I don’t like the Reliance group and I don’t like the Ambani brothers – they haven’t personally affected me in any way but Mukesh Ambani building the “Antilla”, a 27 floor behemoth in the middle of Mumbai just doesn’t work for me. I don’t hold Reliance shares, I bought some briefly and then sold them off as I didn’t like seeing them in my portfolio. The last telecom interaction I had with Reliance was with a wifi dongle that was given to me by Aon Hewitt when I was an employee there and it worked fine except in remote locations and that was that. I gave it up and never wanted anything to do with Reliance even when “Jio” was launched with much fanfare and liberal media advert space.
When my mother-in-law passed away in June 2017, we went by flight to Chennai but returned by train as we weren’t able to exactly fixate on the return date. We canceled a few times and with airfares, you get nothing when you cancel. Anyway, our nephew Dhanush came with us on the train journey back home. About an hour after we boarded the train and figured out our respective seats, Dhanush got onto the upper berth and for the next 30 odd hours, he only came down to eat his meals and use the bathroom. I was very intrigued with what he was upto and that’s when he told me that he was watching movies on his phone which had a Jio SIM ! He didn’t lose connectivity for a single minute right through that journey while Krishnan and I battled with our Vodafone connections. That’s when I got interested in Jio and started to inquire from friends about their service and network coverage etc.
I soon realised that half of India had gotten onto the Jio revolution but Krishnan and I still held onto Vodafone, steadfast in our loyalty. In Feb this year, we went to the Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj. Before going there, we bought an inexpensive “Oppo” phone because it took great pictures and rather than go in for a Vodafone connection we decided to try Jio. From that day till today, that connection has never lost network coverage – whether we were inside the jungle or a cave or at home. Especially at home in Gurgaon, it was a pleasant surprise to see the network coverage because Vodafone is patchy.
Importantly, I was blown away with the ease of getting that connection. We had the Jio representative come home – he asked for Krishnan’s Aadhar card as the connection was in his name, uploaded a scanned picture and clicked a photo of Krishnan and activated the SIM … all within 10 minutes. Customer experience trumps all other considerations !
Vodafone still held my heart strings but when Mom’s phone bill was higher than Krishnan’s and mine just because it was on roaming, it was the proverbial last straw. Just to clarify, Mom uses a Rs. 1500 Nokia phone because she just uses it for making and receiving calls. She has no use for data and refuses to get anything fancier. Most of my uncles, aunts and cousins have shifted to Jio and they kept telling us that for Rs. 399 they can make unlimited calls for three months. It was too good to pass up.
Last Monday, we finally went to Galleria market and gave the request for porting Mom’s Vodafone number to Jio. Her Nokia phone wouldn’t work and so we got her a Rs. 1500/- Jio phone and I must say, am almost tempted to get the same ! You can whatsapp, receive/make calls and surf the net using that phone. The only challenge is, its not a touch phone but am sure for a couple of thousands more they will have a touch phone too. Again, Jio came in trumps with their customer experience – exactly five days after the request for number portability was given, I received the pin to activate their SIM. I did it today and the phone is all set.
The next one to jump onto the Jio bandwagon will be me and soon we will all “Jio jee bhar ke”. I feel stupid that we didn’t make the shift sooner. While I still value loyalty, a customer will not be loyal when he/she doesn’t receive the basic service for which they have paid. Vodafone went through a phase where we just wouldn’t get the network on the 12th floor or even the ground floor … Airtel, the less said the better. Every telecom company has its strong bases, but Jio seems to work anywhere and everywhere. So am just being a smart customer and moving to a provider who fulfils the basic promise of telephony services.
There is a lesson here for all companies – customers will be loyal only as long as you fulfil your promise. You can tide over short term trouble but prolonged neglect of promises will drive away the customer. Even if Vodafone customer service reps were sugary sweet on the phone (and they are, which is rather off-putting) I will switch to Jio simply because it fulfils my requirement of network coverage. Even if Mukesh Ambani is a terrible human being, I will still switch to Jio because his company provides me non-stop coverage. Until and unless its proven that Reliance is indulging in anti-national activities or funding terror organisations I will make the switch because currently Jio is the best service out there. Airtel and Vodafone can vent all they want about cost of spectrum and how Reliance did what they did but this is how free markets function – competition benefits the customer, as it should.