Pathetic Tata Indicom Broadband service in Delhi

Seems that my blog is turning out to be a general gripe column. I don’t think I should be blamed for it though. Our country is full of technology companies who are only out to fleece people. When you use the services of a company who considers quality of customer service as a variable business decision, you know you have seen a company who is just after your money.

After my awful experience with Sify, I decided to try out Tata Indicom. I was under the naive assumption that Sify’s franchise model and lack of any quality control on their franchisees is the reasons behind their pathetic existence. But Tata Indicom proved me wrong – they showed that even owning your own network with your own people managing it, is no reason to provide a bare minimum level of service.

Here is my track record with Tata Indicom Broadband.

  1. I applied for a connection on 10th of June, and paid money for their router based connection. I finally got it installed and working on 28th or 29th. Almost three weeks to get a connection! That is pathetic by *any* ISPs service. However, I was happy that my connection was up at least.
  2. For about 10 days the connection went well.
  3. From the third week onwards I started seeing losses in the last mile. I started actively monitoring the line quality using smokeping. Here is the graph for those few days.
  4. I file a complaint. There was a person here next day, and for a moment i was impressed. However, the impression was shortlived. The tech support guy listened to what I had to say, looked at my graphs, didn’t believe me, and started a ping from my computer to the local DSLAM peer. He saw the losses in line and said that he will escalate it to his senior.(Couldn’t this have been checked from the NOC itself?). But what happened later was priceless. The guy sat there at the computer and logged into his company trouble ticketing system and started making notes of his assignments for the rest of his day. After 15 minutes, I decided that I have been polite enough and told him to take his personal work elsewhere. He asked for two *more* minutes, and left after that.
  5. On 24th July, my line went down completely. I waited for it to come up, and finally filed a complaint on 25th morning that my link was down. What happened next was surreal. I kept calling up customer care, and they kept promising to send a reminder to the tech team, and assured that the problem will be solved with 24 hours. It has been eight 24 hours since then, and connection is still down. In between I got two calls from some lady who wanted to ask me independently if it is still down, and promised to send a guy to my place. I kept myself to the house all day, but nobody appeared.
  6. Today morning I got a call from another guy who asked me if my complaint about the losses in line(filed two weeks back) has been solved. If he had been physically in front of me, I would have strangled him.

What I didn’t realize while taking the connection, was that Tata Indicom Broadband is just Dishnet DSL with a new name, and it comes with Dishnet DSL’s “renowed” or shall we say notorious service record. Right now, in my last five weeks of subscription, the line has been unusable for two – that makes it a 20% downtime!

Oh yes, for all those on a bandwidth capped plan, watch out for Tata Indicom’s totally screwed up IP accounting! Thank goodness that I have an unlimited connection. Their account system actually shows that I have downloaded 5GB in these last five weeks that I have been a subscriber(remember? that I have actually used it for about two weeks?) The only heavy downloads I do is Debian, windows and anti-virus security updates! And this is priceless – on 25th, when i filed a complaint about my line being down (which they acknowledged), I am supposed to have downloaded 150MB of data. Of course, my reporting this got me another trouble ticket number, which I am pretty sure is right down in their list of priorities. But for those on a bandwidth capped account from them, … my sympathies.

I am again in the market looking for a good DSL provider, and I see none in the capital of the country! Keeping my fingers crossed, I looked at MTNL’s plans again .. but no, they still haven’t changed their laughable download limits in their plans (256kbps with a bandwidth cap of 400MB, anyone?)

Meanwhile I am spending hundreds every day on the dialup again, for the last one week.๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Update – 3 August 2005: Thanks to Shushubh for mirroring this experience of mine.

Biting the “broadband” bullet again – Tata Broadband in Delhi

After my terrible experience with Sify broadband early this year, I decided to stick to dialup – Reliance rconnect over FWP actually. But the idea of keeping a phone busy all day doesn’t appeal to me much even if the plan I have (Platinum) doesn’t have download caps or per minute call charges.

So today I decided to bite the “broadband” bullet once again, and registered for a Tata Broadband connection. I have already voiced my dissatisfaction over its rental plans, but relented after finding out that it has the best to offer in my area (even MTNL plans are pathetic).

Lets us see how my experience goes this time. The Tata Broadband DSA was very sincere, helpful and forthcoming, and if things goes well I would really recommend my neighborhood folks to contact this man. Unlike VSNL’s official line of installing within a week, he has asked me to be realistic and wait for at max 10-11 days. I found this kind of candour unusual for a sales guy, and am hoping that I am not disappointed with the experience for other reasons. Unlike Sify which uses totally unprofessional and uncouth last mile franchisees, VSNL provides end-to-end installation and service on its own. I find this assuring, to say the least.

Update: June 23 2005: It has been almost two weeks since I paid up, but no connection yet. Seems my naive enthusiasm was misplaced. I had called up customer care about a week back, and the agent had promised somebody would get back to me in 24 hours. OF course they didn’t. Contacted the DSA today. He apologized for the delay, and mentioned some vague excuses like “…some port problem …” etc. He promised that the installation would happen in a week. Lets see. I am not holding my breath. They are all the same … (sigh). I cannot but help comparing with the new MTNL phone connection that I had got. I had applied for a new connection on last Thursday, the phone was installed at my residence in 24 hours,and activated within 48 hours, the delay only because some really extensive cable relaying work happening in my locality. Now if only MTNL had some decent broadband plans … (sigh again).

Update: June 26 2005. Got a call from some rep from VSNL yesterday. The lady had called up to inform that my connection will be done in a week. One *em>more week! (sigh)

Update: July 5 2005. Eep. Forgot to update this post in time. I finally got the connection installed on 29th of June. So it took 18 days from paying money to getting the thing installed. It sucks, but the connection is making me happy.๐Ÿ™‚ 64kbps is not as bad as I thought for my needs. The router given to me sucks though – some cheap Chinese brand. Thankfully supports customized NAT rules so that I can have bittorrent and other apps working inside the LAN. However, from time to time it locks up (about once a day), and has to go through a power cycle before it is ok again. The connection has relatively been stable, and ping times are about 350ms to my server, which is nice compared to what I have been going through the last few months. Overall a strong recommendation.

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>
To: Sanjay Bhandari <sanjay_bhandari>
     , Puneet Sharma <puneet_sharma>
     , anamika <bbcoordinator_delhi>
Cc: India Gii <india-gii AT>
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

Inspite of my contempt for their loathsome Internet fleecing plans, I had to reluctantly sign up for a Sify cable internet plan today. Cost me a neat pile for installation and pre-payment for one month. The most painful part of this transition is going back to a NAT-ted private IP. This means no more gnomemeeting, no more yahoo voice/video chat, no more Bittorrent, no more gnutella/fasttrack/openft and other P2P networks, no more logging into my home machine when stranded outside my home office to retrieve a document I left at home. (sob)๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The plan was too irresistable. Just introduced a couple of days back, the plan is 128kbps with a daily download cap of 150MB – all for Rs. 995.

I was also getting terminally sick from the awful Hotwire cable Internet service, whose downtime was causing me permanent heart burn.

I clarified beforehand that Sify has a Linux login client. The sales person also promised that they dont block any outgoing port but I would take that claim with a pinch of salt.

Madhu’s Shiok far eastern restaurant in bangalore

All those who know me, realize very well how much food excites me. I am passionate about (eating) it, though. But there are some people like Madhu Menon, who takes really shows what being passionate about somethings in life is all about. Madhu left his IT job about an year back and opened up his own restaurant in Bangalore, specializing in far-eastern cuisine. Now those are two things I truly admire – the strength to do things in life which you really really like, and of course being involved in the food art business. (Food is an art form, right?). Just to lend him a helping hand, and to express him the very best …

If you’re in Bangalore, please visit Madhu’s new restaurant, Shiok Far-eastern Cuisine, that serves good Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Singaporean food. The restaurant is on CMH Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore.

Speaking of far-eastern and other eastern food, yesterday’s Hindustan Times had a scathing report by Maryem Reshi on the abomination that Mark Pi is. My heart is sadistically gladdened by the report. I hate the guts of restaurants which try to skim off a booming market by using fancy restaurants in posh malls, but with such pathetic offerings. Given the influence of these food critics, I hope Mark Pi either dies out or changes for the better (they have just five non-veg and five-veg items in their menu!!!). Wok Express and Yo China! give much better value for money and a much more varied menu. No wonder, every month, the noisy Delhi LUG folks are found there in the evening after their LUG meet.

BTW, that was just a different chain of thought. I had no intention of clubbing Shiok with these fast food chains๐Ÿ˜› . If anything, the restaurant website is extremely informative about the pains taken to provide truly authentic food. And yes, if you are a foodie, dont miss the blog of the chef himself out there!

Update ( October 16 2004): A few hours back I got a pleasant surprise when Karana Verma, the CEO of Mark Pi India, called me up about my quite strong comments in this blog. He very sportingly appreciated my feedback, and asked me for the reasons behind my strong disapproval of his restaurant chain. When I pointed out the lack of options in the menu, he informed me that as of yesterday, Mark Pi has launched a new menu with more items. He did claim that Mark Pi had 50+ items in their menu, which might probably be true for Mark Pi worldwide. He even invited me to have a meal with him sometime so that he can introduce me to some items on his menu that I might not be aware of. He ended the call on a very emphatic note saying that “I DONโ€T WANT MARK PI TO DIE โ€“ NEVER โ€“ will never let it also”, and that the 80+families behind Mark Pi will only make it better.

I really appreciate restaurant owners taking pains to look for feedbacks, and ways to make their restaurants better. With such an attitude I dont think any restaurant can fail, ‘coz my firm belief is that the only restaurants which fail are those who have lost touch with their clientele.

I am looking forward to visit Mark Pi again in the next couple of days to try out their new menu.