“The Indians are coming… the indians are coming”. That was the cry from a friend of mine who was then working in Zain when it was announced that Bharti Airel had bought Zain, one of the network operators in Nigeria. To my friend and I it was reminiscent of those historic cries of the victims of the red indians swooping down with whoops and yeehas as they overran their enemies. “The indians are coming…”. My friend and his co-workers in Zain also knew that the days of doing things one way was coming to an end, because the new owners – the indians – were going to change it completely. And they have!
Well, my friend no longer works there for one.
Secondly I noticed the touch of the new owners the next time I went out to buy a Zain (sorry Airtel) recharge card. Gone was the fancy thick laminated recharge card. It was now replaced by a miserly, tiny little strip of card. Hey, I’m buying a N1,000 recharge card for crying out loud! But no, to the new owners, it did not matter. After all, were you not interested in just the digits? So, take it as it is, the digits that can come on a billboard, can come as well on a little strip.
OK O! No problem. I scratched it and waited for the acknowledgement flash sms. When it did come I was in for another surprise. Remember how the networks would inform you of your new credit and then add some nice welcoming message and even an Ad or two? Not so the Indians. The flash message that greeted me was “N1000”. That’s it, no niceties. Such is their desire to save costs that they even save on typed characters!
The next step of my experience with the new Airtel was (on another occasion) when I tried to call customer service to complain that I “over scratched” their new-look recharge card. Now I don’t know if Zain’s customer service was as scrappy but boy did I get a messy impression! It took about 10 minutes (no exaggeration) waiting on the line before a nigger came on… and then he put me on hold to “check on my account”. Boy o boy! I waited and waited and waited… 27 minutes. After this time, I was now only waiting for him to come back and give a piece of my mind but luckily for him my patience ran out (and my arm began to ache holding the phone this long to my ears). I had to cut the line. I still have the over scratched recharge card in the hope that one day I will meet an Airtel boss in person to hand it over to him (Hiss!).
The Indians are here!