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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why Free Reliance Data card offer makes no sense…

First Half of this article shares my experience at Reliance Webworld and second half tells you why I did not buy Reliance Datacard. [Jump to Second Half Directly]

Also be sure to read: Sony vs Dell vs HP ..comparison of various laptop brands

There's a free Reliance netConnect Data card offer with most of the Notebooks (HP Pavilion, Lenovo etc).As one such HP Pavilion buyer who was entitled for a free Reliance netConnect data card, I did some research on the feasibility of this offer. This post tells you why this “free” data card is not so free and doesn’t make sense to pay over 3700 Rs for this “free offer”.

I had read several negative opinion about this product and subsequent service in several discussion forums and communities so was extremely reluctant to spend Rs 3700 (The cost of so called “Free” data card and three month mandatory subscription.)
Reliance Communications Logo
However I decided to check out the offer and registered in HP website for the claim. After few days my registration was conveyed to Reliance and I got several mails from different executives in various reliance web world outlets in Hyderabad. I responded to one of them and asked what all they need. Besides standard stuff like address proof etc he insisted I should submit Original product label with serial number from laptop box. I said I’m not going to give that and eventually he agreed for photocopy.

Next I went to their shop in Ameerpet and asked executive there for a demo. He said they can’t give demo now and I need to come after 2 days. One customer who had bought a new laptop and was configuring his reliance datacard there. I asked him if he is happy with the speed and performance. He replied in negative.

Next I went to Reliance WebWorld in Panjagutta. There the lady at the counter agreed to arrange for the demo, a store boy brought an old laptop from inside and switched it on, but he couldn’t login to internet because it was not accepting the password he was entering. After several attempts he closed the notebook and kept it inside. The lady told “Sorry sir, some problem is there. You pay the money and submit the application now; we’ll deliver the card in two days” I insisted on a demo so that I could check if the speed is sufficient for my requirement. The rep said “speed is very good sir, 128 kbps” I asked “I know it wont be that much, tell me what speed I can expect” He couldn’t respond. I asked further “Ok, tell me, how much time it will take if I have to upload a 1MB file as attachment?” He said “not sure sir but that wont take much time” That time another customer came there and opened his newly got datacard and tried connecting to net using it. This is the statement store rep made to the customer: “Sir the software needs 30 minutes to get activated. You need to install the CD, restart the notebook and wait for 30 minutes” Eventually he closed his notebook, pocketed the data card and left.
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Because of these experiences, coupled with following facts about wireless internet, below are the reasons why I didn’t opt for Free Reliance Data card (and recommend not to go for it)

1. Wireless internet is in its infancy in India. Though this has huge potential, the operators are hesitating to release enough bandwidth for internet usage, because 99% customers are voice users, hence most of the available bandwidth is kept for mobile communication. Its like egg first or Hen. If they increase bandwidth and give good speed and service many people will subscribe,(Mobility is very nice to have. For the same speed and reasonable price people would prefer wireless internet compared to broad band) but operators do not appear to be willing to do so till they accumulate enough subscribers, this in turn diluting existing customer base.

2. For the reason stated above the wireless connectivity speeds are pathetic (they claim 128 kbps, but for all practical purpose it will be just around 3-5 kbps or even less).Browsing at this low speed will be a pathetic experience. (You might just be able to check your mail with that. Don’t even dream about uploading/downloading a 2MB attachment.)

3. Since wireless internet offers high mobility, it is suitable for people who keep traveling a lot and need net connection just to check mails or browse latest news etc. Home users who watch videos, upload/download files, do a lot of net intensive activities (like online gaming, video chatting etc) will feel wireless internet suffocating experience.

4. Connection speed during peak hours will be of no practical use. Speed will be good if you can get up at 5 AM in the morning and browse, because number of users at that time is likely to be minimal.
images of Reliance, Tata Indicom data cards
5. There’s huge complaint about Reliance customer care. At any given point of time, in any reliance web world you can see one or two customers complaining with the front desk executives about one thing or the other. These executives are trained only to collect money and give receipt, for any complaints, best they can do is give you a most reasonable excuse. Shouting at them will be total waste of your time and energy. These front desk representatives neither have the technical skills to resolve your concern, nor have the managerial authority to compensate you/provide alternate solution. Complaints of excess billing, poor service etc is also rampant with Reliance. (Remember: मेरा बाप का सप्ना - सब का पैसा अप्ना…)

6. Reliance Data card regular schemes start with INR 650 monthly rental. But with this free Data card offer, I don’t have the option of subscribing for just one month by paying 650. I need to mandatorily subscribe for full 3 months, pay rent all in advance, without any commitment from Reliance on quality of service/buy back offer/refund option. The moment I make the payment, I can start regretting.

6. With such a slow speed, your productivity will be hit if you have to wait for few minutes for each page to load or a mail to open. So if you have an option, avoid going for wireless internet at this moment.


I've not purchased this card. To read opinion of a blogger who has bought this card and is not happy with it, read this,this and this post. Final Verdict: DO NOT BUY.
Tata Indicom appears to be relatively cheaper (less than 3k for one time purchase and rentals starting at 125 Rs per month) and better (10-20kbps)-I’m checking on it currently. Home based broad band are best option, unless mobility is your primary requirement.

Since India has huge population, these companies manage to stay in business as they can continuously find new customers to make fool of. What do you think?

Info Bytes: What is USB? What is PCMCIA? Which one is better?
USB cards can be used for both Notebooks and desktops while PCMCIA cards can be used only in laptops having PCMCIA slot. (The image of data cards shown in this post are of PCMCIA cards). PCMCIA cards are inserted inside the slot and only antena will be outside, hence looks good, while USB ones will be protruding out of USB port and look messy. Not all notebooks come with PCMCIA slot, so USB ones give better flexibility.

Updates: Corporate Customers of Reliance do get a slightly better service, most probably because Reliance might have dedicated bandwidth for corporate accounts (huge money is involved there, they dont want to loose that)
Further, latest price of Reliance netConnect Card (USB/PCMCIA)is around INR 2800 for direct purchase without any offer. If you pay one year rent in advance you even get fee Datacard. But beware, that will be like jumping in daylight into the well you saw in the night.

Related: Sony vs Dell vs HP ..comparision of various laptop brands.

22 comments :

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. Reliance card has absolutely unacceptable speeds, but for text messages - which a mobile phone is good enough for. I bought it and stopped using it after some time hoping they get the message. And they had the nerve to send me a legal notice to pay up a pending bill of 1500 rs. They never tried to ask me why I had stopped using it. it suck$!

hari said...

Very interesting review, Shri. I must say I've never read a single +positive+ review of Reliance services anywhere...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Hari: Those having Corporate account of Reliance are quite comfortable it seems. Have updated the review to this effect.

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

"These executives are trained only to collect money and give receipt, for any complaints, best they can do is give you a most reasonable excuse. Shouting at them will be total waste of your time and energy. These front desk representatives neither have the technical skills to resolve your concern, nor have the managerial authority to compensate you/provide alternate solution. Complaints of excess billing, poor service etc is also rampant with Reliance." --- that sums it all! I think it has more to do with the uneven demand and supply than anything else.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I dont think it is uneven supply and demand. There're other enough other operators in this field as well. Just that Reliance has strong marketing tactics to make people come to them...

arun said...

Read my experience...
reliance netconnect (CDMA modem) review
In contrast to your experience, I am quite happy with my connection!!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Arun,

I have read your review.

Besides signal, it also depends on number of users at a given time, on which you have no control. Also, wireless internet is taken for mobility hence you cant decide based on signal strength at one place.

It does work and once a while it may be good too (Again, it is relative-all you need is checking mail it should be good enough). If mobility is prime concern and usage is mainly during non peak hours and not net intensive, one can consider Reliance...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Comments received for this post when I published it in Mouthshut.com

paulose said:
Jul 25, 2007 09:23 AM

Srinidhi, .. let me honour myself for being the first to comment on this review of yours. loved the revu and every bit of analysis. .. and guess what, they keep sending sms saying ’refer your friend who has a laptop for reliance card, and get a gift’’ !!! .. why lose friend for a gift ? ;-)

by the way, i have this ’product’ and have reviewd it here ... http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Reliance
_Webworld-104314-1.html .. its better to be without internet than havving this kind of net that R-connect provides. yet another useful review from u

keep writing
santhosh

enidhi said:
Jul 25, 2007 09:28 AM

Hi Santosh...I remember reading your review sometime back and had left a comment there too...
AN10 said:
Jul 25, 2007 09:49 AM

Hi, I am also using the reliance data card for last few months now....have not faced any trouble in connectivity or accessing speed till date....but may be because mine is a corporate connection or may be I am just one of the few lucky users.....though some 3 years back I had one reliance connection on a LG handset (the white one - guess one of the first CDMA is India)..The internet experience was pathetic with that...and was the sole reason of surrendering the connection...but guess reliance does not give a dam!!

enidhi said:
Jul 25, 2007 10:04 AM

At AN10: May be they have some reserved bandwidth for corporate accounts, that’s the reason you’re quite comfortable. Thanks
Editenidhi said:
Jul 25, 2007 10:19 AM

It is impossible to do any productive work and employees would complain to their boss that they cant work with this connection who would eventually threaten Reliance to close the corporate account if enough speed is not assured. Thus corporate customers must be getting a preference over regular ones (because huge money is involved you see)
KinKin said:
Jul 25, 2007 11:27 AM

I agree with you. Actual speed will be pathetic indeed. It’s better to use MTNL Broadband.I use Netconnect on my mobile for checking mails, making tickets booking etc. when outstation.

Good review.
Chintu25 said:
Jul 25, 2007 01:07 PM

Hi!
Even i had got the same offer and when i enquired about the cost and all i decided its not worth it...so i opted for home based Broad Band of Tata which has given me a good performance (though i can’t say the same for their Cust Care). As far as mobility is concerned usually every one has mob thru which u can connect to net in case of urgency....the only thing needed there is GPRS Activation...
Editenidhi said:
Jul 25, 2007 04:48 PM

Mobile GPRS charges are bit more expensive-10 paise per 10KB etc.This means around Rs 10 per MB of data transfer. For prolonged usage (if you use several GBs a month) it will be too expensive.

yes Home broadband is best for domestic users. There’re cybercafes all over as well for emergency.
Chintu25 said:
Jul 26, 2007 11:05 AM

OK..SInce i have corporate connection the GPRS costs me Rs 100 per month with unlimited dwds...
rohitthebest said:
Jul 26, 2007 08:09 PM

Fantastic.
Sure I agree with you 200%
Yesterday I was waiting at chennai airport to board my flight to Mumbai.
I was like 3 hours early to my flight time.
This guy was sitting next to me with a hp cute laptop and connected it thru his reliance card, i was shocked to see that he was getting disconnected after every 10 minutes or so and was again and again connecting with such patience that I have hardly seen anywhere.
Than I asked him ’’IS the signal an issue out here?’’ to which to my amazement he replied that ’’No’’ thats how it works with reliance card - LOL
Than I told him that Chennai airport as Wireless Internet Service - which was pertty good as I too was carrying a laptop and it was working flawlessly without any issues.
Finally he too connected and we both surfed around for next two hours without any issues, he was glad that I told him the way out.

Reliance atleast data card sucks big time - no doubt about that.
I even told my office guys that I will go for a airtel broadband than taking the card they were offering with the pc as I was sure that it wont work as good as they expect me to do.

Great Work
Surely it is not recommendable atleast for now.

Rohit

enidhi said:
Jul 28, 2007 08:04 AM

Thanks Chintu and Rohit for the updates.

We have wi-fi hot spots at several places, so that might serve mobility requirements to a reasonable extent.

arun said...

Hi Nidhi, Can we go for link exchange?

arun said...

I have linked your blog in my page now.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Arun,

I've linked your new geek blog in my blog roll.

Anonymous said...

Reliance Netconnect is WORST!!! Do not buy this product. The speed depends upon the network availability & varies as per area. Even then you won't get good speed. Mail gets diconnected lot of times

nikhil .tare said...

the best net working enginear .nikhil d tare HOW have the ability to manage the hole network of relince net.

jason said...
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jason said...
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jason said...
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Shovon Chakraborty said...

It seems in one year has made quite a bit difference. I have used Tata Indicom, Reliance Netconnect and Vodafone GPRS for my laptop. For a single PC the speed, connectivity and stability of Reliance seems far better than that of Tata Indicom. While Tata's QoS ranges from "not so bad" to "pathetic" at times, Reliance Netconnect offers a far better service. Vodafone, although more stable, offers a slower connectivity. But it might be due to the fact that I don't have a data card from Vodafone and use my Blackberry as a modem.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Dear Shovon,

Nice to see some good feedback on Reliance. if they have improved over a period of time, it is really great.

Thanks for giving comparison of various operators

Timir Patel said...

Yes u r right My experience
I bought reliance data card before 6 months. After one month I shocked by checking speed about (1 kbps) and they promised me 144 kbps speed.
Whatever then I called to reliance call center. They have only uneducated persons for customer care dept. And believe themselves are active and clever. they didn't solve my problem. then I mailed to them and they answered me with pre formatted mail like check cookies, delete history and delete temporary internet files and etc. They believe customer fool. And of course I became fool in front of my other frinends.
If customer get this speed by purchasing data card of worth Rs. 3000. then we can also use dial up connection through landline phones and mobiles. Airtel dial-up connection charges only Rs. 15 per day for unlimited internet usage. And speed is as same as reliance data card.
Then I decided to terminate this card. I called to call center and they replied me that I have to go to reliance web world and pay outstanding and give them a application just like a municipal organization. I agreed even though they called me frequently and asked why do you want to terminate our service?
At last they did not terminate my service and transfer it to safe custody which is charged Rs. 100 per month. They was not ready to leave me.
Please be careful

sattick said...

HI!! Please be careful they rip u apart when it coms to billing. In some of friend's experience they have billed them over 4,000 Rs only in a matter of 3 days. All they did was keep skype on for a few hours. So be really carefully. They quote any amount and it does not even show on the bill.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Timir and Sattick,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Others will learn to be careful...

Shakshi S said...

Reliance Internet Data Card is fast gaining popularity in india as well as other parts of the world. It provides flexibility and portability along with pretty fast speed. It exclusively offers postpaid and prepaid services.