Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The joke is on us. As always!

 I have not blogged about namma bengaluru for a while. I was busy with the  Mahabharata blog and Pandora's Box, a venture worth a blog! More importantly the subjects I like to blog are already covered extensively by the newspapers, the cable tv and books! Learning to Live in Bengaluru (and India!) does not just challenge an ex-NRI, it engages many eminent people all across the nation!

I used to think that anything connected with IT is a breeze! Not really! Today I was at the bank to get my passbook updated, but the system was down and out for a long time! The manager spoke loudly, to no one in particular, like an aside in a play, 'This is happening every day and not just our branch!' I gave up and collected my passbook and walked out.

 I went to the P.O. to collect interest on a deposit. The clerk, just as he was about to give me the money stopped. Then he, the postmaster and another senior colleague had a long discussion as they stared at the monitor. I and many others in the post office were kept waiting. It was close to lunch time and to their relief, I told them I would come back later in the afternoon. I hope it was more an input error than a system problem.

Then there is "A smart story" on how I got billed for something I did not want or even know!
It is possible the service supervisor who came to check my computer  for low speed just "HELPED ME" to have a better speed at a very high cost. He surely helped his company. Probably  even he did not know, as he was guided by a smart executive on his cell phone. So BEWARE!

 I do not want to name the company. I had enough arguments with them about how there was no message from them about the plan to tell me what I was getting into. After many discussions I finally got this. Dear Customer: The internet usage details of your.... broadband account for the current bill cycle are mentioned below:
High speed data transfer limit 10.0  GBs left in your account 6.83.  Days left in the current Bill Cycle 20. You can now retain your high speed by subscribing to any of our following ...... data pack:
Buy 1 GB for Rs. 99/- Buy 2 GB for Rs. 159/-
Buy 5 GB for Rs. 299/- Buy 10 GB for Rs. 449/-
Buy 20 GB for Rs. 799/- Buy 50 GB for Rs. 1499/-      
OR Continue as per Plan


Honestly I did not know I had chosen this 'Smart pack' and that too for 50 GB they had billed me for. Why would anyone jump from 10 to 50 when by calculation 10 GB would do? So seniors of my age, be careful. Not easy as these boys and girls are trained to speak at the high speed they  promise for the broad band but do not deliver! You get confused and bulldozed easily!

Then there was another incident which is still ongoing! I had agreed to keep a service on safe custody for a while at no charge! After a few months  my IT karma kicks in and a girl calls me to ask about the safe custody and I tell her 'please cancel!' To my surprise I get a bill the next month! It is a nightmare to go through their telephone system. We cannot deal with them in writing  as their emails are no-replay mails. We get a barrage of telephone calls from girls who are employed to chase overdue bills. They do no want to hear what you have to say. Their job is to chase overdue bills. Then senior executives take over and again no one really wants to listen to you. There is a stalemate and finally you receive a letter which beckons you to visit one of their offices to sort out the issues and they are willing to hear you out personally.


My friend who had a similar experience advises me to send them a registered letter and threaten to sue them for harassment. Anyway it is their word against mine, and their one way messages are all vague and sound very legal. I can give you examples of their SMS messages which takes you round and round! There are messages which tells you that you are billed for a service and add it will not be charged to you if it is in your planned package. I do not understand why there is a bill in the first place. Can they not build it into their system?  While all this is happening, the meter is kept running and the senior manager calls to negotiate the bill and offers magnanimously a discount on a bill which should not have been made!

I can go on ranting! This reminds me the article by Chetan Bhagat where he called some authorities Stupid. He was talking about airport security insisting on printed e-tickets while they could check the PNR numbers on the cell phones! May be he is right. If you forget to print, the airlines charge you Rs 50 to 100 for a print :-(

But having dealt with many levels of harassment over the phone, I conclude that we are neither stupid nor are we idiots, with some possible exceptions! IITians? ;-). But when I look at the general scene I guess we are faced with a set of jokers and as always the Joke is on us, the aam aadmi. The mango people!

 My friends will believe me when I tell them that the first time I heard these words, even I thought it meant mango people!