Saturday, February 11, 2012

Going that 'extra mile'...

#This is part two of a multi-part blog post. Read part one here

Delhi airport - I had to take a cab to reach the hotel in Gurgaon where I was gonna be staying. I called the hotel up and they told me that I should take about 20-30 minutes to reach the place from the airport as it is right after entering Gurgaon in Sector (some number). I diligently noted it down and headed outside the terminal.

I hired a Mega cab from the taxi bay and told the driver where I needed to go. I asked him if he knew the way or should I call the hotel up to give him directions. He told me he knows the sector and then we can maybe call up the hotel once we are in that area. I agreed.

Now my road-sense is also out-of-this-world, so I just sat peacefully working on my blackberry. I noticed when we entered Gurgaon and asked him, 'are we near?' to which he replied 'o jee 10 aur minute'. I sat back quietly and started fiddling with my blackberry again. After a good 20 minutes, I asked him again. He told me that we would reach in next 5 minutes. I was getting worried and I called up the hotel to tell them where we were and asked for directions. I told the cabbie the route the hotel guy had told me.. to which he said he knows the way.. and 'bas aage se hum IFFCO chowk pahunchenge aur wahan se sector..'.  I was shocked. 'IFFCO chowk toh Gurgaon mein ghuste hi hai!'... 'Sir, idhar se bhi hai'... 'Do-do IFFCO chowk hai kya yahan?'... 'Nahi Sir udhar se raasta band hai'... 'dude, hum IFFCO chowk se hokar hi aaye hain!'....

I asked him to stop the cab, called the hotel and then gave him specific directions. The meter fare came to INR 650 whereas it should have been somewhere close to INR 300 had he brought me the correct way. I could have understood had it been a normal taxi guy because they are infamous for taking people for a ride. But even Mega Cab? I could have lodged a formal complaint but didn't have the energy. I just went into the hotel and crashed, silently promising myself never to hire a Mega cab again!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

"Consumer is the King" and other old jokes...

#This is part one of a multi-part blog post

I never really wanted to vent personal angst on my blog. I mean I have written sarcastic stuff before on here, but have never really made it personal. But I am mighty pissed with what's been happening around me. And I want to call thieves 'thieves' now, and in public.

Work makes me travel to Delhi / Bombay at times. This time, I was flying to Delhi by Jet Lite. Normally I reach the airport way before the customary '45 minutes before flight departure time' and check-in and stuff. This time too, I reached a safe one hour before and stood in the baggage screening queue (yes, they still have these in Calcutta!). The queue was unusually long and it took me a good 10 minutes to get my baggage scanned and tagged. I headed for check-in and the lady at the counter coolly told me that the check-in has been closed for the flight. I didn't really get what she meant and I asked for a clarification. She told me that check-in closes 45 minutes before flight departure time. I looked at both my mobiles - one showed that there were 46 minutes left before flight's scheduled departure and the other showed 47 minutes! I told her so. She said it was 45 minutes as per her watch. I countered that, even by that time, I was bang 45 minutes before departure and she couldn't refuse me. Hearing the commotion, the person standing behind me asked where was I flying to. I told him. He was flying to Delhi too and he too came forward and asked the lady for an explanation. The lady told us that they had been repeatedly announcing closure of check-in for the past half an hour. Both of us told her we had not heard a single announcement and usually in such cases the airline staff is out there helping passengers come forward in the baggage screening and check-in queues. None of that happened. Seeing that we were not to be laid off that easily, she called her supervisor. The fat lady arrived and after hearing us out, she gave an expression of utmost disinterest as if this was a regular affair. She wandered off to another counter and wasted a good 10 minutes looking around stupidly. I shouted across to her - 'now you are wasting time, we were here on time.. !' She came back, made a call to check if two passengers can be accommodated, got a confirmation in 2 minutes.. and asked us to head for security check-in.
We literally ran all our way to the boarding gate. I found that the boarding gate was locked and, for a second, I thought that the boarding was actually over. I spotted a Jet official and rushed to him. He asked me to sit in the waiting area. I thought he didn't really understand and told him that I was flying to Delhi and had to board the flight. He told me that the flight hasn't yet arrived so I need to wait in the waiting area. It then sunk in that the flight was actually delayed because it hadn't arrived yet! I lost my temper and told the guy about the drama at the check-in counter. He coolly told me that it was my fault and that it was for all passengers' convenience ... and walked off, leaving me seething with anger.
It was later that my colleagues told me that airlines often overbook flights and have to resort to such tactics to accommodate the extra passengers they have booked, or that they want to sell tickets at the last minute to make more money by cancelling tickets of passengers who arrive late. But in what manner? In the name of service and customers' convenience, can someone harass so easily and get away?
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