Reliance Communications: The Scam of the Millennium

by Shijaz Abdulla on 21.09.2009 at 23:57

image 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:

  • Breach of, (if not absence of) a Privacy Policy
  • 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 customercare@relianceinfo.com 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:

Untitled-1

Reliance: Kar Lo Duniya MITTI mein!

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16 Responses to Reliance Communications: The Scam of the Millennium

  1. Deep Ramachandran (via Facebook) says:

    DAMN! I did face sum bill as well as connectivity issues wid Reliance Broadband few years back, got rid of it den and dere itself….. oh boy, this is like ULTIMATE! I hope i don fall a victim…. else il personally go stuff the court order up Anil Ambani's Arse!

  2. Athresh Gangadharan (via Facebook) says:

    Its the same with all the service providers..had a hell of an experience with vodafone…those guys kept calling home even after i had closed the account 6 months back..In a sense its better 2 go back 2 the state owned service BSNL…thats wat i did n things ve been smooth till now!!

    n this is the least u can expect from the ambanis!!!
    god save india!!

  3. Srinivas Iyer (via Facebook) says:

    Goddamn!!!! This sucks..fuck those guys

  4. Sajeev Kumar (via Facebook) says:

    its not only for reliance, i had the same experience from BPL and now from vodafone too, finally i moved to BSNL

  5. Riyas Basheer (via Facebook) says:

    It's really unbelivable man….u hv this bad exp from one of indian service provider?
    Try to fight with this suckers if possible ….

  6. Shijaz says:

    I was told by one of my friends that the Thavakkara office of Reliance in Kannur doesn't exist anymore. I was told that they moved to a new location a few years ago after the office was stormed and damaged by angry subscribers 🙂

    I'm not surprised.

  7. babu says:

    Hi i do face the same problem Please forward me the copy . I collect this from all… then move collectively to stop this fraudulent service…

  8. Shijaz says:

    Hi Babu,

    Let me know how I can help. The copy of the letter is posted on this blog.

    Shijaz

  9. romie sunail says:

    i am a victim too. with their craping wimax net service. the connection was extremely crappy and i stopped using it. after 2 years i got the notice. 🙂 didnt have to wait 5 years as in ur case… legal and all. threatening sounding.

  10. renu says:

    Same story for me too. After 2 years of closing the connection i get a letter from this P R Radhakrishnan….I dont get any bill for 2 yrs and this comes up. Looks like reliance guys are in dire need of money :), people who get scared by such notices would go and give money and settle it. The experience with them was so bad that i keep away from all reliance products.

  11. I changed my mind since writing this post. I have still not made any payment as I consider it not the right thing to do as I don’t really owe them money. I’m going to wait and see what happens.

  12. FormerRCOMMCustomer says:

    Shijaz:

    IANAL.

    To the best of my knowledge, the statute of limitations for collecting a debt is 3 years as per the Indian Contract Act. However, if you acknowledge the debt and agree to pay it, the limitation period gets extended. Since you cancelled in 2004, the wanker can send you as many notices as he likes, so long as you admit nothing (on phone, liable to being recorded, or on paper), they’ll be thrown out right away if they ever go to court.

    What Reliance (more than any other provider) does instead is to continue sending you false and fraudulent bills for an year or more after you’ve cancelled the connection, and then try these tactics to “recover” it. Of course, even with this, they can submit claims in court only for the last 3 years.

    The only way to deal with it is to identify these agents personally, record all their bogus phone calls and to then submit complaints to the police (or to the local Magistrate if police fails to act). Offenses of criminal intimidation, (attempt to) cheating, and defamation are clearly made out. If the writer of the letter is actually a lawyer (its possible and even likely that he/she isn’t), complain to the state bar council about the bogus notice. I suspect you never heard from him again after that “legal notice”. Otherwise complain to the Bar Council and the police about impersonating a lawyer.

    I had a similar experience a couple days back. A phone call with the caller claiming to be a lawyer. She said that a case had been filed against me in the Patiala House Courthouse, it was due for hearing the same day and I would be fined Rs. 50,000/- if i didn’t clear my “unpaid dues” for an old Reliance FWT line, disconnected more than 5 years ago. Of course, in my case I was already aware of their shenanigans from the news and made sure I got a no-dues certificate from them while paying the final bill. AND I’ve kept it. So I just cut her off in a couple of minutes.

  13. Venugopal says:

    The same advocates “P R Radhakrishnan & Associates” are still at it for TATA. Just received a letter 2 days ago for an issue settled in an arbitration adalat in November 2009. Somebody should take this up and file a case against such advocates. Dont mind contributing to such a cause.

  14. Joseph John says:

    I too received a notice from the same lawyer yesterday, written and verbal disconnection notices where given to them last year end. No disconnection was done, but continued with their billing. Will take them to the consumer court.

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