From the headline, you can make out this is going to be a rant post. Now I usually don't write such posts on my blog, but the treatment Reliance has been giving me is way past the border of tolerance and understanding.
Yes, there were times I received bad services, be it from a restaurant or an ecom delivery service. But you know, as most Indians, I just shrugged it off. Chalta hai. I'm too busy with other things to waste my time giving a bad review or writing a blog post about it. Plus, it's not like we always get a bad service, so we just sweep such incidents under the carpet.
But what Reliance is doing to me is torture. I'm not talking about a few days or a week or a month of no internet connectivity. It has been THREE months since they stopped giving me net, and the worst part was, they sent their goons, the so called "collection agents", telling me to make payments for the months I didn't have any internet! But I'll come to that later. Here's how my ordeal with Reliance started…
First of all, it took around FIVE months for Reliance to finally give me a connection, after I had already registered and paid the advance and registration fees! You can read more about the pain and trouble I went through trying to get a broadband connection in Pune here - Home is where the Wi-Fi is. Yeah those could be the early warning signs, but if you're suggesting I change my ISP, please read the above link first.
Even after I finally got the connection, there were times I didn't have internet for 3-4 days a month, but hey I'm not complaining about those. I was happy with the 4 mbps connection, it was pretty fast and smooth. And the fact that I took an unlimited plan was perfect for my browsing behavior. For that, I am actually very impressed with Reliance.
The nightmare started in June.
I didn't have internet from 7th June, and like other times, I complained the next day. Complaint number - 246682613. Oh by the way, I have taken down every single complaint number because I like to keep track of things. Before this incident, there's a list of more than 20 complaint numbers.
Finally I had internet back on 13th June.
And then on 17th June my connection was stopped and I complained again.
Complaint number - 246998577
And like before, they quickly solved it and by June 19th, I had internet again.
But that was just one day of bliss. On 20th June, my connection stopped once more, and I complained the next day.
Complaint number - 247111968
And from that day onwards, till today, I don't have any internet!
I complained almost every single day, and I was always told the same thing - "Sir, it is a work in progress".
And if you're a Reliance customer, you'll know the frustrating experience of trying to call up their help-line.
I dial 180030007777.
It will ask for language selection, I type "2" to select English.
It will then ask for what type of service and I type "1" to say it is regarding internet service.
It will then ask for what type of customer I am and I type "1" to say I am an existing postpaid customer.
After that it asks me to enter my customer id, but THAT is always wrong somehow, and so at this section, I just enter 9# (any number followed by the # key) and it will say it is an invalid number (even if I enter my actual customer id followed by # key, it will say incorrect, so it is much faster typing just 9#), and at the second attempt I enter 9# again, and again it tells me it is wrong and finally at the third attempt I enter 9# again. After that it tells me that I have exceeded the maximum number of tries, and then finally forwards me to a call executive.
And that's not the end of it. Once my call is forwarded to a call exec, I'm usually made to wait for around 5 minutes, sometimes even 10-15 minutes, as I am on queue because "all our customer service executives are busy at the moment", while listening to that very irritating and ear-piercing Reliance theme music.
And when a call executive finally does pick up my call, 80% of the time it is somebody who speaks only Hindi, in spite of me selecting "2" (English) in the language option.
Yeah I had to do that almost every night, speaking in broken Hindi about my issue. So you can imagine how frustrated I am with this now.
And I always got the same reply, "Sir, it is a work in progress". And every time I called, I would request a call-back from their engineer to explain to me what exactly was wrong with my connection, and yet I never received a call from their office.
And to rub salt into my wounds, Reliance started spamming me (SMS and inbox) at the end of June asking me to pay my June bill, even though I had connectivity for around 10 days only. I called up the help-line and asked them if I was to pay my bills, would I start having service again, but they said no need to pay because it was still a "work in progress".
And then came the month of July, and the entire month I was calling up the help-line almost every day again, to know the status of my internet connection.
Towards the end of July, I received not just June bill but July bill payment notification as well, even though the connection was still not restored!!!
And then on 30th July, Saturday, somebody rang my doorbell. When I opened it, there were these two huge mean looking guys at my door, asking me why I haven't paid my Reliance bills of two months!! They didn't directly threaten me, but they spoke in a very passive-aggressive tone, like as if I was some wanted criminal. I explained to them that I didn't have internet connection since June, and they abruptly told me that it was because I hadn't paid my bills, and the moment I paid my bills, my connection would be restored.
In my case, this was a chicken-egg conundrum. I need internet to make my payment, but I will get internet only after I make my payment. But I didn't want to argue with those two thugs. I didn't even raise the fact that they told me to pay for the month of July too. I didn't want to be roughened up as I am living alone, so I told them I will then go to office right away to pay my bill online. And then they said I better do that, or they will come back the next day (Sunday) to check up on me again.
Scary unbelievable shit indeed!
This is what I hate about Pune. I don't know any important people here. Back in Bangalore, we used to have Pu HT. Sangliana, who was the Commissioner of Police back then, so he was always there to protect us from such harassments or exploitations. And in Mumbai, I was an executive member of NEHM (North East Helpline Mumbai) with a direct line to many senior police officers, so I had people I could run to for help. But here in Pune, there's nobody I know who can help me out.
And so, on that same Saturday afternoon after the two guys left, I rushed to office even though it was a holiday, logged in to my employee account and paid my two months Reliance bill through online transaction.
I slept a bit peacefully that night.
The next day, Sunday, thank God those two guys didn't turn up again. Just to be on the safer side, I placed a couple of my kitchen knives on my bookshelf, my dining table, behind my TV, etc in case they turned up again and things became unruly. Like I mentioned earlier, those two guys didn't threaten me or abuse me, but I have heard many stories of such "collection agents" from friends, about how they broke a person's leg and stuff, and I promised not to go down without a fight even if I was outnumbered.
Luckily, they didn't come. But unfortunately, neither did the internet. Since it was a Sunday, I assumed I would get back my connection on a working day.
And then Monday came and went. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, all came and went, and still no internet. Whatever happened to that, "your connection will be restored the moment you pay your bills"?
Finally I called up the help-line again, only to be told that my issue was still a "work in progress"!!!
You can imagine how angry I must be right then.
I asked them why they sent those two guys then, and why made me pay for the months I didn't even have internet. The call executive guy nonchalantly replied, "Saar, the amount will be readjusted on your next bill"! Wow, what audacity.
He assured me that my issue was almost fixed (same old excuse), and that my next bill would be calculated and adjusted based on the months I didn't have internet.
Well, August month is now almost about to end, I still don't have internet, and just yesterday, I received the freaking bill for August, asking me to pay for this month as well!!!
This is too much. And I'm sure if I don't pay the above bill, certain collection agents will pay me a visit again? Maybe I'll even end up in a hospital if I refuse to pay this time? Or prison, depending on the outcome of our conflict? How do I get out of this mess? Is it even legal to do this, first of all - not providing service that you subscribed to for 3 straight months, and then forcing people to pay for the service that was not rendered?
In the 1.5 years that I've lived here, I really got to love Pune a lot, but this is one part of my journey I definitely want to erase from memory. It is unpleasant, obnoxious and at best, threatening. Horrible experience indeed. And all my online premium subscriptions to Hotstar, Netflix etc are being wasted every month because of this, not to mention missing the last two episodes of GoT, the entire Olympics, and football matches that I paid extra to watch via online subscriptions :(
I have experienced many bad services across different sectors, but nothing beats this current hell I am in.
And the fact that I am not staying at some isolated locality or upcoming neighborhood but right in the heart of Koregaon Park, a supposedly prime and upmarket area of Pune, and still having to face all these problems truly sucks…
UPDATE 24th Aug: Less than 2 days after I published this post, Reliance called me up, and today their technician came and solved my issue. I now have broadband again after 3 long months, thanks to this post and all your shares. Cheers :)