Sunday, November 21, 2010

Paying for Customer Care - Indian Telco's New Route to Revenue ethical?

If you have noticed, Airtel, a top Telco in India, has started charging its Customers for Customer care calls at the rate of 50p/3 minutes, a service which used to be free of charge.

Although this will definitely generate a lot of revenue (given that Airtel has significantly more than 110M subscribers) is it really ethical for a Telco to charge its Consumers. It may be perfectly legal but would it be ethical?

One may say that its perfectly ok to do say just like we purchase a product and we pay if it gets faulty.

To understand the question we need to understand the differentiation between a Product purchase and a Service purchase.

When you buy a product, you purchase the product accepting that it being a physical entity, will deteriorate in functionality and eventually need servicing or repair. Customer accepts the
liability that the amount he is paying to purchase is the price of the product.

Now consider that you buy a Guaranteed/Warranted Product for say 5 years. In this case you are buying the product and also a invisible service that, all damages (covered in the warranty) will be replaced or fixed at no cost to the customer. Do you pay for warranted products that get defective under its warranty? No.

Similar to the above, Telcos are predominantly service sellers. When you purchase a Billing Plan for example to make calls, it becomes a liability of Provider to allow you to make calls at all times. In simple terms, the Service Provider is liable for the availability of the service where as a Consumer is only liable to pay for the consumption of such a service. (unless there is a contractual maintenance charge)

It is very unethical and perhaps should be illegal to charge your customers to report issues arising due to failure of the Service provider to make a service available.

I shall share a simple experience I had that led me to writing this post.

I am an avid GPRS user, and when I saw that airtel is providing 2GB internet bandwidth for a measly rental of Rs. 99 per month, I immediately wanted to activate the service.

The website was very elaborate on providing information on how to activate the service. I did all the steps, recieved a confirmation SMS twice that the service is now active.

I then started to use my GPRS leisurely thinking that I will only be charged 99 for under 2GB bandwidth which is a lot for a mobile phone. I was only shocked to notice that in my bill that followed for that month, there was no rental applied of 99 and was actually charged the precise usage of bandwidth.

Confused i called up the 'Chargeable' customer support, who informed me (after first wasting time probably to get the minutes rolling) that the service is not active at all. I told her the dates on which i recieved the confirmation but the lady said that the service is just not active. Eventually i asked her to activate it and she said it will be done so (i hope).

This entire experience may have cost me Re. 1 and may be a few hundered rupees extra that i may have paid for my leisurely use of GPRS under my understanding that the service is active.

There are 2 Seperate issues here.

I may to a certain extent agree that due to some system issue it service may not have got activated and it is acceptable to me as a consumer (obviously it will leave a bad experience in my head with Airtel)

However, charging me to let them know that they have committed a mistake or their system has erroneously done something is bad, unethical and to me illegal as well.

Re. 1 as an individual does not look much. But think about the volume the Telcos is earning. Even if you assume that an Operator with 100+ million subscribers, has 1% people (which is very low assumption) that have issues regularly and may need customer support.

Also assume to a pessimistic value that your call will indeed be over in 6 minutes or Re. 1. (we all know how long it takes working with the Call Center Executives for Telecom Operators trying to make you wait for ages)

The calculation is

1 Million Consumers(1,000,000) X Re. 1 = 1 Million Rupees per day.

Thats a Massive Revenue of Rs. 30,000,000 (Rs. 30 Million) per month and
Staggering Rs. 360,000,000 (Rs. 360 Million or more than Quarter of a Billion) an year.

Think about it.

All this revenue from a user who only wants to highlight that he is not getting the service he paid for!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

PDF to word Document

Heres a neat lil web site that u just load ur pdf to and it will give u a word document out of it.

Get yourself some Free Google Stickers

I really love to give my readers all the info about freebies around. ;)

Well heres something that I am sure all of u would absolutely need.
Google is giving away free Google Stickers to one and all.

So what do u need to do?

just send a self addressed envelope at

Address to send your request:
Send me some Gmail stickers already
P.O. Box 391420
Mountain View, CA 94039-1420

and they will take care of the rest ;)

Here is how the stickers look like

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The C++ and The Watever

I came around this weird article on the internet which is about an interview "proclaimed" arguably given by Stroustrup (Inventor of C++). Must Read

I cannot comment if its genuine but its fun to read.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Web 4.0 and onwards!

I have been off the blogging scene with respect to technology for a while. However, I have tried to keep my radar on the web industry.

With all the hue and cry of Web 3.0 opening up out of its cocoon, and is expected to make a huge entry into the web there are too many people out there that are making serious assumptions on the Web 4.0 and onwards which I highly disregard.

To have a background on the issue, lets start with Web 2.0, this came as a cultural shift from how the internet is perceived and used. For what once used to be a publisher to user channel, now became a collaboration between the two. Users now had the power to publish with publishers merely become a means of presenting that information.

Once there were news websites that people read news from, now there are blogs that people write news into to share information.

Once there were encyclopedia websites, now there are "wikis" that allow you to collaboratively add information on topics.

There are many more such examples but the fact is that the focus and power of the Internet was changing hands. For websites that did not interact or collaborate with its users were thrown out. Collaboration is the key to survival in this scenario. Google who has been an excellent example in doing so now becomes the new king of the web. Web 2.0 became a very good means to allow Google to create its supremacy over the web.

In short, such a massive paradigm shift can be very well accepted as "Upgrade of the Internet" and the Web 2.0 term thus justifies.

Web 3.0 now is making rounds in the industry where applications and browsers aim to be more intelligent and adaptive. They will learn as we interact. Once again an acceptable upgrade.

However, anything beyond web 4.0 and onwards would only be a hypothesis based on no facts whatsover.

Web Portals and Companies trying to create an opportunity by marketting themselves as promoters and "innovators" for web 4.0 would only give me a big laugh.

Any innovation on the web cannot be termed as an upgrade to the web. Also the web scene in the world is so rapidly changing. It would be an idiotic act to drive the future upgrades on the basis of assumptions.

It is evident that all the web upgrades till now (2.0 and 3.0) have brought a paradigm shift to the web bringing in new players. They all originated by a gradual process that progressed on an ongoing basis and not a well planned strategy. Also, such things can never be a outcome of a planned strategy.

Concluding, the web is a vast expanse, and it has grown by its own and shown opportunities at the right time. For all those who are claiming to bring a big change in Web 10.0, please dont bother the world!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Your Google Map

I was wandering around the web (the usual me that is), and I was looking for a place somewhere in the United States. I need a map for the very same reason and what better could it be than Google maps. However, I tried to search a little bit more and I found this interesting website.

The website is called yourgmap.
What is really interesting about this map is, that it is personalized specifically to you.

Lets say one day you wanna mark all the places in the world to which ur somehow associated.
All you do is go to yourgmap, register, mark all the places on the map where u are related, say your college, your home, your school,etc and then publish your map.

People can view your personal map and get to noe a lot more about u and the places ur associated with. Well it does server a purpose i say

Ragatech Ratings : 3.5 (The 0.5 for the concept)

Wordpress Themes

For all you wordpress bloggers out there, these may come as a reiteration.

Now that word press is widget ready, its quite easy to mess you template up if ur trying to change your layout. However there are these widget ready templates already available to which u can easily tweak.

Enjoy free and premium widget ready wordpress themes at

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Quick Order

Assume You are a coffee addict. On a really taxing day when you needed that cup of coffee desperately, you find that there is a huge queue at the cafe.

How does it sound if I told you, you can now order coffee by you cell phone, to jump that queue, so that nothing comes between you and your darling coffee.

You would say I am kidding, and does it even sit fit as a business opportunity.
Well we would not have to wait for the answer.

iPhone/iPod Touch "Quick Order" application allows users to order their favorite StartBucks Drink without having to go through the hassles of waiting in the queue.
If this wasnt enough for you, you can also pay for it using the application from your phone.

Now thats what I call Sleeeeeek!

Image Courtesy :

Google Patents

These days I am working on a concept for the Retail Industry. Although the concept is still far ahead of its time and currently not acceptable wrt to the funding and infrastructure it needs. However, was trying to make a presentation on it and was to make a patent application for the same once the concept matured.

However, I did not know about the patents already registered associated in the periphery of my concept, as the concept assumed a lot of things.
This is where Google Patents helped me a lot.
I was not only able to find the exact assumed patents I needed for my Citations but also it gave me a lot more information about the patents and their respective authors.

I would definitely want to recommend this for a try and u will love it for sure

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Live Documents

Finally a review i had been longing to write

Its 2 months since Sabeer Bhatia, announced live documents as the future of office, and 2 months since i have been waiting for my request for an account to be approved :(

You can learn about LiveDocuments at

Amazingly, he has come up with another application that is a gem and addictive if you are a person on the move and use google docs extensively.

Their efforts to replicate the Office 2007 is quite commendable and they seem to have done more than justice to this baby.

With bandwith not a every man's luxury as yet, it can be quite taxing for the dialup buddies but if have the bandwith, this is one thing u should definitely get the hang of.

Well, responding to Sabeer's claims of getting the better of google docs, he does the the weapon, but we will have to wait to see if does anydamage to a well established and an all integrated solution.

He aims to cross a Billion users soon enough, All the best buddy! With a concept like this, he sure has got the wheels moving

Picture courtesy :
Your Ad Here