Monday, August 06, 2007

Indian Customer Service -- the Tata Indicom Way

Tata Indicom
Tata Teleservices (M) Ltd
Ispat House, B G Kher Marg
, Mumbai


Those of you who have never done business in India may enjoy this quick story. Those of you who have or are doing business in India will empathize. We recently ordered telephone service from Tata Indicom, an Indian provider of wireless telephones. We needed the number quickly since we had people waiting to receive and utilize the phones. We were promised 48 hour turnaround.

Our orders were considered complete over two weeks ago, during the third week of July, and since that time we have been calling several times a day to inquire as to their whereabouts. Every day we are told, in essence, that the phones are to arrive, and every day, there is some reason the phones have not. Last Friday, we were told the phones did not arrive "because the rains were heavy," a few days prior to that we were told that the "go down" (the common Indian term for warehouse or distribution center) was flooded, while today were were informed that additional paperwork needed to be completed. Amitava Das, MK's Vice President for India, Amitabh Devendra, MK's Strategic Advisor for India, and Jacob Purackal, MK's Senior Manager for India have all been involved in the hunt for the Tata phones, consuming nearly a hundred hours of corporate time. As of today, August 6, 2007, no phones.

Earlier today, we were told by Dinesh Yadav, the "Sales Executive" at Tata Indicom that someone needed to be at my residential address to sign and deliver additional paperwork. Having had people waiting at my apartment for Tata in the past, we offered to travel from the office to the apartment on the condition that the phones be ready and waiting for us. Mr. Yadav refused, stating that surely the phones would be delivered after this latest round of document requests and wondering why we doubted his assertions. We decided to speak with Mr. Yadav's supervisor, Sachin Kulekar a "Manager" at Tata Indicom, who informed us that he did not care that we very dissatisfied with Tata and needed help. In effect, we were informed that customer satisfaction and prompt delivery of promised products was no longer part of Tata Indicom's mission.

So, if you are considering telephone service in the Mumbai area, and receiving a phone number and phone equipment is important to you, consider avoiding Tata Indicom. While Tata products and services are still considering reliable in India, Tata Indicom and its Mumbai sales and service operation failed more completely than any other service provider I have dealt with in recent memory. Timely and reliable service remains a scarce commodity here in India -- Tata Indicom's failures, coming from a well respected Indian conglomerate, while perhaps not unexpected, were truly disappointing nonetheless.

We are off to Reliance, a competitor, to see if we fare any better. Stay tuned.