16:22 17th May, 2012
Reliance Broadband Users Allegedly Threatened With Arrest For Unpaid Bills
Recovery agents posing as lawyers claim to possess arrest warrants against customers with outstanding bills.
Update (17-May-2012): Now you can lodge a complaint here. We will then follow it up with concerned parties, and keep you posted on the progress.
Update (11-May-2012): RCOM responds:
"RCOM has a well defined process and guidelines for customer interaction. We regularly audit compliance to these processes and rarely find any gap. If there is any specific complaint, we request the customer to share all details with us. We will have an immediate investigation done to verify facts. There is no arrest warrant issued for anyone".
So there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. If sombody calls you claiming to represent RCOM and says he has an arrest warrant in your name, you can be sure he's lying through his teeth. You can lodge a complaint with RCOM by clicking on this link.
The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) has been known to be proactive about protecting its interests. In the recent past, it has forced ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block video and file-sharing websites such as Vimeo.com, RapidShare.com, MediaFire.com, and ThePirateBay.com with the help of court orders to protect its movies from piracy.
Now it looks like one of its subsidiaries, Reliance Communications (RCOM), isn't just content with restricting your freedom on the internet, but is now going after your very freedom, period. At least, that's what subscribers of Reliance's internet services are allegedly being threatened with for not paying their bills.
RCOM customers using Netconnect and Broadband internet services have reportedly been receiving threatening calls from lawyers claiming to represent RCOM. The modus operandi is the same for all instances. The caller introduces himself as a lawyer from the Delhi High Court and intimidates the victims into believing that a case has been registered against them for non-payment of outstanding bills. The "advocate" then threatens the victims with arrest and a hefty bail amount unless they pay their dues immediately.
A Reader Recounts His Ordeal
Sumeet Jain, a stock trader by profession, fell prey to a similar scheme. "A Delhi High Court advocate representing RCOM called up my father claiming that he had procured an arrest warrant against me for not paying a bill amounting to Rs 1765", explained Sumeet. He claims to have been billed wrongly for free installation services and a dead connection about five years ago. "The lawyer then threatened my father that I would be arrested and produced before the Delhi High Court, which would subsequently require him to furnish a bail of Rs 1,30,000. He was given an hour's time to pay the bill at the nearest Reliance outlet", added Sumeet.
The ploy worked and Sumeet's father ended up paying the bill within the deadline given by the so-called lawyer, who most likely seems to be a recovery agent acting on behalf of RCOM.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. Several users of Reliance's internet services have shared similar personal accounts - each having the same modus operandi apparently involving Delhi High Court advocates and arrest warrants. Whether or not these callers are on Reliance Communications' payroll, or if it is aware of such extortionist tactics being used against defaulting customers, that still doesn't absolve it of what seems to be an example of criminal intimidation.
What To Do If You're On The Receiving End
If you happen to get such calls in the future, ask the caller to send you an SMS and \ or email as written proof, in addition to mailing you a copy of the legal notice for the case registered against you. In all probability, the fake lawyer will back off. However, if the caller is daft enough to send you an SMS or email, you now have his name, phone number, and enough evidence to go straight to the cops and file an FIR against the dubious advocate.
The affected users are quite livid with the ADAG (Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group) owned company. At any rate, this manner of criminal intimidation will not earn the ISP any fans. "I have been using Reliance CDMA mobile since the inception of the company. I guess it is going to stop now", declares Sumeet, expressing his dissatisfaction.
Apparently, he isn't going to stop at just that: "I'm even planning to go to the lengths of printing posters and distributing pamphlets outside the Reliance outlets about this incident", he adds. He would be interested to know that someone has already beaten him to the punch.
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