The world’s best waiters….

I don’t know if every Indian city is like this, but the concept of post-sales service to a customer/consumer seems to be so shoddy in Bangalore.

No matter whether it is a lineman for the telephone, a gas cylinder to be replaced, or anything else that does not work in the home…one has to be prepared for a long-drawn-out battle with the organization to get someone to visit and rectify the fault. One has no idea at all whether the service/delivery person will come that day, leave alone the time. I really cannot understand how the services sector expects that someone will be at home all the time with nothing to do but wait for the arrival of the concerned person.

And when they do arrive, sometimes the problem is properly addressed, and sometimes due to the shoddy workmanship, the problem recurs almost immediately, and the whole process has to be gone through again by the hapless consumer.

Take the instance of the gas cylinder delivery. Why cannot the gas agency specify which homes will get the gas at what times? At least, they could say, Day + 2, afternoon, so that the consumer can stay at home at that time. But no. The harried housewife or the homeowner has no other alternative but to put all the other work that may have to be done outside, or even take a day off, and sit at home, waiting with hope that diminishes as the hours pass.

I have heard so many of the “My bike had a puncture” excuses that it’s not funny any more. When he was at my place, I found on service guy telling someone who had called him on his mobile phone, “I am stuck in traffic, I will see if I can come to your place by the evening.”…thus making the consumer wait with false hopes. He then called up his office and said that he would go home after the next visit. Then why on earth could he not tell the consumer that he would not be able to make it? And why tell a lie? He could as well have said that he was held up because another customer’s repairs were taking longer than scheduled.

I do agree that with the present-day traffic, going from place to place, locality to locality, cannot be easy for the service engineer, too. But surely some time-budgeting can be done and customer visits can be divided into morning/evening and customers informed accordingly.

But consumerism in India just doesn’t exist….once we buy a product, we are at the mercy of the service people, and whether we threaten or plead, the effect seems to be the same…the service engineer or the delivery persson comes as and when he wishes, and if one is not at home, then, sometimes he might leave a card stating that he had been…and the hapless consumer has to start the rigmarole of booking and waiting all over again.

That’s why I say that the consumers of Bangalore can easily take up jobs in five-star restaurants…they are the best waiters.

5 Comments so far

  1. ilovebangalore on April 23rd, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

    You have to accept the fact that it is not only Bangalore, every city in India is facing this problem. But, remember, we still have some service providers who really cares for customers. I do not accept such derogatory tag like "shoddy" to Bangalore. If it is shoddy in Bangalore it is shoddy in Kolkota, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai too…

  2. Deponti (bglr_deepa) on April 23rd, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

    Well, if it’s shoddy in the other cities, that’s no reason not to accept the tag in Bangalore. If you want specifics: have been fighting tooth and nail to try and get the building plumber, (whose services I pay for every month) my gas delivery man (Sheela Agencies), the BSNL JPNagar 3rd Phase exchange, and the UPS people (Unipaar Systems) , to let me know *when* the cylinder, the repair man, and the new modem, respectively, will arrive at my door…. and this is the third time the modem has conked out, the fourth time the UPS has given way during a power cut. The plumber arrived after four days of follow-up; the UPS people took 3 days and did not come at the time I was waiting for them….and so it goes. Whenever I try to speak to someone higher up, they are "not available in the office". The lady in BSNL who finally did address my modem issue, and gave me a temporary replacement, and asked me to come this week, is on leave all of this week and halfway into the next….and her colleagues tell me that they cannot look into my complaint.

  3. sandipb on April 25th, 2008 @ 9:20 am

    You seem to have incorrect expectations from the service industry. The concept of a labour intensive service sector is only going to decrease over time. Over the past few years and over the coming years, you will find that the work you have been traditionally been expecting others to do for you, is increasingly being done by yourself.

    In your own example of the delivery of gas cylinders, it is happening that way for me. With both me and my wife working, and frequently working late hours at that, there is simply no possibility of waiting for people to turn out at home later in the day. Especially with traffic being worse at normal hours of the day in the city. So, when we need gas, I drag my cylinder to the nearest provider, and get a replacement. It might look like unnecessary effort, but at least i get to control the time.

    I think the future is of high cost, higher quality service industry, instead of the current cheap, unreliable and low quality service.

    Besides, as long as most folks in the city find the concept of home delivery of gas itself as a godsend, they take whatever they can get.

  4. ilovecheese on April 30th, 2008 @ 11:54 am

    I guess the problem arises due to lack of respect. We (maybe subconciously) don’t respect what all these service persons do for us, and in turn, they don’t respect our time. I’ve seen my family members at the doctor’s office, acting very polite, but at the same time being rude and huffy to the lab technician, just because he did not wear a white coat and sit behind a nice shiny table?
    We all have this image in our minds that all "menial" services like sweeping, sanitation, peons, bus-drivers etc don’t require politeness and humanity. We assume they "have" to do their jobs, but if we were to exachange places we wouldn’t survive even a couple of hours! This is not related only to Bangalore, and being a kattar Banglorean for nearly 26 years, I have no shame in admitting, it has become "shoddy".

  5. blrbubbly on April 30th, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

    helloo miss honesty….

    I think ur not an alien to this country..every city, every town has service guys who have the same temperament. somewhere down the line, even if ur subjected as one, you would probably reply them or behave sometimes due to the work pressure…

    Pl do not categorise BANGALORE for any faults. As BLR is no more a virgin city with local people..It is like a mother engulfing all the migrants like her own children and providing the best oppourtinies and the weather to match…

    Take care and pl give the plus points of bangalore and never be a pessisment for : Do you know what a pessimist is? A man who thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it.

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