S Tel accuses Tech Mahindra of discontinuing services abruptly

S Tel accuses Tech Mahindra of discontinuing services abruptly

New Delhi: New telecom operator S Tel has accused its IT vendor, Tech Mahindra, of discontinuing services abruptly without any prior intimation and has sought the telecom ministry’s intervention to resolve the issue.

The telecom firm has also threatened to slap a legal notice for compensation on Tech Mahindra over the move.

In a letter to telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar, S Tel — which is facing a fund crunch — said it was engaged in discussions with its call centre vendor (Tech Mahindra) on the payment schedule outlook.

“... But on 29 August, 2011, Tech Mahindra has unilaterally discontinued our call centre and managed services," S Tel alleged.

This has resulted in a situation where S Tel is handling all customer care calls on its own, it added.

When contacted, a Tech Mahindra spokesperson said, “As per corporate policy, we do not comment on individual customer engagements."

S Tel said it has been engaged in discussions with all its vendors seeking a moratorium of 1-2 years on payments against standing invoices in view of a fund crunch due to the uncertain regulatory environment.

However, its vendors have resorted to disconnection of network equipment over non-payment of their dues, resulting in “network connectivity" problems for its subscribers, it added.

S Tel had awarded a long-term IT outsourcing contract to Tech Mahindra in 2009. The contract also involved maintenance of the company’s business and operational support systems.

The company offers GSM services in Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, the North-East, Assam and Jammu Kashmir.

It had 33.17 lakh subscribers at the end of 30 June, 2011.

S Tel has approached the department of telecom requesting it to not take coercive action against the company in case it is unable to meet the quality standards established by sectoral regulator Trai.

It has also requested the DoT to allow it to set up a call centre for redressal of customer grievances without obtaining a separate OSP license (meant for BPO/call centres), since it will offer the services to its own subscribers and not other firms.

In August this year, the telco had written to the DoT seeking its help.

“... The prevailing telecom environment, negligible funding by banks and conduct of the passive infrastructure vendors engaged by S Tel in resorting to blatant disconnection of our communication equipments, which has brought significant strain upon our ability to even run our day-to-day operations, much less serve our subscribers as the company is in a severe liquidity crunch due to non/negligible funding by banks out of the sanctioned term loan facility," S Tel had said.