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'Better Say No to Landline' that's BSNL
In market landscape, which is replete with wolfish private communication service providers that fight for their pound of flesh, how far a public sector communication service provider like BSNL can go in disappointing the subscribers by leaving them in the lurch every time they approach the office for one thing or the other?

Please see what happened with one of my relatives' landline No. 04782594778 under Alleppy, SSA, in Kerala. This landline had a limited broadband connection which kept on claiming in thousands every month though the plan was for Rs. 500/- Naturally, the subscriber wanted to switch it over to unlimited basic for Rs. 625 or so and there was a written request for the same on 28.8.2013 to the immediate local office. And waited for a week. Nothing happened, and a new bill Rs. 1100/- against the above connection came by in between.

The subscriber directly went to the commercial office at Alleppy and raised the issue, and upon listening to the concern, the officer asks for second written request, and he straight away called the local office to do what is needed. Nothing happened then as well.

A week went by, and the subscriber wrote a registered mail to the concerned office, and the letter was delivered to the officer in time, but then also there was not even a telephone call on this, though the owner was calling time again to a list of numbers which hardly replied or responded at least automatically. By this time there came a second bill totalling the previous and a little fine for not paying the former in time.

As a last resort, the subscriber wrote a detailed email complaint to the General Manager BSNL Alleppy stating the entire story. The mail had not been replied for quite some time. Then again there was a reminder to the same email id, and a few calls also followed to check whether the email id was active or not. There was a reply that they were waiting for reports from the local office and the complaint would be looked into and duly replied. Again a week went by.

When the second reminder to the GMs office started showing some sings of movement, that is upon the word that the subscriber would approach the consumer forum for justice and compensation, there came, to be precise, on 19.11.2013, a call of apology from the local office Aloor, Alleppy stating that there were a few mishaps in between and the lapse should not have happened and they would be writing a report to the higher-ups in such a way as to offer damages for the inconvenience and the undue bill that got generated due to their failure.

The lady was offering a special cell phone number so that the damaged image of the office could be made good by allowing the subscriber to call her upon any inconvenience in future. All sounded very good indeed. A request for unlimited conversion took 10 weeks' time, from 08.08.2013 to 19.11.2013.

The subscriber breathed easy, not for long but just for a day. This evening, 20.11.13, the landline says a recorded message that the connection stands disconnected due to non-payment of bill, and the subscriber is asked to contact the accounts officer for further action. The silly thing is that the due date for the bill is on 27/11/2013 and disconnection happened one week prior to the date.

Where on earth these BSNL staff working? Are they myopic to their present state of affairs, or they are not seeing the wolfish tentacles of private service providers that come winding around them? How long can ordinary subscribers keep these people fed? How can we blame such subscribers if they happen to expand BSNL as 'Better Say No to Landline'? It is the Bharat Sanchar's Knell. The Death Knell.

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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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