The Consumer Wins

“Euphoria…..Cloud Nine…..Seventh Heaven” all that could be put up here to describe my state of mind would suffice regardless of its contextual meaning, as all the words of happiness are sounding like my kinsman.
It is said that “A penny saved is a penny earned”, but what could be the adage when a penny departed snaps back. It would definitely keep anyone on this planet in high spirits for the days to come.

A month ago, I went to a mobile recharging vendor near the doorstep to get the power, that had been lost many days ago, and my sluggishness was keeping me from recharging. Soon it started taking a heavy toll on my daily proceedings, and finally I decided to get a recharge of one hundred and fifty rupees. I had the habit of recharging with the same amount since I got my first cellphone in college. As the pockets of college students are always leaking, so paying taxes is the worst way to go. This 150 recharge option was a way to circumvent taxes as under a scheme, you could have gotten full talk time compared to the conventional one with 14.86% service tax.

But that was a different day.

As soon as I got the recharge done, I left the vendor’s shop hoping to get a confirmation message while on the way back. I was very elated to see the confirmation message and did’nt bother to read, rather dialed for my first call. Wait…they said that my balance is zero. I was amazed. I went back to the guy whom I had paid to revitalize my account. He told me that the credit has been deducted from his account and I may talk to the customer service representative.

I called.

The guy told me to check the message I had received. He told that a 3G internet pack worth 150 had been credited to my account and when I persisted on why, he retorted by saying that the 150 recharge is for special customers only and that I would have to go with it.And then

“Thank You for calling on the Customer Care. I hope that XYZ…….blaaaaah…blaaah…blaaaah”

This thing happened to me for the first time, but I was not going to sit back. I had heard my friends saying in my early days that 5000 bucks is the penalty if a shopkeeper sells a bread which has fungus. And that one person in the colony had gone consumer court with the fungi stricken bread and had for the amount for a five rupee bread after winning the case in Consumer Court.

I searched on the web for ways to get that pelf transferred from the 3G pack to my talktime balance. And wonder what I got, rather felt, that it was no use complaining and I had to go with it. Meanwhile the website of Akosha team looked like something could be done. It is an NGO working towards dealing in cases pertaining to consumer cheating, and I read a number of previews of the successful cases wherein full amount plus some compensation had been reimbursed. I registered my complaint with the NGO and unable to find any other passage halted there.

Minutes after I got a mail from them, which had details of how, for whom and why they work in the said arena. The next day and for some days after that, I used to get mails that my complaint had been forwarded to my cellular connection company.

It was four days back that I got a call from the customer care again, but from one of their senior level officer, asking me to share my grievance. He assured me of highest possible measure that could be taken to undo the  loss. The next minute I got a message regarding the full recharge to my talk time balance.

I had’nt and could’nt ever thought that things in India could get this smooth. But hats off to the Akosha team for their support and method of working which enables even those who cannot or do not have the time to go through the hassles of fighting for their RIGHTS OF CONSUMERISM.

The Soothing One

It was my first day in Gurgaon, rather I should say first night stay in the village of sugarcane, as I had planned to shift to the corporate hub to reduce the time that was spent travelling. As usual, and as is my habit which I so strongly resent, i.e. sluggishness and add to that procrastination and being late every time, I did’nt prepare well in advance, the baggage that was to be taken to the rented place. And then in the morning, hashed my attire and the daily use items that the bag was light, but still could no more be filled. I reached the office on time reading Learn to Earn, which has made Peter Lynch my favorite, and then it was a normal day. The mentor giving me the work, which I tried to finish in the evening just to know that I had wrongly interpreted the work to be done, and had effectively done nothing. But that’s the part of daily routine. What happened the next day evening was far more interesting and on which my story would revolve in the ideas to come. I started from the office for home as it was Friday, the most soothing experience, reading Peter Lynch and then as was the run of the mill on other Fridays, so was this. A comedy happened to me that morning. As I was new to the place and did’nt knew the way, I did’nt even bother to ask one, and went 2 kilometers off way. When I told this at the office they all were lol.

I was exhausted after the day’s work and decided to take a rickshaw towards home. The price was decided after a word with the rickshaw puller, who these days have inflated their rates with the falling stock markets, weakening rupee, rising petrol and edible food prices, and above all the new trend, the robberies that some of the parsimonious ones have resorted to. We had just traveled a kilometer that a crossing came wherein he stopped at the red light. While he was crossing with the signal, a speeding scooter came and hit in the the wheel of the rickshaw, its kick(from where the two wheeler gets started), inter wined into the spokes of the wheel two to three times. I got of the rickshaw so did the rickshaw puller and the driver of the motor vehicle fell down. He was not hurt, rather upset over the accident. He and I struggled for 15 minutes to get the kick out of the wheel of the rickshaw. At that time no one would have thought of the time ahead, but three of us worked in unison to separate the two carriers. After it was done, the wheel got damaged completely and the poor guy was in tears. The two wheeler who was at fault tried to start his scooter and run away before he could have been asked for compensation. As the rumbling sound of the vehicle was heard by the rickshaw puller he went and stood in front of the scooter.He roared,”If you can’t give any then Kill Me”.And I was all emotional to hear that.

The guy who tried to avoid an eye contact was asked by the puller to reimburse for the losses. He refused. The slovenly clad poor man asked on him to ride the scooter over him as he would not be able to pay for the loss.

Actually the rickshaw pullers are the BPL of UP and Bihar who come to metros, borrow the rickshaw on rent and have to pay a part of their earnings to the capitalists of today. If anything goes wrong with the rickshaw, the rickshaw puller is solely responsible and has to pay for it. If he is unable to, he loses the rickshaw and has to do work without pay for the owner till he has labored enough to tantamount for the amount spent on repairs. Since the guys have to do hard labor earning 250 bucks a day, and above that feed a family of 6-10 in the days when the purchasing power of the money is going down, and only 3-4 members can survive with that amount eating only one time meal, working without pay is equivalent to starving their family for 15 days in a stroke. And since they are already meek due to unhealthy and noxious eating habits, a situation such as that can even mean death.

As tensions arose, I tried to calm down the guys and requested with folded hands to the driver to at least pay half. But he was adamant and refused to pay a penny. A period of silence prevailed, and the rickshaw puller started again. But this time he tried to run away, warning the rickshaw puller to do anything to take the pelf out of his pockets. A group of young children who were playing by the side had seen everything, came and surrounded the guy, and asked him to pay for humanity. The guy was now surrounded by more and more people. He asserted that when he had’nt done anything wrong, why should he pay for it. Then it clicked me and I tried to recapitulate the whole scene. It was actually he who was speeding up and hit in the rickshaw. After he had tried to vindicate the out of pocket guy, I apprised him of how, it was his mistake, and even if it was’nt his, it would be of no bearing on him to pay the fellow 50-100 bucks. He ignored me and invited more people to join the cause of the rickshaw puller.

I was amazed to see a guy who refused to 30-40 people’s requests until a goon type guy came and took the keys off his scooter. It was then that he realized that he was in great danger with the crowd at the back warning him of serious consequences. He agreed.

But only for 20 bucks, which was a give away. The goon gave the keys to the rickshaw puller and asked him to take that away, so that the scooterist may loose 100 making new ones and the gullible one agreed.

It was then, when he was leaving, I told him that it could serve no one good if he takes the keys. He would have lost 1 hour of fight plus the two wheeler guy would also loose something. Instead, if he agrees to give money, both could losses their losses. He contemplated on my words and came back.

Now a geriatric uncle came and he was able to convince him to pay 50 and get away. Both sides agreed. He gave the keys and got 50.

Afterwards when the scooterist was gone, people realized that the rickshaw puller had to spend 300-400 bucks in repairs and so they started giving 10-20 bucks each. I felt that since I was the one who was in the rickshaw and indirectly involved in the events, I gave him 50 bucks.

He was very happy and thanked me. That was the most soothing experience of my life wherein I felt that I had done a humane act and was so proud of it