Thursday, July 24, 2008

A long cable cut short

This is such a long story, I don’t know where to start and where to end! Essentially, when we moved into Padmanabhanagar six months ago, we heard that there were only two ISPs operating here – BSNL and Sify. BSNL told us that a new connection would take around 6-8 weeks to materialise. Since I work from home and needed Internet badly, we decided to go for Sify instead. We called customer care, and promptly within two days, a guy called Sudhir came home, booked our connection, took an advance, gave us what seemed like a “receipt”, and promised to give the connection within three working days. Three grew to seven, seven grew to 14 days, and there was still no sight of the guy!

After we called again, another guy came – this time, a Mr Chethan. Sudhir had shut shop and would no longer be catering to our area, he said. So, it was now over to dealing with Chethan, who said he will take the advance from Sudhir, but insisted that he will not do the wiring till we paid in full. So, we paid the remaining Rs 6900/- Sify charges a whopping Rs 1800/- for installation, while most other ISPs offer it at more competitive rates if not a complete waiver; however, the brochure promised a discount of over Rs 700 if we paid for six months in advance, so we did, little knowing what was in store. We got something which we thought was the “receipt”.

The guy who came so promptly to collect the payment disappeared after that. He would speak on the verge of tears and explain all his troubles to us, whenever we called to enquire about the status of our connection. And one day, we flew off the handle and threatened to take a BSNL connection if he didn’t do the wiring within a day. So, the wires came. After a dozen more calls and threats an idiot of an “engineer” came to setup our connection. He became tense the moment he saw that we had Windows Vista. He threw in the towel when he found we had a wireless router too. So, with a little help from him (nothing more than providing the IP addresses and the Sify dialer), we set up the connection all by ourselves, and it started working.

One month went by, with us being able to use the Internet whenever Chethan’s server was not down, which was not much, by the way. Then came the first week of March, and we were greeted by a new error message: “Invalid quota/account expired!” What the heck, we thought! After all, we had paid in advance for six months. We called customer service, and they said our account had been renewed only for a month.
That is how it works. Your local agent has to pay us next month’s subscription and only after that we will renew the account.
Oh, so will you contact the local agent or should I?
You have to remind him, madam.

So, we were back at the mercy of the Honourable Shri Chetan Ji. His father wouldn’t be well. He would not be in town. He would be in hospital. He would have no money in his account. All the calamities known in this world would befall him only when our account had to be renewed.

After another week, a call to the customer support again.
Hi, the local agent is not renewing my a/c despite repeated reminders?
Oh ok, shall I lodge a complaint?
Yes, please.

A few more days go by...
Hi, my a/c has still not been renewed?
Oh, is it so madam, let me check the status of your complaint?
We have reminded your local agent. He’ll be doing it.
I am confident he is not. So, what further action are you going to take?
We can only remind him ma’am. He only has to renew the a/c. We cannot do anything.
So, am I Sify’s customer or the local agent’s? What responsibility do you take for the poor service I am getting?

After giving up on customer care, we would call the local agent repeatedly till he renews the a/c. The same ordeal continued every month, for four months.

Last month...
We are unable to reach the local agent, our Internet a/c has not been renewed, and worse still, we are not even able to reach the Sify account... we have no clue whether the cable has been cut somewhere or what. Shrimaan Chethan Maharaj has changed his telephone number, so we cannot even reach him.

After several desperate calls to Sify customer care, we realised that Sify is as useless as its local agents. They wish to take absolutely no responsibility for the kind of service you get. Whether it is a connectivity issue or a renewal related one, the call centre simply lends a patient ear to your rants – they initiate NO action and make it very clear that you have to contact your local agent for any further response. What was even more ridiculous than this response was the fact that they do not keep customer records for more than two months, so the person at the other end of the phone had no clue how MANY complaints we had given. What about those blessed issues that are not solved even after two months? Ask God or somebody from Sify – the former might be easier!

Now, we were – totally – at the mercy of the local agent. With Rs 1800/- paid for the installation, and two months of service pending from the six we’d paid for, we had around Rs 2800/- at stake, looking at it on a pro rata basis!

So, we decided to go and knock at the doors of Mr Chethan. However, we realised the door we knocked on was not his! When we reached the address given to us by him, we realised that it was not his office and that we were not the first gullible nuts to reach there! There had been several others who had come searching for Chethan, and the people at that address made it very clear that Sify is the worst option we could have gone for. Slow or fast, costly or cheap, good or bad, go for BSNL – at least, they have a permanent office, they said! How true!

We somehow managed to find the address and telephone number of Babuji Cable Vision, the network that Chethan worked for – every time we call, they promise to convey the request to Chethan and send him, but our problem has not been solved till date!

We have decided to forfeit the 2.8K for the sake of peace... unless somebody from Sify reads this and feels it their duty to sort this problem out for us!

(In the background we also applied for a BSNL broadband connection, and got it after four weeks of waiting. That is another story; wait till you hear it. But it’s not half as bad as Sify – I would say it is much better.)

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