Today I experienced an incident which I concluded to be an allegory or a microscopic example of a simple chain of corruption that pervades our society.
Last Friday, I searched for the book Ten Novels and Their Authors by Somerset Maugham, online. A book I had been looking for in bookstores for a long time but could not find. I found it available on a website I regularly order books from. The edition with the price of 399 rupees was out of stock. A copy worth 701 rupees was available though so I ordered it. I was informed the shipping would be on the 5th and delivery on 8th.
I assumed that the 399 rupees edition that is out of stock must have been a re-print from a local publication and the 701 rupees edition would be coming from abroad therefore more expensive and probably printed in a much nicer paper. Sadly I was wrong.
The package came the next day. I was pleased but puzzled. I asked the courier man how come it came so early. The man vaguely replied. ” We found it ma’am.”
I opened the package. The book looked old. Brown and spotted at the edges. The letters are printed in the ugliest font possible. It hurts my eye just looking at it. The paper is cheap and coarse. On the front page tuck in between the pages was a piece of paper torn from a notebook indicating this is from the batch 2011. Therefore an old stock. At the back of the book there are 3 tags, the logo of the website, a price of 399 rupees with the name of a popular local publication above and the third one, the price of 399 rupees with the name of the original publication. Obviously they gave me an old stock which has the value of 399 rupees instead of 701 rupees. I felt robbed.
A couple of scenarios played in my mind. I don’t know how this business works. But I am guessing that when I placed the order in the website it was passed on to another another company who will search and deliver me the book. Where did then the corruption, neglect or laziness occurred? From which end?
Let say Mr. B is the second company who search for, buy and deliver the book. Mr. B found the book right away, an old stock for 399 rupees but he sees the the customer is charge 701 rupees. What should Mr. B do? Should Mr. B call the company who hired him and inform them of this fact? If he is honest, thorough and reliable he should have. But he didn’t. Did he keep the 300 rupees extra for himself? Or is company aware of these discrepancies? Is it laziness to do the right thing which prevented them from correcting this irregularity or did Mr. B wanted to make extra money from cheating the customer crossing his fingers hoping the customer would not notice? Are they so without shame that they did not even bother to remove the original price tag from the back cover? I could not find any justification for the extra 300 rupees they charged me for the book.
I wrote them a letter and complained about this, demanding they give me back my money or deliver a book of my choosing having the same value they owed me.
Today someone from their company with a machine gun for a mouth called me. After asking him to slow down, he proceeded to explain how their company works and in a defensive unpleasant tone told me, ” It is not as if we deliberately overcharged you…” I stopped him right there and told him I don’t care how their company operates, that is not my concern. I ordered a product which has a value of 701 rupees instead I got something for the value of 399 rupees so obvious there was no point arguing about it. I told him whatever it is that happened between ordering and delivery should not be my problem and what is due me should be given to me. He grudgingly agreed and promised me vaguely that he will ask his supervisor and see if I could be compensated for this. But I have a feeling this issue will not be remedied. That won’t stopped me from hounding them until I get my money’s worth back though. Social media like Facebook and blogs are great platform for this. There is no escape.
I don’t see what the big deal is. What I asked is simple. Give me back my money’s worth. Someone made huge a profit and someone else may have to pay for it. I don’t care. To keep your customer happy and regained their trust a manager or whoever is responsible for customer related issues should pay back even from his own pocket the money they clearly owe the customer.
Be honest. Be fair. Be diligent. Then these kind of problems will not happen. You cannot lose the trust of a customer for a meager 300 rupees. I told them businesses also rely in the power of the word of mouth. An incident like this can easily ruin their reputation.
I am currently awaiting their reply for the second letter I sent them.
Now isn’t this exactly the kind of frustration we faced everyday because of laziness and greed? Be it in obtaining justice for bigger crimes or just a matter of getting your official documents done, someone is being sloppy and lazy and someone is out to get that unearned quick buck. If I just shrugged my shoulders and kept quiet the thieves would have merrily went their way without a second thought. We have the power now to demand what is due to us. Do not let anybody rob that right from you.
*The second time the customer service guy called me, they said they will not refund me because the book I received was imported from the US which was a boldfaced lie and I told him so but he did not relent. Eventually the company refunded me though, through some kind of an online wallet after I put the link to this blog on my complaint letter.