Sunday, April 20, 2008

The company you keep

For long, I've been thinking of writing about some companies - the ones one would like to keep in good lists and the ones in bad lists too. I so far believed, pretty much in sync with the general notion, that big brand names, lucrative ads, lush shops, and neatly uniformed work force is enough to raise confidence in products, services, and after sales support. Au-contraire, there is almost no correlation between these factors. And on the basis of those hard-learned experiences, I've chucked some corporations completely whereas, for some, I am willing to bear a bit of extra burden too. Instead of preparing a check-out or chuck-out list, however, I'd just share some of my experiences here.

When I wrote a mail to Nescafe about their coffee not tasting that good any longer, got a phone call, a very sweet voice, and offer for a free jar of coffee to write another feedback. That was really reassuring - at least, Nescafe cares. But another coffee company, Cafe Coffee Day, is damn unresponsive. None of my communications were answered or even acknowledged. And nopes, it's not the difference of a foreign vs. Indian company - my further experiences proved that.

Big Bazar, the supermart by Pantaloons, is though very responsive at the top level - I got a personal call from the local store manager and quick e-mail responses; yet they are not the ones whom I deal every time I visit Big Bazar. And the ones I've to deal with are too rude and even insulting. But the remedy was easy - I don't go to Big Bazar anymore.

Another similar case was of Sony - the Sony World gave a non-functional battery charger and was very reluctant to talk after making the sales. However, a single mail to Sony India got the charger checked, and finally replaced with a new one, despite there being no guarantee or warranty whatsoever.

Another different and unexpected experience was with Tata - no matter how much trust the name raises, they are really unpredictable. Tata Croma manager responded in two days with a very good natured reply and Tata Star Bazaar was not even willing to listen if there is a problem. Perhaps, it was the difference between two arms of a man.

However, most amazingly, my experience with Indian Railways (IR) has been pretty good. When we were stuck in Abu Road after a derailment accident, the station master tried his bit to help us out with whatever he could and that too without a frown, despite all the hullabaloo all around. However, besides that, the experience with IR has been mixed and in essence, IR is not bankable. Similarly, IRCTC, the online reservation site and service managers for IR, are highly unpredictable - after almost five months, I am yet to get a refund for that ticket, which unfortunately was booked online with IRCTC and which, even more unfortunately, has no validity across the counter.

Some more unexpected and very mixed experiences concern the two largest banks of India - SBI and ICICI. SBI, Chowk, Lucknow branch has been a real pain in the neck with their rude, unresponsive, and rather, hostile behavior. SBI, IIMA, Ahmedabad, on the other hand, has been too good at every level, including the manager who helped me recover my lost thousand rupees that I had written-off after 2 years of the ATM malfunction. Now about ICICI - opening an account in their main branch was such a painful experience that I felt like return of the baburaj. Comparing the two banks, though SBI is ubiquitous with its 10,000 ATMs and 6,000 branches, online services of ICICI beat SBI hands down.

After all my experiences with so many corporations and organizations, all I have learnt is not to believe in that rhetorical pomp and show; to take seriously the lessons of 'Organizational Behavior', and; most of all, to value individuals, for they are the ones who make or break an organization.


Anonymous said...

Hi Siddhartha,

This is with reference to your blog post: . You have stated that there is a refund amount of INR 7000 pending from for over 4 months.

We have run through our records and your name does not reflect. Could you please share your cancellation details with us asap, so we could look up our records once again.

Thanks. Waiting for your email @
Naina Rastogi

Sid said...

Hmmm.... I am beginning to believe in the power of blogging. This is wonderful, indeed. Let me get the details of transactions and we will see who hath the last laugh!!

Designing the sails o' life said...

hmm....quite an enlightening post!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your email and Thank You for clarifying that the amount was not INR 7000 as u mentioned on your blog but was indeed INR 2256.
The importance of honesty and transparency is what would add huge value to bloggers.
Thanks again!
Regards, Naina

Sid said...

Hold on here lady... True that actual amount wasn't 7,000 but it wasn't 2256 either. The actual amount was 3256. And it was due to my friend's idiocy that funds parked for refund couldn't reach me in time. I hope there won't be any hassles now since the whole thing has been clearly communicated.

P.S. - The last line of the previous comment is truly global. I still couldn't get any meaning out of that.

Designing the sails o' life said...

"kkkahani ectual kkeeemat ki" goes another theme serial for our dear K-babe ;)
kkkkeep it up!!

Sid said...

So I got a refund of INR 2406/- and I'm glad for that. However, this still leaves a lot unexplained - why cleartrip gave me 2406 instead of promised 2256? Why they claim to deduct 100 from 2506 and actually deduct 850 from 3256? It's getting messier, so let me enjoy whatever the refund is and a salute to bloggers' power :)


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