Customer Woes in Emailing BSNL & MTNL to Convey Grievances, Officials Still Prefer third-party Email Providers : Our Study

Recently we set out to study email usage at BSNL/MTNL with regard to recording consumer grievances. We felt the need as one of our readers forwarded us an email which had several emails bounced back from BSNL’s email servers when he tried approaching them. Even I had experienced this bouncing issue last year when I tried emailing BSNL officials.

According to TRAI’s guidelines (2012) BSNL claims to have done away with the concept of nodal officer in its corporate website. The ‘new’ two tier redressal mechanism involves appellate authority after normal customer care services.

Pursuant to the TRAI’s new Regulation called the Telecom Consumers Complaint Redressal Regulations, 2012, BSNL has replaced its three-tier Complaint Redressal Mechanism by two-tier system by doing away with Nodal Officer.

However, still in 2014 all the BSNL circle websites have a long list of nodal officers with their email IDs which in most cases were updated in 2013. Now unless a customer is up-to-date with TRAI guidelines, in all probability he/she will attempt to send email(s) to nodal officers listed in various BSNL websites.

What did we do?

On a random note we chose few BSNL and MTNL service areas. For BSNL it was Corporate Office, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, North East and UP while for MTNL it was Delhi. Using a new email ID created solely for this purpose we sent out short emails to all the email IDs listed across BSNL/MTNL sites. In no time, we were bombarded with delivery failure messages.

Observations

  1. Delivery Failures
    • BSNL Corporate office – four emails were sent out, including one to the CMD. Out of this the one sent to Director, Finance was being resent to three recipients and we received three failure messages. Reason was “The user(s) account is temporarily over quota”. Incidentally, BSNL website showed the position of Director, Finance as ‘vacant’.
    • In Tamil Nadu circle, email sent to the Appellate Authority who is also the GM bounced with a “the user(s) account is temporarily over quota” message. Note that nodal officers don’t exist but Appellate Authority very much exists.
    • TN_GM

    • Out of the 30 emails sent to Kerala circle officials, three bounced back. Reasons ranged from message rejected by the server to user does not have a domain account.
    • Out of 31 emails sent out to Andhra Pradesh officials, five bounced back. One ID belonged to Additional GM and the rejection came from a sify server (pg_ap_dgmop (at) bsnl.co.in).
    • AP USes Sify
    • Three emails failed to deliver in Maharashtra out of 34 we sent. Reasons ranged from user account disabled to email rejected by the server.
    • In case of UP circle, three messages failed to deliver out of total 36.
    • A total of 84 emails were sent out to GM/DGM level officials of MTNL, Delhi. As much as 15 of them failed to reach the destination. Reasons were similar to BSNL, either over quota or rejected by server. Two DGMs had an auto-reply like this with a link after that:

      Thanks for trying to send me an email. I’m sorry but I did not receive it because I don’t know if you are a person or a mass-emailing program. I accept email from any person (whether I know them or not) but I do not accept email from mass-emailing programs unless I have explicitly authorized them. I need you to click on the link below so that I know you are a person. Then please re-send me your email. You will never have to repeat this step. I am very much looking forward to reading your email.

    • One  official from Karnataka replied to our email with an OK from his Blackberry. That was a gmail ID though! We were glad that someone values research.
  2. Use of free email services: Despite of Indian government planning to instruct government employees to stop using free email services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail several BSNL employees seem to be using those services for official purposes. We noticed several officials in Karnataka, Kerala and North East circles using such accounts. In case of NE-II circle, three out of four officials,  including the Appellate authority use gmail. What more, even the highest level of complaints will have to be sent out to gmail IDs – note that three out of four are gmail.BSNL Uses Gmail

In addition to email we noticed that the Feedback link on BSNL’s corporate website directs the user to Tenders page. The page never loaded for me though. I had tweeted this way back in August 2013, but the issue still remains!

Our Thoughts

  1. If nodal officers no longer exist why list them in all circle websites to confuse consumers? While one might argue that very less email bounces were observed by us, our question is why should an email bounce in first place? Is it so hard for a company of BSNL/MTNL’s stature to maintain email accounts in good shape?
  2. Though using gmail or other such email services may or may not be a national threat, officials must remember that using a BSNL/MTNL email ID adds to company’s brand value. A trust factor also creeps in – if employees themselves do not use BSNL why would a broadband customer use those IDs. BSNL provides @bsnl.in email IDs to broadband customers.
  3. Though BSNL officials may be approachable over phone, phone calls can’t be used as a proof of record unless the audio is recorded which is in fact illegal in India.
  4. Like private operators, BSNL could provide a well designed complaint form on their website (one which works and complaints are solved if booked through that) or provide a national level email ID.

Have you ever faced similar issues with BSNL/MTNL or any other operator? Let us know through your comments.

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  • jd February 17, 2014 5:58 pm

    I m mtnl delhi broadband user and got broadband connection on 21 Jan 2014 and front 2 Feb its not working. I complaint. on 1504 they said it will resolve in 2 days, since then I call them daily and their reply is same, what I do now? I don’t get time to visit mtnl office in my area due to my job. pls someone tell me where I can lodge complaint against them?

  • Ankur Jain February 3, 2014 11:55 am

    Last month, my MTNL broadband stopped working. I lodged a complaint @ 198. But complaint was closed without resolving the issue. This happened three times. Then, I wrote to AM & GM of our area. The email sent to AM bounced back. I again wrote to all the concerned officials. But didn’t get any single response from them. All these mails were marked to MTNL CMD. After 15 days, I contacted Public Grievance Deptt. to intervene in. Surprisingly, the very next day MTNL officials came into action & started taking action. Finally the issue got resolved in a single day. MTNL/BSNL people are least bothered about customers’ complaints. They take action when they are forced to do so. This is the reason people do not show much interest in their schemes, plans & affordable tariffs.

  • amarrdiip February 2, 2014 10:41 pm

    bsnl service is big issue, if they can rectify is they still have chance of becoming no 1

  • kaushik February 2, 2014 9:02 pm

    mtnl mumbai cc itself are so nice to customers. my experience is vry good with them

  • sabapathikannan February 2, 2014 4:48 pm

    sir, I book complaint through BSNL customer website, without attending the complaint, they closed and no remarks. If call the exchange they say, they noted in their register , they will solve asap. But after 15 days no solution. I have bad experience. I am using BSNL land line broad Band, monthly rental I pay 1000 RS.DGMNWO Tamil Nadu says that , he will not see official mail, he is using g mail.

    • S.Sudhakar February 2, 2014 6:38 pm

      Complain in pgportal.gov.in under ‘Department of Telecommunications’ category.

  • Kaushik Roy February 2, 2014 12:17 pm

    dataone.in of BSNL in kolkata has only 50MB storage limit and previously it was just 5MB
    there is no possibility of enhancing the limit as told by BSNL officials.

    • Chethan S February 2, 2014 12:48 pm

      Thanks for providing that detail. I just verified that it is the same everywhere for broadband customers. Hope it is not the same for their officials!

  • Kishan February 2, 2014 12:13 pm

    Vodafone really sucking in maharashtra…
    From 2days the server is down on 3G…The customer care says everyday that we are upgrading the system it will resolve by 4 pm…and thentoo nothing even yesterday called they said the same reason….
    final warning if today it will not resolve then porting to idea or bsnl….
    I am your 6 yrs customer will port

    • Darshan February 2, 2014 12:34 pm

      Go for !dea its 3G coverage everywhere in maharashtra.
      Even BSNL is best for its price but i can c, u cant bear for 2days downtime of Vodafone then !dea nly will be better for you

      • Kishan February 2, 2014 9:28 pm

        Yeah
        Still no improvement…
        Tomorrow fix going to port to !dea
        My friends using BSNL though nly 1 has idea but bsnl postpaid going very costly so idea i-plan taking
        Suck off u vodafone throw in dustbin u n u r company

  • Saumik B February 2, 2014 10:01 am

    This is only the tip of iceberg. BSNL Prepaid Customer center of Maharashtra & Goa was out of service since last 6 months. (Option 4 of Customer Care No: 123)
    Surprisingly its working today and post you select the option irrespective of the language you select, IVR would talk in Marathi :) and Customer Care would greet you with ‘bola’.

    Important point:
    Activation of STV by SMS never works in MH circle, though they annonced the same as working. I tried to activate 1GB data by deducting Rs 139 from my main balance, SMS dstv139 to 53733 was never got delivered. It comes as Message not sent. Such a useless service.

    • Zeeshan February 2, 2014 10:17 am

      No it works by deducting money from main balance
      N customer care u can call from u r bsnl landline 1503 (from 10:30Am to 4:30Pm)
      So any problem can be solved tgere bcuz that number directly connects to near bsnl office
      N if still you have some problem thenn go for !dea

      • Saumik B February 2, 2014 10:25 am

        No boss… It doesnt – SMS to 53733 bounces back as ‘Not sent’. Tried to send SMS today as well, same tragic state. BSNL MH Circlr is a big mess

        • Zeeshan February 2, 2014 11:32 am

          Dont know
          But even i am from maharashtra circle using BSNL…yesterday nly i had done my data pack by deducting from my main balance by sending sms dstv139 to 53733 n it was activated after 15min…
          You try tomorrow calling 1503 from u r bsnl landline and say them u r problem they will resolve it…bcuz i was having problem that internet was not continues & speed was less i said them abt this they resolved it in 2days now working fine also speed increased to 4.6mbps!!

          • Saumik B February 2, 2014 5:44 pm

            Could u confirm your message centre number? Let me see if that is the same for me as well..

  • Abhijit February 2, 2014 12:01 am

    Error “The user(s) account is temporarily over quota” means that email account is present but th mail quota is full. if they delete some emails and free some mail space, mails will get delivered. Shame that BSNL is not even aware of this. Do they even login in the mail accounts?

  • Apurba February 1, 2014 8:24 pm

    “unless the audio is recorded which is in fact illegal in India.”

    audio recording is a criminal offence in India ? Really ? Conversation over phone is recordable, and why it should be ? Phone tapping is illegal i know. Bt i guess recording conversation over phone with someone is not illegal.

  • Dinesh jayakrishnan February 1, 2014 6:20 pm

    voting !! are you crazy … people should be selected on the basis of qualification and performance . i believe democracy is giving key to the better thief who can rob the country ;)

  • Rama February 1, 2014 5:19 pm

    Lets see what BP Singh has to say about this.

    • Bp Singh February 1, 2014 7:55 pm

      this is where we lack. It must be improved. Its good to see that TT raising good points to improve BSNL which is helpful for customers.
      Recently I came to know that BSNL has recommended all employees to read one of the article of TT.
      It means BSNL keenly see the valid points at TT.
      good work TT.

      • Rama February 1, 2014 8:38 pm

        @BP
        I and you we both know that this alone is not the problem with BSNL.What about network coverage,data speeds and data stability.As far as I know you used to say that we must complian to the higher authorities but when a given email to GM bounces back.How high do you expect me to go.BSNL screwed you in the wireless segment long back.But now they are even spoiling the wired or broadband segment.Thats what irks me the most.

      • sandeep February 1, 2014 8:52 pm

        @BP singh,

        I had raised issues regarding cust care 1503 which gives 55 mins of hold time and the errors causing failed transactions in bsnl portal to CMD.though they cascade it to the kerala circle office seldom does it get adddressed.Also even after the CMD redirecting the mail to the circle and trying still DND hasnt got activated on my phone.

        I want to ask you as to why even if customers like us try to inform you of the issues no concrete steps are being taken?

        • Akhil Mohan February 2, 2014 9:31 am

          Don’t expect miracles from BSNL. They will always function like this.

  • deepak kala February 1, 2014 4:51 pm

    yeah i have tried many times ! its been like this for more than a year !the point is they know it and after ur post too they wont do a thing about it!

  • tiani February 1, 2014 4:12 pm

    There should be democracy in BSNL…..
    Like we should vote for CMD of BSNL

  • Nirakar Panda February 1, 2014 3:56 pm

    Dear Mr. Chetan

    Thanks a lot for such a good study and bringing into the light.

    The said problem is very common and Old problem with BSNL. I found similar problem with the BSNL,Odisha when struggling high to get back the Deposit amount after surrender of the Landline connection.
    None of the Office mails(First level) was responded.
    only after several calls to their office I could get back the money refunded.

    Also I lodged several complaints at their online Site but absolutely ZERO response/result.

    if this is the level of caring to customer then how govt feels to make BSNL at par with the other Private operators???

  • kaju86 February 1, 2014 3:52 pm

    Sarkari. . . What more you can expect? Been chasing technical guy in bsnl who can rectify the 3G data connection drop issue in Gujarat. Tried to send mail to Exchange DE,SDE and even AM of Ahmedabad. Non of them replied. At last ported to vodafone.

  • Darshan February 1, 2014 3:41 pm

    I think 1 email sent by was wrong
    Its postmaster@bsnl.co.in & u sent to postmaster@bsnl.in

    • Chethan S February 1, 2014 3:42 pm

      I never sent emails to postmaster at bsnl. All those rejection emails come from that email ID. Towards the bottom of the screenshot you can see that the recipient is pg_ap_dgmop (at) bsnl.co.in

      • Darshan February 1, 2014 3:49 pm

        Ohh…
        Good blog…must say…
        i have never tried sending them mails to bsnl bcuz i know its of no use….

        • Vickky February 2, 2014 11:39 am

          @Darshan
          i took 4G sim of airtel & used on my iphone 5s but it is not working….
          Even i went to airtel office they idiot did not know how to operate 5s!..
          A phone was there near entrance they said to call 800 from there and ask what i wanted but it was some up person i didnot get his language even after he saying in hindi…
          Can u guide me how to activate 4G?….Like setting or any msg to send….

          • Darshan February 2, 2014 12:35 pm

            Sry Vickky dont know abt 4G anything