About four or five months ago, we signed up for a new high-speed Internet service in Sri Lanka – AirTel. AirTel is an Indian company that had just moved into the Sri Lankan market and provided wireless Internet through their towers. They promised much higher speeds than we were getting through SLT (Sri Lanka Telecom) for a much cheaper price.
Problem was, we weren’t getting those speeds. In fact, we were getting about 1/10th, sometimes 1/20th or less, of the promised download speeds. Supposed to be 320 kbps. Supposed to be.
AirTel, it would seem, has removed the details of their Internet package off their site. Good to know it’s not just my imagination that it used to be there. Oh, and yeah, I’m not providing links to Airtel.lk. I’m not giving these idiots anything.
And read this guy’s account. It’s quite similar to ours.
So. Fahim called AirTel Sri Lanka to complain about the slow speeds. The AirTel employee would open a ticket and tell Fahim that it would be resolved by a certain date, which was usually in 2 business days. The day after the date provided, we’d still have the same slow speeds and the same connectivity issues, so Fahim would call them to find out what was going on, only to find that the ticket was closed and the problem supposedly resolved. Only, how, exactly, would their technical support staff know if a problem was actually resolved if they didn’t talk to us? And that’s the thing – they never did. Technical support never called to find out if anything was resolved.
Our connectivity issues, by the way, was that we were conintuously disconnected and reconnected. Continuously meaning that we would be disconnected while the previous reconnection was still trying to resolve the connection. That sometimes happened hundreds of times a day. Sometimes, we’d be connected for as long as ten minutes. Whoo hooo. Sometimes we’d be connected for longer.
So Fahim would tell them the problem wasn’t resolved, so AirTel would open a new ticket. Because the old one was closed, they could only open a new ticket. Hmm, gaming the system to make it look like they’re resolving something? So a new ticket is opened, a new date is provided when the issues will be resolved, and another two day wait with lousy speeds and major connectivity problems.
Over and over that scenario happened. Technical support never called us to find out if anything was resolved. They just continued to close tickets while calling it resolved.
Then, one day, we got a phone call from their collections deparment asking for payment on a bill. Except that we hadn’t even received the bill yet and it wasn’t due for another couple more weeks. And the person who called kept asking, “Yes, but can you pay it today itself?” Uh, no. It’s not due, we haven’t received, and no. And he just. Could. Not. Understand.
And we got a phone call from someone in complaints because Fahim complained to the guy who called us. And then another collections call a day or so later trying to collect on the same bill that wasn’t yet due. And another call…
Finally, due to the song and dance of “We’re installing equipment. It’ll be improved soon,” Fahim called them and cancelled our service. Sort of.
The customer service person convinced Fahim that service would improve, that new equipment was being installed that would make things better, faster, more powerful… In a few months, it will all be resolved. We’re not willing to pay for service that’s not even 1/10th of what was promised, so we compromised on a temporary shut-down of the service. Meaning our account was suspended, we received no service, but we can open it later and continue again. This seems to be a somewhat common practice here since Dialog also offers that with their satellite connection.
Fine and dandy.
Then two days ago, Fahim receives a phone call from someone at AirTel asking us if we’d like to resume our service. Are the speed & connectivity issues resolved? No, they said. Then why would we want to pay for a service that doesn’t work? The person who called seemed to have a bit of a hard time understanding tht concept. Fahim nearly burst a blood vessel…
Then yesterday, we got another phone call from AirTel. Turns out they’ve been billing us this whole time and they think we owe them nearly Rs.6,000. For a service we haven’t received and wasn’t delivered as promised anyway. Pay up, please, they say.
Fahim lights into them, telling them there’s no way we’re paying. Person on the other end says, oh, would you like to speak to our complaints department? I can transfer you to them. NO. Why should we spend our time talking to these idiots when they’ve clearly got an internal problem to solve? They can sort out their own accounting nightmares on their own time and not involve us, thank you very much.
And now, even though we were willing to consider giving them another try when they finally got their equipment up to spec, we’ve changed our minds. They can go jump off a tall cliff.
The sad part of this story? This is fairly typical for Sri Lanka.
5 thoughts on “Customer Service in Sri Lanka”
Lyra, this AirTel thing is so completely typical of customer service here, really. Which is also why I let Fahim deal with everything – I’d be doing a lot more yelling than he does. 🙂
this is very true. customer service here sucks….
Don’t forget, “and you’ll take it lying down.”
Wow! That is horrible. I’ve had to wait at home all day for repair people come to the house only to have them not come and ruin my day. I then find a note on the door saying they came but no one was home. Hello! Have they tried knocking. I lived in a trailer not a mansion. I would have heard you. I then get the run around and have to kill another day waiting for them come again. We just ended up cancelling and returning the item to them. But yours takes the cake Laurie. Wow.
Not that poor service is bad enough BUT the implicit assumption is you’re a fool. AND you’re wrong. Jeesh.