I love shopping, unlike the regular male who shuns it. Buying and then baying are a part of my psyche! As an active consumer, I have always been a no-nonsense guy, with zero tolerance for bad products or poor service. This has been so from the days when I was a journalist in India — with the Indian Express and The Hindu!
In fact, even after I moved to Singapore in 1994, it has been a matter of routine for me to log complaints after almost every purchase I make.
Shops and manufacturers typically do not show the same level of pre-sales enthusiasm after the transaction has been completed. It is not in me to take any lapse lying down though follow-up activities annoyingly suck up precious time.
Recently I had an issue with Lenovo and I took the matter to the Consumer Association of Singapore and the issue was resolved.
Defective Godrej Steel Cupboard
This time my focus is on Godrej for their poor after-sales service. I found the product defective the very day after it was delivered.
From the day we landed in Chennai (December 16) we had been looking to buy a steel cupboard to keep some things for use whenever we visit the place.
For some silly reason, my mind was fixed on Godrej. Possibly because during my growing-up years it had been drilled into me that for steel wardrobes there is no match for Godrej.
It did not occur to me that it was all fine a couple of decades or more ago when consumers had little choice.
Cheaper (Possibly Better) Products from China, Other Local Companies
Now, thanks to globalisation, cupboards from China and everywhere as well as from many other local manufacturers are available at less than half the price of one from Godrej.
All those come with a warranty of five years whereas !with Godrej it is only one year Possibly, Godrej does not have faith in the quality of its own product!
No furniture store or electronic shop in the city was selling Godrej and a check with the company website showed that the lone authorised retailer here was Saravana Stores. I visited the store in T Nagar and almost bought one there, but the salesman was keen on dumping the display piece on me. I was not prepared to take that!
Eventually, on December 30 I visited the Godrej showroom on Greames Road and bought one for Rs 27400. It was delivered to me the next day as I had requested since we were leaving for Singapore on January 3 before which we wanted to put our holdover things in it.
There were four guys who brought the piece home and though ours was a ground-floor flat they kept cribbing about how difficult it was to bring it inside. I paid them Rs 300 though I didn’t have to as delivery was supposed to be free.
Problem with the Door
Unfortunately, after they left we noticed that the door was not closing tight. The doors were not holding firm even after they were locked. We figured there was a configuration issue with the latch inside.
So on the morning of the New Year, I called the showroom and lodged a complaint. I was happy it was open on a public holiday! I reiterated that it would have to be fixed the very next day and I was told a technician would come either the same evening or on January 2 (today).
As there was no sight of anyone till noon (not even an SMS confirmation or a call), I gave them a buzz again only to be told it would not happen today. I explained to the sales person that if it was not fixed today then my purchase itself would be meaningless as I am flying out tomorrow morning. This was something I had made clear to them at the time of buying itself.
“Every Product Has the Same Issue”
He then tried to argue with me saying the issue was not with the product but with the floor alignment. A typical Indian attitude trying to put the blame on everything and everyone other than themselves! I put forth my reasoning and he then blurted out saying that “every home has this issue” and that Godrej generally sends a technician home after every delivery to fix it.
I found this explanation totally unacceptable and I thought it even exposed the hollowness of their product and service standards.
He said he was helpful and could not send a technician home today. Then I told him that they should take the product back as it did not serve me any purpose.
Silent Head of Sales
He advised me to follow up with the Head of Sales (one Mr Karthik) who could help prioritise this. I was provided with his mobile number and I made a few calls that went unanswered. I then sent him an SMS which did not elicit a response either.
I realize that it typically takes three working days to attend to any defective product, but mine was an extraordinary situation that I had clearly spelt out at the time of purchase itself. Under the circumstances, it deserved prioritised attention.
But companies typically take a shortsighted view of business and think consumers are at their mercy after the sale has been made!
I am preparing to initiate action against Godrej in the same way as I did with success against Lenovo! I return to Singapore tomorrow but will follow up with those concerned after that! They will not be able to attend to the defect in my absence, but Godrej is answerable for the inconvenience their poor product and poorer service I have had to face!
G Joslin Vethakumar