I am a victim of the Sify Broadband scam in Delhi

Here is the letter I sent to Sify contact points in Delhi yesterday. It chronicles my Sify broadband experience here in Delhi.

From: Sandip Bhattacharya <sandip AT lug-delhi.org>
To: Sanjay Bhandari <sanjay_bhandari @sifycorp.com>
     , Puneet Sharma <puneet_sharma @sifycorp.com>
     , anamika <bbcoordinator_delhi @sifycorp.com>
Cc: India Gii <india-gii AT cpsr.org>
Subject: Official complaint - My sify experience and a request for refund
Date: Fri, 04 Mar 2005 14:21:23 +0530
Mailer: Evolution 2.0.2 (2.0.2-3)

I had applied for a sify connection exactly a week ago, and paid a
cheque on the same day. I got this connection via your franchisee
Indraprastha Infotech at IP Extention (Patparganj), Delhi.

It first took me scores of calls to them for convincing them to actually
install at my premises. They happen to have a base station in the same
apartment, and adding my line actually took them about one hour. But it
still took them four days to come over and set up my connection(the
person who collected the cheque promised to do it in two days).

During installation at my residence, the service people saw that there
were losses in the line. However they went back saying that the problem
was elsewhere and promising that the problem would get solved soon.

It took another round of repeated calls to Indraprastha to provide me
with my login id. I logged in to my account that night and saw my
balance to be Rs. 885 (as compared to the Rs. 995 I paid for advance
monthly rental, but that is a separate story).

Since this Monday, I have probably been online only about 20-30 minutes.
The network gateway has continuously been inaccessible to me.

I have been calling your reseller several times every day. Either he
gives me some white lie about sending some people over to my place, or
he simply keeps his phone switched off (especially after 6pm).

The non-MTNL customer care number on your broadband web page, doesnt
work ("number does not exist"). I had changed my network card the day
before yesterday. After that, when for a moment, the gateway became
accessible and I tried to login, I was given the message that my
"computer ID" has changed. There was a phone number in the error
message. Thankfully, that number worked and I could call up sify
customer care. (Why isnt this number on the website?)

I was told by the customer care executive that you implement mac
binding, and the executive reset my mac address. I could log in, but
while I was talking to the person, the gateway again became
inaccessible. Since then I have made repeated calls to sify customer
care, and they have promised to send somebody to see to my problem but
nothing has happened yet.

Your franchise is still inaccessible. When I visited their office
sometime back, none of their internet related personnel were present.
They run a cable tv network too, and these people asked me to come
sometime later. Even if I call them now, they either put me on hold (and
manually disconnect me after 5 minutes) or they keep the phone switched

Now my situation is this: I had an existing cable internet connection
before sify (hotwire) that I planned to give up after moving to sify.
But considering what is happening, and considering my feeling that sify
is totally unsuitable and unreliable for my needs, I still need to hang
on to that connection.

So this month,
1. I have already paid sify for setting up my connection Rs. 1300.
2. I have paid sify for a full months rental in advance  Rs.  995.
3. I will be paying hotwire their monthly rental         Rs.  880.

The local hotwire reseller has the sweet habit of switching off the
network whenever he runs out of power backup or there is a chance of a
thunderstorm (to prevent his equipment getting damaged from electrical
problems). So in these cases, I have to switch to dialup. My last
month's dialup internet charges was Rs. 650. (I see some clouds outside
today :( )

So thanks to sify I would be spending Rs. 3825 this month for an always-
off "broadband" and an actually dialup connection.

I have had enough of Sify. I have yet to see a trace of professionalism
and reliability in its offerings. I would request you to refund my money
and disconnect my connection, so that my losses are minimized.

Thank you,
 Sandip Bhattacharya

P.S. I am also sending this mail to a prominent all india telecom
mailing list so that the members there are also sensitized about how
Sify actually works in practice.

Update June 26 2005: Since the posting of this entry, I have been called up by somebody from Sify after about 2-3 months of the above incident happening. The Sify rep had called up to say that the networking problems have been fixed and I can resume my connection again(after 2+months!). This is apart from the calls I kept getting from them every month reminding me to renew my connection! Oh yes, before I forget, none of the people I had mailed the above ever reverted back. Of course, none of us are surprised, right?

I had also been called up by a prominent TV channel about whether I would like to appear in a televised consumer court serial where Sify personnel will listen to my complaint and resolve it “on the spot”. Sadly, I had to decline because I am convinced that Sify can never improve - their whole model is faulty, and till they change the model they can’t improve. Depending on unsupervised, untrained and unprofessional local franchises to manage a sophisticated neighbourhood network is never going to work. And people like Mr. Nangia (the Sify franchise I had unfortunately dealt with) are living examples of why Sify will and should fail.

This and my other page on Sify are thankfully on one of the first pages on popular Web searches for terms like “Sify broadband delhi”, and I am glad that people are visiting this place and learning how this company works. No company should underestimate the power of the common man, and of the web!

I would request other people having various kind of experiences with Sify to add their details below. It doesn’t necessarily have to be negative. In fact, if some people can post positive (but genuine) experiences, I think this will give a balanced view of the company.

Moving on to Sify (not)broadband The Sify broadband India-wide scam