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The Indian Postal Service takes action!

April 21, 2009

Last year I had written a eulogy on the Indian Post Office, an institution I am a great admirer of for many reasons. At the same time I had heard and read about people with grievances, although I personally never had one…well, not until the time I visited a post office in Pune recently. That made me write a post on how unfit government employees are and how nothing happens to them even if they mistreat the customer. I complained, in three separate forums, and also wrote a blogpost about it here. And on this same post, in the comments section, I mentioned that I did get a response from the post office, by email, by phone and even by a registered letter! That felt good and my faith in the Indian postal system was a little restored. I (and other commentators) hoped that the letters were not the end of the matter and that some concrete action would be taken to improve the working of that particular post office.

Well, some action has been taken. Yesterday I got another letter from the Department of Posts telling me about it. The letter speaks for itself.

A change of guard, and more supervision. I think this is quite satisfying. I hear that these kind of incidents go on the person’s personal record and more complaints can affect the employee’s raises and promotions.

41 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2009 4:49 pm

    Very unexpected I must say from the Indian Post. I never did expect such a reply and action to be taken.

  2. April 21, 2009 4:53 pm

    Its good that they really took action. Actually I didn’t expect them to do anything…
    But I am glad they did not fire her😀 उगीच आपल्यामुळे एखाद्याच्या पोटावर पाय कशाला…….😀😀

  3. April 21, 2009 5:40 pm

    Nita, getting a reply to communication and also action from a Govt deptt by itself is a commendable job.

  4. April 21, 2009 5:46 pm

    Congratulations.
    Its rare that government is so ‘caring’. And govt. cares for you!!!😉
    But this goes on to show that, not all government agencies can be generalized with the tag of being ‘government-like’.

  5. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    April 21, 2009 5:46 pm

    One of the few good things that has emanated from LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation), is that the competition has made many of the laid-back state-owned institutions and services sit up.

    The advent of courier services and the internet compelled the postal department to get its act together. Long before that, improvements were evident in the insurance sector (it is a positive pleasure to deal with LIC now, as much as it is a pain to deal with private insurers), in telecom, civil aviation (if I have to be stranded at an airport for 24 hours because of a fog over North India crippling services across the country, I’d much rather be with Indian Airlines than with any of the fancy private airlines) and several others.

    So the greatest good that privatisation does is to compel the improvement of services in the public sector which, in theory, was always much more socially accountable anyway.

    • April 21, 2009 6:05 pm

      That was a good comment, and I agree.

    • April 27, 2009 12:30 am

      ive also complained to the Mumbai PMG once and got a prompt reply, and the rude clerk was reprimanded…
      The higher ups do act but how?
      Is this a solution?
      Have the number of counters for postal savings gone up and have the promised postal atms seen daylight?
      On PSUs ,
      But aren’t they still wasteful?
      Mittal took those same underperforming psu staff and created a world leading Mittal Steel.

      Psus can always do better than private sector because the insatiable greed is missing.
      the way this govt has been interfering with their working, can the psus deliver on two counts – Shareholder value and Proper accountability?
      Im afraid not especially in this country and mainly due to political / vested interference!

  6. April 21, 2009 5:58 pm

    nice to see that action was taken🙂

  7. Dev permalink
    April 21, 2009 8:06 pm

    Congratulations! India needs much more citizens like yourself…

  8. April 21, 2009 8:07 pm

    Way to go, Nita!

    I hope Postal department does keep its ears open and provide people with good service.🙂

  9. Anil Siqueira permalink
    April 21, 2009 8:26 pm

    “A eulogy”, Nita, and “did GET a response …”
    But, more than that. Your surprise is misplaced, as are some of the comments. Any government department, and I mean that, ANY GOVT. DEPT. would respond in time (how long, I can’t say).
    However, most people do not “complain” in the proper format and so the complaint is rarely, if ever, addressed.
    First, the language of the complaint needs be civil. This very often isn’t. (Action can hardly be contemplated in an uncivil complaint.)
    Second, all details (regarding date, time, place, situation) need be accurate and complete.
    Third, details in the main body ofthe complaint too need be clear and complete.
    Try it. You’ll see it works.
    Most people think they can shout at government servants like they are private servants. And, that’s the rub.

    Thanks Anil for pointing out the typos. Well, the first was a genuine mistake (‘an’ instead of ‘a’) and not a typo, the second was a typo as I changed the sentence. Both duly rectified. Thanks. And about the other points you mentioned, well, government departments are usually very slow to respond so this response is impressive! In fact I got a phone call almost immediately after I wrote the email, and now they have already taken action! – Nita.

  10. April 21, 2009 9:16 pm

    Surprised! Happy!🙂

  11. April 21, 2009 9:55 pm

    Oh My My..This is so cool..And this is without you having to go through any ‘MP/MLA’ or by using your ‘sources’??Damn cool..!!

  12. April 21, 2009 10:35 pm

    Well better late than never….

  13. April 22, 2009 1:16 am

    Nita, I guess patience pays off sometimes. I think Anil has made some good points in his comment above.

  14. April 22, 2009 2:20 am

    Its great that they responded. Somehow I was not expecting anything more than the previous letter.

  15. April 22, 2009 2:34 am

    Nita, I was kinda expecting the post to reply. Government agencies are getting very accountable these days (compared to say 10 years ago). I had good experience of complaints with municipal corporation, telephone, railways too.

  16. April 22, 2009 7:26 am

    Very pleasantly surprised. I hope this is more the trend rather than an exception.

    g

  17. Vinod permalink
    April 22, 2009 7:35 am

    Nita, this has given me hope in India…something that has been on the verge of death for me for a very long time.

  18. April 22, 2009 8:04 am

    it is possibly easier to get Governmental departments to apologise and take action than the private sector…. but, the story does fill me with hope.

  19. April 22, 2009 8:06 am

    …and congratulations for complaining. most of us would put up with bad behavior and crib, but do nothing. it it good to see the system accountable !!

    sorry for the double post🙂

    • April 27, 2009 12:32 am

      This is the problem and it is true
      People dont complain – because they think no action will be taken – its a viscious circle but hey most people are not to blame !
      RTi has been clogged up and most activists are demoralized

  20. April 22, 2009 8:19 am

    Aathira, Suda, BK, Dev (both of them!), Poonam, Vishesh, DI, Abhiroop, Karan, Amit (both) and Gauri, yeah I too was pleasantly surprised, but more at the fact that they actually did something! Most of them (govt. organisations) do reply as Anil has pointed out if it is a polite mail, but taking action is another matter altogether. I wonder if my blogging about it made any difference! I did give a link to the blog post in my complaint email.

    Vivek K and Priyank, I agree with you about the effect of the private sector on the public sector. It’s had a good effect.

    Anil Siqueira, I agree that one has to be polite in one’s complaint but usually govt. departments are loath to take action against their employees (at least that is my impression) more do to the fear of the union or something else. In this case even though I have a good impression of the Indian Postal Service, I was a little surprised. I think what Vivek said is correct and the competition has had a sobering effect. And this employee lost the post office a sizeable investment also probably has something to do with it!

    Vinod, India is improving day by day. And we need people like you to come back and demand more accountability, people who have lived abroad and know their rights.

    Chikki, I didn’t know anyone at all but I did blog about it.

    Harini, thanks. But I wonder if I understood you right. You said it’s easier to get the govt. sector to apologize than the pvt. sector.

  21. April 22, 2009 10:01 am

    Aside from my pleasant surprise at the action taken by the Post Office, I am amazed at your persistent follow-up of the issue.

    After such an incident, I would more likely have tried to put it behind and move on as fast as possible. Something for all of us to learn here…

  22. April 22, 2009 12:36 pm

    Chalo achchha hai!!🙂 🙂

  23. rags permalink
    April 22, 2009 2:18 pm

    This is good news. After RTI things have started improving dramatically as far as accountability of government servants are concerned…

  24. April 22, 2009 3:26 pm

    Nita:

    I am amused by the suggestion that while the delivery of customer service from a company (public or private) has no format, a complaint must be made in a format that meets several requirements. Why must companies that make their process of customer service less than transparent take all this pain to educate customers in the proper process of complaining?

    Good of you to complain though and pleasant surprise that they responded!

    I used to complain all the time, I still do (and also blog about it). I have learnt while humans are not terrified of the spoken word, babus in particular are terrified of written word. Works like a charm. Every time.

  25. April 22, 2009 3:55 pm

    This is unbelievable…and i know that post office,,,been there for couple of times… so i repeat it is unbelievable….

    You are lucky Nita!

    Archana

  26. openlight permalink
    April 22, 2009 8:42 pm

    Lucky you and an good sea change from government office !!

    It’s your luck ( or rather determination ) that you got an reply from the government office, such incidents are happening due to RTI, media exposure and of course persons willing to fight back (kudos to you, may be consumer awareness).

    But still India has a long way to go, in India we are still are working on such pity things, which should had been scrapped from all public interface departments of government organizations.

    But there are bigger issues also, which are still resolved (maybe fodder for your future posts) – police reforms, bangladeshi infiltration (both have been cleared by Supreme court), further, 000s of pakistanis are getting into India annually and there is no report on this part in media.

  27. April 23, 2009 12:40 am

    This is great stuff Nita.

    Goes to proves that we should not take government incompetence lying down, and if we put pressure on them they can not continue with their callous attitude towards people.

  28. April 23, 2009 10:09 pm

    Thats great news. I hope the lady at the counter learns to be polite from now on.

  29. April 25, 2009 8:34 am

    Persistence pays, dear Nita! You kept at it and that’s what we need. Most people just give up. They have so much more to deal with.
    Nice work

  30. psripada101 permalink
    April 25, 2009 10:08 am

    Government employees, better watch out, Nita is on the prowl.

  31. April 25, 2009 9:44 pm

    Awesome! Nita. perhaps a little light of hope that the government does listen to the public (at times).
    Good to see the reference to email communication in the letter – so that appears to mean – also the emails are indeed read and not really trashed away although most email addresses mentioned on the sites are non-existent or mailbox full and our emails bounced – but ones reached are appears being read.
    I hope this also contributes to a portion of Dr.Abdul Kalam’s 2020 vision of literacy and rural/urban improvement across the nation.
    Thank you for posting the Postal department’s response on your blog – I believe this indeed gives belief to most of the readers that they can still be the “voice of customer” and bring progress towards the better India.

  32. April 27, 2009 9:54 am

    Mahendra, Shefaly, Snigdha, psripada101, Ram, I didn’t do much really. I mean it took less than twenty minutes. I filled in the complaint form on the postal service site and one on a central government site. It took another few minutes to dash off an email, with a link to my blogpost. I did absolutely no follow-up after that. It was all from their side.
    And Ram, I too am amazed at their response to an email!! The email was sent one evening and the next morning I got a telephone call from them!

    archana, openlight, I think more than luck or much effort on my part, I think their response is a reflection on an improvement at their end.

    amreekandesi, yeah I agree. One has to complain, give them a chance to rectify.

    rags and sakhi, thanks.

    prax, I think it’s just competition thats made them wake up.

  33. May 8, 2009 6:45 pm

    wonderful!!! Nice to know someone in the government actually cares!

  34. aniruddhapathak permalink
    May 20, 2009 3:09 pm

    nice that you actually took it up with the authorities..we all should

  35. Ravi permalink
    June 21, 2009 2:18 pm

    I was happy to read the above comments. The skepticism part is,however, misplaced. I have had very good experience with postal department. It’s a lot better than all other Govt. Departments. You write 10 times, you will be replied 20 times and in all cases tangible action will be taken. You may verify it youself. Postal dept. is not finnicky about the form,language or the grammar of the complaint; not even the civility part. Oral complaints may not always bring sufficient results. Test this out.

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