Categories
Delhi India New Delhi

Cross Border Customer Service

Well, we’ve been in India for over two months now. New Delhi is quite honestly one of the largest outdoor saunas I’ve ever come across. Of course, you have the added benefit of noise, air, and water pollution to go with the oppressive heat. To get away from it all for a few days, we decided to spend two nights at the Hotel Grand New Delhi (the site doesn’t work very well with Firefox) to experience what a conventional sauna looks and feels like as well as experience a bit of relaxation.

I started by researching various hotels around Delhi that offer the luxurious getaway we were looking for. I wanted to stay at a hotel that I hadn’t stayed at before and that were in the southern part of New Delhi. My search eventually led me to The Grand but various Indian sites I visited had put rooms at Rs. 20,000/night (or around USD 500) per night. I decided to check out some of the sites back in the US and found a great rate of $189/night for The Grand through Travelocity. I wound up booking the hotel room through Travelocity since it was quoted in USD and I wouldn’t have to worry about converting currency into Indian Rupees to pay for the room. Travelocity quoted me $378 for two nights plus applicable taxes which came out to 12.5%. I figured this was a great deal as compared to the quotes I was getting from the Indian travel sites.

We arrived at the Grand on Wednesday and took a stroll through the hotel to see all of the restaurants, the spa and gym, the shopping arcade and the banquet halls. Our stay at the Grand was pleasant. The staff were generally helpful and courteous at all the restaurants, the coffee shop and the spa.

On Friday, upon checkout, we were (unpleasantly) surprised that The Grand had charged us in Indian Rupees – 8505 + 1500 Tax per night. At the current international exchange rate of roughly Rs. 40 per USD, this comes out to $212.63 per night plus taxes of $37.50 per night. Obviously, this wasn’t $189 per night so we argued with Travelocity and the Manager of The Grand, Mr. Mani for over 2 hours as to why we should pay this amount. The Grand stated that their policy was to convert all bookings made in USD to INR at a rate of Rs. 45 per USD. I explained to him that I purposely booked the stay through Travelocity so that I would be billed in USD and not in INR. Nowhere did Travelocity mention that my rate of $189 per night would be payable in the local currency at a much less advantageous rate. All Travelocity’s confirmations and web pages only indicated that payment would have to be made at the time of checkout.

The market rate and what The Grand was converting my booking has a 12.5% spread. Conversely, if I were to convert USD cash into INR at the hotel, they would only give me Rs. 39 per USD. This sounds like the best currency exchange business in the world to me.

We kept arguing and explained to the hotel that there appears to be a huge communication gap between the hotel and Travelocity and we would appreciate a conference call with Travelocity, the manager of The Grand, and us. He acquiesced and we called Travelocity. After 20 minutes, on and off on hold, Travelocity’s answer was, “email customer service” after paying the bill. Mr. Mani’s repeated explanation was, “This is the way it is.”

After more than two hours of arguing about how neither Travelocity nor The Grand have written disclosures that reservations made online will be converted to the local currency at a rate that was almost 12.5% less favorable than the current international trading rate, I was exhausted and fed-up with Travelocity and the staff at The Grand. I told Mr. Mani that I’ve had it. Let’s settle the bill and go. After more arguing and some yelling, we paid the bill with my American Express card and walked out of The Grand extremely disappointed with the customer service of Travelocity and the bone-headed, automaton-like actions of The Grand’s front-desk staff and manager.

I called American Express customer service a few days later and was incredibly pleased at how well the agent (call center located in India as well) immediately credited my account back with the overage charges incurred because of The Grand and Travelocity.

This is an example of how customer service across borders, just plain sucks. Neither The Grand nor Travelocity were willing to admit that they had not properly disclosed that the reservations made would be converted into Indian Rupees. At the end of the day, I wound up paying roughly $75.00 more than I should have. The money isn’t what bothers me. It’s the fact that neither of these organizations were willing to accept their mistakes or listen to the customer’s issues and help resolve them. American Express on the other hand, didn’t care about anything other than what I had to say. They immediately credited my account and told me that they will follow up with Travelocity and The Grand on their own, even after I protested and said I don’t want the credit. I just want American Express to investigate Travelocity and The Grand’s policies and have them pay the refund. Too bad The Grand and Traveloity will not pay me for my time wasted or the mental anguish of dealing with their non-customer focused staff.

On another note, I recently purchased a water filter from a local distributor near Delhi. Five days after the filter was installed, he called me up and asked me if everything was running ok and if I had any problems to please contact him so that he can resolve the issues. It was nice to see that some businesses still have a customer focus.

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Categories
Gadgets & Tech Misc. Mobile

Nokia E61 Support or Lack Thereof

I’ve been having many problems with my Nokia E61, after the firmware upgrade. I’ve posted some of the issues on this blog as well as commented on some of the E61 or Symbian S60 specific blogs like NokMe and the E Series Blog. Apparently, there are many people having similar issues, though not exactly the same.

Though the E61 wasn’t designed or marketed to the US market, dealers are getting it and selling it in the US. Nokia, however, refuses to acknowledge that the device is used outside of its “home” country. I contacted Nokia UK today hoping to at least file a bug report, at best, get some help on my connectivity and rebooting problems. However, Nokia UK refused to support the phone because it was in the US. They suggested I contact Nokia US for support.

Ok, seems logical. I filled out a form on the Nokia US page, indicating the problems and received a response indicating that I’m basically SOL unless the dealer who I bought the phone from takes it back, or I take the phone to the UK, get a UK number and have Nokia UK look at it at that point.

This is the email I sent to Nokia UK, in response to their and Nokia US disavowing any knowledge of my E61.


Nokia USA has refused to support my E61.

The problems I am having are after the latest firmware upgrade (provided
by Nokia) has been applied. The location where I bought the phone is
not going to support this upgrade provided by Nokia.

This is not a great way to earn customer loyalty. I would appreciate it
if someone at Nokia (I don't really care which country) would at the
very least log bug reports related to the newest firmware upgrade for
the E61 and take into account that many other Nokia customers around the
world are dealing with a very buggy firmware release.
NokiaHelpLine@nokia.com wrote:
> > Dear Pankaj
> >
> > Thank you for contacting Nokia Helpline.
> >
> > You have addressed your email to the Nokia United Kingdom and Ireland team. Unfortunately we are unable to respond to queries from out with this region. If available, please direct your enquiry to Nokia's support team within your local region, details of which can be found at www.nokia.com.
> >
> > Nokia Service Professional
> > UK & Ireland Team
> > Nokia Helpline
> >
> > [THREAD ID:1-1KVU9D] Help Nokia improve the service we offer you! To take part in our short confidential survey, please click on the link below.
> > www.surveys.com/nokiasupport/ukandireland
> >
> >
> >
> > This response has been given based on the information you have provided us. The response is provided for general information purposes only. It is intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be accurate or complete, and it does not constitute any binding commitment.
> >
> >
> >
> > To ensure proper handling, please continue to use the current subject line.
> >
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> >
> > From:
> > Sent: 28/09/2006 16:06:41
> > To: NokiaHelpline@nokia.com
> > Subject: Subject Nokia Phones or accessories
> >
> > [Country: United Kingdom] [Language: English]
> > [Permission to Email: yes] [Permission to SMS: no] [Permission to Letter: no] [Permission to Phone: no]
> > [First name: Pankaj] [Last name:]
> > [Street address: ]
> > [ZIP: ] [City: ]
> > [Email address: ]
> > [Landline: ] [Mobile: [number removed]]
> > [Phone model: Nokia E61] [IMEI: ]
> > [CID: ]
> > [Contact topic: Nokia Phones or accessories]
> > [Message: I am having severe problems with my 3 week old E61. The phone is constantly rebooting itself. It cannot properly connect to WiFi Access Points. Email settings are constantly "changing" or getting lost. The ability to retrieve email or connect with a browser is intermittent at best. I am in the US but can't seem to pull my E61 on the US support site. Any and all help is greatly appreciated. My US service provider is Cingular.]
> > [Operator: Other/I don't know]
> > [Operating system: ]
> >

This is the response sent to Nokia US:

The problems I am having are after the latest firmware upgrade (provided
by Nokia) has been applied. The location where I bought the phone is
not going to support this upgrade provided by Nokia.

This is not a great way to earn customer loyalty.

nokiausa.customercare@nokia.com wrote:
> > Dear Pankaj,
> >
> > Thank you for e-mailing the Nokia Care Contact Center.
> >
> > We appreciate your inquiry in regards to your Nokia E61 phone rebooting itself, email settings and the ability to connect to a browser.
> >
> > Pankaj, you have reached the United States Customer Care Division at www.nokiausa.com. The information you provided suggests that your phone is not available in the United States (US). The Nokia E61 phone has not been released in United States and the information we have available allows us to support products available and manufactured for use in the US. The phone model you provided us seems to be from another country. If this is the case, we recommend contacting your point of purchase for support and repair options.
> >
> > Nokia warranties are valid only in the country of origin. To determine the customer care options for your area, please visit our global customer care contact page at www.nokia.com/contacts.
> >
> > If you have any additional questions, please contact us. To ensure proper handling, please continue to use the current subject line.
> >
> > Thank you for choosing Nokia for your mobile needs.
> >
> > [name removed]
> > E-mail Specialist
> > Nokia Inc.
> >
> > P.S. In an effort to continuously improve Nokia's service to you, please complete our short 8 question E-mail Care Survey. Please copy and paste the following link into the address field of your web browser:
> >
> > https://digiumenterprise.com/query.asp?id=HPCC126H711I531
> >
> >
> > [THREAD ID:1-302XS]
> >
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> >
> > From:
> > Sent: 9/28/2006 02:07:55 PM
> > To: nokiausa.customercare@nokia.com
> > Subject: Technical Support
> >
> >
> >
> > [Email:]
> > [First:Pankaj]
> > [Last:]
> > [Zip:]
> > [Model:E62]
> > [Order#:]
> > [ESN:]
> > [Mobile#: [number removed]]
> > [Provider:Cingular]
> > [Subject:Technical Support]
> > [OS:]
> > [WebBrowser:]
> > [ConnectType:]
> > [NewsletterOptIn:no]
> > [Message:I am having severe problems with my 3 week old Nokia E61 (NOT E62). The phone is constantly rebooting itself. It cannot properly connect to WiFi Access Points. Email settings are constantly "changing" or getting lost. The ability to retrieve email or connect with a browser is intermittent at best. I am in the US but can't seem to pull my E61 on the US support site. Any and all help is greatly appreciated. My US service provider is Cingular.I have tried to get support from Nokia UK but they have suggested that I contact Nokia US with my problems.]
> >
> > [Server:daenusap18]
> >

This is a perfect example of absolutely inspiring customer service. I will post the email trails, sent to and received from Nokia for all the other Nokia E61 users that aren’t using the phone in the “home” country. What exactly is the point of getting a world phone if you can’t get any support for it by the manufacturer outside of its “home” country? I find it pretty silly that they won’t even acknowledge the problems that users are having.

Once I receive responses, I will post them as well.

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