A month after my internet connection went on the blink, it has yet to be fixed. I've called the 1504 helpline dozens of times, and the divisional engineer almost as often. Mr Kore, head of the Shivaji Park side of operations, who returned from vacation a few days ago, has been the recipient of daily calls as well. Each time I speak to an officer, I have to explain anew the same details: number, address, nature of complaint. Not only do the MTNL chaps have no system to keep track of problems, they have personnel with serious memory deficiencies.
After failing to provide adequate service and costing me thousands of rupees thanks to transactions I couldn't complete online, the company has stuck me with substantial 'broadband usage charges'. This for a month during which its network barely functioned and in which I was abroad for two weeks. I have written to an address provided on the website asking for email contacts of top officers, but received no reply. The firm trumpets its internet services but doesn't have even a semblence of a web-based response. The 'live' assistance cell has apparently closed down, for if, after calling 1504, you hit option '3' for 'online help', you invariably get an apology message.
None of the big private companies has extended its service to my neck of the woods, else I'd have switched ISPs long ago. While I wait for Reliance and Airtel to bring their fat pipes to my doorstep, I'm hoping the new government initiates reforms which will allow the mass sacking of underperforming MTNL employees (which means, I'm guessing, about 90% of the workforce). Just two weeks ago, the company's officers in the capital went on a wildcat protest, switching off service to Delhi Airport, resulting in planes being grounded for hours. I'm through with being held hostage in this fashion by a bunch of lazy, corrupt clerks and linemen, and am even willing to give up the landline which was the family's only telecommunications device back in the bad old days of state monopoly and which remains the telephone number of choice for many old contacts.