So there is a communications company here in Mumbai called Reliance. It’s the largest communication company in India and claims to be the best and most convenient service in the country. Surprisingly, it isn’t. And here’s the rest of the story:
LAST MONTH, UPON ARRIVAL IN INDIA
“Wow,” I thought, “I am impressed that there is a reliable Internet connection in this new, developing country of mine. I can now download essential television shows like Project Runway and The Office. How convenient that my company has taken the initiative to set me up with Reliance Broadband in my home AND provide me with a 3G portable modem. I am so lucky to have such a reliable service available to me.”
A WEEK AGO
Our mail is delivered several times a week at school. Last week, I discovered two bills: phone, Internet. I happily paid my LOOP phone bill online and was anxious to use the Internet to pay my Internet bill. Imagine my surprise when, upon logging on, I was met with a message saying the my service had been suspended due to late payment.
“Ok,” I thought, “this is exactly why I logged on! Oh look! How convenient! There is a link here for quick bill pay. I will just click, enter my credit card info, and continue enjoying surfing the web (or downloading episodes 7, 8, 9 of Project Runway. This is so easy!”
So, I clicked. This is what happened:
Reliance Broadband Online Automated Response System (RBOARS): Enter PIN
Me: PIN? Hmm…I don’t see anything on this bill that says, “PIN.” Could they possibly be asking for the CIOU Code?
Me: (quizzically) Do they mean Relationship Number?
Me: (charmingly)Do they mean Bill Number?
Me: (solemnly) How about my Reliance Number. Certainly that’s it.
Me: (placidly) Could it be my Reference Number? IT HAS TO BE THE REFERENCE NUMBER!
Me: (calmly reaching for the phone) Surely the customer service number will help me figure out my PIN so that I can pay my bill. I’ll try them.
RBOARS Computer Phone Voice (RBOARSCPV): Please enter your Customer ID number.
“Ok,” I thought. So, not at all aggressively, I pressed in what I could only assume was my Customer ID number. A number scribbled on a piece of notebook paper by the guy who came to hook up the Internet a month earlier.
RBOARSCPV: Please type in your PIN.
Me: (responding in an appropriate tone of voice) Oh for goodness sake! I am not in possesssion of a PIN. I wonder if any of the numbers written on the bill will work.
Happily, I proceeded to type in all possible numbers and was denied access every time. After hours of punching in numbers I tired of the issue and decided to watch the first of three Back to the Future movies and go to bed. I figured Melwin, our school’s answer to Ask.com, would know how to fix the problem. I was not wrong.
THE NEXT DAY
Me: Melwin, I can’t log on to pay my bill and when I call they ask for a PIN that I don’t have. Can you help?
Melwin: Yes ma’am, no problem.
Me: Great. Thanks Melwin, you are a prince!
LATER THAT SAME DAY
Phone rings. It’s Melwin.
Melwin: Hi ma’am. The reason you can’t pay your Internet bill is because all the numbers on the bill you have is for the portable modem stick. You have to pay that through the school. Your home account doesn’t exist because it’s under the name Solomon Senrick. They have been sending your bill to him so you need to ask him what your PIN is in order to pay your bill.
Melwin: Evidently, when the man came to hook up your Internet last month, they used an old sheet of paper that had Sol’s information on it. So they processed the bill as Sol, not as you. You don’t have access to pay your bill.
Melwin: It’s ok ma’am, no problem. I will pay the bill and sort it out for you. Your Internet should work in an hour.
Me: Thank you Melwin. I will pay you tomorrow. How did this happen?
Melwin: It’s India ma’am, how does anything happen?
Me: (smiling) Good question. See you tomorrow, and thank you a hundred times.