Friday, May 26, 2006

The Customer Is Always Wrong...

A couple of days ago i had the misfortune of watching my debit card being devoured for breakfast by the ATM machine. Let me tell you, its not a very pleasant feeling, especially when you belong to that unfortunate minority with a single operational bank account. Still, i consoled myself with the thought that probably it will take a day at max before i am reunited with my provider. BIG MISTAKE...

The incident took place at the prabhadevi branch of UTI bank and i walked in with the most bechaara expression i could manage. After hearing my tale of woe, the sweet girl at the customer service desk informed me that i need to get in touch with the bandra branch where my account resides, as the card will be sent there. Being a working day, i had to postpone my trip to the friendly neighbourhood branch till evening, when i would finally return to sweet home bandra. Now "evening" is a relative word i discovered because by 7:30pm, when i reached the bandra branch, the bank had already downed its shutters. Watch out world!! Here comes globally competitive india.

Day 2 morning, again saw me at the bank in the grim hope of getting back my visa power, where i encountered a gentleman. Damn! no sweet girl this time so the charm will have to take a backseat. Mr. Banker told me that i will have to fill-up a form for blocking the card, after which he can call up the prabhadevi branch to confirm if they have the card. I didn't really understand what he had to confirm because i was right there when the card was gobbled. Ditto for the move to block the card coz if the card is with the bank, it can't be misused right. Don't get me wrong here coz I'm all for processes to ensure quicker turnaround time but when they delay things, that's when i have a problem. So Mr. Banker told me that he will give me a call in the evening to confirm when i can collect my card.

Evening dawned, or rather "dusked" and still there was no call. I felt like an anxious boyfriend waiting for that buzz which will fill my heart with joy but Mr. Banker obviously didn't love me anymore. So i picked up the phone and called, only to be told that the card will first go to the head office and then be available at bandra on day 4. Time and money, both were running out, so much so that i had already borrowed some money from my domestic help.

Anyways, 2 days and some more borrowing from friends led to day 4. Work kept me in office till 8pm and i realised that i will have to wait another day. My fault completely. Reached the bandra branch on day 5 in the afternoon and another surprise awaited me. Mr. Banker said that the card was here but the person in-charge had locked it up and had left for the day. No spare keys, no emergency procedures, and definitely no compassion for the hapless customer.

I finally got my card on day 7 (day 6 was sunday) but the story doesnt end there. I received a frantic call from Mr. Banker who almost pleaded with me not to use the card as it hadnt been activated yet and i had to wait till day 8 to withdraw some much needed cash.

All this leads me to the point that i want to make. Are we slaves to processes to the extent of being unflexible to the needs of the customer? Correct me if I'm wrong but the main objective of business, according to management gurus is "to satisfy customer needs profitably". Hellloooooo....its not happening. Are we churning out robots who are programmed during induction and they simply carry out instructions from 9 to 6. Tell them your problem and you can instantly see "Error 816: Wrong command" flashing in their eyes. There is no legal recourse also as the judiciary is already grappeling with files overflowing with rapes, murders, and assaults. A debit card received late is the last thing they will bother with and even if they do, it will result in pocket change as compensation. Hardly something that will deter a large corporation from mending their ways (Punitive Damages, Where art thou?).

Ok, now that i have given vent to my frustration, its time to relax until it happens all over again :)

Friday, May 19, 2006

What better time to do a shri ganesh for this blog, than a relaxed saturday morning...and what better topic than the champions league final 2006 between arsenal and barcelona.

Decided to pay my respects to the football gods by staying up on a week night for a match which doesn't feature my favourite team (ManU). A colleague from office decided to join me on the pre-condition that i buy the beer. I had a feeling that it was going to be an uphill task for the gunners considering the barca line-up and my worst fears were confirmed when they were reduced to 10 men by an idiot of a referee. Jens Lehmann (he's not a banker despite the surname) was sent off for tackling a barca striker outside the box....I mean, duh....the ref needs to be a little sensitive (read sporting) considering the magnitude of the match. Even my friend, the barca fan had some choicest words for the ref.

Time for the twist in the tale. If the ref was wearing a barca shirt, god decided to don his arsenal tee. You could actually see the renewed vigour with which the gunners went on the offensive resulting in a sublime goal from that wily old fox, Sol Campbell. The french junta went wild, what with their support for the english club because of Messrs Wenger and Henry. Halftime saw a dissapointed barca bench who were literally seeing their cup dreams slipping away.

The second half started with some more scrappy play from the spanish club with the best player in the world being denied space for his trademark feints. Was this to be another moment of glory for the english premiership after liverpool's triumph last year. Unfortunately, NO.

Frank Rijkaard made some inspirational changes in the body of Henrik Larsson and Juliano Belletti and before long Larsson had let Eto'o through for the equaliser. The gunners had not even recovered from the shock, when they were sent to the electric chair by Belletti, making it defenders(2) - strikers(1) for the match.

All in all, a match which had its moments, but could not rise above average as all the hyped players like Ronaldinho, Henry, Fabregas etc. had a forgettable day at office. Lets hope the world cup is much better. Auf Wiedersehen (Goodbye)