Personal Thoughts

Mr Sunil Bharti: Are You Listening? Your company (Bharti Airtel) is setting benchmarks for Poor, Horrible, Bad Customer Service & Unethical Practices

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Mr Sunil Bharti, Are you listening?

In Late June 2012, I had written about my experience with a potential scam that Bharti Airtel could be running which could runs into millions.

A simple scam where they activate some 1 rupee a day service without asking for consent from the user and deduct money. An investigation & research on google threw pages after pages of such complaints. Just check for yourself using this link  and see what how many horror stories there are about people being cheated by Airtel.

Anyway, I had blogged about it, tweeted the incident & even posted the same on Airtel facebook page. This is their response (or the lack of it) and the story further.

Twitter Exchange:

Airtel Fraud

Their folks on twitter (either their agency or whoever is managing that account) made the right noises but then nothing happened.

Till date, no one has contacted me or reached out to me to address this. This proves that their responses on twitter are just useless facade and they have no intention of addressing the issue.

I gave them enough time and gave all the information but zilch results.!!! It’s been 2 months.

Facebook Exchange:

I had posted the same on facebook and attached is their response. Same  cookie cutter promise of a response & action but nothing has happened.

No effort on Airtel part to reach out or address the issue. Only false promises and no real action.

The  question is why Airtel is indulging in such unethical practices & a potential fraud of charging consumers of services which they have never asked for? Surely, so many people complaining about the same must haven’t got unnoticed by the company.

So, the real question is why is Airtel not doing something about it and addressing the core issue.

So, Mr Sunil Bharti, are you listening?

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Personal Financial Management | The importance of starting early

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If I were to start my career all over again; the one thing I would do differently is attention towards the financial planning — savings & investments — at the start of my career.

The joy of getting your first job & your first pay cheque is great and time flies before you realize that you haven’t saved (& wisely invested) enough. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to movies with friends, eating out, partying, buying that snazzy shoes & jeans, fulfilling all your needs & wants. The problem is in not paying attention to regularly putting aside some part of your salary towards savings & investments IN THE EARLY PART OF YOUR CAREER.
Not much but just 10% of your salary would be enough to start off your long term savings & investment plan.

As an illustration, here are some examples of the power of saving & investing small amounts over long periods of time:

  • 1000 rupees invested monthly (with 10% increase in investment every year), earning a 10% rate of return, over 35 years will give you ~1 crore.
  • 3000 rupees per month will give you 3 crore & 5000 per month will give you 5 crore over 35 years

To illustrate, the power of starting early:

  • 3000 rupees will give you 3 crore in 35 years, 1.7 crore in 30 years (if you start 5 years later) and just 88 Lakhs if you start saving 10 years later (in 25 years) and just with 10% return

The first step in personal financial planning is to be aware for the need for it. Thankfully, today in the internet age, there is no dearth of information on this subject. Here are some blog posts, that I stumbled upon, which explain several aspects of financial planning.

http://www.jagoinvestor.com/2009/06/can-you-live-with-90-of-your-salary.html

http://www.jagoinvestor.com/2009/02/early-investor-smart-investor.html

http://www.jagoinvestor.com/2011/03/retirement-planning-india-future.html

http://www.jagoinvestor.com/2009/07/6-steps-of-doing-retirement-planning-by.html

So, if you are a young professional, start saving & investing wisely — right at the start of your career. Open a demat account and get some SIP’s going.

The reality is that wealth is generated by people who invest smartly and with discipline, not who just earn lots of money.

A few percent improvement in several areas of my game

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I have to admit that I am biased & favor Nadal over any other current tennis player – RF included! I watched the Wimbledon finals in bits and pieces just because I couldn’t watch Nadal looseL. However; I have to admit that whatever little I saw, I couldn’t help but appreciate the quality of play that Djokovic was dishing out there. He deserved to win…!!!

Few days later, I come across this wonderful blog post which analyzes the comment made by Djokovic at the post match conference. Suddenly, I had new found respect for Djokovic and could put into perspective why Djokovic won the Wimbledon and is currently the best tennis player at the moment.

Wimbledon champion John McEnroe asked Djokovic what he had changed about his game to become number one. What was different between this year and last? Djokovic shrugged his shoulders, almost imperceptibly, and gave an important answer:

A few percent improvement in several areas of my game. 

Djokovic’s answer, in a way, helps us understand that ‘learning and improvement’ (in any area) is often about the little things and not always about the big bang changes/initiatives that we embark upon.

To quote from that blog:

The difference for him was not an addition to his repertoire, a brand new skill he could brandish against Nadal or Federer. It was a few percentage points’ improvement in his serve, in his return, in his volley, and in his ability to concentrate. Keep in mind that he was already the best returner of service in the world and strong enough in the other elements of his game to compete with and occasionally defeat two of the greatest players in history.

That was not enough. So he went home and got a little better in several parts of his game

Collectively, those few percentage points added up and made the difference. When you are playing with the best in the world, it those few percentage points matter & make the difference.

So, I thought, would this statement & approach be also applicable to us in business? How can a few % improvement make a difference to us?

Then I thought about:

  • A few percent improvement in our utilization
  • A few percent improvement in our billing rates
  • A few percent improvement in our DSO
  • A few percent improvement in our CR revenue
  • A few percent improvement in our attrition figures
  • A few percent improvement in our estimation
  • A few percent improvement in our execution
  • A few percent improvement in our personal productivity
  • A few percent improvement in ….

Imagine what all this can lead to – just a few percent improvement..!!!

Would you like to add to this list of “A few percent more…”

Why I did not opt for the LinkedIn 30 days free job seeker package offer

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By checking this box, you agree to the following terms. Your paid account will renew automatically, unless we terminate it, or you notify Customer Service by email (customer_service@linkedin.com) of your decision to terminate your paid account. You must cancel your subscription before it renews in order to avoid billing of subscription fees for the renewal term to your credit card.

Recently, LinkedIn sent out an offer where members could upgrade their account for a job seeker package for free — for 30 days.

Nothing wrong with this offer but as a user I felt uncomfortable with the terms and conditions and did not sign up. I do not know if I missed out a good opportunity to try out that feature of LinkedIn or not. However, I was just plain uncomfortable with the words on the screen.

I wondered what if… that email of mine landed in their junk folders? What if they said that they never received the email.. What if they said that.. oh you did not send it from ‘that’ email account… All kind of worst case scenarios came to mind.

Now, one could argue that LinkedIn is doing nothing wrong is is being transparent and upfront with the terms and conditions. It is upto the users to decide accordingly after reading them. But still, as a user I felt uncomfortable. I felt as I was getting tricked into this and the whole onus of getting out of this mess will be on me.

Somehow, most companies just talk about customer satisfaction as intent but their actions don’t go beyond lip service. I had sometime back written about Fake Smiles & Customer Satisfaction

So, what would have made me take the trial offer & and upgrade for 30 days? Maybe the terms could be like this:

  • LinkedIn will send me a reminder XX days before the card will be charged. It will again send me a final reminder 1 day before the trial account expires
  • LinkedIn will also show me a message on the web application when I visit LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn will give me a web option to unsubscribe from within my account itself. The button/link will be somewhere on ‘my account/profile settings’ itself

That would have made my try the package without blinking. It would have gine beyond customer satisfaction into customer delight.

So, LinkedIn, if you are listening, please, NO EMAIL BUSINESS for cancellation. If you can build such great software, I am sure you can build a button/link/check-box for me to cancel the trial account.

What do you as readers think? Do you get wary of such T&C’s? Would you sign up or hesitate? What could LinkedIn do better?

Hopes, ambitions & aspirations of the new age Indian youth from mufassil towns

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I am not a big fan of the Reality TV Talent Shows but one doesn’t have a choice if one’s spouse has a liking towards them — especially if they are of the song & dance variety. So in recent past I have ended up watching a couple of dance & song reality TV shows at home.

There is something that has struck me about the participants of these shows. I see a huge difference in the attitude & the confidence of the participants in these shows compared to few years earlier. Many of the participants are from the tier-II towns, some even from mufassil towns and quite a few are from a lower middle class income group or at times even lower. Most come from humble background and are the “first generation” singers & dancers in their families.

Almost all these participants acknowledge the hardship they faced in child hood, their family struggles, upbringing & economically backward condition. YET, they don’t seem to be stuck in a ‘cursing the god‘ mindset for their present condition. They seem to be at peace for where they were born and how they lived and come across as people who have hope and are dreamers with very high ambitions. They know how important it is for them to succeed & what success means — beyond the immediate. They come across as people ready for the struggle, hard work and eager to make their mark. They are uninhibited, clear on their goals and it is also good to see parents support these young Indians. Of course, one can see the hopes/aspirations in the eyes of the parents when they talk.

For example, in a recent episode I saw a  person who sells fruits on the roadside and who learnt to dance himself; A 19 years old girl from kolkatta who teaches dance, learns also, is a backup dancer in films, does bit choreography and comes from a petty shopkeeper family. A contestant where the father has passed away and the mother stitches clothes to support the family. A contestant who works as a welder in a steel plant and practices dance at night. A contestant who is hearing & speech impaired, a contestant whose parents are hearing & speech impaired. And believe me, all these contestant could dance pretty well. Once they took the dance floor you could only appreciate the dedication & the hard work put in by these young Indians and their talent. You could not imagine the hardships & the daily struggle they go through in their personal life. The confidence in these people is just something else. They don’t come across as the shy, ‘villager lost in town and in awe‘ types.

I, personally, am very happy & pleased to see that. A young generation full of hope & dreams and ready to slog it out for what they are passionate about is good for any country. These people are the real role models for other people in the country, with similar backgrounds, wanting to follow their dreams..!!! These are the people who give hope to their dreams and are contributing in creating a generation of youth that is ready to follow their dreams