Monday, June 16, 2008

Indian Customer Service

Customer service in India is an amazing experience, one that I think everyone should try. This is a conversation I had when I phoned Tata Sky after they changed their channel packages one night. I discovered the changed 5 minutes before “The Missing Link”. I was not happy.

Me: What happened to the BBC channel? It was working yesterday.
Agent: Sir we cancelled it from your subscription to save you money.
Me: I paid for three months in advance and I don’t want you to save me money. I didn’t ask you to save me money.
Agent: I agree with you, Sir, but we are saving you money.
Me: Why would you cancel my channels without informing me?
Agent: I agree with you, Sir, I can add that channel for you for an extra cost.
Me: But I don’t want an extra cost, I want the channel I paid for. The channel you turned off.
Agent: I agree with you, Sir, but we are saving you money. It’s a big saving to you, Sir.
Me: How much money are you saving me?
Agent: Sir, old package 300 rupees a month, new package 230 (basically the difference comes to 1 USD per month) I can add the channel for you for 60 rupees.
Me: So you are doing all of this to save me 10 rupees? (10 Rupees is about 20 cents)
Agent: Yes, I agree with you, Sir, we are saving you money.
Me: Why didn’t you just give me 10 rupees credit and keep my channels as they were.
Agent: I completely agree with you, Sir, I can add the channel now if you like and have the same working immediately for a total monthly fee of 290 rupees.

And on and on it goes until they work you into a place of desperate and exasperated submission.

And it is not just over the telephone. I was in Nautica yesterday and wanted to try a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I wasn’t sure if I should take a medium or small, so took one of each and a pair of jeans to try on. This is the conversation I had as I held 2 t-shirts and a pair of jeans:

Me: I want to try these on.
Sales guy: Yes Sir, I will show you the trial room.
Sales guy then takes one of the t-shirts off my little stack and hands me one shirt and the pair of jeans
Me: I would like to try both shirts as I am not sure how they will fit.
Sales guy: This is the right shirt for you.
Me: How do you know?
Sales guy: This one will fit.
Me: How do you know if it will fit the way I want?
Sales guy: I agree with you, Sir, I am certain this is the right size.

I tried it one and I didn’t like the fit. Instead of trying the other, I handed everything back and left the store, walking over to Calvin Klein.

In Calvin Klein, I was just browsing, looking at whatever caught my attention in that way that browsers all over the world do. I had had my hand on a pair of jeans at the time and as giving them the once over:

Sales girl: Those are our denims.
Me: Thank you.
Sales girl: You want to look at denims?
Me: I’m just looking.
Sales girl: We have more denims in back of store.
I touch a white shirt
Sales girl: We have same in black.
Me: Thank you.
Sales girl: You want to see the shirt in black?
Me: No, I'm just looking.
Sales girl: (Pointing) More denims are right over there.
Me: Thank you.

But my all-time least favorite company to deal with is Airtel. I had disconnected my phone during the first week of February. In person and in writing at an Airtel Relationship Center. They kept barring my services every time I left the country and when I was in Europe over the Christmas holidays, it was just too much. At the end of May I got a bill for monthly access charges for May to June. I call Customer Service and after five minutes navigating through an IVR system, I get customer service rep on the phone:

Me: Can you please tell me why I have a bill and why I also have access charges for the time of May 25 to June 24?
Agent: That is your rental fee.
Me: But my phone has been disconnected since February.
Agent: I completely agree with you, Sir, but you have to pay the rental fee for this time period.
Me: Why? I don’t have an Airtel connection.
Agent: I totally agree with you, Mr. Robert, but this is your bill.
Me: But I don’t have a phone.
Agent: I agree with what you are saying and this is the rental fee for the period from May to June.
Me: I disconnected my phone on February 6 or 7.
Agent: Sir, it was disconnected on 11 February.
Me: Then why are you sending me a bill now?
Agent: Sir, I am explaining to you that you have to pay the rental fee.
Me: But you just told me my phone has been disconnected since 11 February. I don’t understand.
Agent: Please be informed that I agree with you, Mr. Robert. Would you like me to request someone to pick up the payment?

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