As a gender activist in India, I have often heard women complain about how shops, businesses and even banks cheat them! Not just illiterate, poor women, but even educated, middle-class women. And I had one such experience recently with the multinational mobile phone company, Vodafone. The sale made to me was not only irregular but I found out deliberately deceptive, and that the main offices have been evasive and complicit in covering up for whatever scam they are running at this store!
Last month I purchased a 3G Internet Dongle from one of Vodafone’s official store in Kolkata, — a big shop located in the glossy Ideal Plaza.
IN A NUTSHELL THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED AND I DEMAND A FULL REFUND FOR THE PURCHASE I MADE:
1) The store refused to give me a receipt after taking my cash. Then when they gave me one after I kicked up a fuss, it seemed to be a fake receipt! [see photo below]
2) I was given a vodafone sim card which wasn’t activated till 3 days after I bought the phone, and that too after many complaints. One of the help line numbers told me it didn’t even seem like a Vodafone number!
3) I had to fight to get a warranty card — and now after taking to a Vodafone official I find out that too was fake! [see photo below]
4) They sold me a defective piece, which later on examining I found had ‘VOID’ written on a sticker on top, which they had carefully tried to scratch off. [see photo below]
5) The Vodafone head offices in Kolkata and Mumbai have been complicit in trying to hide the fact that their official store deceived a customer deliberately and was extremely irregular and unethical in the sale it made to me. The Mumbai nodal office did not even respond to my email or register my case. The one official from Kolkata who called me, kept saying “I don’t know” to everything and hung up saying she’ll get back. But never did!
When I paid for the Dongle at the cash counter (Rs. 1500/-) first they didn’t want to give me a cash receipt. I said that is absurd and loudly demanded for one. The receipt they gave did not have the store’s name. Instead it was from something called “OKAY Call Center Pvt. Ltd.” (See the photo of the receipt below). They insisted that this was the way Vodafone wanted the sale to be made and that this was protocol. Now Vodafone is in some massive mess over taxes with the Indian government, and I wondered this is how they made their sale.
But then they also did not want to give a warranty card. They said there was no warranty card. Again I had to loudly demand for one. They told me not to shout, and provided one. I made them stamp, sign and date it.
But three days after my purchase the SIM for my dongle had not been activated and the store was closed! I called the customer assistant number and the person told me it seemed like they had given me a SIM which might not be a Vodafone number! Whatever did that mean?
I emailed the West Bengal and the nodal office in Mumbai to register a complaint. But got no response from them. I still haven’t! But when I went to the store, 3 days later, the head offices had contacted the store, because they were waiting for me. They did activate my SIM but no apologies. Instead they were rude and extremely hostile.
I had purchased this dongle because my old dongle through Tata Photon was on a CDMA system which is slow but at about 2mbps rate. I asked about the Vodafone speed and they pointed to the box (see photo below) which says 21.1mbps. I was told I can use both 2G and 3G. I thought I’ll test both and got a 2G recharge first. But the speed was about 80kbps average!
When I got no help from the held lines, or response to my earlier emails, I tweeted Vodafone. A customer representative finally called me and told she had no idea what the real speed should be. While talking to her I also found out that the warranty card they had given me was not the real Vodafone warranty card. [photo below]. Then I examined the box carefully. It’s a small box, and at bottom in small print is written “Check contents if seal is broken or ‘VOID’ is displayed.” I turn the box around and then I discover it. A sticker with only a part of ‘VOID’ written across it on the lid, even if much of it is scratched out!
WHY WOULD VODAFONE’S OFFICIAL STORE TAMPER WITH A DEFECTIVE PIECE TO SELL IT TO ME, AND SET UP THIS WHOLE DRAMA TO EVADE DETECTION: FAKE BILLS AND FAKE WARRANTY CARDS, THE REFUSAL OF VODAFONE TO EVEN REGISTER MY COMPLAINT, AN ELABORATE SCHEME TO COVER UP WHAT EVER SCAM THEY HAVE GOING ON IN THIS STORE? WOMEN CUSTOMERS ARE CONSIDERED IGNORANT AND HELPLESS, IS THAT WHY I WAS TARGETED?