Dis-service Providers: BSNL
On 15th May, I lost my husband of 59 years, at the end of his prolonged and painful illness. I was also suffering from major health problems myself, and was due for knee replacement surgery. The process of obtaining a death certificate from the municipal corporation proved to be a series of endless hassles. For a fortnight, we were made to run around, from one office to another, just to get the death certificate.
 
What proved to be the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back, was harassment by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) that keeps sending me bills for a landline that I surrendered in April. That landline had not been working for over three months but I decided finally to let it go, being busy with a sick husband who was in and out of hospital. 
 
Instead of returning my deposit amount, BSNL is now deducting bill amounts from the deposit, although I have cleared all dues. 
My queries have brought only a deafening silence as response. 
 
And this is a 'service-provider'?
 
My queries sent to various high-ranking officials have not been answered. Some bounce, saying 'undeliverable'.
 
Where does an aggrieved customer turn?
 
Some time ago, there were reports of 54,000 employees of BSNL being laid off. 
 
Their ‘promotional’ messages also say that those opting for paperless bills (online) will get a discount of Rs10 per bill. I have not received a printed bill for several months, but I do not see any 'discount' on the amounts being charged. 
And for good measure, each successive bill is for a higher amount – although the land line has not been in use for months.
 
In the meantime, BSNL keeps sending promotional announcements about BSNL Care. Month after month. 
 
Really, BSNL Cares? Does it? What a cruel joke! 
 
I also keep getting promotional messages urging me to “subscribe to BSNL Cinema Plus, for unlimited entertainment.” 
No, thank you very much. 
 
Or perhaps, I will need 'entertainment' to calm me down, after each time my blood pressure shoots up on seeing my deposit amount getting reduced by 'monthly' charges (for a connection that does not exist).  
 
As a consumer activist, I have heard complaints about how BSNL dilly-dallies in returning deposit amounts, but 'deducting monthly charges' is a novel ruse.
 
With mobile numbers becoming more and more compulsory for a variety of tasks (from booking cooking gas to paying tax), demand for landlines is declining and, therefore, profits from  providing landline connections  decline – so, deduct from deposits, even when a landline is surrendered  so that the deposits may not have to be returned ? 
 
If that is not the real reason, shouldn’t customers have a right to proper explanations? Isn’t that a basic entitlement? Citizens’ four basic rights include choice as well as redress; without access to redress when a customer is aggrieved, there is no justice whatsoever.
 
Service-providers, especially those under public sector ownership (like PSU banks and telecom services) have an obligation to uphold users’ basic rights. We keep hearing of PSU banks going in the red and merging and being bailed out. Now is it the turn of telecom service-providers? When the number of customers/ users runs to millions, why are we, the public, failing to raise our voices when accountability is tossed out, and grievances are not heard or heeded, or attended to?
 
(Dr Sakuntala Narasimhan is a Bengaluru-based senior journalist, writer, musician and consumer activist. She received the government of India national award for consumer protection, twice (1994 and 2000) and is a former Vice president of the Consumer Guidance Society of India, Mumbai. She is also a renowned senior vocalist in both traditions of Indian classical music - Hindustani and Carnatic, an A-graded artiste of All India Radio in both traditions.) 
 
Comments
daksha.bhat
5 months ago
BSNL is not allowing us to cancel our dysfunctional broadband over the phone / email etc. They want us us to go stand in the queue at their office and contract and spread Covid-19. Undigital mismanaged organisation run by well fed unconcerned people.

I too had faced the same problems of non-return of deposit when I needed to get my deposit back some years ago, on two occasions, in Vadodara. After multiple visits just gave up.

As long as customer satisfaction does not underly promotion and increments at all levels this will keep happening.
Dilip Modi
5 months ago
Yes mam, I have recceived the same treatment from MTNL Mumbai. The land line went dead as did the ADSL some time duing rains in July 2020. Automated complaint registration, follow up to automated tracking announcement, e mails to literally every person in MTNL hierachy and finally giving up the service in Nov 2020. Yet the MTNL bills continue to arrive to this day despite sending registered paper mail, retunng the bill and enclosing previous mail cancelling the service! But no response. I understand even the contract staff who were hired by MTNL to plug all the voluntary retirement resouce have downed tools of late. Still get e mails advocating use of self help portal!!!!
tillan2k
5 months ago
BSNL is acronym BEKAR sanchar net ... promotional messages they ar ecomputer generated BSNL has no control . top brass of BSNL is busy in extracting off balance sheet entitlement . I tis same in all PSU employment platform for other unemployables
datta.pk2003
5 months ago
I am also facing same problem of getting my dues refunded by BSNL kolkata office.I wrote the local exchange,I wrote to their chief of finance,I wrote to CGM,I wrote to a no of GMs,I wrote to secy,DOT,GOI,I wrote to MIC,GOI,28 mail communications without any effect.Finally,I wrote to the PM,India for redressal.Let me see what is the outcome.The bsnl officials even ignored the letters to the minister with copies to them.This is our Indian Govt and it's subsidiaries.Very sorry state of affairs.
aqua30109
5 months ago
They are just money sucking and want public money for not working..This is their modus operandi..my colleagues and self surrendered atleast 50 connections of BSNL in a day and every one of us is still getting a bill after 2 months..forget about return of money. This is the sad reality of government agencies..BSNL needs to close down. They don't want to work and behave like babus...pathetic company..no work but pay on time and even if they go in loss then bail them out and in return just bunch of lies in their services.
vaibhavdhoka
5 months ago
I surrendered my BSNL landline in October 2017 with proper receipt for instrument surrendered.I was keeping regular follow up,with no sign of refund.Then I took up grievance on pg.portal.gov in.Here also I twice received mail from GM BSNL that refund will be issued shortly but no action still I regularly at bimonthly interval took matter on pg portal and 8 months back received refund after 3 years.Keep persuing matter.
kpushkar
5 months ago
I had same issue with Tata telecom.. Did not return the deposit in spite of many reminders
I was fed up and considered it as donation finally
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