I was literally shocked when I saw this tweet from one Mr. Himanshu few minutes ago.
Himanshu, a Vodafone customer who was on roaming could not reach an Emergency number when it was essential. After reading his blog post I decided to approach Himanshu for a first hand account of his experience. Not being able to reach an emergency service is not a great thing to happen for anyone.
Himanshu shared that he was at his hometown Lucknow on 30 April. At around 11 PM someone started “maiyaa ka jaagram” using loudspeakers. As loudspeakers should not be used after 10 PM, Himanshu decided to wait till 1 AM (now 01 May) and call up Police. To his utter surprise, he was greeted with the message: “This service is not available on your phone”
After repeated tries Himanshu decided to call Vodafone customer care and Vodafone's customer care agents reportedly said - “your phone number is not registered for national roaming I am sending you a number please send an SMS over this phone number”. One agent even said that 100 is not available in Lucknow! What a pity!? Call got disconnected automatically after some time on hold.
The issue remained unresolved that night, thanks to Vodafone's non-responsive customer care.
On tweeting the issue to Vodafone after three days, after three tweets, Vodafone picked up the issue and 'decided' to help. It again took five days to register a complaint and issue a number. Since then Vodafone has been calling Himanshu twice or thrice daily and he is being asked to repeat the whole story again and again. I can believe this as Vodafone agent once told me that they are only asked to call a customer and seek inputs - no info is given to them beforehand by social media folks. Check out the sample ofVodafone twitter care!
To this day, the issue has not received a complete resolution and Vodafone has been citing silly reasons as to what might have happened! Here are they:
- There was no network when you was dialing 100 after that you gotnetwork and you dialed 111 and after that you lost network and you were not able to dial 100 again.
- You can’t make an emergency call on number 100 from any other state other than Maharashtra.
- 100 is not emergency number.
- You were not inside the network.
- You need to activate National roaming to call emergency number.
Himanshu told me that he was using a basic Nokia feature phone and has a Vodafone postpaid connection. The number originally belonged to Maharashtra.
Fortunately for Himanshu, he had some time and there was no grave threat to his life or property. So he could live with the problem and contact customer care to seek a resolution. But imagine the situation of someone who is under threat to life due to an accident or medical emergency and not being able to reach emergency services.
Every mobile subscriber would want their service provider to ensure that emergency services can be reached successfully. We sincerely hope that Vodafone responds to the situation and makes sure that such problems don't occur anywhere.
Vodafone's Update on 17 May 2014
A Vodafone spokesperson has provided us the following information about the matter:
- A customer was unable to dial the emergency 100 number while roaming
- When we got back to the customer he was back in his home circle
- The network team immediately got into action because emergency numbers do work even while roaming
- Currently testing is being done between the Maharashtra & Goa circle and the UP East Circle (in the case you reported) to ensure that the emergency numbers work perfectly
- If any gaps are identified, immediate corrective measures will be taken.