Sunday, April 22, 2012

BSNL - Counting Miracles and not their Online Presence

This post was triggered by a desire to lodge a complaint about telemarketeers on our landline. I got a phone with caller id just so I could complain.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is possible to verify that our number is indeed in the dnd list. I had registered for DND a couple of years ago but the call center employee was clueless, so I was apprehensive about our number being in the list. It was.

Next step - file a complaint on BSNL's selfcare portal. The effort to do so reminded me of a story a friend had told me. He was flying in Europe - on a European airline and not Air India - and the service was lousy. He complained a couple of times and the stewardess just laughed and responded - "It's a miracle that we are flying".

It is indeed a miracle that my phone works. It has a broadband connection of 2MBPS which now streams videos without lengthy pauses, at least often enough that I do see some.

Even greater miracle was that the service engineer who came to fix a broadband issue knew how to configure a modem for Linux. Even linesman fixed a lose connection on the pole with no fuss. This is truly miraculous for anyone who had experienced BSNL service over a dozen years ago.

BSNL may have been technically one organisation, each circle or area had its own web services and with its own interface. Integration was inevitable. Even needing to create new accounts when the next level of integration occurred was tolerated, though the creation of new email id's led me to switch entirely to gmail. It is strange and sad that I found an ad supported service preferable to my ad-free email account.

Some time ago, I could  no longer find the data usage of my broadband account. There were 4 links to new self-service accounts based on regions. Unfortunately, our circle was not listed in any! We had to wait till our circle's billing was integrated with the region. Since I couldn't access it, I forgot about it. Anyway, my net usage had come down drastically for personal issues.

For reasons mentioned above, I was back at the self-service portal.

The self-care portal offered several ways to register my complaint:

  1. I could fill the general complaint form. I was using Firefox and submitting the form resulted in "The page isn't redirecting properly" error. I tried Chrome. The problem reported "Oops! Google Chrome could not connect to". The URL was obviously incorrect.
  2. May be I needed to login. I registered and tried to login. Result was the same as in 1. I tried fixing the URL. The result was better - "The requested resource does not exist." but there was an option to go to the main page, which was an alternate login page for the portal. With a minor difference. 
  3. It would not accept the credentials I had obtained via registration but offered its own registration page. This needed billing information. It was the same page as I had tried months ago but our circle's customers were now recognised. I successfully registered; but credentials will now be sent to me after verification. So, I will know after some time - days? - whether this method works.
In a few days, I may finally be able to lodge a complaint against the irritating insurance companies. Who knows, I may even be able to track my data usage on the broadband - at least until BSNL's new beta site goes live.

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