Wednesday, October 31, 2007

With Great Power Comes Great Irresponsibility

My troubles with BSNL DSL Broadband continue. It has been three months since it went down and I have yet to get a single sympathetic or sensible response from them. More than just the outage, it is the outrage that bothers me. The power they wield, the immunity they enjoy and their ability to make you feel powerless. In that sense, PSUs are a great equaliser-- whether I am in Bangalore or in Bihar!

Managed to make their chaps visit my house only twice since first registering the complaint. The first time, he told my wife the problem is with LAN cable that connects modem to laptop. Change that it will work! The second time, he said we cannot test without laptop. We will come back when your husband is home!

The issue is rather simple: the ADSL link is down. The SNR on the line keeps fluctuating between 0 dB and 22 dB. If they fix the physical line, that would fix everything. But since the voice calls work fine, lineman insists line is OK. Dataone guy insists there is nothing they can do (except send me a bill every month!) unless the local exchange fixes the line.

I have visited the customer care. The much-hyped centres opened in every locality to sell you the forms for new services. They passed me to the JTO. I called the helpdesk number at 1500. They passed me on to 18004241600. After averaging 6 minutes on hold, I get an agent who merrily gives me a new Docket Number each time and goes on to twiddle their thumbs at me-- I am here, sir, but I cannot do anything sir.

"Sorry saar, can you call to Exchange saar? It is local lead issue saar. ADSL is OK saar"
"Sorry saar, there is no escalation number or contact person. Please call to JTO saar"
"Sorry saar, we cannot do anything saar. Please call to JTO saar"
"OK saar, if you wants to disconnect connection. But even that we cannot do here saar. Please contact to Exchange saar..."

And to think my taxes pay his salary every month, just to sit there and gurgle :-(

I even made a list of all the docket numbers I collected for posterity. Maybe someday the son of a BSNL GM will be educated enough to go through Blogs and sympathise with me and ask his papa to take action on the docket!

Visits to the exchange are wasted, since the officer, (the famous JTO!) Mr.Sidappa, is never there. Everyone brandishes his number 080-2012-4087 but no one ever picks it up! I even received an acknowledgement on a signed complaint. They stamped it while smirking "Kya Ukhaad Lega?" which, unfortunately, is not far from the truth.

I took cell numbers of linemen, a Mr.Arun at 98449-76859. I sent emails to the so-called nodal officers listed on No ack to the email, only more gurgle from the linemen.

The trouble is, I live in an area that has no Airtel broadband feasibility (Considering they've not arranged it in past 5 years, maybe I'm better off without Airtel!!). The comforts of public-sector monopoly in spectrum allocation make it very difficult to expect any service from BSNL/MTNL. There is no organised forum or recourse in India to make these people help you or pay for the harassement! So I blog instead.

In recent years, India's success story has outpaced even our own wild imaginations. Today, my boss in the US finds it hard to believe delays due to power outage or flooded roads or no DSL in India's Silly-Con Valley! Yet, these are real issues. There is a limit to how far we can cover up for our inefficiencies and costs, by leveraging the mega-population and weak rupee. If we continue to ignore basics like Communication, Transport, Power and Security it will not be long before smaller countries play catch-up. Already, a mere 10% rise in rupee has made some BPOs and Textile Exporters shut shop.

As for me, I guess I am relegated to the backwaters of the Information Highway until I can find an Uncle who works for BSNL or rent a house in Airtel territory!!

PS: An update on Nov 3 -- The Link is UP!!! God knows if this is a coincidence, but immediately after I vented on the blog, that guy Arun came and changed the modem, line cable, splitter, everything. I now have a proper UTStarcom modem (instead of that lousy Huawei junk) and (touchwood) link has stayed up past 3 days :-)

I am happy


Cyn said...

Sify is as ba as BSNL, I pay for unlimited monthly access (30 days) and most of the time I can use it only 25 days because it's down, and the customer service is as pathetic as BSNL.
I keep waiting on Airtel to set a network in my area but I think it won't happen anytime soon, Reliance was supposed to do it, but they've been having issues setting their antena up and/or establishing a proper connection between my home and their server via wireless that they refunded us the instalation money and will contact us again if they solve the problem...5 months later we are still waiting but they still call us to tell us they are still working on it. So until then we are stuck with sify and their craptacular service.

Vidooshak said...

service levels in india remain "craptacular" (mmmm.. nice word) simply because the providers have no fear of any effective regulatory agency. in US, Switzerland et al, it is not that the providers (be it WalMart or AT&T or Ford) are any more sensitive-- it merely makes better business sense to spend on good service than spending on multi-million dollar negligence lawsuits. on the customer part, they are OK to pay a little more for the better service rather than fall for the "isse sasta aur kahin nahi" bull@#$%

thanks for visiting and commenting

Cyn said...

"service levels in india remain "craptacular" (mmmm.. nice word) simply because the providers have no fear of any effective regulatory agency."

That hit the nail on the spot LOL. Now seriously I remember my old ADSL connection Switzerland in the days when broadband was still in it's infancy over there (6-7 years ago) I used to pay the equivalent of 1700 Rs for an unlimited broadband connection (before that I was on dialup) and in all the time I've ever been connected to internet in a way or another in Switzerland I had to call customer care only once, and they were very efficient telling me that they were aware of the problem already as it was one of their server that fried and that the issue shuld be solved withing a couple of hours (and they were right, it did). On top of this their customer service was a toll free number not something that suck up you bank account dry just by hearing "please hold the line, your call is important to us, a customer service agent will be with you shortly".
In my 4 years in India I lost the count of how many times I had to call my ISP to first hear something as stupid as "Ma'am are you sure your LAN cable is plugged?".

Now my sister who is still in Switzerland pay the exact same amount for her ADSL that I pay for my sify account but still has the better service.