Vodafone India using ‘recharge scam’ to rob customers and sell talk time instead of data packs?

Cyber Journal 24 Web News, December 30, 2016

By Nitten Gokhaley 

Call drop, slow data speeds, and billing issues probably dominate the headlines when it comes to the telecom sector. But there are several other problems beyond the above-mentioned ones, let’s focus on how Vodafone is running a probable scam on its website.

On December 14, 2016, I visited Vodafone India website and selected Rs.104– 2GB 3G internet with 28 days validity option highlighted in the below-presented screenshot (taken on the next day).

voda-104

Within few minutes from completing the recharge process, I received a message from Vodafone confirming that my recharge was successful. But I found one weird line in their message-“If you are eligible, you will get 2GB, 3G/4G data valid for 28 days.”

recharge-suc

Now, what do they mean by-“If you are eligible”? I selected the right location option-Maharashtra & Goa, then selected 3G plans with monthly validity and followed the payment procedure.

Where’s the surprise element?

At around 5 PM that day, I turned on mobile internet option in my device and started using the same. Within two minutes, I received a message. I ignored that, then I received another one during next two minutes. I was surprised to see that they had charged me for using 20.25 MB data and another session of 10.13 MB data. The next flash message was horrific, it said, you have been charged Rs. 83 something for data session!

data-usage

Why did they charge me for using the internet, didn’t I PAY and activate 3G data plan on my account? Where the hell did Rs. 83 or something come in my account when my balance was supposed to be zero?

First, I contacted Vodafone using their chat option. Their executive Shalu took more than fifteen minutes to answer this simple question. Then came back with an idiotic explanation that I was given talk time of Rs. 87.43 as 3G recharge of Rs. 104 was unavailable.

I have another number to make calls, send text messages, and I use Vodafone just for the internet on my tablet PC. I specifically selected the data recharge and PAID for the same, now why in the world should I feel satisfied after receiving talk time worth Rs. 87.43? So, I called up their customer service on phone line, and their executive gave the same crap again. “Sir, the recharge was successful, data recharge was not available, so we have given you talk time that you ended up spending on internet recharge,”- said their call center rep on the phone. He also said he cannot register my complaint as he cannot understand what I am complaining about!

I ‘tweeted’ my displeasure with a screenshot for the trap recharge on their website to Vodafone India Twitter handle. I shared my number with them after receiving DM for the same.

Later, I also emailed their appellate authority about my complaint. Their officer Sachin Sarve emailed me back. At least this person understood the issue and acknowledged my complaint. He re-credited Rs. 87.44 in my account, which I was charged for using data. I was not happy but decided to accept Rs. 87.44 first and then ask for remaining amount Rs. 16.56.

refund

Unfortunately, even the appellate authority did nothing about the trap on their website. Rs. 104 2GB 3G/4G data option still exists on their site. This means, more and more people will keep on getting trapped. They will recharge with that option, receive a confirmation message, but will get talk time of Rs. 87.44 instead of 2GB 3G/4G data allowance and will end up spending the talk time after turning on the internet.

Customers will get a refund only if they are smart enough to write directly to the appellate authority instead of wasting time in chatting with customer service reps who know nothing.

There’s more

Next day, on December 16, I received a call from their social media team rep-Kedar. I decided to ask for remaining credit. This fellow gave the same logic. “We do not have data offer, so we gave you talk time.”

Arey baba, if I wish to buy milk and pay the shopkeeper for milk, why should I be happy and accept sugar for the paid amount from shopkeeper instead of milk?

Here’s recording for my discussion with their customer service rep who called me up after I twitted my complaint. Call is in Marathi, so, here is the translation.

Vodafone rep: Good morning sir I am Kedar from Vodafone, this call is about your tweet message

Me: Ya

Vodafone rep: You had recharged with Rs.104 data pack, and we had created Rs.87 in your account. So what was the issue?

Me: I had selected the recharge option- Rs. 104 for 2GB 3G data on your website

Vodafone rep: 2GB data in Rs. 104? (His tone was like, are you sure?)

Me: Yes, I had also tweeted screenshot for the offer that I selected.

Vodafone rep: OK, so what?

Me: I had tweeted the screenshot to you; there should be no doubt about the same.

Vodafone rep: that is OK, so what happened next?

Me: I opted for data recharge, so, how can you credit talk time when I selected internet recharge option?

Vodafone rep: That offer is not available sir that has been canceled.

Me: If that offer is not valid, why is it still showing on your website?

Vodafone rep: We have forwarded this issue to the relevant team and given you talk time in exchange.

Me: I selected and PAID Rs. 104, why should I get talk time of Rs.87 when I selected data recharge and paid Rs. 104 for the same?

Vodafone rep: Right, but if you opt for normal recharge of Rs. 104, you would have had got the same amount of talk time.

Me: Why would I go for talk time option? I have a different number to make phone calls; I opted for data recharge and not for talk time.

Vodafone rep: You should not think about data, you should think as if you opted for normal talk time recharge.

Me: Sir, I selected data recharge and not talk time, so I will obviously discuss data.

Vodafone rep: You won’t receive anything else above whatever we have refunded, I am sorry.

Me: I have recorded this call and will make one story for my news site on this incident.

Vodafone rep: OK, OK, no problem. (He is Vodafone’s rep, this means, company has no issues even if I write one story based on this incident)

Vodafone is running a scam and TRAI is simply watching like a mute spectator in spite of multiple complaints that can be seen on social media. Their customer service team consists of script readers who talk like parrots without understanding the issue.

The case was simple. They could have accepted their mistake when I contacted them for the first time via chat and closed the case by either giving me 2GB 3G data as promised or by giving me full talk time worth Rs. 104. Why should I pay tax and cess for the company’s mistake? If they cannot do the same, they should simply refund Rs.104 in my bank account. Also, one clear-cut, loud apology is something that I was looking for along with the removal of all similar traps set on their website. But then how will they recover their investment made in the spectrum?


Nitten is a consultant journalist, and has worked with renowned newspapers, news agency in India. If you are looking for desktop journalist, writer, you can email Nitten- nittengokhaley24@gmail.com

This content cannot be used as evidence against the writer and publisher to file case in any court of law around the world. Images used in the content belong to their respective owners. The aim of this site is to spread awareness without any financial gain. We do not wish to hurt anyone’s sentiments or cause financial loss to any individual or organization.

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