Before we arrived in India we were pretty sure that our Turkey internet issues would be forgotten soon. Unfortunately our wished did not get heard, at least not until now.
But let me begin with our mobile phone nightmare. As soon as we arrived in Delhi we went to an Airtel dealer in New Delhi to buy a SIM card. It took us about one hour from finding a dealer to getting the SIM card, which isn’t too bad given all the things they needed from us: a photo, passport and visa copies and a complicated form to be filled in. Happy that calling is so very cheap in India we walked away with our new mobile number. The happiness didn’t last too long. A few days later we got an SMS from the provider that we need to submit our paperwork otherwise the phone will get disconnected. Wonderful! We replied that we did all that a few days ago, without success. The SMS’s kept coming and after the fourth we thought we’d better check personally if we really had to resubmit everything. So we went to another Airtel dealer equipped with passport and photos and waited about 20 minutes. When it was our turn, Johan explained the issue, gave the service agent our phone number and got involved in the following conversation:
“Your phone got permanently disconnected on 17 October, Sir”.
“I only bought the SIM card on 5 November.”
“Yes, but the computer says it got disconnected on 17 October.”
“But I only bought it in November and the phone is still working. Do you understand me?”
“Yes Sir, but phone got disconnected. You need to submit all paperwork again.”
“But I submitted all paperwork already two weeks ago, why do I have to do this again?”
“Dealer did not forward paperwork, that’s why your phone got disconnected.”
“BUT MY PHONE IS STILL WORKING, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?”
“If you submit paperwork now, then we will reactivate your phone number within the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Listening is clearly not one of the Indians’ strongest skills. We’ve noticed that before in other situations. At least we’ve done what we had to do and so far our phone still works and the SMS’s stopped coming.
A bit more frustrating is our internet experience. Free WiFi is the very exception and if available the connection is extremely unstable and we get disconnected every few minutes. Extremely disappointing is McDonald’s so-called free WiFi: you just get 10 minutes and that only once, unless you have another phone number each time you are at McD (that’s how Indians call them). That’s why we decided to buy a super fast, 3G data card from Vodafone. Same procedure as with the phone SIM card: passport and visa copies, photos, complicated forms and at least ten signatures. First hick-up – our laptop didn’t support the Vodafone software, while it was clearly written on the packaging that it would. Which meant for me – Johan was in hospital by then – to go back to the dealer, who told me that I had to go to their service center, which is about 8km away. Another day without achieving anything! The next day I went there by tuk tuk, which took about 40min, queued for one full hour and got told I had to download a special software. Good, I thought, at least a solution and fortunately I managed to download and install everything on our laptop. But after a week of sometimes more and sometimes less happy internetting due to the poor and very slow connection we suddenly couldn’t connect anymore at all – damn it! So we again went back to the service center, waited 30 minutes to be told that the card got disconnected because we didn’t submit the paperwork. How in the first instance would we have gotten a data card WITHOUT submitting all the paperwork and what the heck are they doing with all our photos and signatures????? Bad-mooded we gave them more pictures, more signatures, more photocopies and within the next 48 hours got reconnected.
The fun continues in high-tech wonderland India!