Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Apple Car is almost here!

This entire story is based on a rumour: Apple is developing a car, most likely an electric car.

For someone who started using an Apple product in 1993, a Macintosh LC III, I have delusions of having an insight into Apple workings. My hand also featured in the first ever Apple newspaper ad released in India. (God hasn't given me an ad-worthy face, but ask any man and he will agree that having a good hand makes up for it in ways that cannot be described here.) A picture of my hand in the ad was shown clutching a bunch of seven five hundred-rupee notes which I was not allowed to take home after the shoot was over.

The Apple car will be launched in 2020. The world will see it when Peter Cook will reach into a manila envelope and pull out the car. Or he will drive onto the stage in it, simply and boringly.

The night before the car will be available for purchase there will be huges queues starting from the Apple store on Fifth Avenue, NYC and reaching all the way to the Mexico border. The first guy in the queue will be a Samsung employee who will take one home, all the way to Korea, where his team will check it against the prototype they have made on the basis of leaked Apple car blueprints.

The second guy in the store will be presented the option of buying three models. Model 1 will have a battery that will last for a day and reach a maximum speed of 50mph. Model 2 will have a battery life of two days, a maximum speed of 100mph and will cost twice as much as Model 1. 3. Model 3: Four days battery life, 150mph and four times the cost of Model 1. The models will be imaginatively named iCar1, iCar1c and iCar1s. There will be no choice of colours.

The Apple Car will come locked. That is, customers will be able to re-charge it only from sockets of Apple-decided electricity companies. Of course, those who smuggle it into India will have to take it to Heera Panna in Mumbai or Nehru Place in Delhi etc. and get it unlocked so that it can be charged anywhere.

The Apple Car will be launched in India long after its US launch. That's because the team at Apple has seen pictures of India clicked by Steve Jobs when he visited India, that is, in 1974. Naturally they think that India is a poor country with bullock carts where it is okay to whip the bull but not eat it. Naturally they are absolutely right.

The Apple Car will be constantly connected to the internet. It will not have a radio and you will have to download songs on an in-built iPod for 99 cents a song. When you sell the car, the buyer will have to buy the songs all over again.

The Apple Car will have a front camera that will be connected to an iPad on the dashboard so you can surf the internet while looking at the road. It will also have a rear camera. No, this will be used while reverse parking. The selfie camera will be neatly concealed in the vanity mirror.

If a part of the Apple Car is damaged Apple will replace it free of cost - only if you are covered by Apple Care. If even one moment passes after your Apple Care lapses, Apple will not renew it. So God forbid if something happens to an uncovered car; you will have sell it to the scrap dealer. Or find a parking spot for the next 20 years when it will have antique value for being a first model.

Needless to say, you will not be able to open the hood of the Apple Car. It will not have a boot either because it's a car and not a storage device.

There will be a new model of the Apple Car launched every few years. If you persist with the old one, you will get looks on the street that say, "What a loser/moron/Hindi bad word."

Two years after the first Apple Car is launched, a random guy in California will become a millionaire selling stickers and covers for the Apple Car.

One year later, Samsung will launch a car. It will come in 12 colours, 20 different battery lifes and maximum speeds, will have a boot...

Six months later, there will be multiple fakes coming out of China. They will have cheaper plastic, glass, names like Apple Cart but will have longer battery life.

Three months later, a really cool fashion designer will present a diamond-encrusted Apple Car to the world that will be priced at the GDP of a small nation. A pop star will buy it and will be arrested on the same day for driving it under the influence of pot. He will share his prison cell with the last guy in the queue who had been arrested at the border for crossing into the US from Mexico without valid papers.

Yeah, I am looking forward to the launch of The Apple Car and would like to thank the folks at Apple for coming up with this. My sincere gratitude to the folks at macrumors for valuable news about this road-shattering event from the future.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Vodafone India - It's a Zoo Zoo out there.

This is an old Vodafone poster. There is truth in advertising after all.

First, I banged my head twice against two Vodafone India customer service executives over the phone trying to get a solution to the problem of not having email and internet connectivity. Second, I tried online chat (for the transcript of the chat click here), again without a solution. Third, I wrote to the Vodafone India customer service email address to which I have got an automated reply and nothing else. Fourth, I published the transcript of the online chat on my blog and tweeted it to @VodafoneIN. As a response to the tweet, two lovely people at Vodafone, Ankit and Reema, kept on insisting that I send my phone number to them via a Direct Message on Twitter as they cannot find it! Weird, because the chat transcription has my full name in it and it is the same name that's on my Vodafone bill that comes in every month. Weirder, because they record the calls made by customers. So they have a complaint from the same customer on phone, email, online chat and twitter but they still want to know who the heck I am.

But I was born in the era of the typewriter and telephone (called landline these days probably because the other phone line we have is nothing but a lot of air). So I decided to visit a Vodafone Store last evening. It was a Saturday after all and getting my internet connectivity fixed is always more important than spending an evening with the family.

I enter the Vodafone Store at Hill Road, Bandra and begin telling my complaint to Manglesh Pal, Customer Service Executive. He hears me out and tells me that the server is down and I will have to come again some other time. Wow! I ask him if he can give it to me in writing. He says no, they are not allowed to do so. I ask him if he can send me an email saying the same. He says no, they are not allowed to send emails. Okay, can he send me an SMS? No again. I begin to suspect that he is probably illiterate and so I ask him if I can record him on video. To which he points at a sign on the door and says, no to that too. When I say that I will not leave the place until he finds a way around this, he shrugs and says, fine, wait. At this point another customer walks up to him and he leaves me, mid-conversation, to attend her.
After waiting for a couple of minutes I begin speaking to another customer service executive, Akbar. As I am talking to Akbar, Manglesh keeps butting into the conversation despite my reminding him that I am talking to Akbar and not him. Finally, I have to say to Manglesh that it is not polite to interrupt when two people are talking, he shuts up. When I say, why don’t I call the head of customer service, Vodafone India, Manglesh butts in again and says, go ahead call, I will speak to her. (Yeah, I have tracked down the number; the internet is a wonderful thing.) I call but there is no response. I guess she takes her weekends very seriously. Or is not paid enough to answer calls from customers. The latter probably because the last time I had an issue that kept going round in circles, I wrote to her, and there was no reply either.

So here I am. Vodafone India knows my name but cannot find a number to match. The same customer, that's me, has tried to get an issue resolved over the phone, online chat, email, twitter and a visit to the store but they who record calls and in-store record interactions and have a team of people to chat with customers and answer tweets, are still clueless about who this customer is.

Do you remember the pug the Vodafone TV commercials? I guess what they were trying to say is, "Vodafone – The network is a dog and the service is his wife."

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Vodafone India - Happy to Yelp.

Here's a chat I had with a Vodafone executive today. I have not edited the chat except removing my phone number, email address and birth date. I have also informed the Vodafone exec that I will publish this chat online.

I had spoken to a couple of their executives a day before. I think they are a wonderful bunch of guys who are poorly trained, have problem understanding basic English and Hindi and generally useless when it comes to getting a solution to any problem you face. This is the third time I have had this kind of experience, so here goes. Have a good laugh and shed a tear for all suffering customers of Vodafone.

Welcome to Vodafone Chat !
Thank you for your patience, a Vodafone Service Desk Agent is now available.
{Aparna}Good Afternoon! I am Aparna. How may I help you? 
{Aparna}Please confirm if you are online? 
{Devendra Sansare}Aparna, I have a Blackberry Prosumer Lite plan. When I was in Pune two days ago, I did not get any emails or internet access
{Aparna}I regret the inconvenience caused to you. 
{Aparna}Are you inquiring for the same number: XXXXXXXXXX?
{Devendra Sansare}When I checked my account just now, it says"My handset is not compatible for these services"
{Devendra Sansare}Yes XXXXXXXXXX
{Aparna}Thank you for providing information. 
{Aparna}Are you facing same issue right now ?
{Devendra Sansare}I spoke to two customer relations execs while in Pune, both were unable to resolve this
{Devendra Sansare}I am back in Mumbai so I cant say
{Aparna}Can you please check the same 
{Devendra Sansare}So you want me to go out of Mumbai circle so I can find out if I have the same problem? Do you realize that what you are suggesting is ridiculous?
{Aparna}Sir, I can understand your concern. 
{Aparna}I will explain 
{Devendra Sansare}Can I request you to answer a simple question? 
{Aparna}Sure Sir. 
{Devendra Sansare}Does my plan allow for data usage while roaming?
{Devendra Sansare}It's a yes or no answer
{Devendra Sansare}Then why did I face the problem? I got a notification saying error code 33, please reset APN. I reset the APN but the problem persisted
{Devendra Sansare}So what's the solution Aparna?
{Devendra Sansare}Also, can you explain why does my vodafone account say that my current plan is not compatible with my handset?
{Aparna}Are you inquiring related blackberry plan ?
{Aparna} Please confirm if you are online? 
{Devendra Sansare}Yes Aparna. Let me say it again: I have a Blackberry Prosumer Lite plan. When I go to my vodafone account, it says my current plan is not compatible with my handset. Clear?
{Aparna}Yes Sir. 
{Aparna}I’ll check the information for you right away 
{Aparna}For the privacy of your account, I need to ask you a few questions, before I proceed. May I know Your Date of Birth ( Date/Month/Year ) and Email Address/Alternate contact number registered with us? 
{Devendra Sansare}DD MM YYYY
{Devendra Sansare}
{Aparna}Thank you for providing information. 
{Devendra Sansare}Now can we have some answers Aparna?
{Aparna}Thank you for waiting
{Aparna}As per the records three is no issue related handset and plan 
{Aparna}Can you recheck once in My Vodafone account ?
{Aparna}Please confirm if you are online? 
{Devendra Sansare}So please explain 1. why my vodafone account says what is says about my current plan. 2. why didn't I have data usage facility when in Pune. 3. And why did the vodafone exec say that my handset did not have data usage as per the plan
{Aparna}I will explain 
{Devendra Sansare}When I exit chat, I will say goodbye, so please stop asking if I am online
{Aparna}Your data usage in current cycle is Usage in MB : 36.85
{Aparna}The best way You can check your data usage by sending simple sms DATA BAL to 111 (Toll free), you may also check via *111# (Toll free). If in case you want to check online, you can check the same via you’re my Vodafone account.
{Devendra Sansare}I am currently logged on to my vodafone account and this what it says: not compatible
{Devendra Sansare}I have travelled out of Mumbai a number of times. There has been no limit on my data usage. Why now, suddenly?
{Devendra Sansare}I changed my handset from BB curve to Q10, is that why?
{Aparna}You need to select data roaming option in national roaming
{Devendra Sansare}I did that
{Devendra Sansare}You must really think I am stupid
{Aparna}Okay Sir. 
{Devendra Sansare}So you agree that you think I am stupid?
{Aparna}Sorry for above line , it was not for your previous line 
{Aparna}I request you to take screen shot of that error page and mark a mail on id from registered mail id 
{Devendra Sansare}What error page?
{Devendra Sansare}I got an error notification on my phone
{Devendra Sansare}Anyway, it seems that you do not have a solution to the problem. It's a yes or no answer.
{Aparna}Sir, can you please confirm that right now are you able to use data service ?
{Devendra Sansare}Yes
{Devendra Sansare}The moment I entered Mumbai circle I began getting emails and the data connection became active
{Aparna}Okay Sir.I want to tell you that you must have to contact as that time when you were in national roaming where you are facing same issue 
{Devendra Sansare}I did contact vodafone TWICE when I was facing the issue. You DID NOT HAVE A SOLUTION.
{Aparna}I regret the inconvenience caused to you. 
{Devendra Sansare}You have said that before.
{Devendra Sansare}Simple 'YES' or 'NO' answer: Can you resolve this issue or not?
{Aparna}As you able to use data service now , we unable to track previous exact data usage issue 
{Devendra Sansare}If you can't, let's not waste each other's time.
{Devendra Sansare}You could have said this earlier, and saved both of us time.
{Aparna}I can understand your concern. 
{Devendra Sansare}I don't think so.
{Devendra Sansare}So tell me what makes you think that writing an email to vodafone will help sort this out? If you can't track my data usage, how can anyone else?
{Aparna}Sir, I suggest you to send an email if you are getting error if you are getting error in My Vodafone account 
{Devendra Sansare}Also, I have asked you two questions: 1. Why didn't I have data coverage when I was outside Mumbai circle? And, 2. Why does my vodafone account page say that my current plan is not compatible with my handset?
{Devendra Sansare}The first, you can't answer. What about the second?
{Devendra Sansare}My turn to ask: Are you online?
{Aparna}Yes Sir. 
{Aparna}I am online 
{Devendra Sansare}So, you don't have an answer to both questions.
{Aparna}As you are getting the error in My Vodafone account I request you to take screen shot of that error page and mark a mail on id from registered mail id 
{Aparna}Our concern team will check that error and revert you within 48 hours 
{Devendra Sansare}Aparna, please understand this: I AM NOT GETTING AN ERROR ON MY VODAFONE ACCOUNT. I am being told on that page that MY CURRENT PLAN IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH MY HANDSET. 
{Aparna}Okay Sir. I regret for above details 
{Aparna}let me chcek what I can do for you. 
{Aparna}Please be online. 
{Devendra Sansare}Don't bother Aparna. I am going to end this chat now and find a nice wall where I can bang my head.
{Aparna}Please be online. 
{Devendra Sansare}I don't believe in miracles. If you didn't have a solution for the last 15 minutes of this chat I don't think you can suddenly have it now.
{Devendra Sansare}I would like to inform you that I will save this chat and publish it on my blog. I will also tweet the link to the blog post.
{Aparna}Please be online. I will assist you with your query 
{Devendra Sansare}Sorry, have given you enough time Aparna. Signing out now. Have a good weekend and I hope you find happiness in helping other lost customers.