Finding itself in the thick of controversy, India’s largest telecom operator Airtel has responded to the major row triggered by a tweet on Monday. All hell broke loose when a female customer claimed in a Twitter post to Airtel’s customer care that a service engineer had misbehaved with her over the reinstallation of her DTH connection. “@airtelindia pathetic Airtel DTH customer service.I raised complaint for reinstallation of DHT.but assigned service engineer miss behaved with me. His words are “Tum Phone Rakho Dobara call mt krna”.. This is how Airtel is looting it’s customer, (sic)” her tweet read.
To this, a response by an Airtel customer care representative undersigned ‘Shoaib’ read that the company will look into the matter as early as possible and get back to her. However, in her next tweet, the female cutomer said that since “he is a Muslim”, she has no faith in his words and demanded a ‘Hindu representative’.
“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,” she replied.
To everyone’s surprise, the request was obliged with and the customer received a response from another agent — Gaganjot. “Hi, let me check that out for you. I don’t want to keep you waiting another minute! Please DM your 10 digit DTH ID along with your contact number via the link here, and we will connect with you to assist. Thank you, Gaganjot,” the response read, leaving Twitterati fuming.
Several Twitter users took on Airtel for differentiating on the basis of religion. Several replies to the same Twitter thread even tagged Reliance Jio and Vodafone saying they wished to port out of Airtel.
Hours after the incident, Airtel released a statement saying that it does not differentiate between customers, employees and partners on the basis of caste or religion. It clarified that the second tweet came as, in case of an ongoing service issue, the first available service executive responds in the interest of time.
“….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 custoAdd Newmer 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,” the statement from Airtel read.
The telecom operator told The FinancialExpress.com that the incident should not be given any religious angle as the first available service executive responds in the interest of time.
“At Airtel, we do not differentiate between customers or our employees/partners on the basis of caste or religion. If a customer contacts us again for an ongoing service issue then the first available service executive responds in the interest of time. We request everyone not to misinterpret and give it unnecessary religious colour. The said customer has been responded to,” the Airtel spokesperson said.
How others reacted?
The initial tweet didn’t go well with users as former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah slammed the telecom operator. “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,” he tweeted.
Bollywood actress Gauahar Khan also took to Twitter and expressed anger. “Disgusted !!! Thank god @Airtel_Presence was never a part of my life!! N it shall never be!! U are not a part of my beautiful countries core values !! ????,” she wrote.