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They donít serve who only stand and wait

Bikram Vohra (Between the Lines) / 5 May 2012

There are many things that donít find favour with me. But few can compete with one of my pet peeves.

Service Centres.

It doesn’t matter whether it is the car or the computer, the air conditioner or any one of those electronic items that run our lives. They go phutttt on you and you are rained out.

Now, service centres are reportedly supposed to be a facility aimed at pleasing the customer and giving him what is cheerfully called after sales service. Nothing could be further from the truth and you can stop with the laughter.

Service centres are Machiavellian conspiracies ...designed to torment urban mankind and teach him a lesson for being obsessively possessive. For one, there is a special entrance examination for service centre staff. They have to pass papers in rudeness, insolence and arrogance. Then they have to learn how to be unhelpful, confusing and indifferent while torturing every last dirham out of you.

This attitude is confirmed by a code of conduct, which includes complete denial of incompetence, no respect for schedules and a genial contempt for the customer who is treated like a cretin with a double digit IQ.

Since these service centres are allied to the main retailers or whatever they are literally above the law and play passing the buck with such dexterity the battle of the unequals is one you can never win.

The fact is that when they say collect your car on Monday and it isn’t ready on Monday there is nothing you can do about it. There is no way anyone is going to give you a spare car because they haven’t maintained their schedule. This would be fine if you could do the same with their payment and say great, will test the car and pay you Wednesday when I am satisfied but you can’t drive the vehicle out of the garage till your bill is cleared. How is that fair.

A team from a reputed company was disptched to fix the window A/C (sorry we all can’t afford central) because the thing was leaking like the office gossip and the chief honcho looks at it and says it has to be taken away, you know like a patient who needs hospitalisation. So, now we have a gaping big hole in the wall and I say so what do we do about this hole in the wall, pointing to the hole in wall through which the sun and the hot air are now pouring through. He shrugs in that ‘not my problem, all yours’ fashion and I say not only is this uncomfortable it is unsafe.

He says minimum two days, may be three. Naturally Day Four is a Friday and on Saturday his mobile is switched off. Now, he finally comes in on Day Five and messes up the wall with greasy fingerprints, breaks a corner of the woodwork, then takes his money and goes. Twenty minutes after his departure the machine goes into its liquid programme again except now with the leak there is a funny sort of growling sound that comes and goes with cyclic regularity. All day his mobile is switched off and there is no way to find him. When I finally capture him in his shop he cannot come until Monday but he has to warn me that the A/C is a faulty machine and I should call the manufacturer.

So, I say why didn’t you tell me this before putting it right which you didn’t put right, like it is still wrong even though I paid you AED 400. I tried, he says, all offended and uptight, I tried, no??

No, I say, no, nononono, your trying is not enough, now you are responsible, you put it right, there was no growling sound before you took it away. He says, so what will you do, I don’t want to do your work, go get some other mechanic, go, go, go.

I say nononono I did not pay you for that growling sound.

He says, I don’t like the way you speak, gogogo.

All outraged and furious, you know what I do, I go, go, go.

Not that I have a choice. Service centers may make big promises but boy, they sure don’t abide by them. Plumbers, carpenters, electricians, mechanics, these are the bosses of today, they can ruin or run our lives and they are led by El Supremo himself, the guy who comes to put your virus infected computer right. The fact that he sold it to you in the first place counts for nothing. You are a pawn on his chessboard and it is his move…every time.

Bikram Vohra is Editorial Advisor at Khaleej Times. Write to him at bikram@khaleejtimes.com

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