Saturday, December 09, 2006

Slave Update

So, I get a call yesterday from ICICI Banking division. Turns out, I am an esteemed member of the ICICI Private Banking Clique. Every time I am standing on my hours-long meditation at their Bund Garden branch, I see these snobs going in and coming out of an air-conditioned room, which reads "Private Banking". Turns out, I am one of these snobs, who had no idea that he is supposed to be a snob. Well, I don't know the exact things you can do through Private Banking, since I was in a meeting and had to ask the caller to call again next week. But maybe I was a little hasty in judging the poor suits at ICICI when I was not using what was my right all along, instead mingling with the "commoners".

Or maybe, just maybe, they read this blog and are trying to buy my silence!!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Customer is King Slave

I love arguing. I think there is no doubt about that. I can take sides with someone that I don’t agree with, just to argue with someone that I agree with. So imagine my delight when I get to argue with people when I have a point worth putting across. It is therefore a lot of fun going to Reliance Web World, where they have so many snafus that we make a monthly pilgrimage there to debate the intricacies of the cell phone bill, which they send my wife every month. It so happened this time around (about 3 weeks ago, actually) that we paid the bill by cheque, and it apparently never got credited. On receiving the cheque, they sent an SMS saying that the payment is received. Then, mysteriously, one fine day, D’s connection gets cut. We go there and find out that the cheque never got credit. After a whole bunch of arguments, we finally paid it by cash. 2 weeks ago, D starts getting more messages about her payment being due. Another visit. We now look at it as part of our daily exercise routine. Walking to RWW has something therapeutic about it as far as D and I are concerned. But the point remains.

Customer service is non-existent in India.

ICICI is, supposedly, India’s leading private bank. If ICICI is the best we have, then the banking industry in India is in deep shit. Not a trip goes by, when you don’t spend an hour there, waiting (no, standing) for your “token” to be called. Once called, you get a rude employee who is doing you a favour by getting your bank statement. There is no inclination to help. What I find most galling, is that 3 years ago at the same branch, the same person was falling all over me, when I went to open an NRI account. I can bet the resident accounts have more equity in them for ICICI than the NRIs in total. I would even wager that per capita they have more (I love to argue… remember?). But it’s the dollar that counts apparently. We have some servile attitude towards NRIs. (but that’s for another blog)

It could be that years of casteism, have us with a feeling of one being superior to another. People of a certain background, are not brought up helping other people. Helping others is almost a crime. The funny thing, now that I think about it, is that lower castes are most helpful when you need customer service. The cleaning lady here, does not work like she is doing you a favor, when in reality she is by cleaning up after you. It may be the years of brainwashing that some castes are better than others. But people who do your dirty work are smiling a lot more when they do it, compared to people in cell phone outlets or bank branches.

Another theory of mine, (who else) is that with the population being so huge in India, retailers don’t have to worry about losing customers. The next one is right around the corner. The theory of “an irate customer is a terrorist” is not applicable here. The problem is that even irate customers have no idea about what they can get. Starbucks sends its employees to “coffee school” to make sure that customers get worth more than what they have paid for. And here, Reliance employs people who probably have just got out of school.

If the ICICIs and Reliances don’t show the way, how do you expect the Jayshree Provision storewallas to do the same?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Quote of the year

In order to live a long life, you have to begin by having won the genetic lottery... Then, you have to avoid getting hit by a bus..