New Telephone Connection.

In my previous post, I had mentioned that I recently got a new cell phone connection. This post is about the amazing experience that I had in getting it.

I remember having to go through a major bureaucratic process before I could get my landline number thirty years ago. I got my cell phone connection seventeen years ago with less hassle but I still had to go through an application with self authenticated photograph submission, verification and proof of address processes before I could get a connection.

This time however, I simply asked for a connection by pressing a few buttons on an online portal and I was advised that I would get email advise on further course of action.

I got an email the next day advising me that a representative will call on me at my residence to give me a connection and that I had to be present at home and also that I should have some proof of address.

I got the call the next day, the representative fixed an appointment with me and duly arrived at the appointed time. He asked me if I had an Aadhaar card which is somewhat the equivalent of the Social Security Number Card of the USA,.

On production of the card, he simply pulled out two cell phones from his pocket, took photographs of both sides of the card, requested me to pose for another photograph, sent some messages from one of his phones and made just one telephone call to his base office. He asked for payment for the connection which I digitally did and that was that. He said that the process is over and that I would get a number within twenty four hours and left.

The whole process took less than ten minutes.

I got the new number the next morning well before the 24 hours mentioned by him.

I am still to recover from the efficiency experienced.

I can’t stop marvelling at the modern methods of extending service to the citizens of this country using the Aadhar Card.

Standard Chartered Bank’s Customer Service.

My readers will know how much trouble my friend had with Standard Chartered Bank. If you need more details, you can do no better than go to this post. To go deeper, you can read this post too.

I too had an occasion to face some poor customer service from them later when hard copies of the monthly bills were not being received by me and I was asked to pay penalties for delayed payments. With much exchange of mails and telephone calls it was resolved by SCB discovering that their mailing system had omitted my name for some reason from their mailing list and they apologised and reversed the penalty charges.

I suspect that this attitude towards customers has evolved in The Standard Chartered Bank due to what is called “Back Office Processing” being outsourced to contractors. If they have outsourced Customer Service also to contractors, I am afraid that I am in for a long haul and may well decide to discontinue using their credit card. I inherited it from Grindlays Bank with who I had an extremely long and very satisfying relationship, but Standard Chartered does not appear to care for customers who pay their bills on time. Perhaps they do not like the earnings that such customers generate whereas customers who delay payments or pay in installments are preferred over people like me. Here is the latest instance of poor customer service which is yet to be resolved by Standard Chartered Bank.

On the 4th of June, 2012, I received this message on my telephone from them.

“Your credit card pymt for stmt 21/05/12 is due on 08/06/12. Total due INRxxxxxxxxx.Minimum Due:INRxxxxx. Please ignore if already paid-StanChart.”

I promptly arranged a bank transfer on the same day for the entire amount so that I do not get charged any penalties.

It is to be noted that till then, I had not received any statement of account from StanChart either by hard copy as I always receive every month nor did I get any emails from them enclosing an electronic statement of accounts.

On the 5th of June, I sent this mail to their Customer Service address by email.

“I use your credit card No. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I am yet to receive the monthly statement for May 2012. Based on a text message received on my mobile phone, I have made payment but would like to cross check the amount due with the statement.

Please expedite the despatch of the statement.

Thank you.

On the 6th of June, I received the following email from them:

Dear Mr. Rajgopaul,

This is with reference to your e-mail dated June 05, 2012.

We are in receipt of your payment for Rs.xxxxxxx and the same has been credited
to your card ending XXXX on June 01, 2012.

As requested, we have sent the copy of the May, 2012 statement to your e-mail
id. Trust you are in receipt of the same.

Assuring you of our best services always

Yours sincerely,

Officer – Customer Care

On the same day, I responded by email:

No, I have not yet received the copy sent to my email id.

I wrote about the hard copy that you send every month. I have not received that either.

What will you be sending every month from now on? The hard copy by post/courier or an email statement?

I am comfortable with either but I would appreciate receiving A statement every month well before the due date as I have hitherto been receiving.

On the 7th June, I received what StanChart called a Duplicate Bill by email.

On the 7th June, I received this eamil from them.

Dear Mr. Rajgopaul,

This is with reference to your e-mail dated June 06, 2012.

As requested, we have sent the copy of the May statement to your e-mail id.
Trust you are in receipt of the same.

Further, our records indicate that your e-mail id has been registered for our
e-statement facility and the e-statements have been sent to your E-mail id every
month. We request you to check your bulk mail folder.

Assuring you of our best services always

Yours sincerely,

Officer – Customer Care

On the same day, I responded with the following mail. Please be patient and read it to understand my angst.

Dear Mr. Ravichandran,

I am rather disappointed with your routine response.

Yes, my email id as well as my telephone details are very likely to be registered with you and I do get phone alerts whenever I use the credit card for any purchase.

But, I have not till this morning, when I received your copy of the copy of the earlier estatement, ever received any estatement so far and all my earlier communications with you have been based on hard copies of the monthly statements received by me. I have once again checked my bulk mail folder to find that I have never received any estatement ever. If you can depute someone from your Pune office to come over to my residence, I can show all the hard copies till last month. I am physically handicapped and it would be difficult for me to visit your local office though if needed, I am prepared to do that too.

I have gone so far to check my spam folder as well and find that I have not received any estatement from you.

It is remarkable that I have now received a copy of the statement after I confirmed non receipt in my last email to you, but not the original that you had mentioned in your earlier mail. I suspect that there is something wrong in your mailing list and would appreciate your looking into it instead of putting the ball back in my court. Trust me, I am very computer savvy and I get other credit card statements by email every month. As I had mentioned earlier, I would prefer receiving the estatment and hence my request to you to not treat my mail to be responded in a routine manner. Please do investigate thoroughly at your end as to why I do not get the estatement and more importantly, why I did not get the last month’s hard copy of the statement.

I trust that you would appreciate that unless I get the statement in one form or the other, I would be delaying payments at considerable cost to me. Unless of course you would prefer that I incur such a cost, please do look into my complaint in detail and take such corrective measures as necessary to solve the problem so that I get monthly statements either by hard copy or by estatements, under advise to me.

I would appreciate your detailed response at the earliest.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that I have gone missing from your mailing list and exactly like it is happening now, I was blamed till I raised the matter at higher levels when it was found that there was a problem at your end. If you would like, you could go back some three years ago when this happened. I had also use the blogspace some time ago to resolve another friend’s issue about which you can read here I hope that I do not have to again lose my trust in SCB.



Having waited for any response, on the 15th June I sent a reminder to Card Services with the heading REMINDER I forwarding the earlier correspondence. I have so far sent four reminders to them for a response and I am yet to receive any thing from them other than their usual auto generated acknowledgement email that within 7 working days my problem will be attended to.

It is now time for the next cycle of billing to start and I wonder if I will get the statement of accounts for June or whether I will have to go through the entire rigmarole that I had to go through earlier.

Gratitude List – November 5, 2011.

On Saturday, a client who was quite annoyed with some poor customer service in the past returned to our fold. I was very pleased that he had accepted my apologies and reconsidered his decision to move to competition. We also welcomed a house guest who sought shelter after a big row with her family. Took me back to 1963 when I too had to do something like that and did not have a place to park myself for a night. I spent the night on the beach in Chennai and moved into a hotel the next day. That brought back a lot of other memories and it was time well spent reminiscing. I have come a long way since then!

Saturday also had Ranjan’s friend Harsh who I used to meet regularly at our park on walks, drop in with some Diwali goodies to enquire about my progress. It was nice to talk to him for over an hour.

Sunday had us entertaining three friends in the morning and, in the evening, a charming young lady who has just adopted me. All four contributed to our cache of Diwali goodies, and who am I to complain? Sunday also saw me getting a phone call from Sandeep who has come to India for a short visit and is scheduled to visit us on Tuesday.

Monday was quiet and I was able to catch up with some reading and filing work. I was also taught a lesson in patience in tracing a delayed pension payment of my father’s. It was a typical merry go round that one experiences with the Public Sector over here.

Tuesday started off badly with my father feeling very feeble and wanting a doctor to come. By the time we could organise that, he recovered and decided that he will not require medical attention. I suspect that he simply wanted a B-12 injection and a chance to chat with our friendly doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor is indisposed and an alternative was not acceptable to him. An unexpected bonus of this little drama was that he finally agreed to use the walker instead of a cane to walk around and so with great delight, I got a carpenter to dismantle the walker that he had converted to a mobile mini table. He is now content to use the walker the way it was meant to be. I was relieved that he will be that much less prone to a fall.

My brother Arvind called just to shoot the breeze and it was nice chatting with him for a while. I really had a great time after many years when he was here last month catching up with all old news and updating other developments and I miss him often now that he has gone back to Chennai.

I was also able to sort out the pension problem and the day was crowned with a treat from Manjri who brought some great sandwiches and natural ice-cream.

Wednesday started off with a big bang. My journalist friend has just been made editor of a leading newspaper of India and I was delighted. He too was when I called him up and congratulated him. A very well deserved promotion.

Wednesday also saw Sandeep coming over in the evening to cheer me up. It is nice to see him back in India and before he goes back he and Deepali will come over a few times. Both are great uplifters of my spirit.

Thursday had two of my favourite couples drop in. Sandeep and Deepali in the morning to share with me all their adventures in the UK the past many months and to invite me there to their new home in Sheffield. They will shift when they return by the end of this month and all going well, Ranjan suggested that I go over next summer while he takes charge at home here.

In the evening Mazo and Norbert another couple who played a major role in in our lives over 12 years ago and who have stayed friends since then, came over with a cheese cake that the former had baked to put some “pep” in me as she said. They spent over a couple of hours and there was a great deal of laughter and friendly ribbing.

I was greeted with a new flower from the same Indian Mock Strawberry that I had written about in September. The sturdy plant has clung on and survived and surprised me with a lovely bloom early on Friday morning. Made the morning cuppa all the more enjoyable.

Friday late evening had my young friend Praveen from Mumbai on a long chat on the phone on esoteric subjects which exposed me to the uncertainties of the younger generation of today. I hope that he benefited from the discussion as much as I did.

Flipkart And My Adventure With Them.

Flipkart is an online book seller that I have been patronizing for the last ten months and have always had a very high opinion of their service and efficiency. I must have bought over thirty books from them so far. For the first time since I have been dealing with them, I received a book in a defective condition and I emailed them as well as spoke to them on the phone about the condition of the book.

I was advised by them that they will immeditely replace the book which they did and on my confirmation that I have received the replacement copy, they have arranged for the defective piece to be collected from my residence.

I am very impressed with their service but have decided not to patronize them in the future. The reason for this are two mails received from them. The first one about which I raised an objection started my annoyance with them. I wrote about the annoyance to them. I received a response from them in the same format for the mail from me to which I finally responded that I have decided not to deal with them any more. I had also used their “Contact” form on their website to convey my complaint and I received a response from one of their people to which I responded postively but after that there has been total silence from their end. I had also sent the complete thread of exchange of mails to one of their promoters who too has decided not to respond to my mail. I copy paste below the relevant mails. The last mail received is on the top and the rest lead up to it.

Dear Mr. Rudrapatna,

It will give me great pleasure to give you as much time as you want. I am available on my mobile phone xxxxxxxxxxxxx, or landline xxxxxxxxxxxxx
As far as I am concerned, there is no unpleasantness. There is simply a decision taken when I was insulted twice by Mr. Kanth.


Ramana Rajgopaul

From: Tapas Rudrapatna
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2010 19:18:45 +0530
To: Ramana Rajgopaul
Subject: Re: [~19947]: [Contact:Other Questions and Comments] – Poor response to mail from customer

Dear Mr. Rajgopaul Sir,

I understand that a few of the exchanges between Mr. Premkanth and Yourself have led for a certain degree of unpleasantness.

While that is indeed unfortunate, I will attempt not to interfere with the how, what, when and why. Nor am i writing to persuade your loyalty and all that it entails. What is more critical for me to understand is how individuals and organisations are perceived. As you rightly mentioned, it’s the “corrective steps” that will be my focus.

Sir, I will be highly obliged if you can spare me some time. I cannot speak for Flipkart (the organozation), but your thoughts will indeed be valuable to me as an individual.


On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 6:58 PM, Flipkart Support wrote: Posted on: 21 Feb 2010 5:30 PM

Customer contact received:

Date: 2010-02-21 17:25:18


From: rrajgopaul

Subject: [Other Questions and Comments] Poor response to mail from customer

Message: I had addressed a mail to you on the 13th inst as follows:
“Dear Mr. Kanth,

I am glad that you will replace the book and also appreciate your apologies.

I do however wish to take issue with you on your addressing me as Ramana.  I am 67 years old and am reasonably sure that you cannot be older than my son who is 39. I am very likely older than your parents.  Our culture, to which you belong, extends more respect and regard than the Western model where strangers can be addressed by their first name.

It would be a good idea to be sure that such familiarity is with permission before first names are so casually used.

Shall we say that it is an one man crusade to ensure some semblance of formality in communications?

Ramana Rajgopaul

I have sent another mail today as follows:

“Dear Mr. Kanth,

I have already mailed to you yesterday that I have received the replacement copy.  You may arrange to collect the defective piece at your convenience with prior appointment as I need to be at home to hand it over to the courier.

I thank you for the prompt action taken and really appreciate the service rendered by you.

It however saddens me to advise you that you have just lost a what I would consider, ‘good ‘ customer.  I shall henceforth purchase my books online from other online sellers. You might like to check your records to see what it translates in terms of turnover to your organization.

Ramana Rajgopaul

I may not be a very important customer, but you might just like to find out why even a small customer chooses to opt out of a good online seller and take corrective steps.

As a business, it is Flipkart’s privilege to do business with me or not. It is at the same time, mine too whether to do business with them or not despite their excellent service. The point however is that a good business model basing itself on a method of communication that is totally un-businesslike in the Indian context, is a sad spectacle.

Or am I being archaic and not ‘with it’?

David Vs Goliath.

My attention was drawn to this blogpost by Howard in his blog

This was brought to my attention because of my interest in customer service. An acquaintance of mine wanting to buy a Dell Laptop came across this blog post on his search and promptly passed it on to me.

My initial reaction was to chuckle at the discomfort of Dell and forget about it, but my friend’s decision to buy a Lenova instead of a Dell made me pause.

I am no longer actively involved in day to day business matters or policies and Management education or any of those nice high sounding phrases and activities. I am however saddened that a company with the reputation of Dell has lost a customer because of some stupidity of their foot soldiers.

It would be nice if people looking after customer interfaces in companies would spend some time and effort in training the front line people. I find it so frustrating sometimes to go through automated telephone systems that I have stopped using them and prefer to send emails or opt for personal meetings.

I hope that Dell would have learnt something from this story. If they had not, and say take action like say Honda would have, recall the computers and replace them, they would surely lose customers like they just did my friend.

Standard Chartered Bank’s treatment of a Senior Citizen.

I have had an amazing start to this week. There have been three stories that I wish to post on my blog about Senior Citizens, Service and relationships. I shall do so in the next three posts unless something more urgent or interesting comes up.
The first of the stories is about a very good friend of mine who is a Senior Citizen. He is 75 and one of the gentlest people that I have ever known. I help him with his email and some other formal correspondence as he is completely lost with computers and requests me for help, which I am very happy to extend.
My friend, let us call him Anand, opened a bank account when he was 15 years old as a Minor’s Savings Bank account with his father as a joint account holder and guardian with the Lloyds Bank in Mumbai then known as Bombay. In the sixty years hence, that bank has undergone many changes, merging with, being taken over etc and went through new names such as Grind lays, ANZ, and finally, now it is Standard Chartered Bank. For sixty years, Anand has remained a steadfast loyal customer of the bank despite the many metamorphoses that it has gone through. Most of the employees there today were not perhaps born when he opened his account!
His Savings Bank today, is carrying a credit balance of over INR 300,000. He also has a couple of other long term deposits with the bank.
A few years ago, when Anand wished to go overseas, he had applied for and obtained a credit card from Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), which allowed him to use it for foreign exchange use over seas. Being a very careful spender, Anand has always been sparing in the use of the credit card and in settling the bills whenever they came, well before the due dates.
Early this year, SCB advised Anand that his Silver Card was due for renewal and considering his record, SCB was very happy to offer him a Gold Card with additional facilities. Anand accepted the offer and completed the formalities. Unfortunately when the card came through a courier service Anand was not at home and the card was returned. Since then, there have been phone calls and reminders between Anand and some Customer Service Call Center about this card and suddenly, last week, Anand received a call from the Call Center advising him that the card will be issued to him only if he gave SCB a letter authorizing SCB to debit his Savings Bank Account with any charges on the card.
Naturally, Anand was very upset and regretted his inability to issue such a letter. He requested the caller to send him a letter with reasons as to why this requirement has suddenly come about. The Caller advised Anand that this was BECAUSE ANAND IS A SENIOR CITIZEN! This was more shocking and Anand insisted, that a letter convey this to him. The caller, no doubt just a Customer Service Representative, expressed her inability to arrange for one. She advised Anand that since he was unwilling to give the desired letter, THE CREDIT CARD WAS BEING DE-ACTIVATED WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT!
Anand had had enough and came to me with a request to type out a letter confirming this development and placing on record the fact the card had been de-activated. He desired to do this, as he did not want to suddenly discover that someone else had been using his deactivated card. I did as he requested and Anand promptly took the letter to the local branch of SCB and requested acknowledgment of receipt in a duplicate copy. The local branch REFUSED TO ACCEPT THE LETTER. They advised him to write a letter to their Card Center in Bangalore with a copy to some Customer Service Executive in Mumbai and also send an email to the Credit Card division.
Anand came back to me for these letters and email and all that was done last night. He has sent off the letters and copies by Registered Post and now is hoping that he will receive some response.
Is this how a Multinational Bank of repute should treat its loyal and long-standing customer? Should not the Call Center be taught to treat customers in a better way? Should the local office of the bank not handle a customer’s problem without being bureaucratic about it? What do you think Anand should do with his Savings Bank Account with SCB?