More than five years ago, when I was a student in India, I had acquired a home broadband connection from Reliance Communications. They offered a ‘fixed wireless terminal’ (FWT) solution which made use of their mobile wireless network to give internet access to homes without the need for any cables or ‘landlines’.
As I remember, neither the upload nor the download speed was anywhere close to what they promised. In other words, the Reliance broadband service sucked big time.
But wait – that’s not the reason for this post.
Back in 2004, I terminated their connection because I was leaving the country in search of a job in the Gulf. As per their termination process, I went to the Reliance Infocomm office in Kannur, Kerala (the one at Thavakkara, near Police Club – “Nikshan Associates”), and asked for a complete, final bill. I paid it down to the last rupee, got a receipt for my payment and surrendered the equipment (the FWT) back to them.
I proceeded to Bahrain and got employed there.
More than 6 months later, I got calls from my friends in India stating that they were repeatedly getting harassed by Reliance Infocomm recovery agents/debt collectors. They complained to me that these goons from Reliance kept calling them up telling them that I owe Reliance an amount of money in ‘unsettled bills’ and went to the extent of threatening my friends, who were never involved in this matter.
Either their entire billing system is flawed, and they are just too stupid – Or, this is a gimmick to penalize subscribers who terminated their pathetic service.
In other words, this was:
- Unsolicited communication to my friends who had nothing to do with reliance
- Unjustified act of personal insult/disrepute to me
My friends gave me the phone number of a lady who was repeatedly bothering them. I called up this lady (in Ernakulam) and gave her a piece of my mind. I told her the story about my termination of the line, and how I settled bills and returned the equipment. She apologized and promised that she will not call any more of my friends.
I also wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org about this disappointing experience – they merely replied that they forwarded my complaint to Kerala team and there was no response after that from anyone – despite repeated follow-ups.
Now, in 2009, more than 5 years after terminating my connection, I got a Lawyer Notice from P.R. Radhakrishnan & Associates, who happen to be their ‘legal’ associates. The Lawyer letter (produced below), in Malayalam language, states (threatens) that I owe Reliance Communications Rs. 2563.34(less than 54 USD) and if I don’t pay up, they’ll take me to court!
Well, can you beat that?
How many of you keep receipts for your paid telephone bills for a period of 5 years? Well, I don’t. And Reliance somehow guessed that – this means I have absolutely no proof to show in court – so they have taken me for a ride.
I did a simple search online, and found that there were hundreds of other people in various parts of India, who have fallen to similar scams from this seemingly ‘reputable’ telco giant.
Now, its not the $54 that I’m worried about it. It’s the harassment that they did to me and my friends, and the well-orchestrated scam that they are systematically carrying out.
Reliance Communications knows for sure that virtually nobody keeps records of paid phone bills for 5 years, and they are bent on penalizing subscribers who don’t take crappy service for long.
Now what do I do?
I live in a different region of the world, and my time just isn’t worth fighting a battle in an Indian court for $54 with no proof in my defense. The letter suggests that I make an ‘out of court’ settlement by paying the bill for Reliance + “legal fees” for their intimidating legal goons. That’s exactly what I’m doing now – let them go to hell with it. A cousin in India will meet them to settle the unfair dues, although not without a stinker.
This is not about $54. Multiply $54 with all customers that Reliance Communications have conned. This is how they make some extra revenue. And ‘P.R. Radhakrishnan & Associates’ is probably making a handsome amount out of this scam too, Rs. 750 legal fees for sending each letter, is not bad. 🙂
At the end of the day, I am a victim. The innocent consumer is the victim.
I’m writing this firsthand to let all Indian internet users know that Reliance Infocomm has a track record for such systematic malpractices waged against the dignity of self-respecting individuals – in short, they are a huge scam. So, if you are an unsatisfied Reliance broadband customer (which you would most likely be), and you want to terminate their service, make sure you keep a record of all your payments to them for at least 6 – 10 years. Also ask them to give you a ‘no dues’ certificate and keep it safe, especially if your payments are usually large amounts. Do it so that you have sufficient proof to defend yourself in court, when they take you to court 5 years down the line.
If you already got a Lawyer Notice, fight for truth – if you have the proof – or at least make it known to the world. You can post your comments/experiences below by clicking on ‘Comments’.
Here’s the Lawyer Notice I received:
Reliance: Kar Lo Duniya MITTI mein!