Bharti Airtel launched their India calling service for US based NRIs called www.airtelcallhome.com last week. It was launched with such a big bang that most desis were talking about it at work. The catchpoint was 7.9 cents per minute and the best part was the signup bonus of free minutes. Add all this to the brandname and brand ambassadors behind Bharti - Everyone was gaga about this.
I too like most desis use Reliance India Call to call home. It costs 12.9 cents per minute and is very reliable. I immediately thought that Reliance will have to cut their rates to compete. Next day I tried registering at their site. The ordeal that followed was nighmarish
1) To start with, the site was extremely slow
2) During sign up, the website captured all details except my phone numbers. No matter how many times I try updating that field, it comes with with the message "There was some error in updating your registered number".
3) After the registration, they assigned a login id which was a random number. How the hell am I supposed to remember a random number to login in everytime? Usability went for a walk !!!
4) I thought to myself, I have seen this.Its just teething issues. They just went live couple of days back and maybe they are working on it. Let me try calling home. But what followed even more terrible. The calls got cut every 3 minutes and it was extremely frustrating. The saving grace was the sound quality during the time the call was on.
Overall I was very happy to see my favorite Indian company launching such a service for people like me but the happiness has turned into frustration in no time.
This kind of makes me think what kind of testing would they have conducted before launching the service? I am sure they never did any kind of load testing or performance or stress testing. The management was just eager to upset Reliance and in the process has compromised quality. All my friends who used the service last week were disappointed just like me.
2 things Bharti could have done
1) Gone the old fashioned way and do some thorough testing of their systems and account for some load given the attractive price point at which the service was launched
2) Gone the GMAIL way where they should given out membership by invitation only. They could have tested the load incrementally and signing up for this service would have become something like a "Must Have" thing very quickly by word of mouth.
Anyway, they went with all guns blazing when all they had was only water pistols.
I am busy during weekdays and cannot call India on those days. Saturday mornings are the time for India calls. Last Saturday at around 10 AM, I tried calling the Airtel Number for 15 mins and it was busy.
The website sucks big time. Complaint page does not work. I wonder how to escalate this to the topmost management.