The Gandhian Customer

Gandian Economics is well known (and largely debunked) from the producer side.  Produce enough for your needs and not for your greeds. But what about the Gandhian customer- The very anti-thesis of the modern customer who demands good service, shouts when the basic fare is not dished and pays bribes to get the work done. A small incident that occurred this week made me think about this.

We had a Reliance internet USB connection that was frustratingly slow but managed to deliver us some internet. Inevitable over-usage led to monthly charges being triple the basic amount leading us to think about alternatives. Since, BSNL is the most preferred connection in our area, we decided to go for that. The BSNL agent on campus was more confused about the internet plans than me, so my better half decided to go the internet way and book a new connection. Within a week, a landline telephone was promptly delivered. One Mr. B was to be contacted regarding the internet connection and we were told would get it the next day.

The next day I called Mr. B. The ring-tone was an emotional appeal to various South Indian gods and goddesses and after two minutes of divine resonance, a frustrated voice answered. He assured me that he would get back to me that day and even noted my phone number. The next day, I called him again and no one answered. Since the office was close by, I cycled there only to find that he had ‘just left’. The next day, I called him incessantly and finally in the evening he assured me that he would come. The next morning, he apologised that the ‘lines’ were down and hence he could not make it. “Today evening, I promise.” I called at 5pm to remind and he was confident of making it. Our schedules were rearranged – yoga class ko maro goli, superfast internet was the lolly. The minutes ticked by. His phone was switched off.

These events had taken a heavy toll on me, my better half argued. My mental faculties were disturbed and I was behaving abnormally. She finally called him and said we were coming the office with our laptops to get the damn internet fixed. We reached the building with great anticipation for our final date with Mr. B. He was yelling on the phone to someone and someone behind complained of not being served for three weeks. I knew things had reached a new low when my better half, usually very sympathetic to public sector companies, said that she couldn’t believe this level of customer neglect. He showed us the modem, but since the lines were slow, we were to wait indefinitely till the lights on the modem came on. Both our eyes were transfixed on the machine till we realised this was getting too much. Half an hour passed by. We watched the machine. We hadn’t tied down Mr. B so he was missing. My better half decided to go home for her work so it was soon just me and the modem in the large office. Lunch time means no people in office.

The modem light did come on. I smiled. But where was Mr. B? I searched him out of another office and soon he managed to fix the connection on our laptops. In this entire process, I hadn’t spoken a word.  No anger either. Just complete resignation. This is probably what is meant by leaving things to ‘fate’ or ‘God’.

Mr. B then apologised. I instinctively apologised back saying that I knew how busy he was and that I had troubled him to no end. He offered to drop me back home and I obliged. We reached home and I thanked him. I am the prototype Gandhian customer. Care for the producer, Satyagraha when troubled and thank the person on delivery of bad service. The Gandhi in my pocket would be happy.

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