Dear Mr Arun Sarin,

If Vodafone continues to trail Airtel and Reliance in the Indian market, please don’t let your executives whine about the “new hurdles every day” in emerging markets. That’s not the problem.

In April I got a new 3G-capable Android tablet. Naturally, I wanted a SIM card for it; and since my mobile already uses Airtel, I thought I’d try Vodafone.

Big mistake. The 3G download speeds were consistently terrible — worse than 2G (EDGE). And this was true both with the tablet and with my 3G Mobile Phone.

After about 3 weeks I went to the store where I’d bought the SIM, to complain. I demonstrated, in their store, the difference in download speeds, both with the tablet and with my phone, between my Airtel SIM and their Vodafone one.

To rule out the possibility of a defective SIM, I asked them for a “known good” SIM, that they use for demonstration purposes. Same story.

So I asked to surrender my connection. They tried to claim that they will charge me cancellation penalties. I said that I will pay outstanding dues but if there is any additional charge I will go to the consumer court. Finally, they agreed to cancel for outstanding dues only, charged me for the data I had used, gave me a receipt, and promised me that they would not contact me again.

End of story? No.

This week, I have been bombarded with calls from Vodafone about my alleged outstanding bill. I tell them each time that I surrendered the SIM card in early May and paid all outstanding dues at that time. (Side note: I got a BSNL SIM card in May and have been pretty happy with it.)

If I get one more call from Vodafone, the consumer court it is.

Anyone else with similar experiences?

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  1. Not personally, but it sounds like a familiar story. Did you ask them to give you a letter at the time of termination, saying there would be no further dues to pay of any kind? (Not that they would have, but it might have demonstrated their good.bad faith).

    I recently watched Vodafone Customer Care Executives (yes) interact with someone who had a complaint. They talked about him (rudely) to each other as if he wasn’t there. I have no idea why he wasn’t furious. Experience?

    • SB – sorry for belated reply. Indeed I asked for such a note, and they refused to give it: they claimed they weren’t authorised to.

  2. What tablet it is? Does BSNL SIM gives 3G for tablets? I haven’t heard about a 3G powered tablets in India..

  3. Sunil Mukhi

     /  August 19, 2011

    You’re lucky the SIM card worked at all. I got a Tata Docomo 3G data SIM from Chroma in Pune for my iPad and it didn’t work (i.e. no data could be downloaded/uploaded) for a month. Repeated calls and trips to their outlets resulted eventually in the frank admission that this particular 3G data SIM simply doesn’t work and “that’s why we don’t sell it ourselves”. Oh, but Chroma sells your SIM card? Yes but we’ve told them to stop now. Hilariously, during my many visits I was advised to initialise the card by making a phone call from it, but even if the iPad could make phone calls (which it can’t), this was a “data-only” card!
    I didn’t pursue them for damages since I only lost the Rs 100 paid for the SIM.

    • Rahul Siddharthan

       /  August 21, 2011

      Sunil — yes, a mistake I made was going for postpaid (because it was marginally cheaper). But my last few Vodafone phone callers have claimed that they are only trying to confirm my identity. I’m not sure what’s going on. Incidentally, my BSNL pre-paid sim was free and came with a modest balance already: if I’d thrown it away I’d have lost nothing. But it’s working reasonably well.


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