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

Comments

comments

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 🙂