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3 Strikes... and Out!

I have 4 stories to tell.


I landed in Delhi, and I got right down to it, the first thing that anyone worries about when they move. As I didn't know where any of the stores were, I called JustDial and they connected me to Vodafone. A recorded voice took me through all the motions, and all of 15 minutes of sub-human interaction later I had made all the arrangements for a new SIM to be delivered home. I was impressed by the speed and efficiency of the 'personalized customer care', so I even made a few calls (on roaming) to my friends back home to gloat and boast about it.

I started work soon after, but I became confused as to whether I was working for CWG or as secretary to Hon.Mr.Raj Chhadha. I found myself answering call after call for him on my new number. It was only after a few weeks that I managed to get down to a shop, by this time having given up trying to actually TALK to these godlike customer care executives. I say godlike because just like God, you've heard of them, there's ample proof they are around, but you can never catch a glimpse of one. I was informed that the number I was given was a second use one, my benefactor being of course, RC, as I had fondly begun to refer to him. Like the well trained customer care-er always does, the girl got a drift that I was, well, peeved. She assured me vehemently that she would lodge a complaint, and the calls would stop. Now, I know what you're thinking, HOW? Well, I'm no fool, that's exactly what I asked her. Unable to decipher the assurances she mumbled under her breath, I caved, and she said I should give them 2 weeks time to sort it. As it turns out, the rules say that a number surrendered must be held for at least 6 months before it can be reissued. Mine had been held for a grand total of 27 days.


To add to my woes, I was given another phone number from work. Having been given little choice in the matter, I found myself carrying 2 cell phones wherever I went. But not for long! Within a matter of days, the official one was stolen. I wasn't sorry to see it go; it had become a full time job babysitting 2 phones. But I was told I had better stop dilly-dallying and get the number working. It had after all, been already given to over 300 people.
The thief was a very curious soul, reaching for enlightenment. In the time it took me to get the number blocked, he decided he could not live without getting second-to-second updates on cricket, astrology, markets, bollywood, sex and just about every topic under the sun. To my credit, I managed to get a duplicate SIM within a month! Only to find that the old one had never been blocked, and in fact, mine was still inactive! That took me a while to sort, but eventually all was on track. There was just one problem. Wherever I went, I was followed by advice on what stocks to buy, how to pick up girls, Canadas latest score and how the day was going to bring financial gains. 3 months of incessant stalker-ish moaning, complaining, emailing, phoning later, I found myself staring defeat in the face, in the form of a bill for Rs.14,000/- And I hadn't any relatives on Pluto, so you can guess what I was being charged for.

The Driver

After the games, I decided I needed a break. A couple of friends from Mauritius were in Hrishikesh with a tour I had booked them on, and they would leave for Jaipur the next day. I decided to tag along. They came in at about 11 pm. Sleep deprived over the past month, I was barely able to let them in, and inform them I would be joining. Right ho! they said. The next morning it turned out that they had cancelled the tour, the driver from Hrishikesh had offered them a "better deal" minus the agent's cut. He was a big burly guy with large, red, bulging eyes and greased back hair. I didnt dare go near him, but I was sure he stank.
I knew this was a terrible idea, but the harm had been done. My gut told me to stay away from this tangle, but I was already packed, so I ignored it.
The trip started off ok. We stopped for breakfast at a nice place on the highway. The driver made some deal with the restaurant owner and picked up the tab. Of course I got suspicious. My friends told me that breakfast was part of the 'deal' so I should chill. Ok. We got to Jaipur and after seeing some of the usual sights, we went into a nearby shop. The prices seemed steep, but I was scoffed at for not knowing the value of "hand crafted camel leather chappals". Ok, I guess.
We checked into the hotel for the night. I was an unexpected guest, so I knew this is where they would try and fleece me. I looked around for the rate card or the Manager, both being conspicuous only by their absence. They tried to put me in a seedy room all by myself and charge me Rs.3000 for it. Of course I told them to put in an extra bed along with my friend's. That night we set out to Chowki Dhani. The tour-guide cum driver told us that it was 60km away from the city and it was cost us an extra Rs.1500. I was sitting back feeling quite self satisfied for bringing the rate down to a 1000 when the car suddenly started wobbling all over the place. Our luck was changing. The driver stopped near a camel ride place and since he saw my friends were interested, he offered to go find out about the rides. Meanwhile, I had decided to act a bit street smart. I asked the boy repairing our tire how far chowki dhani was. "10-15 km madam"! Driver came back saying it was 200 for a ride. That's when it finally dawned on me that he was taking a large ''cut" out of every dam thing we were paying for. Even the chappals! A big confrontation followed, where he expressed surprise that I should find the whole deal fishy. "Aisa hi hota hain madam". And he continued to do this the entire trip. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when we got back home. The peace was short-lived. My friends discovered that their wallets had been cleaned out when we had stopped for lunch. They had stupidly left them in the car.

The Tailor

A few months later, I returned to Delhi for a week's visit. I needed to buy a coat, and winter stocks were out. I decided to get one stitched. After reading so far, what do you think happened? Of course, it was messed up. Unless I had bloated 5 inches in 2 days, which is difficult even for me, it was too small. But Mashterji was confident that it could be fixed, "margin tha", you see. I wasn't a tailor and he had my deposit, so what could I do? I left it there and went back the next day. It wasn't ready. I decided to put my foot down. So I got them to promise to deliver it home by 7 pm. Lajpat Nagar, Raymonds Shop was not exactly an address I wanted to visit thrice in 3 days. The coat arrived at 11 pm, when I was out saying my goodbyes, so it was left at my neighbours.
When I tried it on the next day, I decided I really needed to work on my posture. So I shrugged my shoulders and stood straighter. The left shoulder of the coat still fell off my shoulder. I was seething with anger by this time and I called the B******s over and over but they didn't answer the phone.I left Delhi and spent the entire 20 hour train journey cursing the choicest curses.

When is this blatant cheating going to change? Are there others out there who are as bothered by this injustice as me? Or is everyone just busy taking lessons on how to become fraud themselves, and start a business to scam people.

Yesterday Airtel called and offered me a "25% discount" on my 14,000 bill. I informed them politely what they could do with their "offer". It gave me such pleasure, that it almost makes it ok that I won't be paid at all for my last month at work, because of this uncleared bill.


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