In the past few weeks, there has been an insane rush to get the Reliance Jio SIM which is currently offering unlimited data for three months and ₹50/GB from thereon.
While it has been advertised as free, that isn't really the case if you don't own VoLTE-compatible devices.
In a bid to boost its phone sales, Reliance is clubbing the offer with their Lyf phones, with which you get the SIM card free. After doing a bit of groundwork, asking around friends in tech and colleagues who write about it, I realised it's pointless to use the SIM card as your primary number because the voice-calling facilities perform worse than the Donald Trump campaign right now.
So, I decided to go for the Jio WiFi device, which works with the same SIM card but on a different device, one that acts as a modem. I went to my nearest Reliance Digital store, at Breach Candy in South Mumbai, and was promised by the vendor that it'll be activated within 2 hours.
My idea was to deactivate the MTNL broadband at home — a service you must use only if you have a fetish for living in the Dark Ages — and make Jio the default modem at home (it claims to connect 30 devices).
It was economical too. I paid Rs. 2899 for unlimited data with a promised average speed of 15 Mbps for 3 months as opposed to the 1.8 Mbps that I was suffering now for a monthly charge of Rs.2000 with a 90 GB cap.
Jio was genuinely (sounding like) an offer too good to refuse.
But I should have listened to the apprehensions that were at the back of my mind and the general cynicism which was in front of me.
Despite multiple warning by perennial skeptics of Reliance as a brand, and against my better judgment, I decided to go ahead with the wifi device, much to the ridicule and mockery from tech snobs who brag about Fiber Optic internet connectivity in their homes (I'm yet to experience that marvel).
I was sure that in a few days I'd be taking screenshots of insane speeds and smirking with self-righteous confidence about proving popular opinion wrong.
I was wrong.
Days passed but the silence from Reliance Jio Care and Reliance Digital was deafening.
Forget about 2 hours, 24 hours and 48 hours passed and I didn't hear from the operator other than one message that said,"We're overwhelmed."
I was annoyed. Sorry, you are overwhelmed? People who get Oscars are overwhelmed. Not telecom giants. If you do not possess the bandwidth and the labour pool to activate applications days after they were duly filed (I had submitted a passport copy for verification purposes), doesn't that say something about your sheer incompetence?
After the 5th day, I wrote them an email, I sent out multiple tweets to both their official handles, and called their helpline number but there was literally no response from any of the aforementioned channels.
Not a single word.
Through Twitter, I figured I wasn't the only one and Reliance Digital's handle was filled with tweets expressing 'regret for the inconvenience caused.'
I was exasperated. My MTNL subscription was coming to an end and renewing that would mean spending an additional Rs. 2000 for no reason as by that time, the wifi would have been activated. (Or so I hoped.)
It's been 7 whole days since I purchased the SIM and I haven't received any communication from Jio about why the delay, whether they're doing anything to resolve the issue, how much more time will it take.
And ironically, this is just the beginning. What can possibly be expected from a company that doesn't even bother responding to tweets/emails/phone calls? Surely, there'll be a number of actual issues that will crop once a customer starts using the service, will they still be as oblivious to the pains of a data-starved complainant?
To make matters worse, the only number of the Reliance Digital store from where I purchased, has mysteriously been deactivated, leaving me with no option but to go to the store physically and make enquiries.
A company that talks about making communication faster just ensured that I literally have to drag myself to their store to know why I've been offline for so long. Irony level = 100 Mbps.
Never before have I had such a painful experience with any service provider (and I have used Tikona). It's particularly frustrating to not get a tweet response while you watch other connections get activated.
Predictably, the taunts have been fast and furious, especially from my mother, a constant Reliance basher. As it has been from judgmental friends — "I told you man," "Cheap is cheap", and my favorite, "Ab maro."
In the AGM of Reliance that concluded today, company chairman Mukesh Ambani was quoted as saying, "Data Is Oxygen."
Now, imagine living without that for 7 days.
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