis (1 cedi today, and 2 cedis some 2 weeks ago). Just a refund, and I’m done. How I get the refund, doesn’t really matter to me. If a representative will send me the credits, or the issues will eventually be resolved and my credits given back to me, that’s outside my scope of what to think of.
Just 3 Cedis. Airtel Just 3 Cedis! As soon as possible, and by that, I don’t mean a decade from now, but within the next 1 week!
Thank you!
*mentioning names, because this is not my attempt to paint bad picture of Airtel. The picture is already bad, thanks to them
** I’m sure at the back of the heads of these customer reps, they’re like: “GTH with your money issues. Yedi wo sika kakra aa, na ay3 d3n!