Experiences with BSNL
BSNL’s perfidy is legendary. They have monopolized the services to an extent that they resort to anti-competitive policies. More on that later. Over the past few years, Internet has played a dominating role in the way people access resources or connects to others. It is a whole new way of communication. I remember much of it was made when people talked of getting on the information superhighway. Internet access was controlled by VSNL, which remained the sole service provider way back for a number of years. High access charges remained the order of the day. Being the only service provider meant that it had no intention to improve the access. This underwent a qualitative change when the VSNL was sold off to Tata and BSNL stepped in to provide the services.
Leopards do not change their spots at all. Internet access was taxed heavily and the access charges remained all time high. In fact one of the highest in the world. This was marked by frequent disconnections and abusive “Customer Support Staff”. In fact, these idiots have these fancy names, which do no justice to the purpose with which they are hired for. Early on BSNL found out a way to manage the whole charade and signed up the customers who often were hampered by lack of choice or high cost option of other ISPs. Much of the reason was that their bandwidth was provided for by BSNL who charged them high carriage access fees. This ultimately was passed on to the consumers. Why was it so? I believe it is the scheme of the things that these government officials need to comfort themselves for shoddy services. No one has questioned them on this count at all.
This underwent a rapid change when the telecom sector was opened up for private players. Overnight BSNL’s thrust was to hold on to customers. They introduced a line exclusive for Internet access for about Rs.500/- per month. This was done in the name of the public service. However, a closer analysis revealed that BSNL’s officers were jittery about falling revenues and shift towards the other private payers who needed to woo for their own sustenance. Each of the ISP was provided for with a digital number access starting off with 172XXX and the line for exclusive internet access was restricted to that number only.
My love hate relationship with BSNL started with that connection. It was during my frequent complaints to the Internet section that shed light in the innards of this organization. Repeated complaints had no effect on the same. I had to email to the top heads of BSNL’s headquarters; some of them surprisingly responded. Indeed, barring a few honest do gooders, it is staffed with unfortunate imbeciles who cannot even type in the URL in the address bar. This was perhaps the reason that repeatedly my mails bounced back. Once the complaint landed on the table of the node in charge (insider story), he scampered off to set my connection to the desired level. Such is the power of being heard after complaining.
In my city, VSNL had happily launched their services. However, I could not access through my line for exclusive internet access because it was barred. However, in the initial clause it was clearly mentioned that all numbers starting with 172XXX would be provided for. Complaints to the relevant staff had no effect. Things took an ugly turn when the General Manager was caught in a corruption scandal. Thereafter the policies went out for a toss. It did make headlines in the local newspapers but that was that.
Ultimately, I sent across a mail to the VSNL to try to follow up on their level. However, in the reply fit for an idiot, they repeatedly mentioned that BSNL has blocked the access. This was in fact the same issue that I had highlighted. Subsequent emails went unanswered. Now I hear that by month end the connectivity would be provided for.
VSNL is spending a huge amount of money in staffing those people who do not deserve to be there anyway. I fail to understand how do these people get hired in the first case. That’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma, which has clearly no answers.
The above account is first person one. Repeatedly I have had complaints with the phone line, which only got resolved by knocking the telephones of the higher ups. Why are these people not accessible when they are supposed to be at all times? BSNL has set up a mechanism wherein each lineman has to report back the action taken report at the end of the day for resolution of customer complaints. This invariably gets faulted with no action being taken against the defaulting linemen.
Why this happens is beyond my reasoning.
The biggest fault is in the attitude that reflects the Indian society that does not reward merit and encourages inefficiency. Many a times I have faced enough hassles against those people who do not match up to the work they are expected to do. BSNL is no different. Perhaps the major reason that it is a government organization, which demotivates the staff even more. I cannot name names but in my interaction with the various levels, I have come across brilliant officers who have their hands tied because of the mediocrity around them. In fact, for the broadband launch there have been extremely efficient people working behind the scenes who have toiled day in and day out to launch the services. However, what did them in was the lousy package of prices, which seems to be beyond their control. The end mechanism has to be effected by the junior level staff, which has no clue as to how to go about. This reflects on the entire machinery anyway. I had earlier mentioned that BSNL has indeed set up a world-class infrastructure for broadband access. I have come across real people who have sought to make the best of the available resources and provide a decent service. These examples remain far and few though.
One cannot change the entire system overnight. This is not a log of my frustrations in here. However, an honest appraisal that people who are reading this ought to take initiative and question the same people who are supposed to act and make an effort. Falling customer levels and increased focus on efficiencies only would make these people wake up from their deep slumber. I shall try to rebut their claims with action on the ground. It is this way only that a change can be brought about in the same organization that has been funded by huge amounts of taxpayers money. We seek answers and soon.