Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BSNL: Disconnecting India

BSNL is a well-known acronym for Bharath Sanchar Nigam Limited, one of the two government phone companies. Think of it as the Bell Canada of yore.

A while back, BSNL/MTNL was the only phone company most of Indians would have access to, and the queue for having a phone connection was pretty long.
After the liberalization, things got competitive, and now BSNL has improved its service dramatically.

That being said, it remains horribly backwards compared to the rest of the industry.

I had my phone connected the same day, and my Internet (ADSL) connection came a few days later. For a while, things were OK. The internet was mostly working, and the noise on the line wasn't too bad, so we were more or less able to use it.

But then came the monsoon season. Every time it rains, the line will be dead for some time. If it is not dead, it will have a lot of noise, so that we can't use it.

The customer service is disappointing, but less than one would expect from a government agency. While you have to go to a customer service centre to get some things done, and that the staff there are less than hardworking, there are some operations you can do by phone and on their portal.

Sadly, even that takes a hit in practice. Sometimes, customer service phone number won't connect. Also, the complaints you register tend not to get resolved in the system, so that you can't register complaints again.

Being very unsatisfied with the service, I thought of not paying the bill. This was very easy, as they didn't send me the bill last month. I didn't think much of that, and saw on the current bill that I didn't pay. They gave me a tiny penalty for late payment and gave me a due date of the end of the month. No problem.
But then, one fine morning, I hear a robo-voice telling me that the phone is disconnected due to non-payment. It is very interesting that the bill tells me I have another 2 weeks to pay and there is no threat of disconnection on it.

The very next day, a technician finally came (after months of constant complaints) and fixed the phone line. Now it is crystal clear and it has survived some pretty nasty rains.

BSNL: seriously? You fix people's phone lines after your disconnect them? Is "sadistic" or "evil" a requirement for employment in your organization?
Anyways, thanks for helping me making the decision I should've done months ago. I am not turning back.

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