Update: This post is a winner of a Samsung Galaxy Tab in Indiblogger and Surf Excel Matic’s Soak No More Contest!

Oh Gosh, this travel agent/site promised me 3 nights 4 days with so many added benefits, but when I reached there apparently there was no reservation for me. How can that be? I called them to confirm before starting from my house. They mouth a non-genuine sorry, and I am left with the terrible sinking feeling of having to find a new place quickly to salvage my vacation, and dread the thought of needling out my refund from them later. I am dreading all the fine print that I forgot to read at the time of booking. You can imagine what a start that was to my vacation! I give them a piece of my mind and lament over my misfortune.

My airline tickets were booked through this mighty portal that promises to make all my trips super good. But, now the flight one-way is cancelled; I want a refund but they only will give me refund if I cancel both the sectors. How sad; I’ve to fret and continue on a later flight (whatever they accommodate me on) missing an important appointment. I fume and yell at the customer service representative, and I swear I won’t use their service again.

This huge spa/resort calls my family for a “free” lunch, and then packs me in a conference room selling their annual membership plan to me. I must say the presentation was impressive, and I push my hubby to pay some advance (Rs. 10,000). They swipe my CC twice and return both the slips for one transaction saying that it did not go through. To my horror, I find out that they have billed me twice. The CC company is not willing to budge and asks me to resolve my mess at my end. I break into a sweat at how I am going to get my Rs. 20,000 plus back? All the hospitality they doled out to me has somehow vanished into thin air.

The police officer is sitting on my passport application and not entertaining my calls for a police verification of address. It has been more than 4 months. What should I do? Can I take panga with a cop? How do I make him process my application? The Passport Office asks me to directly contact the police station in my area.

This big Furniture maker and a very old and respected brand in Indian market makes me pay the entire sum upfront for reupholstering my premium sofa that was initially bought from them. Once the money is in their bank, everything moves at snail’s pace. The promise of delivery within a week or two has already gone into a third week. The contact person does not even pick up my calls. What should I do? I look with dismay at my empty living room and fret in silence.

Haven’t you faced something similar in your life – inadequate service and promises unfulfilled? The last 3 experiences are from my own life and the other two happened to people known to me.

 

So, what do you think I did? Screamed on FB, tweeted, or wrote a blog about it? All of that did happen :). But, before that I took action. Let me tell you how to go about it:

 

Write loads of letters: First go to the relevant website. Find email ids of branch head, HR Head, VP, President, CEO – any high-ranking officials that you can find. Then shoot off letters sending ccs to all. You can send by email and also by registered posts to maintain a record. Tell them in detail your bad experience and everything that you went through highlighting the deficiency in service. Be firm in your language. And tell them about the legal recourses at your disposal. Tell them about word of mouth and promise them that your bad experience will be known. An established company will try to make amends and will reach out to you to resolve your grievance. I have succeeded in getting the money back (over Rs. 20,000) when the letters had gone to the filmstar owner of the huge resort in Bangalore that I mentioned above. The redressal with the Furniture manufacturer was even faster by sending emails. The sofa was delivered at my place in 2 days flat. I got apologetic phone calls from the branch head in Bangalore and HR head and their personal phone numbers for any future troubles. All I did was to shoot letters and emails. I chose not to stay quiet and demand what was rightfully mine.

Yes, it will not happen like a magic wand, and sometimes it may not happen at all. Be prepared to write follow-up letters if your first set of emails or letters are not heeded. And share experiences on your FB profile tagging the company’s FB page.

 

RTI: This is a powerful tool that is often not utilized by the common man/woman. For the Police Officer, what worked was the RTI. I have documented the entire process on my blog earlier. You can read my Passport experience if you wish to. You don’t have to be an activist to use RTI. All you need is to write a letter on a plain piece of paper along with a Rs. 10 Postal Order (you can buy it at a Post Office). And send it by registered post to the address. You can get information on the rti website, I’ve linked above. You will get a reply within 30 days. And trust me, it moves mountains. Suddenly, police officers call you to come finish your verification process, as if, you were the one delaying it! You can use RTI effectively in any government office where your file is stuck. Also, grab the email ids and phone numbers of higher officials that are also mentioned on the respective websites and use them to your advantage. Read how I got my BBMP khatawithout paying bribe in a place where I did not know the language, but I knew my rights and how to exercise them. Only the threat of RTI was enough here along with flashing the number of the Lokayukta and BBMP Commissioner that I had got from BBMP website.

Yes, we crib about corruption and bribing and bad processes. Often, it is we who are at fault because we are not informed enough even though educated. All information is available on the internet these days. But, we won’t make an effort to find out. We won’t make an effort to know our rights. And, we won’t speak up when wronged. What is the point of grumbling to your family and to your friends and suffering? Will it change the status quo? No! Take some constructive steps to channelize the frustration to yield results and also talk about it on your social media platforms. You might not succeed every single time, but unless you make the effort, how will you know?

Soak No More in this apathy, this lethargy and this permanent state of inaction. You owe it to yourself and to the society to get up and do something! Let the vibrating molecules of change hit your conscience and jolt you into action. Be the change you want to see around you!

This is my entry for Indiblogger’s “Soak no More” Contest by Surf ExcelMatic.

Pictures Courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net

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78 Thoughts on “Make That Change!

  1. wow! So frustrating! Glad there is a way, hopefully, to salvage the situation.
    Best of luck for the contest!

  2. Hi Rachna
    Very interesting.I had a similar experience in getting my passport.
    Definitely there is a need for the literate to know about and use RTI.If this is the condition with literate and city people,the condition of the farmers and village people is even worse in procuring any government document like ration card.
    Ravindra (http://rvndrpn.blogspot.in/)

    • Ravindra, Welcome to my blog! I totally agree with your sentiments. Imagine if we do not use tools that are available to us; what must be the situation with poor, illiterate folks who don’t have access to the net and don’t know their rights. They are forever exploited :(. I hope more people utilize RTI!

  3. I remember your passport enquiry experience. It is very difficult if anyone happens to get trapped in these kind of situations..The title Make that Change echoes Michael jackson..and all the best for the contest, and hey you have been mentioned in my 100th post.

    Thank You

    • Yes, that was one harrowing experience I had. And hopefully others learnt something from my experience. And you are right, the title is inspired by the MJ song! Thank you for mentioning my name in your post. I am truly honored!

  4. Brilliant!
    How we love to soak in our misery, or pay up to take an easy way out. Rightly said, Soak no more!
    Good luck with the competition.

    • Thank you so much, Rickie! I have been meaning to write this post since a long time. Am glad that I finally did it. I just hope that others can take something out of my experiences that can help them cope with similar situations. Thanks again for the thumbs up :).

  5. wonderfully crafted story over here.RTI and its common usage methodology should be well promoted like this.

  6. First of all, congratulations on fighting those fights and winning them. I had been in the same fighting mode for the past 2 months fighting with customer service reps, insurance agents. But in India, I know it’s all the more difficult to get things done. Wonderful idea to write letters and emails. I will tell hubby to write to the RTI. Thanks a ton for the idea. His grandma has applied for passport, police inquiry is done and she is still waiting for it in the village. We wanted to get her here this summer and now have to postpone till next summer. Very true Rachna, we need to act a bit than crib about it. And not lose hope. Good luck for the contest and appreciate your grit in the whole process.

    • Thank you so much, Latha! There are others that I have not won :). Aah insurance agents, they are terrible. But IRDA is very strict, try complaining on their website. I hope you get success in the passport thing. These are especially bothersome for senior citizens :(. Thank you again for your unstinting support as always.

  7. Loved your take on the topic of ‘Soak No More’. I’m quite the consumer forum/ RTI type, Rachna and I do believe that if we don’t stand up for what’s right, we have no right to crib!

    • And, I love that about you, Corinne! You are a very positive person, and you deal with nuisance in a very firm yet very decent manner. Something that I wish to imbibe from you because provocation took us nowhere, right? Exactly, if we don’t stand up and do our civic duties, what right do we have to perpetually spew venom? Thank you for your warm words, Corinne.

  8. when I started reading..I thought I was anouther account of your bad experience. However, you ended at RTI thing. I agree with you, we don’t excercise our rights and crib. Maybe in future, this helps.

  9. First of all thanks! This is a useful post. I have had many problems but not been good with emails or following-up. I will do so from now on. My brother does this and he is very good with it. But the other day I noticed a correspondent for a foreign newspaper tweet over 3 days about her problem with reliance customer care about her 3G datacard. Even after 3 days, she was essentially tweeting the same thing. So sometimes I do wonder if it makes a difference. But I will write them from now on!

    • Thank you Bhavana! Beneficial information is meant to be shared :). Try the letter bit, it does work! And, only tweeting will not help. Direct approach is necessary, but simultaneous highlighting in social media definitely helps. Wish you luck.

  10. You have given a very positive and relevant spin to the Slogan SOAK NO MORE . For me this is the winning entry……makes so much sense.

  11. Aha.. This is what I have been saying and doing , shouting hoarse, with complaints. :-). Written complaints are more effective.

    Though people around you scoff ,get embarrassed, it is better to complain, and lodge complaints. It helps. It makes the offenders squirm. The more complaints , the sooner the redressal.

    Lovely post Rachna.

    • And, I am so proud of you Pattu for being the conscientious, socially and environmentally aware person that you are. More than embarrassed, some people think that these are radical, vitriolic folks which is absolutely not true. The more voices are raised, the better service we can expect on the whole. Written complaints are absolutely important. After all, maintaining record is crucial

  12. ..great post..good information and remedial action!
    All the best Rachna:)

  13. I had never envisaged there could be such a post for soak no more. Brilliant!! Yes to change we have to be the change.
    in my airport experience I was pleasantly surprised that no one was ready to sit and crib. Ao times are indeed a-changing 🙂

  14. I have tried writing loads of letters and threatening to bad mouth them 🙂 worked for me !
    A lot of people take the easier option of either bribing or just not doing anything ! But then there will be no change unless we try to bring about the change. Aag tere seene mein lagein ya mere me ..lekin lagni to chahiye 🙂

    • That’s great Ruchira! I am so glad that there are many of our kind who are raising their voices and not accepting mediocre service. We might think that at the moment, it is so much easier to bribe and get it done, but the entire system becomes a casualty then. Very apt lines you used. You know why these lines are so inspirational to me… Sirf hungama khada karna mera maqsad nahin… Thanks you so much for your comment.

  15. I have made it a point to insist on services and products and as you observed, it works. The social media tagging of the service providers gives excellent and quick result. For public services, even the threat of an RTI sometimes gets your work done. Loving the new trend of contest entries that you, Vinita, The Fool and others have started!

    • You are doing good, Subhorup! Till we demand better and refuse to accept the shoddy service standards doled out to us, things will not change. Absolutely right about the threat of RTI working well; the babus are well aware of what RTI will involve — inquiry, and they want to avoid that at all costs. I only participate in those contests where the topic really sets me thinking. And, the experiences I share are genuine and hopefully will benefit others. Thanks for your comment.

  16. Lovely lovely lovely. It is informative and at the same time awakening. All the best 🙂

  17. Interesting post! Patience and perseverance and using all tools to expect due service finally pays off. Embarrassment and public/social media embarrassment makes for the quickest complaint redressal, I think.

  18. Hallmark Rachna post! I am notorious for this kind of thing, especially with after sales service. Even before the internet era, I used to dig out the numbers and addresses of the concerned officials and send them letters and keep calling till they acted. They usually did. But now, it is even better with watchwords like Twitter, FB and RTI. Go Rahcna! My vote for this entry to win the contest too!

    • And, I love you for doing things even people in my generation are not doing! Yes, pre-internet era it was more difficult to look in dusty phone directories and fish out numbers. But those with the will found a way. Thank you for such warm words, Zephyr! Your appreciation is a prize in itself for me! Thanks for your vote of confidence in me. Hugs!

  19. Rachna,

    Hope those in need understand and follow your advice. Wish you all the best for the contest.

    Take care

  20. You have given very useful info Rachna–actually we are too lazy & need a push to fight for our rights.this only encourages the cheaters.

    • Thank you Indu! If all of us make the efforts, things would certainly improve for the better. As you rightly pointed out, cheaters will be deterred, and better performance will be genuinely promoted.

  21. A truly inspirational post and if even a few have courage to fight the system, things will change for better! Wish you all the glory in this contest, Rachna!!

    • Thanks Rahul! Totally agree that even if few of us do it, it will bring about a change no matter how small. And, then more and more will be motivated to take it up. This is our society, and we have an onus on us to make things better.

  22. thanks for sharing ..
    its very important information you shared with people who have faced problems and now know where to address ..
    But here in US personally I dint face these problems yet ,,, jus once it happened when there was some confusion in my seat number from New York to Detroit … so they put me instead in First class (I was very happy)
    … rest after sale service ,, its been on time … even car service (dealership)they call and ask if we are satisfied.. even after my deliveries (labor).. I got calls from nurses home ..if any problem is there or any kind message you want to give to doctor..
    For Vacation we had booked two rooms ..but I dint like them on spot ,, and wanted to leave as a/c dint have good cooling … they changed rooms and gave us one big suit with two rooms…
    may be laws are very strict here in US and consumer is turned out to be a king ,, so I guess ..
    And yes before I forget I usually end up getting chexs as credit cuz I sometimes overpay
    companies are very honest …I must say.
    ,,,I m sharing with you all this cuz this has happened with me more often … my card being swiped twice by me ,, but when I got the receipt one transaction is voided and money charged is as per the price..
    In india its the bribe.. the hunger of money ..the dishonesty that makes people do all this,, same Indians here in America are honest at work cuz of fear of law!

    • Harman, Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I remember from my stay back in the US that things are much more comfortable in terms of daily transactions. People are polite and cultured, and things more-or-less progress the way they are meant to. With multi-million dollar damage suits being awarded for misdemeanors, the providers always polish up their acts, and customer truly is the king. As much as dishonesty and corruption are to blame, corruption is two-sided. There is always a bribe giver for every bribe taker. There is always on sufferer of a deficient service as well as provider of a deficient service. And, both are to blame for the sad shape of things. We need to be more active in demanding what is rightfully ours. There are tools at our disposal, which sadly many of us don’t use.

  23. Also I was very disheartened to see not one bit of technology in any classroom except the rural England one where there was a projector in the ceiling. Also the way the desks were arranged in a lot of the photos reflects a typical Victorian style shame to see this reflected across the globe.

    • And, have you noticed how the same seems to apply to the condition of our roads. The tarring is inadequate, and the potholes are aplenty especially during the monsoons.

  24. A..personally,I keep away from this package tours.Holiday is something very private.

    B..once one gets stuck in Babudum,,easiest way out seems to be to pay up and get on with the job,not that I subscribe to this.

    • Whatever may be the choice that we wish to exercise, we have to remember that sometimes taking the easiest way out may be harming our society and our country.

  25. All the best Rachna,

    I dislike bribe totally and yes, I agree, it is time for action, now 🙂

  26. MY!!! What frustration you would’ve felt! And thanks for letting us know what we ought to know!

    And yea,the mistake lies in us as well!!!

    Awesome post Rachna!! 🙂

  27. Wonderful post, and i love the way you have connected it to soak no more…. even i’ve faced these kinds of problems, esp from poor customer service… airtel was one such co which gave me a hard time reversing my charges when they have double billed me… it took some 20 calls to sort it out… i had posted venomous comments on their facebook page, but no avail… they just don’t care… i happened to get thru to one efficient executive who finally got the job done.

    There is no concept of customer service in a lot of companies. Banks and telecom cos are the worst.

    • And good for you, Ash! You managed to rectify the situation because you persisted. I think in each situation, we can try different methods and see what works out for us. But persistently pursuing the problem will guide us towards some solution hopefully. Well done, girl! Yes, a lot of private companies are taking us for a ride and giving us very poor customer service. Insurance is another culprit!

  28. great post ! yes the ore noise you make the more you are heard … I completely agree with you …

  29. This was a brilliant post and you are absolutely right that unless we stop taking crap and demand what is rightfully due to us!

  30. I had filed this RTI with the UP Electricity board about new transformers lying in dust and noone there to put them up. I did not get any reply. Then I files my first appeal. Again nothing. Do you have any idea about going for a second appeal and what happens after that?
    I have started to wonder if they even bother to reply back?
    Nice post and best of luck for the competition.

    • Hi Amit, thank you for the information and for your effort. First appeal under RTI is normally filed for delay /refusal/ inadequate information from the PIO. Since that has been unsuccessful, you can try filing a second appeal. Here is the link from where you can do so online:
      http://www.rti.india.gov.in/rti_second_appeal_lodging.php
      By clicking on the links given on the right of this page, you can get additional information about second appeal. If they don’t respond and they are meant to respond, they will be pulled up. I wish you luck! Thank you for your comment.

  31. Well done, Rachna! We have a right to enjoy the peace in life. Make noise….and get things done, if things do not happen naturally! I completely agree with you! The law’s well in place, all one needs is to register a complaint. ‘Soak No More’—you have used that marvelously 🙂
    All the best!!

    • Thank you Panchali! At least let us use what is at our disposal. Not every time will we find success, but we will have no success if we don’t try! Thank you for your support as always!

  32. Packed a powerful punch there! I don’t know about the contest but by ‘soaking no more’ you have proved that you are a winner. Good luck for the contest. 🙂

    • Destiny’s child Your comments are always heart-warming :). More important than winning the competition for me is love of all my readers, your support and a hope that someone will benefit from my experience.

  33. Excellent post and yeah Taking it and hoping things will change.. will not change anything ..

    and as you suggested send emails , letters and all Keep at it .. Things will start ot work for sure ..

    blogging is a good weapon and if you friends join you then the reputation of a company can go downhill fast ..

    Bikram’s

  34. RTI was news to me…. Thanks for sharing….Nice post and Good Luck for the contest! 🙂

  35. Wonderful take on the theme. Awesome! 🙂
    All the very best for the contest!
    Cheers 🙂

  36. This is a great post Rachna! Really sitting on the problem and crying about corruption etc is not the solution. We lost about 200 pounds when in UK, but after loads of phone calls and emails we did get the money back. Its not going to be easy but follow up is the key.

    Also, companies do take into account customer satifaction, and if the problems are on the net, they are bound to notice. Simple ex, one bad review on trip advisor, costs resorts/hotels a lot. People take that seriously.

    And lastly, the theme’Soak no more’, well inbibed in the post. Wonderful write up.

    (strangely, this post didnot come up on my google reader!)

  37. wooohoo attagirl 🙂 I like your spirit. I also like to hound people with calls and emails if my work does not get done. I believe in taking charge.

    Good luck for the contest 🙂

  38. Oh Rachna you’re so good!

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