A good reason for me to blog
Blogging helps consumers, specially in countries where the consumer movement is not strong. Where companies are not customer friendly and consumer orientation is lacking. Where commercial establishments from shops and manufacturers to hotels and restaurants often provide shoddy service, ignore complaining customers and refuse to take back damaged goods. An interesting excerpt from a Hindu article has an interesting take on the mind-set of the average Indian consumer.
“An average Indian consumer is noted for his patience and tolerance. Perhaps because of these two traditional traits and due to the influence of the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita, he considers the receipt of defective goods and services as an act of fate or unfavourable planetary position in his horoscope. When a new television or refrigerator purchased by him turns out to be defective from day one, he takes it reticently, blaming it on his fate or as the consequence of the wrongs committed by him in his previous birth. Very often he is exploited, put to avoidable inconveniences and suffers financial loss. It is rather paradoxical that the customer is advertised as the “king” by the seller and service provider; but in actual practice treated as a slave or servant. Goods are purchased by him along with the label: Items once sold will not be taken back.”
So how can blogs help the consumer?
As the popularity of blogs increases, more and more bloggers will write about their personal experiences and grievances. A consumer who is able to read more about other people’s grievances, even if he is a homebody, will feel more emboldened and could gather enough courage to complain if he knows that others face the same problem.
If the complaint is a minor one, like say colour running off a skirt or a leaking pen, most consumers grin and bear it. Some might protest and try to get the good exchanged, but it is equally likely that the seller will ignore him.
My personal experience is that companies think on these lines:
What can this person do?
Who can he tell?
Will he going to stand outside the shop and warn customers not to enter the shop?
Well, most people will not. But now consumers have a weapon: Blogging! A small blogger may not get the attention he wants…but at least a handful of people will read his complaint/story. That can be a source of satisfaction. And the collective voice of bloggers can be very loud indeed!
I had a bad experience at an eating joint recently, but complaining had no effect. I knew that no newspaper would be interested in publishing a letter about such a small matter. But I was bugged…and so I blogged.
A few years ago while I was living in Bangalore, a friend went for a trip down south and spent a few days at a well-known five-star hotel. She said she saw something shocking…after she and her husband had checked out she returned to the room to get something she had forgotten. What she saw was a house-keeping person wiping an used glass with a used pillowcase and placing it inside a ‘sterilized’ plastic bag! After her return to Bangalore my friend wrote a letter to a mainline newspaper about this incident…but it was never published. Probably the newspaper thought she was making it up!
Once I had bought two packets of burnt and blackened digestive biscuits from Britannia Industries. I complained, the salesman came, was sympathetic, took the two packets of biscuits away with him…and I never heard from him again. My husband told me that I should not have given him the defective biscuits…he said now the company will not bother. And he was right. When I called again, the salesman did not come on the line even though the company had not bothered to replace those two biscuit packets. It would have cost the company nothing…just about Rs 25/-.
These are minor incidents which few people will want to take forward to the courts. But at the same time they may wish to spread the word. Blogging is one way.
How are blogs better than review platforms?
Well, there are not too many of these in India. And in any case, I think there something impersonal about such platforms. Besides, reviews on such platforms are usually not written about trivial matters and nor do they always address the smaller complaints.
Blogs on the other hand reflect the personality of the person or a small group of people…they are the voice of a person. And those with smaller complaints find a voice.
Looking forward to a thriving blogosphere
I hope that the number of bloggers, specially Indian, keep growing. This will help not just the consumer movement, but also help expose those who cheat and lie. Our system is not yet strong enough to net the cheats and liars in the government and unless these cheats and liars are exposed our country cannot move forward at the pace we want it to. And unless we get reduce the corruption, we will not get the respect from the world that we want so badly. Blogging will help expose them…shame them.
All you bloggers who fight for truth, justice and an equal society, may your tribe increase…for collectively we shall win.
(This post is partly a repeat, from a January 19th post. I have taken the second half of a previous post and posted it here as in the previous one I felt the point about helping consumers was getting lost. Also, very important – I want to take part in the new contest by Engtech.wordpress.com) on why I blog.