Seeing that I would run outta data later on Saturday the 10th of May, 2015, I recharged my phone with =N=1,500 worth of Airtel airtime credit at about 10 am, with the intention that once I run out, Airtel’s AUTORENEWAL will simply replenish my BlackBerry Bundle with 1.5GB of usable data, though the subscription was originally due to expire by the 23rd of May.
It used to be 2GB for the same amount before my service provider, Airtel Nigeria unceremoniously reduced it to 1.5GB less than two months ago, but just like any Nigerian used to been screwed by public and private business concerns I simply felt twas one of those things, even when data balance now appears to burn faster than it used to.
The =N=1,500 was promptly removed from my phone in minutes after I loaded it, and I simply thought twas autorenewal at work. I didn’t get a message informing me that the new data I’d purchased was added to the old one, with a new data balance. and simply continued browsing with what was left of my meagre data balance, hoping that once I exhausted it the autorenewal message will come restoring the data.
Later that night I found that I couldn’t browse, checked my data balance and it read 0.00MB, I checked my airtime balance though the 1K5 had been removed since morning by what I thought was autorenewal to renew my blackberry bundle as was usually the case, though I knew what I’d find, but just so as to fulfill all righteousness, I checked.
As anyone in my condition will do, I dialed “111” to speak with CUSTOMER CARE around 2am knowing full well that traffic will be low and I’ll easily get connected to an AGENT. A man picked the phone at the other end, and after I made my complaint, asked that I call back in an hour’s time as the UPGRADE the company embarked on had made it difficult to call up the information he needs to attend to my issue, though he acknowledged the fact that I’d loaded my phone with 1k5 in the morning, only that he cannot see what happened with the money for now.
I called back some minutes after an hour just so as not to appear desperate (though I was, seeing that I couldn’t do any surfing all night because of my predicament, and the rain knocked off electricity so I couldn’t spend time watching TV), another guy picked the phone and I had to repeat all I’d said before adding details I thought could assist the fellow, but to no avail as the situation necessitated by the upgrade of their system (according to him) still persisted. He nicely ended the call asking that I called back.
At this juncture, I decided it would be best to pay them a visit, on Monday. I waited till dawn on Sunday and recharged my ETISALAT line for data, whose advantage is browsing speed (I’d say the fastest in Nigeria), but with the downside that data burns faster than even SONIC “The Hedgehog”. I’d suffered enough trauma already been offline all night, considering that the bulk of my social media activities are done nocte.
Monday, 12th May I visited one of Airtel Nigeria’s whatchacall’em…er “friendship centers”, and was attended to by this lady who knew not her right from her left, I even volunteered some information that assisted her in helping me, before she hooked me up with someone else on phone, she thought could help me. This is where the story began to change, as this new person, another female told the most blatant of lies in my face, stating that my data could’ve finished and the service then started eating into my airtime.
I explained to her, that if it were so, the whole =N=1500 wouldn’t go in just one fell swoop, besides I’d get alerts informing me that so, and so amount has been deducted for the browsing I’d done, I’d even be informed upon starting that since data had been exhausted on my phone, I would henceforth be charged so, and so amount from my airtime for browsing, which I’ve done severally, not just on my Airtel line, but on the others as well. None of these happened as the =N=1,500 was removed minutes after I loaded it (like I earlier stated), while there was still some data on my phone early in the morning of Saturday the 10th of May, 2015.
I’d hardly done explaining this when I found to my chagrin that she had dropped the phone on me. Now, I was officially pissed, left the so called friendship centre or whatever, and on to twitter to vent my anger. After a few posts down the line, @airtel_care asked that I state my complaint, I did but the official line had become that twas burnt on browsing which again I disputed with my version of the story asking the twitter dummy what autorenewal was s’posed to do. Seeing that help wasn’t forthcoming either way, I continued my twitter campaign against a network that appears bent on turning around its fortunes by scamming Nigerians (as I discovered in my foray, of many others making same complaints online and off it, some even blogged about it, especially concerning Airtel’s latest unlimited data for =N=1,500 which is fast becoming a scam than a sheme Nigerians should be happy with) off their hard earned dough in order to be in tandem with the other huge earners in the Nigerian telecoms market. I found this very interesting seeing that Airtel had been there from the beginning with market leader MTN after the deregulation of the telecommunications market but has since been knocked out by it’s first competitor and the others that came afterwards, like Glo and Etisalat.
I was going to lay low, and again count my losses and move on, till I got a call on Wednesday the 14th of May, 2012 by an Airtel Customer Care Representative with the number 08021900000. After introductions, she said she called to inform me of a NEW PLAN, I was infuriated. I asked her how she could be doing that when I had an outstanding issue over the airtime her company robbed me of since Saturday, she apologized and asked me to state my grievances, for the umpteenth time I did, she checked confirmed AGAIN that I had indeed loaded my phone with =N=1500, then borrowed credits from the service provider worth =N=100 (for which I was charged =N=10) to make calls, which was promptly deducted by my next recharge on Monday the 12th, but as regards the =N=1500, the manner in which it was spent “has not been POPULATED to her system”. I was taken aback, and asked her who should know about the money if she didn’t know, then again for the second time since my ordeal an Airtel Customer Care Representative hung up her phone on me.
I decided, there and then to broadcast this event on all platforms, as I could lay my hands on, till I feel that I’ve truly exhausted the equivalent of the =N=1500 in credits to the discrediting of this scam that Airtel Nigeria is subjecting her subscribers (especially faithful ones like me who stood with it during the rainy days with all the name changes from ECONET WIRELESS, to VODACOM, to V-MOBILE, to AIRTEL, and to BHARTI-AIRTEL) to.
Unfortunately, the regulating agency, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC are only concerned with the money they want to make, and wouldn’t care if Nigerians are continuously raped by these TELCOs as long as they pay the fines imposed on them by the NCC for poor services, without bothering to see to it that changes become visible. The Telcos on the other hand place the burden of that on the consumers, but to then indulge in a scam to make ends meet is the lowest of the lows for AIRTEL Nigeria, and it it is a shame that they’ve elected to tow this ignominious path. A low down dirty SHAME!