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The Customer is Watching!

Honesty Integrity Ethics from its-annoying.com

An envelope with a single A4 sheet (an Invoice) had to be sent to an address in New Delhi. Last week I had sent a similar consignment to the same address through DTDC Couriers – the franchisee near my place had charged Rs. 40/- for the service.

My trouble stated when I found the door of that outlet closed today – a poster on the door gave me the new address, but it was more than a kilometer away. Irritated with this development I headed downtown hoping to find a Courier Service there.

I found a few outlets, each charging a different amount for the same job.

The first counter I visited in town said it would cost me Rs. 280 – What!? Were they carrying the envelope in an aircraft made of Gold? Further enquiry revealed that this upmarket operator would take the same amount of time as the vanilla service provider, but the girl behind the counter proudly said “We are Blue Dart!” I thanked her enthusiastically for the new knowledge and went in search of a more earthly courier.

A DTDC franchisee was located just across the road and the Executive there told me that the Service Charge is Rs. 50. I said only last week a consignment had been sent to Delhi for just Rs.40/- through DTDC and she curtly replied “You can go back there and send your consignment; we can’t do it for less than Rs. 50/-. See the fee mentioned on the Tariff Card.” and she pointed to a regular A4 sheet pasted on the wall with the details printed on it.

I lost all interest in dispatching the document: it was a full-blown investigation now – this needed further study. I found the outlet of another Courier Agency, Professional Couriers, who were no different from DTDC and the Executive there showed me a printed A4 sheet that said Rs. 60/- to send a cover to New Delhi. Not satisfied, I found one more outlet of DTDC in the neighbourhood who had a Tariff Card with Rs. 60/- printed on it for the same location.

All of them had similar offices – which usually were 4X4 rooms, on a side street – manned by poorly-paid, unskilled and untrained people; all the operators took 48-72 hours to deliver the consignment at an address in New Delhi.

I can understand difference in prices across vendors, but how can the same operator charge the customer differently at three different outlets, located within a few kilometres of each other.

You would agree with me when I say that any brand can take a bad beating if the customer sees them behaving unethically or dishonestly. I wonder why DTDC permits its Franchisees to charge indiscriminately. Organisations need to pass on clear guidelines to their Channel Partners on pricing and business practices – and this has to be audited regularly. A locally printed A4 Sheet is not Gospel – that does not permit you to charge the customer indiscriminately.

As Managers, it’s important that you focus on integrity and ethics, not just within the organisation, but in the entire value-chain. Don’t ever permit the customer to walk away from your outlet feeling cheated. It can be a big blow to your reputation – that’s the beginning of the end for your business.

The customer is studying you with binoculars all the time …. Is the view Picture Perfect?

Here is the post script to my story – I went to the Speed Post Counter at the local Post Office, who is located closest to my residence, and booked the consignment for dispatch to New Delhi, for just Rs. 25/-!!!

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P.S. – I am aware the Premium Hotels and Restaurants may charge you differently even for products with pre-stamped prices and some Up-market Business Centres may charge you higher for the services offered, but the regular street prices cannot change from counter to counter.

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  1. Sunish S
    May 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Jayadevji, forget about the different prices of courier services. Professional Couriers have the expertise to open the consignment, take the valuables and re-seal the cover perfectly. I have lost stuff (gifts) worth at least Rs.1000/- through 2 consignments sent to me from Bangalore. Finally, I asked my relatives to stop using Professional Couriers. I was really impressed with their expertise to open and close packages without leaving any mark !

    • JayadevM
      May 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Sunish

      There you go …

      Your information takes the problem to a whole new level.

      I wonder why organisation’s risk such lapses – it can ruin their reputation permanently.

      Culture, Process and Practice should be defined to ensure highest level of integrity.

      Thank you for reading and for sharing the information.

  2. May 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Jayadev, why even the so called MNC bank chains like HSBC has dubious practices and here is a recent letter I had written to them,,, (self explanatory)

    Dear Sir/Ma’m
    Your statement dtd 29Feb on our account xxxxxxxxx states that non maintenance of HSBC Advance eligibility entails service charges Rs 1500+taxes,cess. To get details of criteria I called phone banking # given overleaf 9980927324 in vain. I was surprised to get a message “incoming call facility is barred to this number!!” So much for your CRM.

    My point is, did I tell you to mark my account as Advance? I didn’t. Then you decide unilaterally to mark it Advance and then charge me a sum for flimsy grounds like no txn’s during the period etc. That is not fair. After all SB account is savings account and if I have no savings to add or no expense in a given period it will have no txn’s -It won’t be like a current account with a lot of credit/debit coming in.. Elimentary!!

    Hence let me tell you that if any money is deducted under such pretext I will first check with BCSBI to confirm if this is indeed granted in the Code and if so take up with RBI to repeal such fraudulent clauses and restrain banks from acting in this unilateral manner. Failing which I will move the consumer court for unethical practices and seek redressel plus under RTI act find out how much money has been collected so far and seek to get that reimbursed to respective account holders/ clients & restore status quo ante..

    If you have any difficulty safe keeping my 2 lakh odd rupees, you can ask me to close the account I will gladly do so. Needless to say, you will be the looser as you are alredy enjoying high commercial interest differential (I get only SB account 4% interest) with my money in your hands.

    Net net what I want to convey is pl don’t take customers for granted.. Mind you I am an account holder with you since Nov 1989

    Very best

    Uday Kumar

    • JayadevM
      May 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      Hello Uday,

      Pretty clear!

      Yes, the rot goes real deep … such stories have been common place. Our Government itself is ridden with rotten apples.

      Isn’t there an old saying .. Yatha Raja, thatha praja!

      Drastic action needed to reverse the trend.

  3. Jamy
    May 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    We managers and colleagues are always on stage…. being watched by guests in the resort; your article touches upon one of the most importants aspects of Customer Perception towards value for money and quality to go with it! Great read Jay!

  4. May 4, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Jay ,my experience takes the cake.The franchisee of the ‘X ” courier near my home charged me Rs.35 for a consignment less than 250gms to Bangalore.After a week a similar consignment was sent to same place with the same courier ,the chrge made out was Rs.90/-.The difference ,the first was franchisee of the courier and the second was owned outlet of the Courier service.The logic the franchisee are subsidised and any walkin to Company owned outlet will cost full charges. Can there be any other retrograde logic.

    • JayadevM
      May 4, 2012 at 5:34 am

      Sunil,

      It defies logic but I have known organisations who push business to the franchised outlets by charging at the MRP. It reduces their overheads because customers would like to get a cheaper deal and the franchisee takes the burden of last-mile service.

  5. Sajan
    May 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    J the million $ question is, has your courier reached Delhi? …its deeply disturbing how insensitive companies and franchisees are!…a poor old couple I know get charged about Rs.2000/- each time they are late by even one day in paying their EMIs by a new generation bank called ICICI (not its real name)…and what a strange rule we had that when loans are pre-closed you have to pay a charge. I’m sure the product mangers have a reason – but how insensitive can they be.

    • JayadevM
      May 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      I have known such situations.

      Fin: institutions really need to clean up their act. Many of them have policies that have different yardsticks for the customer and the bank.

      Insensitivity towards the customer will be counter productive in the long run

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