Every now and then, a brand or a company does something completely out of character and completely confuses consumers.
As Tata-Sky did to me, and to thousands of consumers recently.
Admitted, Tata-Sky is a hybrid brand and sends both Tata and Sky “signals” to consumers. It’s up to each consumer, I guess, to figure out what each of the partners in a joint venture brings to the table. That helps define what one could expect from the brand.
It wasn’t too tough in this case, I thought. Since Tata had no previous experience in running a Direct-to-Home service, I decided that all the tech support and all the knowledge of the core service would come from Sky. From the Tata half of the marriage, one expected a high quality of service, concern for the consumer, integrity, politeness, administrative skills and so on.
Therefore, the day I signed on for a Tata Sky connection, I said good riddance to the cable operator, who had no concept of customer care, no integrity, was rude and short. I loved the new service, with perfect picture and perfect audio.
What I loved most was that there were no surprises.
No arbitrary movement of channels up and down the remote control, no arbitrary deletion of channels and no arbitrary blackmail by disconnecting a channel that would become popular in the immediate future.
For example, a cable operator would cut off ESPN-STAR ten days before the EURO. Not really, ESPN-STAR would cut off the cable operator ten days before the EURO to pressurize him into paying for as many subscribers as he really had and not for as many subscribers as he chose to declare.
Each sports event was anticipated with dread and each sports event saw me curse the cable operator.
Not any more; not with my Tata Sky connection.
How wrong I was. And how wrong were millions (as is claimed by Tata Sky) of consumers.
A week before the EURO 08 kicked off, Tata Sky arbitrarily cut off ESPN, STAR Sports, BBC Entertainment and a few other channels (which I can’t remember because they aren’t saved to my “favorites” list). That put me off immediately because I had already SUBSCRIBED to these channels in a package that was created by Tata Sky.
Tata Sky informs me, through alerts on my idiot box, that I could watch these channels by subscribing to a new package. Left with little choice, I try to call the help line numbers.
For a day. For two days. For three days. All lines are constantly engaged.
Now I’m getting really pi**ed off. And Tata Sky seems to come to the rescue, telling consumers that they could send a text message and sort out life.
And when I send a text message, the autoresponder asks me to call the helpline.
That’s not cool.
Just as I’m beginning to burn, ESPN Star takes Tata Sky to court and the DTH service restores the status quo.
I get all my faves back and I’ve spent no money other than my normal subscription fee.
So all is forgiven.
No, all is not forgiven.
Tata Sky has proven to be no more caring of consumer needs than my cable operator did. They behaved in as monopolistic a fashion with us as the cable operator did, too.
There’s one thing the cable operator did in times that I was pi**ed off, however many times they might have been – he picked up his phone and spoke to me.
To the Tata half of the business, I have this to say: if the Sky half is calling all the shots, for Pete’s sake get out of this business. The way you behaved with consumers might affect the sales of your Indigo or your Nano or your Indicom or your whatever.
If the Tata half was a party to the ham-handed treatment of your consumers, revisit all that JRD has said about customers.
Or I’ll club you in the same bracket as my erstwhile cable operator. You might be more upmarket, but you’re still just a cable operator.