Monday, March 9, 2015

Caveat Emptor: Regular Customer

Since coming back to India after four decades abroad I've been consistently surprised by a particular element of the business ethic here: as a regular customer at an establishment I am almost always more likely to be swindled or inconsiderately treated.

This is not because of any rudeness or lack of consideration on my part, for I am invariably polite and bend over backward not to be demanding.

On the contrary, I think it is because I am that way; familiarity seems to breed contempt.

The latest example is a small Panjim hole in the wall (SRS Businesspoint), where I have been paying my monthly television and phone recharge bills.

A Rs500 payment on 2 March for television service was not credited and I found out when my set went dead on Sunday.

A Rs.200 payment on the 7th for the phone has yet to be credited.

No explanations, and calls to the service providers reveal there is no recourse.

I have stopped going to a bigger company, Magsons Supermarket, where I used to spend several thousand every week because for some inexplicable reason, some of the clerks became almost bellicose.

These are just two examples.

I am tempted to lay this phenomenon at the door of my bete noire, rogue members of the Intelligence Bureau, whose noses I have put out of joint with my calls for the agency to be brought under constitutional controls.

They have engaged in considerable petty -- and not so petty -- harassment in the past, but to make an accusation without any proof would be invidious.

P.S: The day after I wrote this post it occurred to me that my experience could reflect a non-economic behavior pattern: extortion by some policing authority.

Recently a couple of Goa plain clothes police officers were hauled up for extorting money from tourists, who they thought powerless to resist.

This points to a danger of abuse in our intelligence agencies requiring internal vigilance arrangements; the power to force cooperation in gathering information could easily be corrupted into extortion of benefits.

In Pakistan, the ISI has developed into a major economic player by using its powers of extortion, and the same could happen here.

If it does, we're in a completely different ball game, with the entire democratic system under threat.   


Anonymous said...

It happens to many non-aggressive, non-bargaining and non-demanding types in India. This is also because returnees from Europe get used to politeness and orderliness there !

My experiences are similar. Its a matter of how to throw your weight around, if you can. Otherwise, Bakras are treated like bakras. Fairly ;-0

Bhaskar Menon said...

What a creepy attitude. Not to mention a complete misreading.

Anonymous said...

The last part was tongue-in-cheek, but did you take it literally ? The creepy attitude is not mine, since I have suffered for showing basic courtesy.