Shopping woes: 'My wife nearly passed out!'
Shopping is supposed to be fun, but for these folks it turned out to be anything but!
We recently carried the tale of a reader's unpleasant shopping experience and invited you to write in with yours. Here is the next set of responses!
First up is Dr Sirisha Singh's story:
About two years ago, we went to buy an RO (reverse osmosis) water system from a reputed electronics shop in Hauz Khas, Delhi. We bought a Whirpool system under a good scheme that they were offering at the time. The shopkeeper said it would be installed the same day. We were desperate, as I have two little kids and needed tons of drinking water for cooking and drinking. He said there would be a surcharge of 2 percent if I paid by credit card. So we paid the major amount by cash and the Rs 3,500 balance by credit card. He kept swiping our card and telling us that it wasn't working. Eventually, we managed to sign one card transaction.
The RO was delivered the same day, but instead of installing it, the man who came to deliver the system told us that we needed to contact Whirpool for installation (a fact that was conveniently left out during the purchase). Whirlpool customer service said they would take 48 hours to come over. After a lot of telephone calls, they did come in the next day but said they needed a plumber to make some changes. So we called a plumber in and then had to chase the Whirlpool people again. They eventually came and installed the system but couldn't get it to work. So they sent their chief engineer the next day, who also could not get it to work. They then said that the system that the shop sold us was defective and that a replacement would be sent over the next day. They delivered a new system the next day, but this time around also, they could not fix it as the water pressure was allegedly oo low!
After a lot of haggling, they agreed to refund our money, but said it could take upto a month, as Whirlpool and not the shop would conduct the refund. The cheque did come to us in four weeks. To our surprise, we then got our credit card bill and the shopkeeper had charged us twice for the Rs 3,500! So we chased him and after several telephone calls, he admittedto the error. Everytime we went to collect our cheque from him, he wasn't around, or had some other excuse not to give us the cheque. We eventually got it after a year of chasing him.
After the Whirlpool system was taken away, we called the Aquaguard helpline number -- they came in the same evening and installed the system with no hassles. So clearly there was no problem with water pressure etc. For over a week, we were struggling with something as basic as drinking water, which anyone who has visited or lived in Delhi will realise is a huge problem. This experience has put me off the Whirlpool brand and I am sure I will never purchase anything from them ever again.
Although it has been over two years since this incident, I still shudder everytime I remember it and can't pass the shop in Hauz Khas without a sense of being cheated.
Next we have this experience from Satish Kallappagoudar:
I live in the US and came to India for my wedding. A few days after, my wife and I were to travel to Atlanta; I had booked a return ticket from Bengaluru to Atlanta via Frankfurt for myself and also one-way ticket for my wife, who was travelling by air for the first time. Her ticket was booked with Makemytrip.com
During the busy wedding schedule and due to lack of connectivity, I could not check-in online. I didn't know it was going to be my worst nightmare (and nothing can beat this one).
The night arrived when we were leaving. After lot of emotion-filled goodbyes, we proceeded towards the check-in counter. I checked myself in and our luggage was taken. Then, while we were checking in my better half, a Lufthansa official told us that the ticket issued to her was a fake, with a PNR number that had expired a few months ago!
While all this was going on, my wife, who was already under great pressure, started feeling dizzy. I couldn't think of staying back either, because I had already checked in my luggage and had been issued a ticket.
Then the person at the counter suggested I buy a ticket for my wife on the spot, if at all there was availability. After checking for 15 minutes, I was told they could arrange for one ticket, but at 1.5 times the price I had already paid Makemytrip.
I tried calling Makemytrip, but couldn't reach them. Time was running out and I had to draw on all my resources to get another ticket. Then I used my American debit card and thankfully made the purchase. On my arrival in Atlanta, I called Makemytrip a number of times and sent them scanned copies of the bogus ticket to recover only what they had charged me for it. I have filed a complaint with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) for the rest of the money I paid for it.
And here is Delhi-based Ammit Azaad's tale of woe:
I was flying from Mumbai to Delhi and happened to buy some books from the India Today Book Club in May 2009. With them, I received a coupon which entitled me to a pair of Adidas shoes for only Rs 749.
Upon my return, I called them and was told that since the Adidas shoes were out of stock, I would get Reebok footwear. They also told me to send them an advance cheque and that the delivery would be in four to six weeks. The fact that I am writing this mail to you makes it obvious that I did not get the pair of shoes. I have been following up through e-mails and written letters but to no avail. Initially, I was told after six weeks that my shoes had been dispatched. Then, when I called back after another 10 days, they told me that I had not specified the shoe size. I sent the shoe size but again, no shoes. After one year of constantly following up, I asked them to refund the money, which they did not. I approached the consumer forum Jago Grahak Jago, who advised me to send a registered letter and said that they would follow up on it too.
It seems, however, that the book club, owned by media house India Today, is a law unto itself. They chose not to reply to my letters and Jago Grahak Jago also failed to get my refund or the shoes. They finally advised me to go to consumer court. I have also found from various postings on the Internet that this is a regular feature with the India Today Book Club. They have similarly cheated hundreds of consumers who, in good faith, relying on India Today's brand value, remitted money to them.
Through this forum I want to warn all rediff.com readers to beware of this company. I have all the correspondence and e-mails to prove my claim.
Have you ever been misled by any store? Or, had a bad customer service experience? Write in to us about your worst shopping experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: 'My shopping nightmare') and we'll publish your entries right here.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh