Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cases and charters -simulated real life learning....

Sometimes even the best of B-School case studies do not make as much good sense as your own experience while dealing with utility/service companies. Your real life experiences at times not only bring across examples where as an aggrieved customer you are quite good at identifying the flaws in the process that even the best of minds havent addressed in their company. Have had plenty such instances where a strong reminder of my rights as a consumer along with some logical arguments and threats of a few escalations helps resolve matters.

Be it one of the major Gujarati owned telecom company who provides internet connections, or the local gas agency or even a laptop service centre, all of them do like to take the customer for granted. In the first case it was a company who not only failed to send their first time customer their bills on time, but also ended up deactivating connections for the unpaid bill which was not even received by the customer. The shocked customers had to stream in for resolution to the centre before 8pm to get any resolution done and yes remember to tell the centre to specifically reactivate their account. Tele-help oh well forget it - in this company they would not be able to check your details of specific plans and hence may either be of no help or incorrectly tell you there is no issue. Things just get better, if you wish to disconnect your net you need to visit their single customer care centre before 7 pm on a week day and get it cancelled personally. Also they take 28 days to effect your cancellation so be assured you will be billed for an additional month. While I have successfully protested on the first issue relating to first time customers at their Thane centre and suitably impressed the manager there who promptly got my issue resolved, tackling the others needs more effort as the feedback given to their customer service staff has fallen on deaf ears. Makes you wonder whether the guys who manage the company went to the right school or were born sadists?

The second case is that of a H.P. Gas agency in Mumbai who decided to make a package deal along with the gas company to provide a lighter, a fire extinguisher, a gas stove, an apron, a kg of tea powder as mandatory purchases along with the new gas connection. Well needless to say all these meant a whopping expenditure of six thousand which left me baffled. Escalation to the sales head of the region for the agency through its immediate owner, and a reading of my personal charter of consumer rights soon followed. Also put in some convincing arguments - that there was no way I was going to drink tea (being a hard core coffee freak), or cook in an apron (you kidding me, an apron for making maggi and coffee? ) and that the building had a fire extinguisher & thus my limited cooking would never be a serious danger to me or my building. All these got me somewhere my out go reduced to 4000 from 6000 rupees. A side effect: was gloating over my logical reasoning and negotiation skills for sometime :P - small pleasures...
The gas agency got it again when I went in for my first time refill booking - they made the cardinal sin of not recording my booking, not giving my number, assuring me of delivery in 2 days, not making it in time, and telling me it was my fault when I called them a bit miffed on the third day morning.... So it was time to sing sing my charter of consumer rights again and then they relented and gave me the gas within the same day. .

The last time was with my laptop service centre. A long argument on their not being able to meet the commited deadline and a threat to complain to the main company who had recognized them as an authorised centre lead to me getting a spare/stand by laptop from which I am posting this blog......

Real life case studies are definitely more interesting, appealing and rewarding than those straight jacket B-school ones. Be vocal about your rights and logical in your arguments for best results.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Doctor, Doctor -nostalgia about the clinic

Some of the possibly most amusing moments in one's life happen at the most uncommon of places like a doctor's clinic. Reliving nostalgia in this post by listing amongst the most memorable ones I have had so far:
  1. The visits to the dentist's clinic are possibly amongst the most memorable for me personally. It probably has to do with having literally most of my milk teeth forcibly uprooted over a 8 year period including high school. These sessions resulted in my screaming my lungs out at the dentist as he picked up his artillery and effectively reducing the patient count outside in return for the mostly imagined pain he inflicted. The positive point of all tooth extractions was the ice cream that followed :)
  2. Also ever heard of a patient who decided to carry a flask of filter coffee everytime she visited the dentist (for barely an hour) and offered the same to the bemused dentist who then titled her kaapi maami? Well that was my grandmother.
  3. The family doctor was another favourite. The countless times in school when yours truly was down with fever could be classified in two ways (i) which saw me being hopeful and very sincerely enquiring with a heavy heart whether I could go to school (while fervently praying for the opposite with normal diet) (ii) which saw me plead that I was ok and be allowed to go for an excursion, or school trip... In both cases a pleading sad mournful face did get better results :P
  4. The long wait at the clinic when I would count the mosaic tiles, check the patterns and hop across the alternating tiles used to be quite boring despite these tactics. Other favourite activities to pass time were to observe and decide whether all the others were more sick than you or not, and then to guess whose token number would come before yours.
  5. Can never forget the instance where my mother decided to inform the doctor of my habit of self medication in case of cold/fever and my resultant subconscious expression which included my trademark raising of my eyebrows warning him non-verbally even before he expressed his disapproval.
  6. There were these detailed explanations I used to give the doctor of how precisely I felt when my throat was choked during cold and his bemused reaction as he possibly concluded that hypochondriacs come is small age groups also. While the reactions made me doubt my analysis, my explanations did finally have some effect since he once specifically asked me whether I experienced one of the points I mentioned. Needless to say the patient in me was jumping with joy at being vindicated.
  7. My present doctor in Mumbai who adviced my mother to frame her haemoglobin report since the count was perfect also deserves a special mention.
  8. Last but not the least my dermatologist who told me without any provacation not to google a specific ailment and work myself up about it since that was very common in educated youth and would do no benefit to the patient. Made me realise that dermatologists also psychologically analyse people while providing solutions and how being tuned with developments in other domains can be used effecitively in one's line.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Memoirs of a Lappie

The motivation for writing this blog only grows as I key this post from the dingy locales of a neighbourhood cyber cafe. My laptop decided to give into partial paralysis on Friday thus depriving me the company of my partner of 2 and a half years - my gateway to entertainment, social networking, blogging, news, brainstorming on excel sheets from work, and a whole lot of fun. She came into my life in the November of 2006 and the lonely ranger had a more exciting life thanks to her. What resulted was constant attention from the lone ranger to the laptop as the television and books sulked. She (lappie) had eliminated the pain of visiting a cyber cafe, playing to timelines of the cyber cafe, typing away at unfamiliar key boards and glazing at painful monitors. She was the messaih who could be typed at or stared at the bed side or in any comfortable position/place, who could hold a glass of juice steady on her side board (the only stable surface on a bed/sofa), and who accompanied & served one at all places (the bus/airports/even the local train once). There are often references in stories about how the desertion of the spouse makes the other one feel they are missing just a piece of furniture. In my case however the absence of the not so wee but very bonnie lass (lappie) makes me feel like the spouse is missing .... The fond memories and the wishing that she suddenly resurrect herself are possibly much stronger than when the cell phone was down a few weeks back. Truly she occupies centerstage in my life and I believe in the lives of a lot of young people who are as addicted to their laptops/computers like me.

However there is hope as I am still searching for a service centre that can diagnoze and cure her. One word for the Compaq/HP service - pathetic!. The website says check the phone or type away some text that you scan your lappie all over for, and get gibberish or sorry we couldn't find a solution/understand your problem as a reply. The phone helpline is even worse. The first toll number was amazing - after five options that you select continuously the response you get is other helpline numbers that you must dial for options x,y,z and to top it that message is not repeated. So if it went too fast (remember you need to catch the description of the service , a toll free number and a landline number) well you dial that number again which is what yours truly did. Then when you dial the second number at the end of voice recorded messages and numerous options you need to select you get to hear that they apparently work 9-6 Mondays to Fridays & that for any other service you can check the website !!!! With all this people expect you not to get frustrated ? hmmn...... Sigh! Sigh! Sigh!

P.S. If you are wondering how I vented it out - well on an ISD call to my brother who was in a similar state just weeks before and thus bore the melodrama of it all. Had I been in a more poetic mode might just have composed a sonnet :P

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quick gun cures - Mind it :)

As a single working (staying away from family) Mumbaikar of Tamil origin (trying to be politically correct :P ) one does have occasional pangs of homesickness.. For those who can't afford an immediate trip to Chennai there are quick fix remedies:
  1. Visit Chembur for an instant T-nagar like therapy with the crowds and vendors who are quick to respond to a quick query in Tamil. Two in one benefit - hear, speak and bargain in Tamil as well as soak in the T-nagar like atmosphere if you enjoy it
  2. For those who hate crowds Matunga is a better option. With temples, an old post office, flower shops, T book/cd stores, and not to mention amazing south indian food it doubles up as a mini more cosmopolitan Mylapore
  3. Visit any mall and if you manage to stop for a minute in a place there is a ninety percent chance of hearing a Tamil family debate or discuss their current or future purchases
  4. Catch a Tamil movie at a multiplex in Mulund/Sion or at the small little Arora theatre at Matunga
  5. Switch on Sun TV/any Tamil channel/Tamil movie and bite into good self cooked south Indian food - cooked out based on the age old Meenakshi Ammal Cook and see (samaithu paar) book :) ... Read the Hindu newspaper as well.. For best returns try this is on a lazy Sunday or Saturday
  6. Visit a Tamil family friend for dinner/lunch and enjoy a good south Indian healthy meal along with some good tam-english banter
All these are definitely set to bring in a small smile and dozens of positive stimulants to make the homesickness vanish with the unbelievable efficiency and speed of Rajnikanth's stunts (no am not a fan :P ).....