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Thursday, March 17

The Saga of Static IP

Recently we decided to get a static IP for our office broadband connection. We are a long time Airtel customer and usually not very annoyed with their service. They are quick to respond to complaints and things mostly work as they should.

We placed a request for a static IP and were told that it would require a 1 hour downtime to set up. 1 hour is no big deal and so we asked them to go ahead. Our connection went out at around 5pm on Thursday evening. Someone was coming to set up the router for static IP.

The person arrived at 9pm and started configuring the router confidently. We were hoping it to be a fairly quick and smooth process but suddenly the disaster struck! The 4-5 steps which he had been taught didn't get the link up. After that it was one hour of him calling various people, trying out some really weird configurations and generally hitting refresh. After struggling with it for 1 hour, he told us that our router did not "support" the static IP. He promised to come back next day morning with another router. However he would not be able to come before 11-12pm. So much for a 1 hour downtime!

Next day morning, we were running the office on our mobile 3G connections and a Reliance Net Connect stick and waiting for him to turn up. When I called him up at 11, he said that he had a meeting in the morning and won't be able to come. He was sending someone else. This other person came around lunch time, managed to get the Internet running but the router he brought was not a wireless router. We had a wireless router earlier and half of our machines run on wireless. We didn't have enough cables to connect all the machines. He again promised to come back with a wireless router soon. I had a hunch that I am making a mistake believing him but had no option. Our office had wires all around now with half of the machines off the network.

When we called him next day, pet came the reply that the wireless router is out of stock. They had no idea when it would be back in stock and when could they give us one. Remember that we have actually paid extra to Airtel to get a wireless router. We lodged another complaint with the customer service. They promised to resolve it by the evening but it was clear from their tone that they really don't consider this a serious problem. As a result of the complaint we again got couple of calls from local guys and they repeated the excuse that the wireless router is not in stock. Now I would have readily believed them if there was even an iota of sincerity in their voice. But it seemed like I was needlessly harassing them for wireless when I should have been thankful that at least my Internet was working!

After realizing that we were not going to get anything useful by breaking our heads with them, we decided to give the wireless router which supposedly didn't "support" static IP, a chance. With some googling and common sense, we had our static IP and wireless running in half an hour! So much pain and frustration for something which should not have been a problem in the first place if only Airtel would have taken time to train their field staff well.

Consider the situation. Airtel probably uses a handful of router models - 5 or may be 10. The 2-3 most basic things to do with a router are setting it up for dynamic address, for static address and setting up the wireless. How difficult is it to equip all their field staff with printed instruction sheets for these basic 3 tasks for these 5-10 models? When taking the request for the static IP, they had asked us the model number of router, so they already had that information. The only thing that the guy needed to do in our case was to delete the old config on the router and create a new one from scratch instead of trying to modify the old one. How difficult is it to mention this one fact in the instruction sheet for our model number? It would have saved them multiple phone calls to support center, multiple field trips and an annoyed customer.

But instead of investing in things like this, they recently invested 100s of crores in changing the logo and brand identity. Somehow they fail to understand that a shiny logo and funky tune cannot make up for such bad service experiences. I can only shake my head in disbelief and frustration!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any ISP's support works great as long as they're not being involved into on-site stuff. People are somehow better if on their usual work seats.

Doing it all yourself, except for what can't be done, is how it works in this country.

Jaya Jha said...

It would be great if they at least provided the option of self-service by providing us with the information about configuration option. But that option is non-existent.

In this particular case, when we decided to do it ourselves, we had to guess the right options from previous connections and some mess up the guy had done with the current connection.

Ravish said...

We learn, we grow. 'Chalta Hai' attitude in India has left companies, such as Airtel, with a choice of not to bother about the frustration of users, such as you. I hope things will change in future for good.

Cheers!!

CraZyPhoNon said...

The issue is that the problem you face is at the far end of the long tail! My guess is it is not at all economical for airtel to train their guys beyond a set "configuration" which probably gets 90% of their revenue. The rest of us will have to depend on our own googling strengths