Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The "Promise" of a Businessman - TATA

Cricket in general – and the Indian one, in specific – has been hitting news these days. That’s apart from our “Nano”, that is. Much like it has been in its recent history, Indian cricket has much more happening off the grounds than on it. Racism, sledging, hearings, penal actions, Bucknor off – Bajji on . . . that’s what they call cricketing news, don’t they?

Nano has not been so. It has had the nation buzzing with the tiny new word much before its arrival on to the arena. Should we be saying, “Take the Nation by storm”? ‘Storm’ seems to be a far more aggressive word than what may suit our cute lill’ “nano”. Stop Press by nature, it definitely deserves more than a round of applause. Mr Ratan Tata has brought life to his dream in style. To be able to make the supply chain dance to his tunes is no ordinary work. Nice features, smart styling, amazing price, endless possibilities! Now, is that not what is called, a “Dream Launch!” Tata summed it all up in one phrase that should perhaps become a popular quote in the years to come – “A Promise is a Promise”.

A promise is a Promise . . . hmm! So, media men, you have found fodder for your pulp. Front pages splashed all over with pictures of the great man beside the tiny car, all kudos, accolades that talk of revolutions . . . hold it, friends, I know it’s party time.

But you folks don’t seem to spend much time on-line, do you? The net is a much more powerful medium of expression of personal opinion of millions of ordinary unseen folks; the very people who read your words that fill the news papers. Did you ever get a chance to read of the woes of customers of one good old name called VSNL? You could spare so much front page space on a Brand; you could as well have spared a few centimeters of your columns in rapping on the knuckles of a service that has taken customers for a ride!

Mr. Tata’s “promise is a promise” seems to hold good for his super-car; not for his internet business. Or, perhaps, he never realized that when he made a sale to his customer and pocketed the money, he was actually making a “Promise” to the customer that the latter would receive value worth his money!

That is the reason why scams such as these are let go by the media and people such as the Tata’s are let to get away with them.

I actually don’t see many reasons to blame Tata; he has nothing to lose! He has grown far bigger than what could trouble him when his customers are unhappy (or enraged) – he always has his other businesses and the media guys who flower him with praises for all that he does. The media is to blame – for making heroes and glorifying them to the point of being obnoxious, for being a shameless promoter of the rich and the powerful, for taking up no ethical or social responsibility when it comes to something as basic as giving the news to readers impartially.

And Mr. Tata, it’s not the promise that would bother you; it’s the ego, the reputation that was at stake behind your “Promise” – and the huge market to tap with the Nano-effect. You are advised to refrain from using bombastic words such as a "Promise"; you are a good businessman, no doubt - but promises are only for noble souls!

Post Script: The case mentioned in earlier posts has been closed. After a struggle, a court case and loads of mails to the point of virtually threatening an impending fresh case claiming higher damages, the amount declared by the court as compensation – Rs 3000/- has been dispatched by TATA – VSNL as refunds. The letter had no words of apologies for the period taken for the refund or the troubles that the complainant had to undergo; the letter was signed by an “Authorised Signatory” whose designation was not mentioned.

Hopefully, the VSNL case would not appear in Clearway henceforth; but the appeal still remains: If you or anyone whom you know has suffered in the hands of TATA Indicom/ VSNL, please go ahead and file your cases with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. This part of the system still works and the complainant is very much likely to get the full refund, if the complaint is backed with evidence. You may drop your comments here for any further information.