Telecom major Airtel landed itself in a huge controversy when it purportedly obliged a customer asking for a 'Hindu representative'. However, the company later came out with a clarification after an uproar on the social media.
A woman customer lodged a complained with Airtel regarding her Direct-to-Home (DTH) connection on Monday (June 18). The woman, whose Twitter handle shows her having over 11,000 followers, claimed that the service engineer assigned to her misbehaved. Responding to the complaint, a customer care executive from Airtel assured her grievance is being looked into and will be resolved soon.
However, the customer, in her response, took objection to Airtel executive's reply and tweeted," Dear Shohaib, as you’re a Muslim and I have no faith in your working ethics because Kuran may have a different version for customer service, thus requesting you to assign a Hindu representative for my request. Thanks"
Dear Shohaib, as you’re a Muslim and I have no faith in your working ethics because Kuran may have different version for customer service, thus requesting you to assign a Hindu representative for my request. Thanks— Pooja Singh 🇮🇳 (@pooja303singh) June 18, 2018
Later, an executive named - Gaganjot - replied to the customer offering her help from Airtel's behalf which triggered a wave of criticism against the telecom company. People on social media slammed Airtel for apparently supporting 'bigotry'. Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah also tweeted his anger and said he was shifting to another DTH, broadband provider.
Hi Pooja! As discussed, please let me know what days & time frames work best for you so we can talk. Further, please share an alternate number so that I can assist you further with this. Thank you, Gaganjot— Bharti Airtel India (@Airtel_Presence) June 18, 2018
"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 & canceling my DTH & Broadband," Abdullah said.
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 & canceling my DTH & Broadband. pic.twitter.com/BZxJOaEsN6— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 18, 2018
Though Airtel later tried to take corrective measures by issuing a statement which said," 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."
Despite the backlash she received, the woman refused to apologise for her controversial remarks and instead justified her stance. "Dear Abusers, I simply made a request to change representative from Muslim to Hindu as my experience in past was not good and that’s my right as well. After that, the kind of abuse I’m facing are beyond imagination and that in itself PROVES that I was right at very first place?" she said.
Here are some of the Twitter reactions over the issue:
I feel like the first service engineer from Airtel who told Pooja not to call again was a good judge of character. They should promote him.— Naomi Datta (@nowme_datta) June 18, 2018
What the hell @Airtel_Presence! By responding through Gaganjot instead of Shoaib, you accommodated prejudice. What message are you sending to your employees and to the rest of us? Shame on you! https://t.co/qcNle3ziWI— Salman Anees Soz (@SalmanSoz) June 18, 2018
Not accepted @Airtel_Presence .. You're sick! I am not willing to contribute to your bigotry and therefore I too shall port my number & have the DTH, Broadband removed. How dare you discriminate? You owe a public apology to all your customers! https://t.co/6Dvg5Lyjbo— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) June 18, 2018