But the Colour is the Same no Madam

How silly is the business sense of Bangalore? 

To make our 1st Valentines special, I went to “Floral Designs” on 42 Vittal Mallya Road, to order flowers to be delivered to my husband. 

I was asked to place the order on 12th itself because of Valentines rush. So I did as was asked, made the payment and kept waiting for my husband’s phone call on 14th

Feb. 14th Feb:-  Vinayak calls me to thank me for the flowers. I ask him, “what flowers have you got”? 

He says, “5 pink roses and 5 white carnations.” 

But I asked for 10 pink carnations and 5 white carnations, not roses. 

Disappointed I call up their number 080-22997444. The phone was answered by a girl. What followed after that is comical.  

I called up the person who was to deliver flowers. 1st the call was handed over to this girl who could hardly speak English (this girl is talking on phone to an irate customer and that is me).  I tell her that I ordered for 10 pink carnations and 5 white carnations and they have sent roses.  

She replies, “uh….oh….mm…am….” 

I repeat myself by paraphrasing my sentence in 5 different ways thinking something will get inside her skull.

Her response still is, “oh..um…am…mm…” then she gets the idea of “tarkaoing” or getting rid of my call by saying, “What is your number madam we will call you back”.  To this I scream at her, “Why do you need my number?” 

And then she sets an exemplary example of Bangalore’s customer service  She hangs upcan you believe that? 

I call up again, this time asking for a manager or a supervisor straight away… She says, “No one is here”.  I tell her, “Give the phone to someone who can at least talk”. This hurts her ego, she says a loud YES. I say, “What yes? I don’t think you can talk”. 

She gives the phone to a man. I tell my story to him  again that I asked for carnations and you sent roses.  

He replies, “Today lot of order mam that’s why confusion”. 

I tell him, “This is your job.  You can’t expect me to accept your mistake”He says “Sorry sorry, give me your number I will check and call back”. I scream at him and say, “What will you check when I am telling you roses have been delivered.  This is the 1st time I have used your services and I am disappointed”.  

The man  says sorry and says something really funny. He says, “But the colour is the same no madam?” To which I lose my temper and say, “I ask for cabbage you give me cauliflower and say the colour is the same na madam? But isn’t it a different vegetable?” 

He says, sorry again and I say, “Thank you very much” and keep the phone down. 

His logic was, give me Sita or Geeta, how on earth does it matter? After all both have holes.  

This incident is not the 1st of its kind. Bangalore has a long way to go in terms of business sense and customer service. 

The burning example is the attitude of the Autowallas, on which I have already written a blog post. The CCD that you visit anywhere in Bangalore deliver your order on the table and give you the bill with it without bothering to find-out if you would want something else.  They don’t mind giving 100 bills and (thus waste paper) if you order 100 times but it is like a way of saying, “have your coffee fast and fuck off.” (at-least that’s how I would like to interpret it) 

Go to any hi-fi restaurant, to compete with Delhi Mumbai, they will have an elaborate menu, but ask them something from the menu, their usual response is, “we don’t have it ma’am.” (If you don’t have it why do you have it on the menu”?) 

Recently I went to buy sarees for my wedding but the shops that I went to were least interested in showing their stuffs to me. And when I talk of ‘them’ I am talking about places like, Deepam, Nalli etc on M.G. Road. Later I bought sarees worth 13,000/- Had it been Delhi, Kolkata, there comes complimentary  gift packing of saree, fall stitching and Tea or Coffee or soft drinks with a bill of that huge an amount. 

The tele marketing calls that I get also comes from people who can not even talk in either English or Hindi and they are sitting there to sell products. (how on earth does HDFC, SBI, Barclays etc think that they are going to get customers when the tele caller can’t even speak properly)

I with my friend were served fried rice in a restaurant in Vasanth Nagar which had cockroach. In Delhi, as a customer service gesture, a shop keeper will not charge you the money for that item and will replace it for free.  Here we had to fight with the restaurant owner with the bill. (Off-course we simply walked out without paying)

This post is going to continue because I am kind of on a mission to name all those people who cheat people (customers). In case you faced any such bad customer service or cheating please leave your story in the comment section.  


24 thoughts on “But the Colour is the Same no Madam

  1. The service industry in Bangalore truly sucks… I wish i had some more straong words to express how bad it is.

    The other day I get a telemarketing call… I answered, Hello

    On the other side – Hello Mam, *$#@%$&^%$& ^($^%$&#^& (^^%$&#%&3 &#$&#&^%

    I said, “What language are you speaking”

    She then started in broken english.

    Every resturant only keep limited items but make an elaborate Menu. Cafe Mocha on Lavelle Road is notorious in this line. One day they told me they don’t have brownie… Imagine a Cafe doesn’t have brownie.

  2. first of all you skunks migrate here N dont learn the local language and try to compare with other part of india N blog about it.. now this tells whos a looser…

  3. As I see it.


    Work – great
    People – Chilled out
    Weather – Nice

    Infrastructure – Really sucks
    Customer service – Really sucks

    Guys …even smaller cities like Mangalore , Udupi are far far better than Bangalore.

  4. Great. Feel free to come to the city, live here, work here, earn here, enjoy yourselves, knock yourselves out, it’s a free country. Nice.

    Rant away too, we’re really cool with it.

    A quick question though: what are you doing about it besides complaining? Any thoughts and solutions instead of just getting people to comment and share their bad experiences?

    What’s the step forward besides cribbing about it on a blog (and twitter)?

    swalpa maathu aadi, swalpa kelsa maadi, yellaru khushi. wokai?

  5. Yes. Let’s assume you want to improve the ‘service’ in Bangalore – that’s too vast an area. Focus on the important things first – perhaps rickshaws and restaurants to begin with.

    Rickshaws first.

    1) Have a ‘no-negotiation policy’ with rickshaws, spread the word, be firm with them. This is what I do. I do not negotiate with rickshaws ever, unless I have a female friend who needs to go home past 11pm, in which case for safety purposes I’m flexible. Go by the meter or forget it. They’ve gone on strikes and the rates have gone up so there is no reason not to use the meter anymore. Check for the meter being rigged, the badge being there, question him, complain to the police if anything is wrong anywhere. If you suspect the meter is rigged, challenge him and tell him you will pay double the fare if you’re wrong.

    2) Increase awareness. Sometime back there was a post on Mutiny where people actually talked about a non-cooperation movement against ricks. This is a potential reality, participate in forward dialogue.

    3) Learn. Study the income of a rickshaw person, the gas expenditure, to see if the argument is valid or not. Study what he pays to the owner, how the ARDU functions, spread awareness amongst rickshaw drivers too – build goodwill – not everything is acheived through stubborness and arrogance. For example, a Muslim rickshaw driver is unlikely to be a ‘drunkard’ because alcohol is forbidden to him.


    1) Complain to the manager, the owner, the guy who built the building, everyone who is needed stating what happened with you and ensuring that it doesn’t repeat again. Be constructive in your resposnes.

    2) Cite examples of places where service is better so that the folks can learn from examples, even if they are examples outside Bangalore. This isn’t the Promised Land, as Captain Ajay in RdB says, no country is perfect, we have to go on making it perfect.

    3) Discuss this with like-minded folks on a better forum like MouthShut who have had similar experiences. Club these together and compile it and send it to the restaurants, etc. Makes a big difference if 10 ppl complain over one.

    However, these are still minor issues, if you ask me, but if they’re close to you, go ahead and handle it. Persist with it. for the last four months I have been mailing the prestige group AND the Forum customer service folks every week, reminding them that there is no teflon net in Forum and there is a risk of a child falling from the railings on PVR. They have taken no action. I am not thinking of doing something else – maybe blog, press, orkut – which will (unfortunately) defame them. But it is something important to me, it’s a L&D situation and they ought to rectify it BEFORE someone dies.

    So pick one issue – florists/restuarants/ricks/whatever you are passionate about, and focus on it first.

  6. If you’re interested, we’ll be starting a local non-co-operation movement against rickshaws soon. Will keep you posted.

  7. @NBNB

    I already practice the non cooperation movment with the Autowallahs, there’s something more i’ll do soon, soon when I have met the dead line of two of projects and I am done with Blogathon.

    Am gonna file a Right to Information application with the Traffic control. Will write to Mutiny too.

    Will keep posted.

    BTW NBNB if you could give such intelligent suggestions wonder why are you anonymous…do leave your mail ID may be you and mutiny can do this together 🙂

  8. @no blog no bullshit:- Read all the suggestions that you posted.
    As far as autos are concerened. Nogotiation and no Negotiation can start only when they stop. They dont stop even if they stop they are never ready to take you so negotiation is out of question. Here the issue is willingness. Willingness to take you, willingness to do their job as autowalas with honesty. How do we tackle willingness issue? If you ask me to go to police…well I have done that twice, language is a major issue with them. The attitude is very laid back here be it auto wallas or poilce or a simple shop keeper.

    Resturant Manager complaint can happen only if the resturant has a manager. vasant Nagar Resturant was a small time better version of a dhaba where there is no manager and the man at the cash desk himself was the owner most probably. How do we deal with that?

  9. @sanjukta – yes, I might join the Mutiny someday. The RTI enforcement will help too.

    @snigdha – if langauge is an issue then work your way within the system, get a kannada speaking friend to help you out, how difficult is that?

    Autos not stopping cannot be addressed practically. But autos stopping and then not boarding the passenger can be.

    Nothing can be done about small restaurants where the owner stands at the cash desk except fight – or as you rightly did – walk away without paying the bill. If my memory serves me well, you mentioned “hi-fi restaurant”.

    As far as “willingness” goes, it has to start somewhere and someone has to sacrifice it somehow. I do believe that, let’s assume all residents of Indiranagar decide on a no-negotiation against ricks, then any rick that comes to Indiranagar will resort to honesty even with reluctance.

    There is a larger picture which you might not know or understand. I stay in an area infested with rickshawdrivers and their homes. These guys spend most of their income on booze, their wives work as maids in many apartment complexes, one such example is the maid who comes during the day at my home. I’ve been to their homes and I know what the children and mother goes through. The autorickshaw drivers need help. They need to be rehabilitated, they need to be told collectively that alcohol won’t serve their purpose. Their children need to be given extra lessons, their living conditions need to be improved. It is difficult for someone to work with honesty when he has such problems and responsibilities on his head.

    At the same time some rickshaw drivers are arrogant by themselves. One must know how to identify judge between an honest and a dishonest cabbie, and trust their judgement, and then decide on whether to tip him or not. More often than not I have tipped honest rickhsaw drivers five rupees extra as goodwill, so that the rickshaw guy will be more decent towards the next person who hops along to the rick. I also talk to the rickshaw driver during the journey about how they shouldn’t be arrogant towards the new people who come to my city from outside, because they are doing good things too, attracting more visitors, getting the rickshaw guys more customers, and I insist that the traffic is to blame because of the city authorities and not the infusion of citizens from the North. And tell them about it. When a Kannadiga speaks good about the North in Kannada, there is a lot of weightage. Pitifully, this is how it works, so I leverage it.

  10. I completely feel your pain. The service ethic in Bangalore really sucks, especially in establishments run by locals like “a”. It’s not that they are stupid. They just don’t know better, that’s all. They seriously need an education as to what could be a higher standard of service. The loaded question is: do they want to know?

    When there is no common language to have a meaningful discussion, they have to hang up on you. It also creates fundamentalist sentiments such as those espoused by specimen “a”. I think this is the best case for learning Kannada: to get work done while preserving one’s sanity.

    I will not pull auto drivers into this discussion because they’ve got a terrible deal. Having to drive in that traffic all day long and not at all getting the right compensation for it. It can bring out the worst in anybody.

    But restaurants and cafes… what’s up with them?! These days, I always ask the waiter something to the effect of “What would you like me to have today?” This is an India-wide problem, however.

    Coming to your V-Day incident, I have no trouble believing your story. It’s the same story repeated in service establishments all over Bangalore every single day. Banks, travel agents, tailors, departmental stores.

    Heck, if you think taking your business online is a way to avoid dealing with the real world, the same service ethic is reflected in online shopping too. Somehow, we Indians need to introduce empathy in the way we do business. [@no blog no bullshit: As to the question on what I am personally doing in this regard, I will write a separate blog post.]

    Let’s also talk about any and every place where you got exemplary service. There are only a handful out there. Let’s give them more business and may their tribe increase!

    I think I’m going to be reading this blog for some time to come… I have a special folder in my feed reader for bitchy blogs! 🙂

  11. @NBNB

    In full agreement with all you have said. And trust me I do exactly what you do. Everyday in the evening after I have been turned down by 10 of them when the 11th guy agrees to go w/o extra cost I pay him a tip of 5-7 to make the meter reading round figure. While on board I talk to them too.

    Problem is there are so few of us, one you, me and CM how much can we change..am sorry I can’t help being cynic. 80% people around I have spoken to would rather simply pay 20-30 bucks extra and get their back off the problem.

    Money is easy here and the auto guys know that.. I see no solutions… I already do whatevere you suggested but one person can’t change anything

  12. @sanjukta – You are speaking to the wrong 80% – simple.

    One person can’t change anything but that doesn’t mean we be cynical.

    @Mahesh – you’re a photographer, if I’m correct, could you do a series of clicks that shows the contrast between an ideal city and the actual city?

  13. @NBNB: I like your approach of analysing the bigger picture and then drilling down with a kind solution. We need more people like this. Instead, we have “gournamental” administrators who create a new and more vicious problem by solving an old one. Eg. imposing high-handed restrictions on night life.

    I have my own ways of addressing some of the serious issues around me. Please call me some time and let’s talk! (If you have found out my profession, I’m sure you can find my number too 🙂

    All this talk of auto-rickshaws reminds me of my recent trip to Mysore. Anyone ever tried taking an auto there from anywhere to anywhere? Such a pleasure! They are so polite and willing. It’s not too hard to understand why auto drivers in two cities just a couple of hours apart are so different. Anyone who tries to slap a “solution” onto those poor guys are not understanding that they’re actually victims of a cancerous system that we have created around them.

  14. He says, sorry again and I say, “Thank you very much” and keep the phone down.

    keep the phone down ? was the phone on your loft that you had to keep it down ?

  15. @NBNB:-

    In your last comment, if you were trying to be funny, in that case your sense of humour needs an overhauling.

    If you were trying to be sercastic in that case it does not work.

    If you were trying (real hard) to be an english teacher in that case I don’t have a job for you nor do I run a placement cell.

  16. And then she sets an exemplary example of Bangalore’s customer service She hangs up…can you believe that?

    Yeah, I can believe that, having had experienced it a number of times in Delhi itself. The problem is not just of Bangalore or Delhi or any other particular place, the problem is how these idiots take customer service as! As per the old skool mentality, these jerks think that customers are just idiots who exist only to pay & they are doing a favour servicing them. Wrote about one of my experiences sometime back!

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