For telecommunication companies, Pakistan is a jungle in letter and in spirit as there is nobody to hold them accountable for their poor and customer-unfriendly services. The customers are at their mercy.
Almost every subscriber of theirs has gone through this excruciating experience when the prepaid balance evaporates without any knowledge or willingness of the users. A promo message alerts the users that a certain service has been subscribed to their account, and this much amount has been deducted. Many of us have tried to talk to the helpline to lodge our complaints, but that is another ordeal because the callers are put on hold till, as they say, the cows come home. A robotic voice greets us. After choosing from a list of options, we manage to troubleshoot our concerns with the help of that robotic voice. After a long wait while constantly sticking our mobile phone to our ear, the luckier of us get access to the customer care representative. We speak our heart out to them, but they quite indifferently put the whole blame on the callers, telling them that they must have subscribed to the promos or advertisements. Despite earnest assurances to the contrary, we are told that if we follow the directions sent via text messages, we will not receive that particular promo or advertisement, and, hence, no deduction will be made in the future.
But just days later, it happens all over again; the balance again starts leaking. The irony is that the customers are asked to unsubscribe the service they have been tethered to unknowingly and involuntarily. To add insult to injury, we are made to wait even when the call to the helpline is paid or extra charges are to be paid to talk to the customer care representative. Though we are apprised by the pre-recorded automatic voice that our call will be recorded for ‘quality of service’, nobody cares about the jugglery and chicanery on the part of the company representatives.
The telecommunication companies must be reined in from deducting even a single penny from the customers’ balance without their prior approval. Secondly, the telecommunication companies must facilitate customers’ access to their call centres; lodging a complaint should not be cumbersome. Another avoidable nuisance that these companies cause is their promo texts and calls at odd hours. Sometimes we happen to await a call on some urgent matter and there comes a call or a text from these companies advertising their services. It is suggested that the companies either specify the time window for their promo calls and messages, or attribute a particular ringtone to their promos to save their customers from any distur-bance. All their manoeuvres need to be user-friendly, not money-minting.
M NADEEM NADIR