the fake con

If you’ve ever had to purchase a product in India that requires at least some level of continued customer interaction, you’ve probably come across what I’m labeling here as a fake con. What exactly is a fake con? It is something that, throughout the process of the event, feels like a con but ends up being legitimate. Doesn’t sound great and it isn’t, either. This is how a sample fake con goes:

  1. You contact Company X about Product Y.
  2. The sales rep. of the company does a good job convincing you of buying the product. You decide to go ahead and buy it.
  3. The sales rep. promises delivery of Product Y the next day. An experienced fake conner will realize this could raise suspicion and promises delivery in 48 hours or something to that effect.
  4. The intended date of delivery swings around and there’s no sign of delivery.
  5. You get in touch with the sales rep. in the afternoon, after lunch. He promises delivery in the evening.
  6. Evening turns into night but there’s no sign of delivery.
  7. You get in touch with the sales rep. in the late evening, just before dinner. He promises delivery the next morning.
  8. You give the sales rep. a piece of your mind, but you were expecting some sort of delay in delivery (this is India after all).
  9. The next day, you repeat steps 5-7. You are now getting annoyed.
  10. The day after, the sales rep. phone appears to be out of service. In reality, the sales rep. is just ignoring your calls.
  11. You try calling customer service but of course they have no record of your application for Product Y. In fact, you have to call several different customer service centers and give a lot of information. The standard response is that they will tell you to wait another period of the initial waiting period (for example, 48 hours).

This is how it is so far. There are now two paths you can follow. If you happen to know someone senior level in Company X, you get in touch with them. Power hierarchy works as good as it always does and:

12. You get delivery of the product that day.

Your saga thus ends. You never hear back from the original sales representative. He has clearly been humbled. However, not everyone has the benefit of this situation so what probably happens is:

12. You make more calls, more complaints.
13. You finally realize the hopelessness of your situation and give up trying.
14. You get delivery of the product a few days later.

As you can see, it feels like you are getting swindled the whole way, but what is actually happening is that the level of service is extremely poor. The product and company are legitimate, it is just that the sales team is too disconnected from the delivery/engineering team and in general they are just too lazy. There is no respect for a customer’s time and no guaranteed response time.

Most recently, this happened with us with TATA, whose high-speed internet service plan we were trying to get so that I could VPN effectively. Just a few days prior to that, a similar thing happened to my cousin when he was trying to buy a car. It’s happened for ages and I have no doubt it’ll happen for ages more. There just seems to be no semblance of professionalism and accountability in some customer-facing industries in India.

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