Friday, April 1, 2011

Sony Customer Care - Disappointing Performance

So what use is a blog if one cannot crib about customer care and get it out of the system And I have several. So I have decided to cleanse my inner self by pouring it all out - my dealings with customer care guys. To start with, all these MNCs that go around acting like they are all professional and have everything under control. I prefer the corner stores to these any day because they are at least honest or they send the chap with a cutting plier in his back pocket (and not a well dressed English speaking lad who probably earns more than I do). And with corner stores you don't expect them to deliver anyway so its a delight. More importantly one does not need to suffer the MNC attitudes and phone calls. Today's MNC in focus is Sony!

So there is a Sony television set that needs to be installed. (Sony, not the friendly neighbourhood Soni or a Somy, whom I can excuse.) I opened the papers, saw the instructions and called the toll free line, expecting everyone to be as excited as I was. Unfortunately they were not as happy as I was. After some pressing of buttons 1, 2 and 3, I was told by a slightly distant and condescending tele operator at the toll free line (the kind of a tone that a typical PSU Bank clerk has when you ask where to submit and what to write and on what, the kind that feels that you have left most of your grey cells in some faraway place) that installation will be done in 48 hours. I plead shamelessly - hey, please, could you do something and get your pals to install it for tomorrow's game- India versus Pakistan. Ms. Condescending does not have feelings - she merely repeats - "we will install it within 48 hours". If you have an India-Pakistan match go to hell, we are not really bothered, what we are bothered about is our 48 hours. "Is there anything else sir" (quick buddy, we need to move on). I asked hesitantly if they have some deal they are advertising about some free Airtel HD connection. Oh that will be answered by the correct department sir, please hold on while I transfer you to the department where nothing-of-what-they-say-makes-sense. I endured another short ordeal about the deal, another condescending voice that told me something that made no sense and I hung up thanking them so profusely for talking to me and indulging me in the midst of whatever urgent work they are doing.

After 47 hours no one came nor called. I assumed that they would have a team that monitors time - 46 hours, 47 hours, 47.5 hours - go, you know being a high tech company etc. Also afraid that the busy installation team might have lost my number I decided to give that dreaded toll free number a try again, having got my nerves under control again. This time one lad picked up the phone after the mandatory checking of your knowledge of 1,2 and 3, the numbers which you have to press for English, for tv's and some other option. This must be some kind of a filter to knock off half the calls from people who cannot use the numbers 1,2 and 3. Automatically disqualified!

Now this new lad started off promisingly, 'I understand your concern sir,' he said. I asked him why they gave me these precise 48 hours as if they have teams tracking each minute before they installed the tv? My match had already gone anyway but was there any sense in giving me these precise times and raising my hopes? He was angry and I could hear that. How dare you speak against the systems and procedures of our great corporation? 'Sir,' he said menacingly. 'I understand your concern. I am made a strict reminder for the service centre and they will approach you. As I can see, 48 hours is not up yet.' Perceptive chap! I told the lad that I know for sure nothing will happen within the sacred 48 hours and that he need not get all uppity about it. Just get on with it and also stop telling me you are concerned about me because you are not. Nothing will happen within 48 hours! The lad put the phone down in a huff when I said there was no redressal for me except call these numbers and chat with people who either said they understand my concerns or spoke to me like I was in my kindergarten. Of course huff in their parlance would be a low voice that says 'Would there be anything else sir?'

After this call, I went off for a cold shower to cool off, and then a call came from the service center from a young lady. She asked me if I was the owner of the said tv. I said yes I was. She asked me if the demo installation was over. I said no, and asked her why she called? She seemed disappointed that the tv did not install itself in 48 hours and said doubtfully that she would send someone over for the demo installation - is it okay if I send someone over after 2 more days i.e. (a full 96 hours plus after the tv landed at my home). I told her politely that it was not ok because the final was on tomorrow and there is no point if your guys swarm my home after the final is over. She instantly got concerned about my concerns and said, most unconvincingly, that she would send someone over the next day. As I write I am still waiting of course.

See, if it were a Soni, I would be sitting there with him in his shop until he came home. He would be over instantly knowing that I was one of the few customers he had. We would have had chai and discussed why some tv's are unnecessarily expensive because Dhoni advertises for them and they have to pay him crores to spill some sweat all over the tv. Whichever way I would have been spared this ordeal of having some upstart telling me that he or she is concerned about my concern and that precisely within 48 hours they will condescend to descend on my abode. I like the Domino guys that way - if they don't come here in their half hour - they give me the pizza free! I'd be happier if the guys at Sony were honest and said - we will come when we deem fit and until then, please stop bothering us. We're not such a big company for nothing! And so we wait, and wait and hope something happens in the next 14 hours 48 minutes before the final!


Anonymous said...

Ah' Hari, did you ask to speak with a manager.

Thats the key. These people cannot hang-up the phone on you. Thats what they are taught in the customer call center classes. So the key is not to hang up keep them on as long as it takes. These guys are graded on how many calls they take in a shift.
Keep asking to speak to someone higher. Sometimes until you get the guy who is actually going to do the work. May take a while but it works.

Harimohan said...

That should be it. Next time then. But for the record, after 75 hours, a sour faced chap landed up and did the job in a tearing hurry and went off!