Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Welcome to *****. How can I help you?

"We have 24 hour helpline over the phone ma'am" a refrain that makes me VERY angry these days. Sure, it was exciting a couple of years ago when they said it. Wow, I don't have to go to the bank at all you know I just have to pick up the phone and express my wishes and they shall be fulfilled, I told my techphobic Mom. Today, she has the last laugh. She does not have unexplained figures withdrawn from her bank account nor does she have to yell at some moron sitting on the other end of the phone, who has been trained only to say "ma'am your complaint has been registered and will be looked into it." Ask him / her why it has not been looked into that last six times I called, the answer would be "Ma'am we have registered a complaint." Moronic enough to make me want to throw the very instrument I am holding at her.

By the virtue of being cosmopolitan, tech savvy and very lazy person myself I've had the fortune to talk to the call centre employees of all companies, products and services one needs to live a normal life in the 21st century. I've spent many pulses on talking to Telephone Company, mobile company, Washing Machine Company, Credit Card Company, Banks, stove repair company, gas agencies, internet service provider, Home delivery guys, Apartment builders, home loan banks and countless other "service providers." And I can tell the number of times I've had an sensible conversation, let alone intelligent and got my work done in less than two calls.

You think I am exaggerating? Let me give you the latest examples. I've shifted my residence from TN to Karnataka recently so just before moving, very diligently in a very unpadma way I sent letters to all the service providers a letter requesting to change my contact address. Almost all of them took notice of them except standard chartered, whose credit card I hold. 45 days after I sent the change of address letter I called to check why the hell the address has not been changed? I had to select from the few million options the automated response system asked to me to choose from, enter all kinds of numbers from my credit card number to date of birth and finally the line goes dead. No "How may I help you?" just silence. I borrow some patience and try again. Same rigmarole of keying in numbers and this time a very pleasant sounding youngman with an accent from an unidentifiable phareen land answers my call. The conversation was heading towards disaster right from the start, when he said "How can I help you Mr. Ravi?" Read the full name damn it. But the remaining patience kicked in and in a very sober voice I tell him my problem. He listens to the entire story with utmost attention and then says "Ma'am we have received your letter but do not make the changes unless you call." By then a weird sense of calm prevails over me and I ask "can I do it now or should I call back in a better muhurtham" My sarcasm totally lost on the phareen accented guy. He then makes the changes and tells me they can send my statement on email too just incase the snail mail doesn't reach on time. I, ever sucker for technology agree. Then just before hanging up, very politely he asked me "ma'am do you need personal loans? we give it on very low interest rates" No thanks!

So much for customer service. And BTW very next day, my statement arrived on an email. But then I couldn't open it and so I wrote back to the customer service and they have now asked me for a fresh set of details only after which I can see my statement.

And yesterday to add insult to injury I found out that that I cannot take these guys to the consumer court for not keeping their promise :-(

"Customer is always right" Yeah right!!!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The thing that gives you perspective.

When life is going in every direction but the one you want, you try to stand back to take a look at it right? At that point there is usually something that hits you to tell you this why it isn't working or if you do that particular thing differently life will take another direction. Basically, one gets a perspective that was previously unseen. To each person this perspective comes very differently. Some see it when things hit rock bottom, some when they have a life shattering encounter. Some even see it when someone else has a life changing encounter! Romantics say love gives them a different perspective. Materialists, when they get rich and the believers, in prayers and faith.

To me it is Food. In the morning when I think of breakfast and if there is just the possibility Uppittu, that too without avarekaaLu or atleast coconut, I know my day is ruined. Or if there is Dosa without the coconut chutney I know the day isn't going very well. After a long day of work if there is just cold Uppittu left from the breakfast woe is me.

The reason for all the food talk is the weekend that just went by. The weekend was doomed right from the start. Vivek was working on a saturday - bad start, I was sick (even worse) and to top it all the new curtains came one day late and two of them missing. It was just the right combinations to blow away the weekend. But I combination of Andhra, Continental and Thai food along with some home made sambhar saved it:-) Every bad situation was countered with good food. Sure it cost both money and energy but it paid off. The weekend was rescued. Food definitely makes you look at the brighter side.

BTW in the search for perspective we encountered Tiramisu, the revered dessert from Italy. But I really don't know what the brouhaha (that's the first time I am using this word) is about.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Weekend Blues

I know blue is not the colour for the weekend, there is an explanation for this. First thing in the morning I switch on TV for some news. I haven't yet had the time to set the channels in order so I don't know what number it is on so I surf and go through about 6 music channels before I get to the news channel. By then I don't want to watch news anymore not because I am lazy but because Himesh Reshammiya has filled my senses! In not a very good way. I mean I am fed up of this guy. Every music channel I have seen, every chai shop I have been to, every public or private transport I have taken has played his songs endlessly. No I am not talking about the songs he only composed but the ones he also sang. Those nasal, soul piercing, wanna tear your hair out songs featuring himself in torn denim cap, a mike held upwards and that one and half expression of his. Good Lord. You will not believe the places I've heard him in. The fourteen hour drive from Lumberdung (in Arunachal) to Tezpur(in Assam) I heard every single song he ever sang at a decibel level that surely isn't music to one's ears. I was wishing for floo powder more than ever before. On the way when we stopped for chai, there was no respite because the man haunted there too. The worst blow came three days ago when I was rudely awakened at 6 am by the nasal rendition of O huzoor by the man on a bus that was headed to Trivandrum. That was god's own country that produced Yesudas for god sake. Sadly the torture didn't end with that it was not just the audio but video too. I realised most of the songs that didn't have the torn denim cap featured the serial kisser Emraan Hashmi. It just goes to prove that everyone has his / her place under the sun isn't it? Look at it Hashmi who can only kiss and not act to save his life and Reshammiya who can sing to murder both of them get all the airtime they want.

Like my dad says Ella Kaligaala!


After one full year of Blog hopping I have decided to ride the tide. See, I am not known for being with the in thing - my mother will vouch for that. But this trend I am not about to be left out of.
Bloggers and a few blog surfers think it is the coolest thing and a whole LOT of others think it is just perversion and narcism and megalomania and many more on those lines. Well it is their opinion :-)

I have decided to write - whatever it takes. This again is not original, I am borrowing this from Mr.Sardesai's dream project but it is so damn catchy and all encompassing that I couldn't resist. I hope I don't get sued over copyright issues. After all, this is democracy, everyone can speak up, right? (are there too many commas in that sentence?)