Eternal Wait for Decent Telecom
Last week I went to pay my bills for Internet phone taken from BSNL. It is the same argument I have to face repeatedly. As a customer, why do I have to suffer a lack of choice? I do feel cheated time and again. The worst is that I feel helpless each time. The telecom policy dreamt up a hope that we would be able to see a multitude of companies, each falling over each other to serve the customer who is a king. Bah. More than a pauper, I am reduced to nothing. Be it invasion of my privacy, getting those unsolicited calls or ignorant army of morons as customer support staff; I do not think so that I got what I actually deserve for my investment in the services.
The worst-case scenario is for broadband. This is indeed taking ever and ever to materialize. BSNL did launch its broadband. However, I am wary on their past record for customer care and the quality of the infrastructure. It is true that people have started complaining about the poor quality of broadband due to line disturbances. I have always maintained that it is easier to wake up a person from his deathbed than getting anything done out of the so-called customer care.
However, in advertisements I am promised the earth. Sachin Tendulkar has endorsed Airtel brand. How does he being featured in the same get me better quality of services? I remember when I was their customer couple of years back. My folks could not get through my number. Repeated complaints to the customer care made no change. Finally, I had to shoot a letter all the way to their head office. Belatedly after about a month, some dingbat chose to reply in the usual corporate tone. The same kind of language that they choose to advertise. World-class infrastructure? After much haggling and repeated calls, the fault was traced in their switch! So much for their intelligence. This gave me an insight in the way call centers worked. After making repeated calls, I was on friendly terms with some sensible people. Admittedly, not all are dumb. Some are bit more professional in their jobs. I have to know their problems and the way companies chose to deal with their customers. Dude, they said. Prepaid card? Forget it.
Internet remains a bugbear. I need Internet to keep myself abreast of what is the latest in my field. However, the high cost deters me to surf with peace of mind. If at times I am able to get a decent connection speed, the line drops in the middle of a download. Things have changed for the better in the past one year. Earlier it was a harrowing time to connect to the exchange. Often it took me a dedicated patience of about an hour or so before I chose to give up. What of the wasted calls? It profited BSNL in any case.
The other day I went to pay mobile phone bill for someone. I was astonished to see the various kinds of charges that they had levied. This was a GSM phone and the company had charged astronomically for roaming charges. It seemed strange that how can Reliance charge a pittance for the same. Having ones own network is imperative if you have to succeed in the telecom market. It also hinted at the way the GSM operators have ganged up to charge excessively from the customers. Any “arguments” with the bill collection agencies is futile.
The worst-case scenario is the invasion of privacy when GSM customers get unsolicited calls. There have been reports of people buying a brand new number and within a few hours, some moron is offering a credit card from a bank. This only exposes the fact the companies sell the numbers. In this case, they could have alerted the calling agency that the given number is activated. This is not a confirmed fact but it is possible, given the trend here in India. I would suggest that one should avoid handing out numbers in public places. Invariably it finds its way in the databases that can be had for a song.
I really wish that things improve. TRAI is supposed to be a regulator. Why hasn’t it stepped in and said that enough is enough? The recent Gartner report has mentioned that telecom has grown from strength to strength but the last mile connectivity remains pathetic. What of the last mile Sir? Come on in and you would realize that getting a telephone line from government provider is an exercise in patience. If you are willing to swallow your pride and ready to be insulted, well then you can have a look at what broadband means here. One thing that they were absolutely right about. The report mentions clearly that quality of services remains much to be desired. This is what I had mentioned in my earlier posts too.
Established players like Sify call their pathetic lines as broadband. With the absurd data limits of 300 MB, Airtel is offering the “lowest priced” broadband. 300 MB for what Mr.Mittal? Opening up my browser and closing it down? What possible Internet surfing could I do in 300 MB without you ripping me off in the process? Why be so absurd, guys?
I believe that it is the hangover of the past when the powers that be handed out favors because they wanted it to be that way. These people have created artificial scarcity when there is none. Plan a decent connection and sell the product. We customers are ready to pay for something good, Sir! Provided it is reasonably priced, assured services in the event of downtime and go that extra mile in ensuring that your customers remain happy. Does that take too much? Nope. It takes only a little effort on your behalf.