Sorry State of Affairs at BSNL – Customer Care misleads, Officials Redirect. The Ultimate test of Patience

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It all started on 27 April 2015 after I activated STV84, the BSNL Special Tariff Voucher that offers STD calls at 0.35 p/min via SMS Self Care. On 1 May I discovered that the voucher no longer worked and I was being charged base plan rates. The content that follows in the subsequent paragraphs will throw light on the hardships one might have to face if things start going wrong with a BSNL service.

Encounter with Customer Care (CC) at 1503

1 May 2015 -

  1. I call up customer care to explain my problem. While I could reach an agent in reasonable amount of time, I was actually irritated with the IVR as a caller is forced to listen to every key press instruction even if you know the number to be pressed! The agent informed me that STV84 is no longer valid and was discontinued long ago. I argue that if it gets activated it must also be valid for the entire duration. No solution at sight, call disconnected.
  2. I call once again after few hours, explain the issue for minutes together and agent agrees to take a complaint. I was told that someone would call me, the overcharged amount would be refunded and issue will be resolved in 24 hours. Finally some hope! :)02_19:13:51

2 May 2015 -

  1. I wait for the 24 hours to get over. Anyone who has dealt with BSNL customer care would know the value of 24 hours - Several times in the past I was asked to call after the completion of 24 hours when I tried calling earlier. After 24 hours elapsed, I ring up customer care. Old story again, STV84 is not available since February and so on. I ask for the call to be transferred to a superior but no one picks up.
  2. I call CC once again, give the complaint number and ask for status. Old story repeats but I insist on call transfer. It happens, superior explains the same thing but I argue stating that if the voucher could be activated over SMS and I was charged lesser last week, I have every right to expect it to work for entire duration of 84 days. He acts as if he understood my issue and promises help. He also went to the extent of telling his name (Shiva Kumar or something like that) and on request 'registers' a complaint and shares a docket number. Later, I found it to be invalid and I also didn't get an SMS with the information.02_19:29:10

I get a wind of doubt and login to BSNL Portal to check if STV-84 was indeed discontinued. As expected that STV was still being offered (as it was never discontinued in first place).02_15:26:32

Verdict about 1503 - CC agents are just incompetent - they have no clue of what they are responsible for and what BSNL offers. They just mislead customers. Their communication skills are sub-par.

Experience with GM level Officers

Now that I just can't watch my prepaid balance evaporate, with some hope left on BSNL's higher authorities, I start searching for their numbers. I find a list on BSNL AP Circle website and start calling them. To my disbelief almost every officer or their PAs gave me other numbers to call. I had to call all these numbers -

  1. 04023202388*
  2. 04027720707 - this officer forgot to mute his phone and was telling his colleague that customer care fails to answer most of the queries due to which calls are landing up on his phone. After a while he gave me a mobile number of a marketing CGM
  3. 9490111677*
  4. 04023243399*
  5. 04023202388*
  6. 04023202030*
  7. 04023201555*
  8. 04027812288*
  9. 04027817080*
  10. 04023201010 - this officer understood my issue and promised to help. I requested to expedite it.

* No description provided as they merely gave me the next number in the list or didn't answer my call.

04023206888 - I received a call from this number within 30 minutes and was asked to explain the issue all over again. He said he would do something to resolve though no time was specified. Back in 2012 I had faced a similar issue w.r.t. STV deactivation which was resolved in less than five minutes.

The issue is yet to be resolved. Now that tomorrow is Sunday I can't hope for a resolution from BSNL. Monday, may be I need to start all over again!

Ultimately I have lost -

  1. My prepaid balance and continue to lose it, don't know for how long
  2. Above all my time
  3. Coming to faith, I hardly have any left on BSNL

I must also add that this is not my first bad experience with BSNL. Read this post on DND Violation Complaint raised by me.

To the honorable Communications and IT Minister of India, R. S. Prasad and CMD, BSNL - 

If you happen to read this article please try to understand that your well meant efforts to revive BSNL will never be successful unless the officials at BSNL change their mindsets and work towards customer satisfaction. If someone like us who have some contacts and are aware of the general process, face hardships of this nature in resolving a small issue, just imagine the plight of common man. Also barring a few circles like BSNL Karnataka and Kerala, most BSNL circles are a customer's nightmare once they start facing issues.

For the record I am a long standing customer of BSNL - since 2011 in AP Circle and since 2008 in Karnataka Circle. A majority of my family members use BSNL services but most of them are getting increasingly dissatisfied with the services be it for poor broadband speed or poor 3G or indoor network coverage.

Lastly, I am just waiting for my prepaid balance to reach double digits after which I will port out to a private operator. While they may not be the best, at least they can't be as irresponsible or unprofessional as BSNL. Meantime if BSNL chooses to resolve my issue, it will take longer for me to port out as the balance will last longer!

Good luck BSNL! Hope you give me a reason to change my mind.


Update (05 May 2015): BSNL has re-activated the STV and refunded excess amount.

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