Airtel customer says don't want help from Muslim agent. Airtel obliges
It took a few hours of endless trolling by social media on Monday for Airtel India to realise how foolishly it had dealt with a customer complaint.
HOW IT STARTED?
It all started with a complaint raised by a customer by the name Pooja Singh, who goes by the handle @pooja303singh on Twitter. Pooja tagged @Airtel_Presence in a tweet on Monday and complained that a service engineer with the mobile service provider had misbehaved with her over the reinstallation of her DTH connection.
Pooja immediately received a response from Airtel's customer care representative Shoaib, who said the company would look into her complaint at the earliest and get back to her.
Instead of acknowledging Shoaib's response or waiting to hear back on the redressal of her complaint, Pooja replied, "Dear Shoaib, as you are a Muslim and I have no faith in your work ethics because Kuran (sic) may have different version for customer service, thus requesting you to assign a Hindu representative for my request. Thanks."
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Unfortunately, it didn't end there. Instead of calling out their customer's bigotry and standing by their employee, Airtel tweeted back to Pooja saying, "Hi Pooja! As discussed please let me know what days and time frames work best for you so we can talk. Further please share an alternate number so that I can assist you further with this. Thanks, Gaganjot"
Airtel's response shocked several social media users who then started tweeting to the network service provider and asking it to take a stand against bigotry rather than encourage it.
OMAR ABDULLAH'S RESPONSE TO AIRTEL'S TWEET
Among those who tweeted was former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who said, "Dear Airtel_Presence, this conversation is genuine (I've seen the timeline myself). I refuse to pay another penny to a company that condones such blatant bigotry. I'm beginning the process of porting my number to another service provider and cancelling my DTH & Broadband."
Like Omar Abdullah, several social media users, which included prominent citizens, panned Airtel for giving in to religious discrimination and threatened to boycott the company for failing to stand behind their employee.
AIRTEL TOOK A STAND
After over five hours of incessant criticism, Airtel finally took a stand and deleted its initial tweet by their customer service agent Gaganjot to the customer concerned, Pooja Singh, and replied hence, "Dear Pooja, at Airtel, we absolutely do not differentiate between customers, employees and partners on the basis of caste or religion. We would urge you to do the same. Both Shoaib and Gaganjot are part of our customer resolution team. If any customer contacts us for an ongoing service issue then the first available service executive responds in the interest of time. On your query, we will get back to you as soon as there is an update. Thanks -- Himanshu, Airtel Response Team Lead"
Airtel's response was welcomed but it may have been a trifle late, given that it came against the backdrop of severe backlash. The damage to reputation had been done.