'Pay up if you know what's good for you'

Woman alleges Airtel made threatening calls asking her to cough up Rs 6,000, whereas her average bill was Rs 350

For Vidyut Kale, an outdoor professional from Borivli, chatting for endless hours on the phone was never a pursuit. Her mobile phone bills averaged around Rs 350.

So imagine her chagrin when suddenly she received an SMS from her service provider Airtel telling her she had exceeded her usage limit and had to pay up Rs 6,000.

After repeated calls from Airtel executives, Vidyut Kale has
decided to sue them

This was in March. Seven months on, the situation only exacerbated, for then the SMSes had given way to menacing, mortifying calls.  "My monthly bill is always Rs 350.
I refused to pay and asked Airtel to look into the over billing," said Kale. When she got in touch with Airtel's customer care in March, she was told her bill amount was high owing to GPRS usage.

She told them she had not used the service.  Again in April, she got a bill of Rs 8,500 for the month of March and she continued to receive SMSes asking her to pay up the bill.

Kale called up customer care again. The customer care exec told her, her complaint had been cancelled, as she did not answer the phone when the company tried to call her.

Kale then got calls from Airtel asking her to pay up or face legal action. Her connection had been disconnected in May.

"Till then the calls were professional and I did not have a problem with the tone and language of the callers," said Kale.
In June Kale started getting calls from the legal department of Airtel suggesting a settlement of Rs 2,500, which she agreed to.

Kale paid the amount on June 20. "They told me services will be restored by June 26, but it did not happen.
When I called Airtel the end of June, they told me I had to pay the balance amount of Rs 6,000 and only then would my connection be restored," said Kale.

Thence started Kale's horrifying experience. In July, a woman called her some 12 to 13 times in the day asking to pay up.

"The woman started saying stuff like 'Pay up, if you know what's good for you', 'you want such expensive services and then do not want to pay for them'," said Kale.

Kale posted the tale of her woes on Twitter. This did not go unnoticed by Airtel, which also had a presence on Twitter.

An Airtel personnel then asked her to stop tweeting about it and assured her the matter would be resolved soon. After that the calls stopped. But relief for Kale was short-lived.

By the end of July, the intimidating calls started again. This time another woman threatened to make all those on Kale's call list aware of her disinclination to pay up the bill.

Not to give in to the gruff tones, Kale lodged a complaint at Borivli police station. "We registered a complaint against the woman Sonia Singh for threatening Vidyut Kale," said a police official from Borivli police station.

The woman then called up Kale and abused her for complaining to the police. Kale then informed Airtel's office in Delhi and the calls stopped again.

On September 28, another woman from Airtel called and asked Kale if she was a beggar for her reluctance to pay up.

Kale then got an e-mail from Airtel on an official letterhead on Thursday asking her to settle the deal by the end of September by paying Rs 6,824.

"I will not pay this amount. The Rs 2,000-odd that I paid and this will amount to Rs 9,000," said Kale.

Yesterday, Kale was put on a conference call by Airtel. She spoke to two executives, Kunal and Rahul, who told her her bill was correct. Kale told them about her decision to sue Airtel for threatening her.
They told her the bill problem was the main issue, and if she sued them, they would tackle the issue then.

Kale said her main grouse with Airtel was the mental agony they caused her because of the hostile calls.

The Other Side
Airtel in a statement said, "We are in direct contact with the customer. We will not be able to share any details.

We would, however, like to confirm there is no billing discrepancy, and all charges levied are as per customer's usage."

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