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Sep 14

In a funny news article that seriously puts into doubt whether the bosses running telecom in India are competent or not TRAI has come out with a report that mobile phone towers do not cause radiation. In a claim that can at best be called laughable, TRAI claims it tested 300 towers in Himachal Pradesh and no radiation was detected. I quote directly from a news article :

“There are 300 towers in Himachal and during the study conducted by Trai no radiation was detected and the myth has been exploded,” Trai adviser SK Gupta said

Of course any kid who has studied basic science would tell you cell phone towers are a source of electromagnetic radiation. I wonder if the TRAI baboons, oops I mean scientists were looking for nuclear radiation using geiger counters and failed to find any. If yes, they need to be sent back to high school. What’s worrying is that most such articles then go onto implore the importance of creating more mobile phone towers. Many news articles go onto quote Modi that call drops are an emergency (maybe crime in Delhi, dengue cases etc. should be  the emergencies the top babus look at ?).

While its debatable if mobile phone towers can cause diseases or cancer due to their radiation, what’s undisputed is the fact that mobile phone towers, often called as base stations do emit radiation. Now if only TRAI would stop publishing non-sense and disseminating it via Indian press. It may not be sheer incompetence on TRAI’s part but a simple case of pleasing its masters. All in all, with the sheer speed of environmental clearance fast-tracking India is seeing along with dubious research reports such as the one released by TRAI, God only can save India and its fragile environment.

A quick search of Google scholar had enough references 1 2 3 4 5 6 to radiation from mobile phone towers that I no longer question my sanity, and before you start a tirade against me, no I didn’t have time to read them from cover to cover.


Jun 15

I officially hate AIRTEL !

Not only do they cheat you off your money, they do it in style. Most of the times they return your money but sometimes the  ingenious people at the nodal officer’s office come up with such stupid explanations, you feel like banging your head on the wall. Same thing happened to me.

I am on the Rs.98 per month GPRS 2G plan. All of a sudden I get a SMS that Rs.60 are now deducted from my account for 2G charges. This is ofcourse some other plan that would overlap with my Rs.98 plan. I write off a letter to the nodal officer directly since this has been happening to me for very long. Instead of helping me with the problem, the people there came up with an ingenious explanation (reproduced later for your viewing pleasure).

Basically they say I accessed internet using Airtel Live. Which is a baseless lie, I never opened Airtel Live. My phone just has APN settings which I havent modified in ages. Anyway I have decided to appeal to the apellate authority since this doesn’t make any sense. Hopefully the people at the appellate authority will have better sense than those at the nodal officer.

 

Thank you for writing to airtel.
This has reference to your e-mail regarding balance depletion towards GPRS for your airtel Prepaid number xxxxxxxxxxx.

There is a charge of Rs. 60/- for browsing Internet service through Airtel Live. Hence, we regret to inform you that charges are valid and waiver for the same could not be processed.
In order to avoid balance depletion, we request you to save the Mobile Office settings as default settings and delete the Airtel Live settings.

Should you require any further online assistance, you may contact our 24×7 helpline at 12118 (Chargeable at 50 paisa for 3 minutes) from any alternate airtel number. While calling from other service providers, please dial 8790912118 (Chargeable as per the respective network charges).

We hope that we have been able to assist you suitably.
Please feel free to speak to our call center executive on 121 regarding any query/ request and 198 (Toll Free) for any complaints. You can also email us at 121@in.airtel.com.
You can get in touch with the Nodal Officer with your earlier request or complaint number if it’s still unresolved. You may send an email at nodalofficer.andhra@airtel.in or you may call at 9959334865 from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM Monday to Friday. The Nodal officer will provide a resolution to your complaint in 10 days.

If you do not receive a satisfactory response from Nodal officer you may send an email at appellate.andhra@airtel.in or you may call at 9959444865 from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM Monday to Friday.

Assuring you the best of our services.
Warm Regards,
Asha J
Nodal Office
Bharti Airtel Limited


Nov 19

This is the first time I am this angry with Airtel, I have used this mobile service all my life but the blatant disregard for the customer is appalling to say the least. I am forced to write this mail as they are refusing to respond to my emails and are not resolving my complaint. In fact today I received a SMS that my query has been replied to and in truth it hadn’t been replied to. Some call center supervisor on a power trip. No response to any follow-up emails either. Just to make it clear I used strong language in my mails but no insults or profanities.

I am dividing this post into 2 parts :

1. Advertisements via phone calls – Airtel has this number 9849805941 which was calling (is still calling) me once a day and plays ads. Since I had registered for DND I contacted Airtel to stop spamming me with ads. Soon Airtel came up with an explanation that this was not a telemarketer number and hence I should complain to the Police if I want these ads to stop, can you imagine that ? They had the audacity to say they want to protect the privacy of this number who makes 1 call to me (and other numbers ? ) every day with ads.

I have also escalated this matter to the nodal officer who is also yet to get back to me, even more suspicious is the fact that I cannot call this number and the line says the number doesn’t exist but still I get one ad from this number everyday.

2. Service messages and Automatic Service subscription – TRAI says that all VAS services need an explicit customer approval to get activated, of course the agents sitting there who want to make Airtel some fast and unethical buck don’t seem to think so. This had happened to me twice in Delhi and twice now in Hyderabad and the modus operandi is even more brazen. After my complaint I got a call from a call center agent who said “these services are activated from back end” , wow, ofcourse he didn’t give that in writing but call record will show he said that. He also claimed his supervisor was not there when I asked to speak to him. When I asked him to tell his supervisor to call me back the supervisor magically re-appeared. Wonder if these call center people are Airtel employees or vendors.

The customer care responses to my mails on the matter are below  (extraneous stuff removed) :

Mail No. 1

With reference to your E-mail dated 08/10/2010, you have expressed concern regarding balance deduction for your Airtel mobile number <snip>.

We realize that this situation must have inconvenienced you.
We would like to inform you that Cricket Alert Service is active and there is a charge of Rs.5/-. Hence, the balance was deducted.
Deactivation of Cricket Alert Service service: 
The Cricket Alert Service has been deactivated with effect from 08/10/2010, as per your request. Confirmation message will be sent on successful deactivation.
Adjustment:
We would like to inform you that the amount of Rs. 5/- has been processed and will be credited on your account within 24 hours.

Mail No. 2 (the same service had again been activated by another agent) – During this period I was on vacation and my phone was switched off so I didn’t realize the balance deduction till I wrote them a mail :

> Thank you for writing to Airtel.
>
> With reference to your e-mail dated 17/11/2010, you have expressed concern
> regarding promotional call and message , deactivate the Value Added service
> for your Airtel mobile number <snip>.
>
> We realize that this situation must have inconvenienced you. However, we
> assure you a prompt action to solve the concern.
>
> We would like to inform you that as per our records there is a charge of Rs.
> 1.50/- deducted for the activation of Cricket Service.
>  
> We would like to inform you that the Cricket Service  has  already been
> deactivated on 03/11/2010.

I am still waiting for my Rs.1.50 refund and stoppage of these advertising calls. I am sick and tired of Airtel’s brazenness now and seriously want to switch over all my connections as soon as number portability comes over. This is also the most serious I have ever been about consumer court, totally aghast at the service dished out by Airtel to me (4-5 year old customer)


Apr 09

Incident 1:

I am really angry at Airtel right now, it all started 3 weeks ago when I decided to open Airtel Live after a span of around 4 years. I saw a link for some yoga thing, thinking that it was some application for yoga I decided to check it out. On the next page I figured out it was just a way to sell photos so I quit Airtel Live then and there. The thing to remember is the page where I quit was a portal page with links to content. I had not downloaded any content, nor was info about charges relayed to me.

After about an hour I saw that Rs.10 had been deducted from my balance and I have been subscribed to ‘celebyoga’ service. Angry that I never subscribed to the service and that the charge information wasn’t relayed to me, I called up Airtel and asked them to refund my money. The CC executive refunded my money immediately. I decided to pursue the matter and asked Airtel for how the consent for the service was obtained by me. I got a stupid copy paste reply :

We would like to assure you that just like a call gets captured only after it originates from a mobile and gets connected to the called number, similarly, the download made you gets captured only if you click on the content, which is then charged accordingly.

After exchanging 4-5 mails I was fed up and stopped pursuing the matter thinking that I didn’t lose anything. The service was deactivated after 3-4 days and repeated reminders.

Incident 2:

Then on 6th April it happened again. While driving I got a message that I have subscribed to bollywood services, I am like What the Hell (atleast they should have made it Hollywood to suit my taste). The strange thing this time was that I had NOT even opened Airtel Live.

I got my money back again but Airtel still insists I clicked on the content which is preposterous since I had deleted the Airtel Live settings after incident number 1.

They say it might have happened without my consent, strange again since I never give my phone to anyone.  I got the same reply as above and they claim they have investigated the issue. (and sent the same copy paste reply). The existence of such a copy past reply actually proves that this is happening very often that they had to make a FAQ for it.

Since they refuse to accept that I never clicked on the content its really hard for them to trace the people causing this illegal activity. Hopefully it wont happen again to my phone. I can imagine some agent sitting somewhere and randomly subscribing people to services, the sad part being that some must be gullible enough not to confront Airtel on this.

Anyway I got a followup call again with the operator insisting that I had infact subscribed to their services, I gave him a piece of my mind and he promptly retreated. I have been asking them for records of taking my consent but I haven’t been able to get a proper reply.


Oct 16

Well these are general facts about using bluetooth on your windows mobile mobile phones, most people complain that that they are able to send files and images via bluetooth but when receiving they receive errors like “Unable to Connect” or unable to send files. Most think that this error is caused due to their Windows Mobile Phones, but it isnt so (technically), Imate, HTC, Asus etc. wont make phones with bluetooth not able to receive files.  The trick is basically the same for windows mobile 5 and windows mobile 6, i have taken the screenshots from windows mobile 6.1 on my Asus p320 phone, but i remember it was more or less the same on my Imate and its windows mobile 5.

These are the steps needed to setup your windows mobile device to receive photos/music/data files:

Step 1: In Settings click on Bluetooth, select the mode tab and switch on bluetooth and make this device visible to other devices.

Screen002 Screen003

Step 2: In Settings , click on Beam and check receive all incoming beams.

 Screen004 Screen005

After you complete these 2 steps all of your bluetooth incoming beams should reach your mobile phone and you should be able to share photos, files and music with your friends and receive it from them.

But another problem, all incoming files are stored in my documents, how do you ensure that these are stored in storage card ? Answer to that next week :)


Sep 25

The HTC Dream which will be manufactured by High Tech Computer Corporation is going to be the first Android phone to be marketed and released. Android as some of you may be knowing is Google’s mobile platform. The Dream will cost $179 when purchased along with a T-Mobile plan. The good news is that HTC has a very strong base in India and might launch the phone pretty early in India at a very competitive price.

The Android platform is designed to take on the likes of Windows Mobile, Symbian and other generic and specific mobile phone OS manufacturers. However this particular phone is intended to compete head on with the Apple Iphone. The Apple Iphone has been a moderate success in the US and a complete failure in India.

The HTC Dream features a capacitive touchscreen interface, GPs, 3.1 MP camera, Accelerometer and a Qualcomm 528MHz processor. Its interesting to note we dont even know the processor used by Apple.

On the software front too, the phone is pretty good. As you can see in the video, it has built in Gmail, Youtube player. It features multiple desktops like most Linux systems and allows drag and drop for icons (How cool is that). The menu is brought up with swipes.

It also has a full QWERTY keyboard, gotta say looks pretty promising.