ISP nonsense

My internet blues are never ending, be it whoever the service provider. I've tried Airtel's GPRS dialups with speeds upto 40kbps through my cellphone hitting technical snags and billing issues. A weekly plan would work only 3 or 4 days, a daily plan would work at one time and not work half a day, if at all, at other times. Sometimes the daily plan would stop working at 1000 hrs the next day, and at other times anywhere between 0700-0800 hrs. But all or one of these would happen only on your activating internet for a day with an SMS message. On roaming, such a free SMS cost me Rs.18 a couple of times, which is almost same as the daily internet charge. Later, the daily plan would work for maybe more than a day at times. However, without any notice, one fine day they had changed their system to internet being active without activation! My internet usage cost me at disconnection of whatever the prepaid balance was! Or the other way round, it disconnected when they cleared my prepaid balance on a per 10KB download billing. Utter nonsense! I gave up and lost the battle.

Meanwhile, I'd moved on to Reliance USB modem with speeds upto 144kbps that cost Rs.2800 or so. That was prepaid too, but they sold me a mega-expensive unlimited plan that didn't work the first month at all. I'd lost my 1500 bucks, because they said "it should have worked, all is well at our end". When it worked the next month, with no changes on my side, it gave me speeds of 20kbps that moved to upto 80-90kbps after complaints. All the while, they had several billing issues, billing me per hour of usage, after charging Rs.1500 for unlimited usage in advance! Their technical, billing and management personnel all had varying answers such as "we do not have an unlimited plan for prepaid" after having sold it with printed pamphlets at Reliance Web World, "we have unlimited prepaid plan but its new; not everyone knows", "you're billed for data download" (on an unlimited plan, yes!), "we'll look into it", "call back in 96 hours", "there were billing problems, but we have resolved it, recharge again and check", "we can't give you refund, there's no policy like that", etc. I was spending additional money for calling them from my cell phone... over many many complaints spread over 2 months, they refunded all that I lost in duplicate deductions (except the first month's Rs.1500!!!), but deducted it all the next day. Another complaint, another 96 hrs, another response, another escalation, more calls from cell, more money lost. Again many complaints later, I told them I'll go to consumer court. They refunded the amount, accepting everything verbally a day before the month end, deducted all of it again 2 days later. Why again? Simple.. they said my refund was valid for that month only. Yes, for 2 days, the amount was valid to be used for data downloads, but that data download was already paid for that month with Rs.1500 unlimited package. So its money, available for 2days, that you can't use. I lost the battle there too, because they moved to a great policy of responding to each email and phone complaint with "billed for data charges" and never replied to what the unlimited Rs. 1500 that reduced to Rs. 999 later was for. Their definition of unlimited data downloads was a non-english set of terms that meant bill-per-hour-anyway. I couldn't win with stupidity... I gave up.

I shifted geography where we have BSNL, who are very simple, straightforward people. They give you what you ask for... well, when they want. We got our Dataone BSNL DSL connection at Vasai after around 1.5 yrs after applying for it. DoT (Dept of Telecom) had called it the year of broadband in India... I do not know what their definition of India was or definition of year was. Perhaps, they meant they would take at least a year in giving broadband to anyone in India! Well, that was before I moved here. After moving, I upgraded the account to unlimited usage, something that BSNL knows and understands better than Reliance. Well, I thought so! They moved my account from 250 bucks pm to 750 pm, added 750 for additional deposit and billed me whatever telephone calls and taxes cost last month. All settled neatly now. Again, I thought so! For some reason, the line's gone noisy and due to that its irritating to make and receive calls; the internet disconnects every five minutes for anywhere between 30 secs to 3 mins! Complaints haven't helped since 4 weeks, because they call me up asking "has the phone started working?" even if I clarify each time that the phone's working, but i) there's static on the line and ii) DSL fails every 5mins! "Okay", they say "we'll look into it". Then we're back to square one. To top that, this month, they billed me 750 for "unlimited internet usage" plus 16k (yes, Rs.16000!) for "internet usage". Interesting, very interesting. I'm sure they have an explanation for this. They all do. Its just that I will never understand. I can never win, but this time, I've some other perspective. I'll get to this soon, but before that lets take a detour to movies... yes, Office Space... I'll tie it in, believe me. Here's the dialog exchange between leads:


PETER: I, uh, I don't like my job. I don't think I'm gonna go anymore.
JOANNA: You're just not gonna go?
PETER: Yeah.
JOANNA: Won't you get fired?
PETER: I don't know. But I really don't like it so I'm not gonna go.
JOANNA: (LAUGHS) So you're gonna quit?
PETER: No, no, not really. I'm just gonna stop going.



Do you see how this ties up now? Where Office Space helps is Reliance and BSNL have one difference in their billing me nonsense: Reliance was prepaid, they had my money; BSNL is postpaid, they want my money. Here's my Office Space knowledge applied to BSNL:


me: I, uh, I don't like my ISP. I don't think I'm gonna pay anymore.
them: You're just not gonna pay?
me: Yeah.
them: Won't BSNL disconnect?
me: I don't know. But I really don't like this huge overbilling nonsense so I'm not gonna pay.
them: (LAUGH) So you're gonna disconnect?
me: No, no, not really. I'm just gonna stop paying.


Here I recall Seinfeld (The Chinese Restaurant):

Jerry: (A couple of days ago I used a public phone), go over time on the call, hang up the phone, walk away. You've had this happen? Phone rings. It's the phone company... they want more money. Don't you love this? And you got them right where you want them for the first time in your life. You're on the street, there's nothing they can do. I like to let it ring a few times, you know, let her sweat a little over there, then I just pick it up, "Yeah, operator... oh, I got the money... I got the money right here... D'you hear that? (taps on microphone) That's a quarter. Yeah, you want that don't you?"
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