Book Review: Heads You Win

BSNL shifting woes

I had a BSNL landline from Jan 2001. When broadband became popular, I became a BSNL broadband user as well. The bandwidth was good, the downtime was few and there were hardly any complaints - in fact, probably once or twice, which were addressed through calls to 1500, the Call Center number.

So, when I shifted my residence, it was only logical that I shift my existing phone connection, rather than go for a new one. My dad had shifted his BSNL connections in Cochin and it had happened in a day. This should be easy, I thought.

I shifted my residence on Friday, the 13th March 2009. On Saturday, 14th March, I went to BSNL Indira Nagar office to apply for the shift. I saw shamianas put up before the office, with schemes and offers to attract new customers.

"Shifting? Go inside to the other side, Sir" I got inside.

"Second saturday, Sir. We don't work. Come between 10 to 5 on working days".

Fair enough.

On Monday, 16th March 2009, at 10 AM, I was in 3rd floor Reception.

"I need a form to shift my telephone".

"No form. Just write a letter", says the person in the counter.

Ah, as simple as that! I write out a letter, mention that my phone has broadband and that needs to be shifted as well. I hand it over in the counter and get an acknowledgement.

"Sir, your number will change, since it is a shift to a different exchange".

"Okay. How long will this take?"

"Maybe a week. You can come here and check".

Uh! come here and check. No phone number to call?

Off, I went and office took up the whole week.

Saturday, 21st March and I was back in the counter.

I get a slip from the Reception on the "status of the shift" and am asked to meet a person in Ground Floor. I go there and meet a lady. "Why have you come to me? Your old connection is not disconnected. Go talk to xxx in 4th floor."

I go to 4th floor. "Hmm! this should have been done. Why don't you talk to the Area Manager?"

Sure, I will. I walk in to the Area Manager's office. His PA is kind. "Please take a seat".

After a few minutes, I am talking to the Area Manager. "See, the problem is, it is the year -end".

"Year end? I am not disconnecting. All I am doing is a shift."

"You see, the shift is disconnecting from one exchange and a new connection in another. You see, we have provided sufficient ports in your apartment. So you should have no problems getting the connection."

"Sir, I have been a loyal BSNL customer for 8 years and you treat me like this. I have a good mind to throw the telephone on your face and go".

"Give me two days sir, and your work will be done."

I come back and to my pleasant surprise a couple of linemen come home. What do you know? Maybe, the Area Manager has some power after all. They check and ensure the line is working.

They hang around, refusing to leave. "Give us something sir".
"Something? Phone is still not working. You have just checked the lines."
"It will work, Sir! We will inform the exchange and you should get the dial tone. Only two days back, we gave 5 connections in this apartment".

I give them Rs.100/-. "Can you give your cell number, so I can call?"

"No, we cannot do that. However, we do come regularly to the apartment. So rest assured."

Monday comes, so does Tuesday. When I dial my old number, I get the message "This telephone is under shift.". However, no dial tone in my new home.

Saturday, 28th March 2009 comes. I am in 3rd Floor Reception. I get the "slip". I look around for the lady in the Ground Floor, in charge of the exchange where my home is. No luck here.

I am back in Area Manager's office. He is busy on phone. "I need 150 connections in Whitefield Area. Give them targets. I need this."

He sees me. The "Divisional Engineer" is also in the room.

"Sir, my phone shift has not happened. You said last week".

Divisional Engineer: "It will happen. What is your apartment? Hmm! is it feasible here?"

"Sir, Area Manager says it is feasible. Others have connections here".

"When will it happen sir."


"Tomorrow is Sunday. Do you work on Sundays?"

"We work 365 days a year".


To be continued