Monday, June 30, 2008

What an !dea? Seriously, a ****** !dea..

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at that point of time. I have gone mad for a minute or so. I had a mixed feeling of humour, frustration, harsh, confused, etc.

It's around 23hrs30 mins.. almost midnight and everyone in my house are in deep sleep. I usually don't wakeup unless until someone wakes me up very hard or atleast an earthquake is required to wake me. "Wo chali Wo chali, dekho pyaar ki gali...." suddenly started and My dad gave a serious push on my head. I opened my eyes as if there was an earthquake and he said, "Your mobile is ringing. Take the call or just switch it off." I searched for it and finally found it under the pillows. I pressed the green button on my mobile and took it towards my ear. The mixed feelings, I was speaking about started in my mind for a while. Can you guess who called me at almost 12'0 clock in the midnight?

As the phone touched my ears all I could hear (in telugu) was, "Now you can make any local call/STD for just one rupee. !DEA brings you a wonderful offer. An !DEA can change your life..."(Ippudu meeru okka roopayike local call cheyyavachu. !DEA meeku samarpisthondhi oka adbuthamaina offer. Oka !DEA mee jeevithanne marchesthundhi....)

Can you just imagine about seriously getting up in the middle of a deep sleep at midnight to take a pre-recorded call from your cellular service provider. I am frustrated since few days with the pre-recorded calls from !DEA customer care. I have been getting such pre-recorded calls twice-a-day since a month or so. But after this call at the midnight the frequency has increased from 2 to 5 calls per day increasing the frustration level. I tried to contact the customer care already but, when I dialled the toll free number 9848012345, all I could get on that was:

“Welcome to !DEA prepaid customer care. To know your balance, please dial *111# after you finish this call and the details will be sent to you as an SMS very shortly. Now you can know your tariff plans through SMS. Type PLAN and SMS it to 3147. And the line goes dead saying "network busy." This went on happening for a long time.”

After repeated calls and trials, I heard the same message followed by:

Press 1 for PUK number
Press 2 for New information in !DEA
Press 3 for Recharge options
Press 4 for Dialler tones, GPRS & Value added services
Press 5 for Language change
Press 6 for Last recharge details

I waited for a while to get the 7th option of talking to a customer care executive to register a complaint about the problem but, couldn't find any. It seems that !dea has moved away from the option of using customer care executives. Now, I don't have an option to register a complaint and I left it like that only as it is only 2 calls per day. But, now it has reached 5 and I thought of moving ahead.

I checked out the !DEA website and could get a redressal mechanism for a complaint.(Refer Template 1 for exact mechanism description). As per the info given on the website I wrote a mail to the Nodal Officer describing my problem.(Refer Template 2 for my exact mail). And the reply was "Interscan MSS has quarantined a message-Content Filter." With no option left before me, I mailed the authority above the nodal office, i.e; appellate authority and can you expect the reply. It's the same reply as stated above. Now nothing left to do, I mailed the DOT (Department of Telecom) authority as given on the website for redressal. This time I haven't got any reply through mail but, got a call the next day.

The call is from New Delhi from the side of DOT, asking for my details to make sure that my problem is solved and from that day onwards, the pre-recorded calls are gone. Finally, it's a bit of relief for me.

Though I have been out of this problem, I couldn't understand why !DEA cannot maintain a process to register a complaint through the toll free number. The Customer Care department at !DEA needs to remember some basics.

1. Every customer cannot have internet availability to send an email to the nodal officer or cannot run to the nearest !DEA showroom always for such things. As soon as this happened, I tried out Reliance, Tata Indicom tollfree customer care numbers from my dad's mobile and Vodafone, Airtel from my friends mobiles. Your competitors are perfect in terms of having an option of talking to an executive to register a complaint. And of course, !DEA too has this facility in some places and it doesn’t follow the same in all the places. I checked out with the Delhi circle. It has an option 9 to talk to an executive but the Andhra circle as well as the Maharashtra circle(not Mumbai) doesn’t have the same.

2. You must atleast have a better checking system. I still wonder what has been "profane" in the mail I wrote to the nodal officer/appellate authority (Check Template 2 for mail) that a filter could see and is invisible to human eyes. I still beg you people to let me know if you see something profane in my message.

3. Never cross the limits of advertising. It doesn't matter much to many customers if the advertising through pre-recorded calls or SMS is within the limits or doesn't disturb them. It's a simple logic that noone can bear 5 pre-recorded calls per day and that too daily. And this is too stupid and crazy if you go with these calls at night times.

4. Try observing your customer behaviour. Many of these pre-recorded calls come from one or two specific numbers daily. And a large percentage of these customers cut the call as soon as they hear it as a pre-recorded one or they do so even without listening to it, as they already know the numbers. So, try observing your customer and try to switch the mode of advertising instead of these useless costs on the calls.


If you say, "What an !DEA - An !DEA can change ur life"

The customers may grasp it as, "What an !DEA - An !DEA can change my life as well as my connection too"

Template 1:;jsessionid=Lj9HnnDl1dvg5JtgnkttxRyg8pKlQ06hCFgP94qfKDWNvX3v2PNR!-1770988926?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=IDEA_Page_Consumer

Consumer Grievance Redressal Mechanism

To ensure timely resolution of any grievance that you may have, we have setup Toll Free Call Centre numbers at each of our circles. You may register your grievance at our Call Centres and we will ensure timely redressal of your Grievance. Toll Free Numbers

Incase you are unable to get a satisfactory resolution to your grievance on approaching our call centre, you may get in touch with our Nodal Officers in your circle. These Nodal Officers will ensure resolution of your escalations within 10 days. For any escalation being reported by you, we will provide you with a unique docket number as a future reference for the same. To get more information about our Nodal Officers, please click here

While our Nodal Officers will be ensuring resolution to your escalations, however, incase you are not satisfied with their response, you may in writing make an appeal with our Appellate Authority in the attached format. For more detail, please click here.

IDEA Manual of Practice for Consumer Grievance Redressal

For contact details of Public Grievance Cell setup by Department of Telecommunications, M/o Communications & I.T, please click here

Template 2:

"Dear Officer / Mr. Nandan Kumar,

This is Sajja Praveen Chowdary(9848XXXXXX), a pre-paid customer of IDEA Cellular Ltd. I have a problem with the pre recorded calls that I get from your side daily. Till some days back, it was like 2 calls a day that I get from you.
But now it has reached 5-6. I get 5-6 pre recorded calls from your side. And the worst part of it is that some times I have been getting this calls around 10'o clock or 11:30 in the night. It's absolutely rubbish and it annoys me in a big way.

I tried to contact the customer care through 9848012345 but it doesn't have an option to talk to any of the customer care executives to complain regarding the same. All the 6 options that I get in them are about language change, new plans, last recharge, etc. Sorry to use these words but still... What an Idea? What a bull shit idea it is? in not having an option to register a complaint or to talk to an executive for information.

I don't want to listen to any pre-recorded calls from the side of IDEA from today. Please resolve this matter immediately or let me know whom should I contact to get this done.

Thanks & Regards"

Open for Comments

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Seriously planning for Business

I have been to Hyderabad a few days back to find out some details on the business that I was planning about. I met a Hyderabadi friend of mine, Praveen (aka Gabbar-that's what IMTians call him). We had a deep discussion about the plans and finally set out towards Hyderabad Central. We were on our way to the Mall in a city bus when, some crazy and funny ideas struck our minds. Though we aren't seriously looking at the businesses described below but the conversations went like this:

Me: Hey, I have a serious idea.

Ga: What's that?

Me: Every day we have been seeing in the news about the Land mafia.

Ga: So, are you planning to join them or to start a new gang?

Me: No, Let's have a temples mafia.

Ga: What's that?

Me: Let's take some of the temples into our custody and make it in the form of a business. So, let's start a temple that you know.

Ga: But all the famous temples are under the endowment board. So, it might not be possible and the small temples don't have that sort of revenue.

Me: Then, let's start a chain of temples and brand it.

Ga: Will the government accept this sort of a business?

Me: Nothing is impossible with this government's rule. Let us plan some share for the party in power.

Ga: Then we can even invite people to take franchisee. But, why should people come to our temples only?

Me: Let's brand them and advertise them.

Ga: ohhk.. we can do it in this way... Gabbar's temples-To & Fro ticket to heaven.

Me: Yah.. Gabbar's temples-Feels like heaven (copy from Raymonds)

Ga: Gabbar's temples-Connecting people and God too (copy from Nokia)

Me: Hey, don't shout. Other passengers in the bus may copy our so brilliant ideas.

Ga: Yes. They may. And let's even apply for a patent and copyrights for our brand.

Me: I have another idea.

Ga: What's it about?

Me: It's about the sanitary business. Many of those who are travelling or who come out on some work might get a nature call and would have some problem because of the worst maintained public toilets.

Ga: So, what are you gonna do? Do you mean to say that we will take a contract of maintaining and cleaning them from the state government?

Me: No, Let's have a toilets business. A chain of toilets like a chain of retail stores.

Ga: That's a shitty idea.

Me: Yah, that's what am speaking about. People need a better place to shit too.

Ga: But, who will give you so much of space. The land costs a lot.

Me: Then let's have a mobile toilet chain. We will have a van which consists of 10 toilets. We will park it in a street near to the famous places like Ameerpet, Koti, ABIDS, etc. And we will have a board on the main road showing a direction for the toilets. When the tank is filled or at certain times of low traffic, the van goes to the dumping area and comes back.

Ga: O.K. But will the government agree for this business?

Me: Yes. They should accept as this is a sort of social service to the community and they should give us a subsidy. They shouldn't ask us to pay taxes, etc.

Ga: why should people only come to our toilets.

Me: We will maintain it in a hygeine and a clean state. Let's advertise

Ga: Yes... Gabbar's toilets-"feel at home."

Me: Gabbar's toilets-A hygeine place to s(h)it.

Ga: Gabbar's toilets-"Recognised by the govt. of A.P."

Me: As this is a social service let's ask our favourite and famous politicians to open our organization and let's have them as our first customer. We will click a photo of them s(h)itting and pput posters across the city for publicity.

Ga: Ohh.. that's a great idea.

Meanwhile, we arrived at Lakdikapool stop and got down. I don't know what the other passengers sitting in the seats around us might have been thinking but I can guess a little bit. They might not have thought that we both are MBA graduates but they might have atleast once guessed that "We both are the missing patients from the Erragadda Mental hospital.

Important Note: We are seriously not serious and not seriously serious about these businesses. So, please don't leak these ideas out. And in case you want to be a partner in our business, you can contact GABBAR for that.
Open for comments

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Schizophrenic ?? or Psychophrenic ??

Yesterday, I was busy in reading someone's blog and suddenly a popup came out of gtalk. It says "Why are you Schizophrenic?" It was from one of my friends at IMT, Arabinda Subudhi. I immediately replied "What happened? I am not schizophrenic. My thoughts are schizophrenic."

Meanwhile I just remembered someone pronouncing my blog name as "Psychophrenic thoughts" and I immediately told Arbind that, "It's not psychophrenic. It's schizophrenic." And in reply to this came a link,

And it shows....

"Main Entry: schizo·phre·nia
Pronunciation: \ˌskit-sə-ˈfrē-nē-ə\
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin
Date: 1912
1 : a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as delusions), perception (as hallucinations), and behaviour —called also dementia praecox — compare paranoid schizophrenia
2 : contradictory or antagonistic qualities or attitudes "

He saw the first meaning of it and got a feeling that, I am having psycho thoughts. It's the same feeling that many of my readers do have about the name of my blog. But if you have a look at the second meaning it says about the contradictory qualities or attitudes.

Actually I picked up this term from the book "We are like that only" by Rama Bijapurkar. She talks about how consumer India behaves and describes it as "the heterogeneity of a consumer base of sixty-two socio-cultural regions, twenty three languages, diverse food habits, climatic conditions and cultural orientations."

And hence my blog name stands for the thoughts that come across my mind with diverse conditions of the Indian consumers in picture. And am not psycho or I don't have any psycho thoughts.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Values & Ethics in Business?? An absolute Bullshit

"Who will remove garbage out of the dustbin daily? Why will he clean the drainage weekly? Will he do it for free saying that it is my duty to clean the drainage or the garbage? Where will the health department and the sales tax department go? The municipality garbage cleaning fellow and drainage cleaning fellow needs a Rs.1000/- each for doing their duty. The health department needs something. Else, you will have daily inspections in your shop. You need to pay the sales tax people something inorder to allow you in running the business smoothly. And meanwhile if the special squad visits, they need some 1-2lakhs. All these will be called miscellaneous costs and are compulsory for doing a business...." said an Uncle of mine.

I, along with one of my school friends have been seriously thinking and working for the past months over starting a business in the tier-III cities. And I have set some principles of my own in terms of running the business. I don't know whether if I can follow all these principles in the long term but have seriously thought of not violating them in the short term. Some of them include maintaining all the records perfectly, not violating the rules, no to child labour, not to make black money through the business etc.

Meanwhile we thought of meeting an Uncle who has some sort of experience in running a business and would like to invest, if our plans are good enough. We had a good discussion for an hour or so and finally he had a look at our proposed balance sheet. And he reacted immediately over the missing costs in the sheet and it went like this. "Who will remove garbage out of the dustbin daily?.................... All these will be called miscellaneous costs and are compulsory for doing a business." I told him about maintaining the business as per my principles and it might not cost me if I do so. And the reply was "These are the costs if you run your business within the rules and regulations. Just imagine where will your costs run if you are not within the boundary of rules."

After hearing to all this bullshit and daily observations from the society, I have been wondering about few things: First is to introduce a new column in the balance sheet named "Bribes", second id to remove the subject "Values & Ethics" from the B-School syllabus. The first one will do a benefit in at least giving a way for the people who want to be sincere in the society to be so. i.e.; If I want to do business in a perfect way still I can do so by showing my costs in the column called Bribes and will continue so that I need not make money in Black. If this is not available, I need to make some money off the accounts so that it goes in the form of bribery. Removing this subject called "Values & Ethics" which is absolutely useless in this scenario will save at least some time for the students.

I remember as per my theoretical knowledge that "Government and its policies are one of the macro factors in doing business" (from the strategic management subject). At that point of time for me the policies meant only the rules that they make and the regulations in the sectors. But now it seriously means a lot more to me. I have been slowly recognising that these policies are those which decide many other factors like these bribes in doing business. If the scenario continues in the similar way it would soon be called a macro macro factor (means the square of macro).

Seriously, it seems to show that the government is not even ready to allow people in doing the business in the right way. And if these things continue where would the entrepreneurial spirit of our people go?? It's those 2-3 lakhs profit which people look at when they start the business. If they can't even take it out of the business obviously, they need to step in the wrong way to make the ends meet. And if this is the situation in the tier-III cities, how worse would the situation be in the cities and towns below this level. And how will new business develop in the right way in the rural areas??

Open for comments.............