A dinosaur called BSNL

The Internet has made our lives easier. Right? You’d think so if you consider the things we can do slouching at our desks — banking, paying bills, keeping up with our social lives, shopping…

Personally, the ability to pay bills online is the one aspect I am particularly grateful for. Gone are the days of standing in unending queues and grappling with surly employees trying to pay your electricity or telephone bill month after month after month. The other convenience is registering change of address. For nomads like me who are compelled to change residence every few years, this becomes a massive project. From the bank to the credit card company to the telephone company to the Internet service provider… A few years ago it involved running all over the city, but now, all you need is an Internet connection or a phone.

In the wake of all this, however, one institution has remained blissfully inefficient: BSNL. The Bangalore Telecom website is itself a horror in design, but otherwise looks fairly innocuous. Till, that is, one tries to do anything half useful.

In possession of a wireless EVDO Internet connection, I have tried in vain to find one scrap of information on it on their website. There also appears to be no central helpline for EVDO subscribers, and one usually gets kicked around from number to number to find someone who can put together a coherent answer. (A better option is to use one of the unofficial sites.) Six months after shifting residence I have yet to have my billing address changed. It requires one to present oneself at a particular telephone exchange, armed with a letter asking for an address change. As to where exactly one has to go… the helplines seem rather vague about it and unable to provide a full address. (The funny thing is is, even my bank and credit card company accept a change of address over the phone.)

Thankfully, it doesn’t make a difference at the end of the day as I can automate the bill payment via my bank account or credit card. I can also view my bill on the BSNL site, though I cannot have it e-mailed to me because, it tells me, “You have no number in your profile.” Erm… oo-kay.

Finally, guess what happens if you forget your password to your online billing area? I quote:

Approach nearest BSNL’s customer service centre with a letter signed by the owner of the phone, giving details of your phone like phone number, consumer number, user name etc.

Tell me: laugh or cry?


2 Replies to “A dinosaur called BSNL”

  1. Laugh. Seriously. That’s the only way to live through BSNL nightmares. My BSNL phone bill doesn’t show up half the time, and then one has to go to their office, join the queue at the duplicate bill counter (yes, I say queue – apparently I’m not the only one they don’t send bills to), and then join the other, considerably longer, queue at the check payment counter to finally pay the bill. But this being Cal, people are uniformly helpful and friendly, albeit confused, so that helps somewhat.

  2. Well, Airtel has been doing that absent bill thing lately, but at least you can find out your dues through the IVR and pay it at any of their outlets.

    (By the way, I still haven’t had the courage to go to BSNL!)

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