Claims are tall that consumer is the king

Claims are tall that consumer is the king

Make a call to book a complaint regarding your BSNL telephone. All you hear are recorded instructions — “press 1 for Kannada, 2 for English; press 2 for complaints; press...” and so on. Complaint against your bank? Problem with your credit card? Want to book a gas refill? All services have been outsourced to call-centres.

Fine. But what about the effectiveness of these services? I had a bitter experience when I booked a gas refill through the call-centre. My waiting list number was one. Despite that, I did not get the refill for 10 days. When I contacted my agent after a lot of efforts (it is a Herculean task to speak to the agent, though he has nearly 7-8 lines), I was shocked to learn that my request had not even been registered.

When I have a problem with my broadband connection, I am directed to contact the call-centre. When I dial the toll-free number, I have to listen to music and ads for minutes together. If at all I get to hear a human voice, after pressing so many digits on my phone and listening to all the nonsense for 20-25 minutes, all that the person does is take down my complaint and say that it will be passed on to the person concerned. When the problem is not solved, I call up again. Now, another person takes the call. So, I have to repeat all my woes.

Many a times, by the time we get through to a human voice and explain our problems, the line snaps and we have to start all over again.

Once, somebody called me up and said: since I was a very good client, I was chosen for a reward — a wrist watch — by the credit card company. I got suspicious. I said I did not want any reward as there may be strings attached. But he said there was no such thing and I was to just furnish my residential address and avail just a part of the loan offered. I said I did not want any loan but he insisted that I had to just avail the first part of it and repay the same in the same month for which I need not pay any interest. I followed his instructions, but the watch never arrived! Instead, I was charged some interest, for which once again I had to waste hours on telephone to get it revoked.

Annual maintenance

Another big thing is the AMC racket! For every consumer product we buy, the company forces us to enter into annual maintenance contracts — coughing up heavy amounts. After receiving the money, the company simply forgets us. We have to be behind their back to remind them of the number of free service visits that they promised. We have to keep calling them up and furnish our address and about the convenient time everyday.
We keep squabbling over the delay and the complaints reach some call-centre located in Mumbai or Delhi. All that the person, who receives our call, has to say is, “Sorry Madam, I have noted your complaint and will pass it on to the official concerned. You will hear from him. I can do nothing beyond that, since I am not in Bangalore”.

In the name of ‘better service’, things have only gone from bad to worse. Forty to 50 years ago, the products manufactured were of good quality and rarely did they go under repair.  Even when they did, had small little problems. The companies provided services sincerely.

Then, middle class families purchased consumer goods for a lifetime. But today, even expensive consumer goods are sold with guarantees of just one or two years. In the guise of exchange offers, consumers are looted. Thus families end up buying television sets, refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines and grinders almost once in three or four years!

Similarly, then, complaints made to service providers were taken seriously and attended to sincerely. A bank manager would be ashamed of receiving a complaint against his branch and would do the best to avoid any such instance. But today, complaints are hardly considered shameful and the customers have to move heaven and earth to reach his complaint to the authority concerned, because call-centres form a thick wall between him and the company.

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