Monday, October 19, 2009

Why BSNL is where it is.

I have been wanting to write this post for quite some days, but have been dithering. And there must be a reason for it. Having pondered over it for some time, I think the only reason why I have NOT posted this so far is because in spite of all that I write in this post, I have an implicit faith in Govt. machinery. People may disgaree with me, but still.
The other day, I went to BSNL office to surrender a Post-Paid connection. The lady at the desk nonchalantly pulled a paper out of the drawer and said,"OK, fill up this form, and submit it with your SIM card and a copy of the last paid bill."
Wow, is it that easy? I know that telecom companies pay handsome salaries to people for retaining customers. A churn (in cell phone company's parlance it means a customer intending to quit) is treated as serious business and efforts are made to retain the client. And here this lady seemed only too pleased to let me go. Nevertheless, I went a couple of days later with the form duly filled.
And the dialogue that followed went something like this -
BSNL - You will get another bill, for the period between this last paid bill and the date of termination. You will have to pay that.
I - But? I am terminating the service now, right? So why should I pay for a service which I am not going to use for the few days?
BSNL - You have to pay.
I - Well, OK. Here's the SIM card....
BSNL - (Keeps the SIM carefully inside a little ziplock bag) - Why are you terminating?
I - Because I don't want this service anymore.
I- So how many days will it take to actually terminate the connection, so that I can stop paying?
BSNL - Silence.
I - Ummmm....? 1 Week?
BSNL - Silence.
I - More than one week!!!
BSNL - We send the papers from here to Karve Road office, then they do the rest.
(Karve road office, incidentally, is ONE km. from where this dialogue transpired.)
I - So when will you send the papers to them? Today itself?
BSNL - (Looks at the watch) No. Maybe tomorrow.
I - And then? After you have sent the papers, how long do they take?
BSNL - Silence.
I - How long?
BSNL - Silence.
I - Does it take about a week? Or more?
BSNL - Yes. A week. Or maybe more.
I - OK. Two weeks?
BSNL - Yes. Two weeks. Maybe more.
(First round bell. I feel I am losing on points. At least I can avoid a knockout?)
I - OK, fine. What about deposit? Do I get some money back for the deposit I must have paid?
BSNL - Did you pay any deposit?
I - OH! I won't remember. It was really long ago.
BSNL - You will have to find out if you had paid any deposit.
I - And if there IS deposit, how do I get it?
BSNL - You will have to make an application, with a copy of the original receipt that we must have issued.
I - ORIGINAL RECEIPT? I am sure I cant find it now. There are too many papers.
BSNL - Without original receipt, we cannot give you anything.
I - I will try looking for it at home. But can't YOU tell me if there is any deposit pending?
BSNL - If you had paid 500 rs. then there is no deposit. If you paid more, then there is.
I - What does that mean? I said I don't remember how much I had paid. It was so long ago.
BSNL - It will be there in your original receipt.
I - And what if I cannot find the original?
BSNL - Silence
I - Can't you check in your system here?
BSNL - Silence.
I - I mean, I am sure you can just check the status of this SIM connection. Your system should tell you how much deposit has been paid - right?
BSNL - We can't check from here.

Checkmate. I give up.


Vinay said...

ha, ha. Well, but I do have an opposite experience too. I'd lost my cell phone. I walked into the Karve Rd. office and asked them what should I do to get a replacement of the SIM? The lady said, fill this application, get a copy of the last paid bill and submit it here. I did that and they gave me a new SIM card over the counter! It was that easy.

Also, they offer a 1% discount in the bill if you pay it online. No one else does that for you! So, they do take some efforts to keep you happy!

Pushkaraj said...

@ Susan - Its unfortunate, because they probably have the widest network coverage and are sitting on a goldmine, watching business go to private companies.
@ Vinay - You must consider yourself damn lucky. When I lost my phone, I had to produce a copy of FIR made in the police station plus a whole lot of other meaningless documents to get the replacement SIM.

Dagadu said...

Irritating arnt they !! Just two weeks ago i was in India, needed to pay them a visit concerning their Internet connection, and the answers I recvd were hilarous. The person tried to ping my landline, did not get a answer, reason the lady gave me -> Tumchi line kharaab aahe. Ti nit karoon ghya !! ani mag apply kara. Dunno I am to dig that cable ;)

PAPPU said...

At my home, my dad and sis have BSNL. And they are always running around the house because there is no signal inside the house! There is only one window near which you have to stand to talk with a BSNL phone at my place. So we often have two people running, first to find the phone by its ringing, then to the window so that they can talk.
I find it funny when they give that 'Hindustan bol raha hai' ad on the television. They should make it 'Hindustan bhag raha hai-signal ki talaash mein!'

Avadhut Bapat said...

You have no experience of VSNL Tata Indicom I guess.Try them , you would probably will award BSNL 'THE service provider of the ...'

Pushkaraj said...

@ Avadhut Bapat - Incidentally, I DO have the experience of Tata Indicom, but only for their data card and I am very pleased (so far! I am keeping my fingers crossed). So I guess whether the network actually works for someone must be dependent on his/her DNA sequence! Same is true for broadband connections. I won't ever take a You Telecom even if they give it free to me. Its Hathway for me, any day. But a friend of mine swears by it. It works perfectly at her place. And, you guessed right. She curses Hathway.....
On that note, I just counted that so far I have gathered the experience of NINE mobile services! Idea, Orange, MTNL, Airtel, BSNL, Tata Indicom, Reliance, BSNL and Vodafone !!!