Thursday, April 28, 2011

Consumer rant #3: How can I ‘rely’ on them?

The stunts companies pull! All to ‘serve the customer’. Like this large telecom company that is my ‘Internet on the go’ service provider.
A few days ago — on April 23 to be precise — I got my monthly bill. Along with it came a sheet of discount coupons. Problem is:
a. Half the coupons on the sheet are for use only in Tamil Nadu. And I live in Kerala. So those coupons are useless.
b. All the coupons were valid only till March 31 this year. And I got them on April 23, three weeks after they have lost any utility.
I know that customer service is an oxymoron in India’s telecom industry. But I can’t help wonder what the purpose of this whole ‘privileges’ exercise was. As any basic book on marketing would declare, it’s not a very bright idea to offer consumers promotions they cannot use; you’d probably end up pissing them off.
Of course it could all have been the result of a ‘system error’, as this other experience with the same company shows.
Over the past three-four weeks I’ve received three calls from the company’s customer care executives wanting to know if I would like to upgrade to a faster ‘Internet on the go’ package. Each time it sounded like I was talking to the same customer care executive, and each time my answer was ‘no thank you’.
Logically, my first ‘no’ should have been captured by the company’s computer system and should have prevented follow-up calls. At least, follow-up calls over consecutive weeks.
So when I got the third call I asked the guy at the other end why the company was calling me a third time when I’d already said no twice. There was a moment of silence, followed by the cover-all answer: “Your ‘no’ is not showing up in the system.” Some system that, not to have got my ‘no’ twice!
Perhaps it’s just that the company’s marketing strategy hinges on the  ‘pester someone sufficiently and they’ll agree to anything just to get rid of you’ philosophy. Oh, and I got another call — the fourth one — yesterday offering to upgrade my Internet connection. I wonder when they’ll give up.

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