4 February 2012

Eureka Forbes Aquasure Water Filter, HomeTown, and Why India might never have a double digit growth rate

There are many in India who will read this post, nod vigorously as I recount my story, chew on the state of affairs and wash away the pain of incompetence with some Kingfisher beer. As writing for me is cathartic, this post is for medical reasons.

My time has been spent this week doing two things - getting a filter for our Aquasure non-electrical unit and chasing after HomeTown for a delivery.

A bit of background on the HomeTown. We ordered a cabinet on 15 Jan and after a delay, two boxes were delivered on 26 Jan. On 28 Jan an assembly person put it together only for us to discover that it was not what we ordered. Phone calls ensued - I was asked to repeatedly confirm on which floor we ordered it from and what the price was. That's how they keep stock of their inventory apparently. The store is 20kms away and I was asked to visit to confirm my order. I said I would, only if I was reimbursed petrol costs. Luckily the assembly person remembered that what they delivered resided on the 4th floor while I was clear from the start that my order resided on the 1st. The sales person and logistics incharge thus agreed that they made a mistake in how our order was coded. I got an email admitting this and a promise that Sunday would see a pick up of the old stuff and by Tuesday we will get the new stuff.

Read on for the rest of the saga...

Monday: 
  • Called the Eureka Forbes (EF) help line to ask where I can get a replacement filter. Was pointed to nearest customer service centre. Visited centre to learn that they don't keep parts. Was given number of sales rep who can help. S says he will come tomorrow with filter.  
Tuesday: 
  •  I call S in the morning to find out when he will come. Afternoon, madam.
  • Call HomeTown. They only open at 11:30am. Try reaching them after this - its more popular than the prime minister's office. Finally get through and informed pick up of old stuff will happen today.  Complain that this should have happened on Sunday. Don't know when they will come today. I ask for Manager's name and contact. It's her day off. I ask for the next incharge. They will call me. Hrrumph.
  • At PM hours S calls to say product is not in stock, he will get from other centre and come tomorrow. I ask for two filters. Sorry, only one is available. I don't understand how for the entire city of Bangalore only one is available!
  • I call HomeTown again about the pickup. No update. I write a stinker email to the logistics incharge.
  • I try the EF chat helpline. I give my name, number and product. I am informed that a technician will visit my home and charge Rs 200 for servicing. I growl - I need a filter. I can install it myself. I just need to know where to buy it. Chat reply - A technician will contact me shortly.
  • In the evening I pop into the nearby Croma, since they stock EF products. Not surprisingly by this point, they don't store replacement filters. I am provided numbers to follow up - all dead ends. I leave a complaint with the store to pass along to their EF contact.
  • I receive phonecall from Manager at Hometown. Sorry for delay. A pick up will happen this evening by 9. No one calls or shows up.
Wednesday: 
  • I call S to find out what time he will come. He's non-commital. I press for afternoon before 3:30pm.
  • I call HomeTown at 11:30am. Impossible to get through any number. At 1pm I am able to reach the Manager. He's surprised to hear that a pick up has not happened. It will happen today, I am promised. 
  • S arrives, bearing the wrong filter. S asks me to call EF helpline. Wait, isn't this how the whole story started? Chagrined and highly peeved I ask for the number of a manager to talk to about this. No show. S calls the call centre himself. I am provided a number of the service centre where filters are available. No address is given. I call - it's continuously engaged. I call the help centre and ask for the same agent who then gives me another number (Why didn't he just give me all available numbers the first time?). I call this number and reach P, who confirms that I will get three filters tomorrow. I describe the filter in length since here too there is no code that they seem to understand. I even give her the barcode number still stuck to the bottom of the filter. We finally agree that technician will come bearing three each of all possible filters. I ask where their office is - it's exactly where S came from. How is it that they have everything in stock? I rat on S. 
  • I call the EF main office and complain that no one seems to know where these filters are available and the customer being God is myth. I am asked to contact helpline. I scoff and say I want to complain to someone who is incharge of the Aquasure product line. She give me the number of the sales chap, whose mobile is switched off for 3 hours. I give up.
  • Hometown chaps show up. Wrong item is removed from premises.  
Thursday: 
  • I call P in the morning to confirm when filters will arrive. She hands phone to technician. I once again try to describe the filter I have. We reach consensus on the colour of the filter. 
  • 11:30am: I try HomeTown. Impossible to get through as usual. I write another stinker email threatening consumer court action. 
  • 1pm: Husband calls HomeTown. Delivery of the correct cabinet will happen today. Don't know when. 
  • Technician arrives at 1pm. Hurrah, or should I say Eureka, filters are correct. I get three.
  • HomeTown calls. Driver on the way. Assembly chap calls me to ask if he should pop over. I inform that there is nothing yet to fix - still waiting for shipment to arrive.
  • 5pm shipment arrives. 7pm assembly person arrives. 9pm Ktichen cabinet assembled and placed in living area. 
4 days, 2 tasks completed. I operate  on prepaid now. Between calling HomeTown, the drivers, assembly person, Aquasure helpline, technicians, offices I have spent Rs 150. I am sure a few of my nerve cells have burned out in the process but these are harder to quantify.

I have three observations:

1. Processes are there. They don't work. helpline, chatline - useless. They have trained parrots to tell you that a technician will arrive and will cost you Rs 200. They are either trained to deliver a single response or not provided the authority to use common sense. No one listens to a question, and information provided is incomplete even if they do. For e.g., delivery will happen today. Er, when? I don't know.
2. There is inadequate information distribution in a company. One helpline person directed me to an office where no parts are sold, and the other gave me the number of a person who actually deals in these parts. The Office I visited gave the number of a salesperson who told me that his Office doesn't stock extra parts of the filter and then a day later, someone from that very office showed up with 3 of at least 10 different kinds. 
3. Zero follow through. You may be the customer but it's your responsibility to follow up through with the status. Except on Thursday, there was no communication from HomeTown to monitor the progress of a wrong delivery.

India shining? Better buy some Brasso. Buy 2 actually.

5 comments:

  1. Babe, once you've ironed out these creases maybe you'll tell us about what's been happening at Shantum Pappum? You've left me hungry for more potato samosas with a, errm, fresh lime soda ;)

    I feel bad when I am skeptical about "India Shining" but then such episodes leave one with no other choice...

    Love,
    Shoots :)
    ps. like the new blog design a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Minakshi,

    I have experienced two types of non-electrical water purifiers: Tata-Swatch and Eureka. Of these, Eureka was better.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Water Purifiers not only removes the impurities of water but also destroys diseases causing bacteria and viruses thereby giving our family protection from harmful diseases.

    Water purifiers in india

    ReplyDelete
  4. Reverse Osmosis systems are the most effective way to purify water at home, I think. Compared with bottled water, using Water Purifiers in India
    system to get clean water is economical.

    ReplyDelete