Monday, July 07, 2008

Are You Being Served?

This post is a simple one: to make unsuspecting customers aware of faulty "Manhattan Murder Mystery" DVD being sold at 50% discount in Tata Croma stores (Bangalore, India). Unless I am mistaken, all disks in the batch being off-loaded stop 20 minutes before the end (at chapter 25), right when Woody Allen enters the phone booth to make a call. Friends who bought the 50% off disk at other stores also faced similar issue. We bought this Sony DVD some 6 months back and after 3 trips to replace the replacements, informed both Sony and Croma; yet the disk continues to sell. I took this picture last week at Croma in Eva Mall, Bangalore.

Despite their calls to end piracy, it is surprising how media companies in India cheat worse than those pirates. In any other country, Sony would not only recall all such disks but also pay compensation to whole bunch of buyers. In India, they shamelessly take the customer for a ride by offering blatant 50% off on disks they know to be bad. I had a similar experience with Disney and they sent me the correct disk after 1 month of follow-up. They were selling "The Incredibles", again at 50% off at the same store (Croma), without the special features disk but same catalogue code and DVD cover as the 2-disc edition!!

Perhaps the reason they get away is Indians are so used to bad service, they feel at least the vendor was good enough to offer 50% off on the bad disk. Or maybe we are just too lazy to demand our rights as a customer.

I think I have blogged many times before on the changing face of retail in India. How the shops are getting swankier, how more choices are available and how the latest and the best is available in India. So much so that going abroad is such a bore-- nothing left for us to bring from "phoren". Everything is cheaper and better back home. On the other hand, the experience of shopping itself is becoming more painful. Gone are the days of the ever-eager salesman who'd use both his glib talk and excellent product knowledge to alternately coax you and con you into buying. It was a charming game where you started off testing his knowledge, then he tested your gullibility, so you test how cheap he can go and he tests how much more he can sell you. By the end, the salesman would have made you feel that not only did you get a wonderful bargain but you are an astute shopper as well-- leaving you completely happy.

On the other hand, we have the daft floor staff today who couldn't care less about your needs. They are clueless about the items being stocked and return "No sir, we don't have" without batting an eyelid. They are completely immune to the lost opportunity, lost sales and probably lost customer. At stores like Croma, that boast the Tata name, shopping experience can be frustrating. More for the shameless disinterest shown by the staff than the price or quality of products.

The house of Tata has been know for their "human touch" even in days of Weston TV and Bajaj scooters. I look forward to seeing them get their Mojo back, baby...


Cyn said...

Ah the infamous incompetent Indian sales person! I keep talking about those in Switzerland to my familly and friends. We admitted that while service is a bit pathetic in Switzerland at least the store staff knows what they are talking about. While in India they simply try to get you to buy more crap.
Never experienced bad DVDs in India but as a woman I need bras from time to time, and I went several time into outlets such as "Straps" in Eva Mall...DON'T ever go ladies, the sale lady there looks pissed at the idea she has to assist a customer, and when you ask her if they have your size in one particular model, they will just give you whatever comes, that's how this obscure idiot kept insisting that I should try on a bra that was 3 sizes and 2 cups smaller than what I told her I was, and she acted puzzled when I clearly wouldn't march in the cabin to try it on, and even more puzzled when I marched right out not buying any of the "alternative crap" she tried to make me buy to finally explain that there was no such sizes as I mentionned in the bra world. So that's right, she tried to take me for an idiot on top of it all. The lack of competence in the retail world is appaling to say the least

Anonymous said...

Sad to see your suffering but really we are long way away from the concept of customer service. In the natural evolution of retail - enhanced "value-added" service comes a long way ahead. For eg. look at the Kirana stores - now, AFTER being in existence for more than a thousand years - they have some semblense of customer service. Right now these swanky stores are just starting up. Let them first figure out how to sell and make profits - then will they figure out how to keep their customers happy. Did you know that the average break even point for a store in a mall is around 7 years? And then you expect them to offer you service? Uh uh... ;)

Mama - Mia said...

the pity is i STILL dont know what the Manhattan Muder Mystery was!!! aaaarrgghh!!

i guess when more and more customers make noise and insist on their rights will we get similar treatment from the big corporations as well!!

someday that will happen too! people like you are just a start!



WhatsInAName said...

Good one that!
I guess the word "discount" is very attractive and makes one blind!
I liked the way you described the way we dont get "served" :) All the tests after which both the parties are happy! A win-win situation. Yes, I do miss that too :)
But sometimes I feel its better there is noone around to bully me. I mean I feel independant and free to make my own decisions!