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Staying connected

Telephone was one of the most revolutionary inventions of the 19th century. And today, phones have become the mainstay of our lives.

india Updated: Aug 16, 2006 12:06 IST

Telephone was one of the most revolutionary inventions of the 19th century This great invention by Alexander Graham Bell is indeed a blessing. Today, phones have become the mainstay of our lives.

It’s just as we eat and drink. It is no longer a luxury but a necessity. In the past decade the telecom industry has seen a major revolution. During my childhood the only player in the telecom industry was the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL).

I grew up listening to the horror stories from my elders about how it would take months to get a single phone connection. But the picture changed in the mid-90s when India witnessed telecom revolution with the advent of mobile phones. Private telephone service providers like Tata, Reliance, Bharati and Hutch were allowed to compete with MTNL.

Since then it has been no looking back for the private players as the monopoly of MTNL was shattered. At this point of time, we were glad that MTNL will have a run for their money since they will have to face a stiff competition from the private players where the ultimate winner will be the customer.

But little did we realise that everything that glitters is not gold. One fine spring evening, about two years ago, my father called up the customer care service of a private phone operator. He was greeted with a warm welcome on the other side and was patiently answered.

All his queries got a prompt reply. We were floored by the facilities they were providing us. We were offered various customer-friendly tariff plans including broadband internet connection, a landline set with caller identification and various other services.

We were easily swayed into their trap. We went ahead and within hours we were the proud owners of a private landline connection. For the initial few months we were quite satisfied with the service, until we started getting inflated bills and realised we were actually paying much more than  what we were using.

There was no logical reason behind these inflated bills since no one in my family is hooked on to the phone endlessly. Repeated complaints to the customer care executives only proved futile. Almost two years after paying more than what we utilised we finally decided to give up the connection. But getting the phone disconnected was another ordeal for us. 

Our requests to disconnect the phone fell on deaf ears. The company was not ready to loose a customer. They kept on pressurising us to continue using their service and even offered the rental free connection. But we were adamant and blatantly refused all their offers.

We were convinced that accepting their offer will only burn a deeper hole in our pocket. They kept us sending bills despite surrendering the connection. It seemed that we had no choice but to bear the brunt of their lack of professionalism. As luck had it, we got to know someone in the telecom department and could finally settle the matter.

Finally, after a couple of months persuasion and persistence we obtained the letter of cancellation for the connection. For years I had hated MTNL for their indifferent behaviour towards their customers.

But as they say the grass is always greener on the other side. I realised that MTNL being a public enterprise serves the nation in a much better way compared to our private operators who are interested only in making money and increasing their numbers.

Today, I proudly use an MTNL connection and have no qualms as such.

(The writer is a student of Delhi University)