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How To Effectively Piss off a Loyal Customer

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The story begins two weeks ago when I purchased a new phone, and shifted from a long-time Symbian S60 user to Android user. Let’s fast forward to the bit where I needed to get an unlimited data connection, thanks to Android’s greedy data usage.

It’s been a few days since I’ve been trying to load Idea Cellular’s website to see what plans are available to me. Now since it’d be a bad idea to put up a video of what I was seeing and torture you along with me, I’ll do the good thing and show you this:

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 10.42.23 PM

And this:

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 9.57.52 PM

If that didn’t make sense, here’s the important bit: “real: 46.7 seconds” that means the command took upwards of 45 seconds to complete. The command ‘curl’ is supposed to download the web page just as a browser would do. And if you look at the ‘^C’ on second line, it says I asked the command to quit.

Idea Cellular’s page does not load even one bit after 45 seconds. It is broken. Calling it dead might not be much of an understatement. It just sits there doing nothing. It’s like looking into the abyss. Wondering about the meaning of life, and getting no answers. Not even echoes of your own voice.

I felt sad. Also, I was worried I’d soon run out of data that I can use for free. So I checked back in a few days. About a week later, it’s the same case. Bummer.

How a communications company can go without a website for over a week itself is an amazing question (somebody put this on Quora?) but here the things begin to get interesting.

Being a sort of a web guy myself, I tried https:// instead of the usual http:// in front of the URL. Holy smokes! It worked, wait no, it redirected to something entirely different. I was now logging into their customer dashboard instead of seeing their regular website which I expected on the same URL.

Anyway, maybe I can finally check the available plans from inside the dashboard, I convinced myself to go through. Now I’m presented with this:

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 10.13.49 PM

Alright, so I can change the plan, but there’s no way to know what plan does what… I start to feel like only employees of Idea Cellular and some fools like me use their service, because everything is so mysterious and secret cod-y. Yay! I might be a part of an elite group of people, just that I don’t speak their language. Damn!

So I look around all over this small piece of website that actually works. Nothing is to be found. So I search by those plane names on Google, then pore over the cached pages (the main site is down, remember?) and still am not able to find the plans I’m being presented in the dropdown menu.

Now it’s getting slightly annoying. I know it’s can be a difficult task to make sure everything is updated, and it’s mighty difficult to tell your customers how they can give you more money. But it’s a business, and we sort of understand that since we want customers to pay us money, we go two dozen extra steps and call them when they’ve worked all of last day, and all night and just come home and hit the sack at 11 am. We tell them how much we value them for over twenty minutes before disconnecting their call to our customer care centers. And we also take the site down for weeks, so that they can save their money and thank us later.

Wait, bad rant. Come back on track. *pulls the leash*

So I have no way of knowing what’s the right plan for me, and my previous experience with call centers has left me with a bad taste, so I refuse to go that way. When I looked at their ‘customer help chat’ option, i realized that I’m late at work again and maybe I should call for dinner before the shops shut off for the night. Of course, nobody has issues to be solved after standard office hours. I can’t complain.

Okay, let’s tell the nice folks who maintain the website that their site is broken, since it’s been down for a week, quite obviously I’m the only one who has noticed it, and it’s my duty as a loyal customer to tell my beloved company that the site is down.

So I click on ‘Complaints’ and start typing away. I explain in detail what’s wrong. Because it’s common courtesy to tell a developer what’s going on when you find an issue with their product. I know because I’m a developer too, and terse messages saying “your shit doesn’t work” kind of rubs my feathers the wrong way. Yeah, just killed two phrases with one shot. Ha!

I have a satisfied smile on my face, knowing I’m helping a fellow developer and perhaps saving their butt before the boss finds out just how broken the site is. It’s like you poke it with a long stick and it doesn’t even twitch. I hit ‘Submit’.

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 9.49.48 PM

Err… wha?

I hit back button on browser to get back what I had just typed, and it shoves this in my face:

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 10.51.01 PM

Well, now I can’t go back and retrieve the carefully written notes. Bummer.

I log in again, and go back to the complaint form again and once again write down, this time much shorter, about what’s going on. And I’m hit with something else. I try to edit it to make it shorter, and now I’m subject to the same session expired message.

I log in a third time, this time fairly frustrated, and type out a message,

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 9.53.16 PM

Now it’s confirmed that I am a moron. I’m banging my head against a wall and expecting it to budge, even if just a little. Why am I even trying to communicate to a company that does not want to hear me in the first place?

So I decided to write this blog post, and about two paragraphs before this line, the site magically started working! So I quickly went to the 3G tariff page and checked out the plans to be presented with something entirely different than the plans showed to me in the ‘change plan’ dropdown.

I started looking for the generic plans, and unfortunately, the site went into another bout of polar bear hibernation. So I looked at the 3G tariff plans (the page was still open in a tab, so I had access to it) and decided to activate one of them before I’m sent an exorbitant bill.

Let’s look at the tariff:

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 10.58.49 PM

So this is the new design that they have been working on for past don’t know how many days, because if they take a week to deploy the site, they probably take a decade to develop it. Which makes sense, because the website looks straight out of 1998. Wait, they probably took longer. Shit happens, right?

So, I’m not dealing with a horribly designed website in 2003, that can barely stay up. Anyway, I’m more afraid of the bill than this crap, so I dig deeper:

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 11.02.30 PM

It makes me twitch when I see the two logos on left and right aren’t quite aligned. But that’s not the rant I’m going to talk about, so let’s see… how the hell am I supposed to activate these? Nothing on the page tells me how. Okay, another sign that the company doesn’t want me to pay. (except for the impending big fat bill when I over run the data usage limits)

Oh hey! Look! There’s hope 😀

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 11.05.32 PM

So now I can quickly send a text message and we’ll be done! Right?

2013-07-22 23.06.30

Right. What in the hell did I just do? Why is it asking me for nuclear launch codes now?

Ah, so I’m supposed to check if I have 3G activated on my phone, because, even though I was using 3G for all these days, their system has no clue what’s going on.

Okay, let’s try checking status:

2013-07-22 23.09.22

I am forgetting how to write English now. Also, What’s With The Title Case In A Transactional Text Message? Wait, I’m a subscriber and my phone number, that I am using for several years, is NOT CONFIGURED IN THEIR SYSTEM?

I seriously need to stop trying to get 3G on my phone, because the process is apparently making me hallucinate, or the service provider is definitely smoking something really dope.

So I read the previous message again, thanks to the hint by sending one reply twice. Okay, since my number isn’t configured, they probably mean 3G is not active on my phone, which I have been using, somehow. Gah, nothing makes sense now.

I send ‘Act 3G’ to supposedly activate my already active 3G connection.

2013-07-22 23.15.00



I think I’ll still give it one last shot, I look through the Unlimited 3G plans on the open tab and the codes sent back in the SMS and figure out that I need to send ‘ACTUL3G650’ for an *cough* unlimited *cough* plan, with a limit of 3GB. That was not that difficult to play match-the-following. It could had been worse.

2013-07-22 23.20.54

Alright, I’ve had it. I’m stopping writing this post pronto and tagging the twitter handle with the URL, with a bet, that their response will not be any different than this:

Screen shot 2013-07-22 at 11.23.38 PM

As you can see, i have alerted them about the issue before, but they are very reliable about the copy-paste response. There’s no way one can talk to someone who cares, only robots and broken interfaces everywhere.

If their twitter team sends me the same response, I’m open to switching to any other network provider. Suggestions are welcome.


Written by hiway

July 22, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Posted in rant

Friends and Spam

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I often meet a lot of new people, I’m open to conversation, can adapt to the wavelength of others when I want and usually end up making many acquaintances on the way. I have a few circles of close friends. One being closest, few others being in the next ring, a lot more in somewhat further distant ring, and the new acquaintances being the most far out.


I’m cool with giving out my contact details to new people, just as I’m cool with making new friends. However, I’ve noticed that I get the most spam and unwanted emails via people in the outermost ring.

I’ve observed this: those people who tend to ask for your email / phone / facebook id as soon as you meet tend to generate the most spam in your inbox. I get mindless forwards, invitations to games, invites and relentless reminders to unknown social and ‘professional’ networks, to groups and events I don’t care about and just about everything that I’ve managed to avoid so far.

This is just an observation. I won’t change my ways of conversing with new people, but I will mark those who abuse my contact details as spam.

I am a citizen of the information age, what information I consume matters to me, and those who cannot spend few moments to find out and respect my choices are a hindrance to my being. Yes, I take spam _that_ seriously.

My inbox and life is better without some people.

ProTip: When not very sure that something is relevant to me, please don’t send it to me.

Written by hiway

March 29, 2011 at 11:58 am

Posted in rant

Free Bird

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Free BirdAnimals have their instinctive rules for survival. I experience a lot of this fury on the highways. Every driver thinks that the only vehicle on the road is his/her own. Only they want to reach home. Only they have the right of way. It’s only about them. All the time.

If you have not driven in India – more so in Maharashtra State, you probably have no idea of what I’m talking about.

People honk horns even if they can see there is another vehicle in front of you and you have nowhere to go. They don’t honk once, its a continuous riot till you get irritated and slam on the brakes to tell the guy behind you to shut up.

Many drivers won’t give you way – in a 4 lane highway, each direction of the traffic gets 2 lanes… among them one is for overtaking and fast vehicles and other is for slower traffic. They will drive their beat-down trashcans on the fast lane at half the usual speed and won’t budge. If you try to inform them with a short horn, they wave their hand at you to tell you to ‘go overtake from the slow lane if you want. I’m not moving’. Insulting others is normal here.

On the 2 lane highway, where oncoming traffic shares the road with you, people overtake larger/slower vehicles even if there is oncoming traffic. You have to get down on to the shoulders even if you were driving in your own lane because some SOB decided that he wanted to go immediately and he didn’t care if he swerved into your lane to do so.

These experiences are not once in a while… not once in a day… every minute that my tires are on the road, people piss me off.

I love driving, I totally enjoy driving. I’d love to drive all my life. I like to travel to different places. The journey means a lot more to me than the destination. The road is one of my best friends! I dream about traveling all the time. I save up money not for fancy clothes, but for fuel.

Yet, every time I drive, there are many people who are having a bad day and who make sure that they pass on their bad mood to every driver they meet.

I like the company of trucks when I’m on my bike – because they don’t try to kill me every time they see me.  The smaller vehicles though have no sense at all. When I drive a car, I give enough space to motorcyclists. I keep dipper/low beam light when there is oncoming traffic. I consider other driver’s situation before I take a quick turn or overtake. I don’t honk unnecessarily. I let faster vehicles pass even before they ask for side. I wait when pedestrians are crossing the road. I don’t get irritated if someone is learning how to drive and makes mistakes. I smile and wave at other drivers when the traffic is slow.

What do I get in return? Constant insult in the way of being snubbed by other drivers with bigger vehicles… I’ve recently started using same tactics on the other drivers. As soon as I see that they are going to overtake even when they can see me – I move my vehicle right in the middle of the road, flash lights and wave my fist at them, works every time. Guess, I should see if the Government allows me to keep rubber-bullet loaded guns too! Those will certainly be handy!

Heh, I can almost see myself becoming a lawless roadie some day. Its a tough job keeping my sanity and not giving in to scaring others shitless. Its not difficult to attack others… it is easy actually. I’ve found this out with experience. Most people will get on their knees if you raise your fist. Many will bow, if you make them.

That is not power. That is not respect. It is sheer intimidation. But it works like a charm on the highways – to keep yourself safe. But I don’t like it. I like to make friends… not enemies! What do I do?

I tried this for a full 100 kilometers – give the overtaking driver some space and move a bit towards the edge of the road. Each of the 30+ times in the nearly two hours of drive, the oncoming vehicle made me get down from the road, into the rubble and stop – because the bike would go out of control in  rubble. While coming back on the same stretch, I tried my flash-the-lights and wave-your-fist technique… none… yes NONE of the vehicles caused me any trouble.

Well, only one jeep-driver had the guts to still drive on, but since I stayed in my place, he had to swerve even more and go past the edge of my lane. I sure hope his passengers gave him some points to ponder. Three more cars had followed him and were already in my lane when this happened, they saw what happened and almost instantly got back in their lane.

I’m having a difficult time being good. It seems that the only way to stay alive on the highway is to scare the living daylight out of others. Can’t we Indians be sensible? Are we freaking animals that we have to attack others for the right of way? I’m not going to stop driving just because others have no sense nor responsibility of driving. I will not be scared into sitting at home or traveling in bus like many other people. Most importantly, I will not die on the highway.

I like to follow the rules. Please don’t make me lawless! Somebody help me!

Written by hiway

April 30, 2007 at 1:02 am

Posted in adventure, rant, travel

Internet in Asia Isolated?

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The sky is falling! Run! Scamper!

Is it just me, or are other people also having trouble accessing some websites? Few websites open up quickly, while (most) others are taking ages to download.

As an experiment, I tried running traceroute to Google’s different servers.

  • traceroute timed out after 64 hops.
  • traceroute completed in 14 hops.
  • traceroute completed in 13 hops.
  • traceroute timed out after 64 hops.
  • traceroute completed in 15 hops.

In both the above cases, traceroute showed that data had reached USA’s servers, but there was no response afterwards.

I was connected to a server in the USA at the same time and ran traceroute to, which completed in 14 hops. Now that’s interesting., and work from my computer,  but I was unable to even ping to (which has now started responding). Traceroute gave up after 64 hops.

If it was a matter of a few minutes, even hours, I would not sit and rant about it here… I have noticed this issue since last two days, and its not going away – only that at night, the issue worsens. Almost all of the websites become unreachable… I’m wondering why.

Written by hiway

February 27, 2007 at 11:17 am

Posted in Internet, rant, useless


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I was furious about the whole reservation issue! Furious about the senselessness of the public, the usual “let me make some money out of it” nature of [Television] media and the sick “my heart is where are my votes are” nature of politicians! But then I realized that what I hated most was the hatered that was being generated in the hearts of thousands of Indians. Hating hate is a difficult thing, so I kept my mouth shut till I found a way of putting my ideas in a better way.

Today it struck me that maybe, just maybe, I can say something that will make more sense than just lashing out at the people who are sowing the seeds of hatered. Here it is:
I believe that giving any particular section of the society a handicap (giving them a unfair chance to win) is bad for the complete society. Just look at all the hatered that is spreading over this issue!

If some sections are economically weaker, give them scholarships. Scholarships that include education fees, accommodation and books. Make it easy for people to earn and learn. Spoon feeding will never make good citizens out of students. Each person has to fight his/her own battles.

Here’s a small story that clarifies the doubts that are creeping in our mind right now!

Butterfly?The story is from Mary Manis Morrissey:

One day a man was in his backyard and noticed, on a tree limb, a butterfly emerging from it’s cocoon. He watched that little being struggle and strain and press up against the walls of its prison. The butterfly was having such a difficult time, and the man wanted to help, so he sawed off the tree branch and brought it into his house. He used a pair of very fine scissors to delicately clip the cocoon and create an opening for the butterfly. Sure enough the butterfly emerged easily. Then, as the man looked on in horror, it flopped around on the table, unable to lift its wings. Within a short time the butterfly died.Butterfly #2

The man knew he must somehow have interfered with nature, and so he went to the library to do some research on butterflies. He learned that as it emerges from its cocoon, the butterfly presses and strains, which pumps fluid from its large body into its wings. This process strengthens the wings and shrinks the body. Without that struggle, the butterfly emerges with weak wings and an unwieldy body, and cannot survive.

This is our own life process as well. We may fear the struggle and wish to remain safe little caterpillars, yet the more we open, the greater the rewards. For us it’s not a single experience; we emerge over and over again, growing into a new way of being, exploring one way and then trying another until we find the right fit. No one can cut open your cocoon for you because it is through the struggle that you develop the strength to fly free.

This is how nature works. And remember, we are not above nature! We are a part of it, and our daily struggles and battles are what make us strong. If we interfere with the working of nature by skipping the struggles for some people we end up creating weak individuals. Do we want to make weak individuals? No! Not when we claim that we are doing all this to make them strong! What an irony!

Think again before you say that you are “for reservation”… because by saying that you truly do not understand the working of life!!



Written by hiway

September 7, 2006 at 4:05 pm

Posted in chewing-the-cud, rant


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Happy Independence Day!Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Indians!

Celebrating 59 years of ruling ourselves! Whoa, look what a mess we made! I’m only kidding… I’m glad to be born an Indian. And I’m proud that we are one strong nation – the utter chaos that seems to be overwhelming the country, is actually its driving force! Like a well adopted organism, India keeps growing and flourishing in the face of all the threats and setbacks.When I sit back and think… I wonder, what exactly is independence? Is it something that a teen thinks of – sheer joy of freedom from rules and rulers? Or is it something more similar to adult independence – responsibility that comes with the freedom to choose your own destiny?

Are we still celebrating the joy of losing the foreign rule? Or are we coming to grips with the situation – that we need to make our own decisions – good and strong decisions. Decisions that improve the nation as a whole. Decisions that are visionary – that take the future into account. Decisions that reflect our culture that we are so proud of!

Introspection as an Indian leads me to a broad opening, the future is beyond the horiozon, what I can see is the present – and what I see sometimes shocks me. Our advantage – the diversity among people, cultures and languages – is also our biggest disadvantage. We fight among ourselves even after learning a lesson from the British Empire. Our own people are turning hostile, joining the terrorists and killing their bretheren. And we have people who reach out to the needy and give everything they have to save other lives – even to the length of sacrificing their own life!

India is a country that lives in the past and the present at the same time. When we have advaced technology in almost every field, we also have people who cannot even afford a pair of bullocks to plough their field! Such a huge gap is not easy to fill up. It is a daunting task – and I would like to believe that our government is doing its job, even though it seems like it is taking forever!

Independence, I feel, is more of responsibility than just fun. And a quick observation of my fellow citizens shows that not all of us feel that way. The recent past has brought the ‘reservations’ conflict into light. Why do people want reservations in almost every institution? When we talk about eradicating the caste system, why does every admission form of education institutes ask for my religion and caste? If we want a more secular and unbiased education, let there be more scholarships that are aimed at the underpreviledged people. By giving them a handicap, it clearly shows that they are incapable of achieving what we can! There are exceptions – and they need no reservations anyway. We are not making a good decision on this issue… among many others!

We talk about our military – that it too is corrupt and so on. But that, think is an exxageration because I have grown up in a military controlled area. It is not usual for a civillian to be living in such a place, but I luckily got a chance to interact with soldiers, engineers and trainers. And I firmly believe that they are among the finest men that India has produced. The discpline is marvellous! (something I never learnt) Their readiness to take up any task, any risk is amazing. And when you talk to them off-duty, you wonder how these tough nails can be such caring humans too!

Exhibition at Tank MuseumToday’s experience at the Tank Museum in Ahmednagar was similar. The security was tightened due to terrorist threats. I had to empty my camea bag thrice, had to go through the metal detector and answer a few questions before i could get in. After the check, that same stern oficer returned my “thanks” with a very polite smile – it reminded me of the childhood days when I lived near the military colony! The soldiers and officers at the displays were very cooperative and answered all our silly questions – and even the slightly more informed queries about the ammunition. The soldiers were kind to the old, helping them climb on to the tanks as they marveled at the technology. And they were very responsible in making sure that nobody got hurt.

I think that at least the military is fairly independent! But as for us, we still need to gain true independence! So… Forward! March!

I believe in you India! We can do it!
PS Yes this is a long winding rant, and though slightly interlinked – it staggers away from the topic – but isn’t it the nature of the thought train? 😉

Written by hiway

August 15, 2006 at 9:00 pm

Posted in news, rant


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Originally uploaded by Harshad Sharma (हर्षद शर्मा).

I wish I could just sit there, like the round red rock, and watch the beauty of nature all day!

My wish is being fulfilled partly through my change to Photography as a full time profession. When I’m not photographing some event or idling away at the computer, I’m usually out photographing this beautiful world!

There are few things as satisfying as being one with nature. Just walking around in the hills, seeing the marvels of God’s artistic creations. Enjoying the patches of light and shade formed by the racing clouds overhead…

Listening to the sounds of leaves dancing in the wind. An upset cricket creating its little sonic mayhem. Water, obeying gravity. Though these subtle things cannot make it into a photograph in their true form – I try to capture the spirit of the moment nevertheless.

Watching the sun go down across the horizon… quickly making adjustments to the camera to shoot in the little light left behind and seeing the the world now unseen by the eye… and finding beauty all around.

Sigh! If only I could be assured that all this would stay just as nice as it is… maybe even get better, more beautiful!

Everyone is a spectator in this world. We go on, live our own lives, all consumed by our own little issues and complaints. Somewhat like this rock.

If there is to be a difference between me and the boulder, I need to show signs of life – of awareness to the happenings to the environment around me. And, if I wish to call myself a good human, I cannot ignore the fact that I need to improve this world as much as I possibly can.

This is a rant, an introspection and an appeal… please save our environment! Don’t pollute. Don’t choke mother nature! The existence of our species depends on our own actions! Humans have foresight… use it! Please!!!

Written by hiway

August 1, 2006 at 12:07 am