Does @VodafoneIN Have No Business Ethics? This Is How They Cheated Me!

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!

When the company refused to respond to my complaints, I made the following post and tweeted it to Vodafone-India and told them that since they were refusing to respond, this was my my official complaint to them. It’s only then they had the store call me up and give me a refund.  However,  the company never sent me an official response, nor any assurance that they don’t tolerate such unethical business practices and they will investigate it fully and take disciplinary action.  This is one of the reasons India is such a favorite destination for multinationals! You can do anything, and there is no system or way to stop you!

BELOW IS MY ‘OFFICIAL’ COMPLAINT TWEETED TO VODAFONE INDIA

___________________________________________________________________________________________

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?

INVOICE

WARRANTY 2WARRANTYVOIDHIGH SPEED

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11 Comments

  1. I’m a bit lost at //I have often heard women complain about how shops, businesses and even banks cheat them//.

    While i do agree women are taken for granted in India, how does this specific account, amount to gender abuse, if that is what you are trying to communicate?

    Reply
    • Women customers targeted for swindling by big corporations does not strike you as gender abuse? They probably think the same way. We are only extracting money which is our business anyway!

      Reply
      • No it does not. The idea that this happens exclusively in large numbers to women is not something im convinced to believe unless i can see some data. The fact that most people are not cautious enough to check the package before buying, since most people are not tech savvy is the reason why businesses cheat them.

        While im in complete agreement that women are a target of scams since women usually are not technically aspirant to check for the details in our society, im not convinced that in THIS specific instance, you were taken for a ride because you were a woman.

        The fact that you are an educated woman who can check the package before you buy is reason enough to convince me otherwise. Also, it seems that some cellphone / data card company has messed with you and Vodafone has been incompetent to fix it, as all carrier companies are.

        I’m still wondering how IN THIS INSTANCE you were taken for a ride, because of your gender.

      • OK maybe this was not clear. So I’m clarifying this for you. The reason I know women get taken for a ride when they go to buy equipments, technology and insurance because I’ve been a women’s activist in India for 10 years. I run a campaign called The 50 Million Missing and this is something women overwhelmingly complaint about. The fact that you read the above information, and can see the fake bill and the warranty card and that they DELIBERATELY TAMPERED WITH A FAULTY INSTRUMENT, and their head office refused to respond to my email and file an official complaint (they still haven’t done that), and still say they were just “incompetent” makes me wonder about where you are coming from. Who are you working with? And by the way gender discrimination/ exploitation are not life-style options for women. It is gender abuse.

  2. Aggg! Sorry that happened to you and those before you, and after you

    Reply
    • This is definitely not a one time thing. They are doing this to others. That’s why I have been upset that the head office still has not sent an official reply to my email and registered my complaint. I had sent them all the details including the fake company letterhead they are using to sell the defective dongles. They tweet me back, and the store called me 2 days ago. But no official response. In my official complaint I had asked them what action they planned to take against this store and its employees for surely they are doing it to others. No response to that either!

      Reply
  3. Sangeeta

     /  April 12, 2014

    Ladies buy vegetables and fruits and won’t get cheated, but it is better to go with gents to buy computer, mobile etc. because they will not cheat you.

    Reply
    • Sangeeta, there is absolutely no reason why women cannot buy computers and mobiles without a man alongside them! These people think women can be intimidated more easily, and they won’t complain, and that’s why we have to fight back and teach them that they cannot take us for granted.

      Reply
  4. S.Nithiyasree

     /  April 12, 2014

    Before i commend the simplicity of your post which very easily connects with people, specially children like me, i am very happy about this effort you are taking in destroying gender discrimination and trust me it is working cause i am a student and by some means it has even reached me. This post was fantastic and i wish u all the best for getting the culprits exposed.

    Reply
    • I most certainly will. For 1 month they took no firm action, in fact their head office did not even register my complaint after I emailed them. They hoped I will just shut up and go away, but once I made this post they got the message. They had the store call me and tell me they will refund the amount for the dongle in 10 days. I’m waiting. I hope everyone who goes through this uses the online platform to fight big corporations when they refuse to honor your complaints through their normal channels.

      Reply

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