Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Photos

We were lucky to witness the live coverage of the wedding of the royal couple. The live telecast over the weekend would definitely erupt into celeberations over the weekend across the UK. It has been a extra ordinary day which was without much a controversy unlike the previous wedding of Prince Charles with Camilla.

After a long long time the british monarchy is witnessing a royal wedding. The mystical union of Prince Williams and Kate. The procession towards the westminister is lined with plenty of enthusiastic crowd. The bride was glowing in all her hallowed glory, with her bridal attire.

Her travel towards the Church in a Rolls Royce was telecast live, it was akin to the fame earned by her mother in law. Prince WILLIAM in his uniform looked handsome to the core. Forsaking all other temptation and will look after her prince in sickness and health, till death do us apart. The oath was administered, in richer or poorer, according to god s will.....both of them promise to remain faithful to each other.

The wedding ring was adorned on the bride by the Prince. Thus the marriage was solemnised. The priest sought the blessings of the lord for fulfilling the covenant. Thus the blessings of the lord was showered on the couple.

May the lord bless the couple with glorious years of living happily ever after..........Amen

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.
In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.
Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen." Rev Richard Chartres

Sidelights :  While all the ceremony has been going on, Mark Hughes, our security correspondent, has emailed with some less pleasant news:
E-mailFurther eight arrests in the royal wedding security area, including one for sexual assault.
Total breakdown is now: 1 sexual assault 1 assault 1 criminal damage 1 drugs 3 drunk 1 wanted on warrant 1 offensive weapon 4 breach of peace 1 public order 3 theft and one other, which is as yet unspecified.
Following reports of anarchists putting masks on at Soho Square, police have invoked sections 60 and 60a of the criminal justice act 96 on whole of royal wedding security zone - about one mile radius. Section 60 allows police to stop and search anyone without suspicion. 60a allows officers to arrest people if they refuse to remove face coverings.

ACK : photos courtsey BBC, Economic times; News courtsey Telegraph UK

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I have bought SONY H3 from Reliance Digital in March 2008, in view of its feaures. It has 10 x zoom and 8.1 mp resolution. Most of the features can be mastered in quick succession. The stamina battery which is supposed to last for 3 days does not last that long. Of course one has to re charge at the end of the day. One can shoot as many as 551 pictures if one juggles with 8/5/3 MP resolution settings. If one requires high 8 MP pictures for print then one can go for it, otherwise switch on the 5 OR 3 MP. The face detection and flash settings operate on their own logic still i have to figure out how. Luckily the steady shot feature does work, so far only 2 blurr photographs are taken out of 551 pictures. I was not able to have the music review on slideshow. It requires registration through the CD. The colours due to cloudy atmosphere seems a little dull, despite me setting the image brightness feature to plus bar. After downloading the picture browser through the CD i am not able to register the product nor delete the software from the system. I am stuck I have to clarify how to download music now, this feature is available to certain countries only

PURCHASE OUTLET : Reliance digital at Cunningham Road. They offered me Brothers Printer with additional payment of Rs 2500. After sales service under 3 year warranty scheme will be carried out only by authorised showrooms. Reliance digital will not undertake any service, nor are they competent, so please don t get carried away by their sales talk. SERVICE CENTRES : Sony has 4 service centres in Blore and they are planning for spares centralised factory in Blore. Very professional i got my flash settings corrected with 5 minutes and software problem clarified.


8 MP resolution
10 X optical zoom
2.5 LCD screen
9 settings incl. Manual
Battery -
Video recording
Software compatible for Youtube & metacafe.
1 GB memory card - expandable to 4 GB
Battery charger
Download cable
GPS location .
Musical slideshow
On screen editing.
Camera Pouch can cause scratches on LCD

The after sales service of SONY is excellent, their main service centre is located on Mysore Road.  I got my blurring of pictures corrected the first time around.  Secondly the flash blew off and it was replaced.  Thirdly the settings button was damaged, this too was changed.  All these repairs would have costed at least 5 k if 3 years warranty was not applicable.  Now i have decided to use the camera once a way so that it lasts for another 3 years post warranty expiry.


I had always vied to possess a video cam for shooting beautiful sceneries and action sequence.  I decided to check out on  a holiday to buy a good one.  I visited  E Zone showroom where I thought I will get a good deal.   But unfortunately the response from their sales staff was not so supportive.   I gave up and then visited WHIZZ showroom to check out.  The salesperson over there was just cunning like a fox, I fell into the trap.  He convinced me to buy Samsung 173i DC VP brand.  He promised me regarding the performance, of the cam, which does not have night shot provision  Further on top of it I was charged Rs 19990, Rs 1490 above the MRP.  Samsung cam had 3 years warranty, which at that time. Sony was not providing, which I had in mind.  Now Sony is providing 3 years warranty.  
It is real shocker for me because the Label on the box is Rs 24990/- with Samsung seal.  I checked their website and I found that  Rs 18500/- is the actual MRP.  Now my attention was all diverted towards collecting evidence that he has overcharged.  I collected the Samsung brochure from Digital showroom which clearly mentioned MRP as Rs 18500/- for DC VP 173i.  I approached the cunning salesperson and threatened to take WHIZZ and Samsung company to the court, for which he was definitely guilty.  Luckily I preserved the out box.  He reluctantly parted with Rs 1500/- excess charged.  I can’t imagine how a reputed company is allowing the dealer to print its own Label, or if the prices have been slashed and the company has not made it public.  Sony too had slashed it prices and immediately informed all dealers to bring down the prices, which is ethical way of doing business.      

Now, the functions of the set is not satisfactory at all.  The company had provided a trial version of Inter video software which company person and dealer have been claiming all throughout, we never give trial version.  However I installed the CD, despite promise of HOME Demo by the dealer WHIZZ.  After 21 days, the trial software expired and obviously it had to be deleted and reloaded wherein some sort of virus to jam the functions have been embedded.  Consumers should be wary of intalling trial version, whether in games or other software.  The company person wanted to desperately take back the original CD from me which I refused to hand over.           
The DVD function in 173i is not at all upto the mark.  The battery indicator goes off after half discharge so rapidly, that it corrupts the DVD recording.  One may not get to view the same or finalize the DVD.  The recording on the memory stick works fine but it is VGA version, therefore the resolution is very bad.  Basically this cam is suited for well lit indoor shooting with adequate lighting only.  Outdoor shoots picture quality is not upto the mark.  Overall I would not recommend this product even though they are providing 3 years warranty.  Funny part is that they have only one service centre located in one corner of the city.  Sony has 4 showrooms, I had to go for Sony H3, which had beautiful video recording quality on a still camera, even though it is VGA version.  Consumers are advised utmost caution when they decide to buy Samsung product, because they support the dealers with hefty margins and be wary of buy @ WHIZZ who manipulate MRP labels itself..

After a regular follow up and servicing centre visits, I found the samsung team was able to get the DVD camcorder running.  But I was not given solution for viewing the DVD immediately.  One fine day I got a call from Ganesh that a new and improved software full version is ready I can come and collect it.  

I went on the appointed day and collected the software from
Krishna who has recently joined the organisation, but was kept informed by Ganesh even though he was on tour to Bellary.

The first day I installed the software and was unable to still view the DVD.   I started using the software, which is wonderful as one keeps learning.  Again I did not want to give up mastering the usage of software for editing the DVD from the camera.  

It is is a little complicated process, the version which I saw in their showroom played on USB being connected but this software does not download automatically.  Which means one has to use the technical skill inorder to download.  

Meanwhile I tried to use the software to edit my images for video formatting to upload on Youtube.  I just tried various methods of editing photos and videos it worked.  I was able to upload, but other features such as compression I have to learn still.

I only hope Samsung improves and appoints personnel who are expert in software installation so that the demo is provided in the dealers showroom.  

Epilouge :  The final tryst with Samsung service was when i gave the camcorder for repair, it was corrected after 45 days, my warranty had expired but still they fulfilled the promise of ensuring the DVD drive working.  Hope it lasts me for another 5 years, since i have paid a fortune for this contraption

BSNL is the Best telecom provider ?

just had an experience of not visiting the telephone office for my telephone with BSNL, the linesmen came with the form and took the form and submitted the forms and then came and connected the line.  Well what my petrol cost to run up and down I paid him as tips.  The same linesmen came and connected internet too.  I remember BSNL had waiting period and I was surprised to recieve a call from BSNL office that your internet connection can be installed and they were asking my permission to go ahead.  I gave the green signal and called up the linesmen who quickly bought the router and installed the same.  

The other day my line got disconnected and had to be re-configured, so I called up the call centre and after 5 trials, even though they are private operators, they are more arrogant than the BSNL STAFF.  But however I was taken through an elaborate procedure of reconfiguring.  So one has to bear with such arrogance, never mind.  We are interested in getting our seamless broadband connectivity.  

10% FLAT commission to all the employees on selling SIM cards, Telephone lines, etc will work wonders for the morale.  Just see the change BSNL will become a Navaratna.  I saw the same change effected in KSRTC, when a novel idea was mooted of giving out 1 CTV every day.  The ticket collections went up skyrocketing the loss making KSRTC turned into profit.  Now if incentives have to be disbursed why not do it and get rid of the scourge of corruption.  From peon to CMD if they earn incentives the coffers of BSNL will fill up to the brim.  Even the technical staff should be included.  

Stick and carrot approach is the only way to correct BSNL.  Let us not sink a titan, let us save them from being taken over by private.  The advantage of BSNL is their technical expertise and correct billing.

To my surpise my unlimited broadband which was being charged @ 900 pm is automatically reduced to 750 pm.  Will any private operator do it ?  I am sure BSNL will further reduce it to 500 pm which will increase their revenue.  

Of course a changed approach will see BSNL emerge as a Samsonite.  MTNL is more professionally managed why not BSNL.  Let us help to change the mindset of BSNL staff.  

There has been ever increasing complaint on BSNL style of functioning and problems created by the corrupt staff of BSNL.  But the fact remains that BSNL is known for its correct calibration of billing system.  Some may say that is a fallacy because the linesmen misuse some customers line by connecting it to a commercial user illegally.  The fact remains the system is right but men are wrong.The Japanese came out with a innovative solution when faced with a technical glitch of one soap box was empty of its content, see the approach of two companies :        

One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case of the empty soapbox, which happened in one of Japan ’s biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soapbox that was empty. Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soapbox went through the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soapboxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent whoopee amount to do so. 
But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, he did not get into complications of X-rays, etc., but instead came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line.. He switched the fan on, and as each soapbox passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line. 
1.. Always look for simple solutions... 
2.. Devise the simplest possible solution that solves the problems... 
3.. Always focus on solutions & not on problems...

This case study reveals that problems afflicting BSNL can be fixed only through innovative means a)     Announce incentive scheme of 10% to all employees of BSNL on sale of SIM card, Prepaid, Landline deposits, etc etc.
b)       Trap BSNL staff who are corrupt and dismiss them from service through CBI.

c)       Ensure motivation of staff in customer handling and empathy

d)     Create an environs of  customer interface with management.

e)     Reward exemplary employees based on consumer feedback   
The idea is that BSNL should survive intense private competition and ensure that the Navarathna remains intact.  I am sure like what was done in the Railways by Laloo Prasad with BSNL it is much more easy and quicker.

On the sidelight 2 G scam has not affected BSNL at all, since they have not paid any bribe or sought favours, they have escaped the charges of Telecom scam.  I hope BSNL becomes a public listed company, with employees relenting the inevitable.  


Reliance fresh @ RMV is my favourite joint for shopping my daily needs including vegetable, fruits and some groceries. In the beginning i used to shop at Fraser town when it opened newly in 2006. Those were the days when Reliance had the philosophy that they should compete with vegetable vendors. The vegetable vendors @ Fraser town outbeat their strategy by emptying the stores within 30 minutes. Stock out was a frequent phenomenon in their outlet, primarily because the shopkeepers used to purchase and re sale them in their outlets.

This was really frustrating as a consumer, instead of agitating against Reliance management vendors were happy to empty their shelf and defeat the purpose of passing on the gain. The management increased the frequency of refilling but it never succeeded in preventing the stock outs.  This could been a model for wholesaling the product like Metro, but Reliance was unable to cash in on the opportunity.

In UP the hawkers went on rioting against Reliance fresh. It forced them to down the shutters. Even today i am not sure Reliance has opened their showrooms. Nevertheless the Reliance management learnt the trick and the ropes to increase the price almost to market levels. Instead they planned to disburse loyalty points by issuing a card.

There is no substitute for great team work. This is proved in the store employees loyalty in serving the customers. I used to complain to them that there were stock outs of Goodlife, Amul curds, Paneer etc. Now they have improved their supply chain in these items. Mushrooms are always available in the outlet, but it is tad expensive and I avoid purchasing them. Vegetables are nowerdays in far and few quantities due to the fear of getting rotten.  Remember Subiksha, it had to down its shutter because vegetables started rotting and emanating stink in their outlets.

There is acute shortage of power in Blore and malls have been advised to switch off their AC s in the morning hours. A novel solutions have been arrived to supply vegetables in the morning hours so that it does not raise a stink in the night. Remember Subiksha, the outlet used to raise a stink as soon as one enters. Instead of inviting customers it used to repel the customer and keep the employees in bad mood. Some employees are provided with tablets above their PC for fainting as an exigency.(guess the Mall)

With regard to pricing i find that Reliance comes out with some scheme or the other. The recent scheme is the that of scratch card. On every purchase of 300 the customer is entitled for scratch card. Prize amount varies from 25 to 300. I was lucky to get once 100 off coupon and other times 25 and 50 off. I keep collecting points on each and every purchase too.

On purchase of 1 litre tetra pack of Amul milk, till recently they used to give Rs 5 off, but now the scheme has been withdrawn. No other Mall was offering this facility which obviously means they were pocketing the same. B Natural apple juice is now available @ 49 per litre. I have not found this scheme in other stores as on date.

However one of negatives is that there is no non veg available in the MALL. Probably it is for the fear of raising a stink. I think they will definitely find a solution in future. Maybe have a seperate enclosure. I am sure Mukesh ambani s ambiition to delight the customer will be fulfilled.  Non-veg seperate counter was opened and it was shut down due to lack of business.  It is sad that Reliance had to withdrawn from selling Non Veg in seperate counters.  The basic flaw in their business model was that they did not have sufficient refrigeration facility.  Secondly the staff were not committed to ensuring loyal business, and finally most of the stuffs were disposed off at 50% price.

I would rate Reliance fresh has now perfected its model of selling vegetable and fruits to a large extent.  They are able to access consumer demand and accordingly procure the items.  Secondly the staff play a major role in ensuring success of retail business, Finally pricing and schemes have been passed to the consumer.  Many malls have the habit of pasting revised price sticker as and when the price increases, which i feel is a retrograde step.  Instead they can  allow the consumer the benefit of old pricing for a few days, it would gain more consumer loyalty. Among the Malls i have visited i find that Reliance is one of the best managed.  

Negatives :  Complaints of wrong billing, Parking facility, Loyalty card tampering, etc have been noticed.

Butterfly in my Tummy

After a decade of using Philips Mixie, we decided to buy a new mixie. Some of our concerns before buying a brand were as follows : 

a) High wattage grinding power for Dosa batter.
b) Warranty 
coverage of 3 years.
c) Quality steel Jars for grinding.
d) Option of Four jars with Juicer option
e) Servicing network and Brand.

We evaluated various brand options such as Bajaj, Philips, Preeti, Sumeet, Usha, etc across all the malls and kitchen outlets. Some mixies met our criteria in terms of 4 jars, but on warranty front most of the mixies were offering only 1 year. However I suddenly remember one of my acquaintance happens to work for Butterfly group. I took a chance and got in touch with him. Hurray  he confirmed that Butterfly offers 3 guarantee for their mixies, which was really heartening.

Equipped with the information we approached their showroom at Double road, and chose Emerald Plus which suited the looks and our budget with a decent discount thrown in as an incentive. We decided to purchase the mixie and check out its features at home.  This mixie was close to Philips mixie which we were using.

The user manual and their demo CD has been well developed for users to initiate into the world of grinding. Some old myths were exploded, such cleaning of the mixie, just add a few drops of detergent powder and clean the jars to whip out all the hidden left overs under the blade seemed user friendly. Next coming to fine chopping carrots, coconuts, onions etc, usage of the small jar is ideal. Eureka we discovered a new way of cutting down the tears in the eyes after chopping onions. Juice making in their contraption was another experience altogether. Good bye to drudgery. Our minor request to the company too was also taken care promptly regarding the feature which we were always used to.  This feature was safety locking on the lid, otherwise the tendency of entire stuff being thrown off, due to internal pressure.

I am sure housewives around the country would opt. for in house manufactured brand of mixie. Some of the reputed brands have been outsourcing the product to large extent. When 3 years warranty is there to back up why worry was our motto. I am sure my wife will cook me delicious and yummy dishes with aid of Butterfly mixie. There will be more butterflies in my tummy to metabolise in future Lol. The best way to locate a store is get in touch with their office, since product is not widely distributed in view of the dealer dominated trade.  Dealers in the line of business determine the success of the brand depending on their margin.  Since i have worked for a kitchenware company i am perfectly aware of the trade psychology. 

Apollo Health Check Up experience

Apollo, we got carried away by the mega brand name. We shifted from our regular annual medical check up at Wockhardt, Cunnigham road to Apollo clinic Malleswaram. As a part of regular annual health check up for being diabetic, i have been following the routine to check on my sugar levels and triglyceride content in the blood.

To begin the saga, the location of Apollo clinic seems to an ideal venue, which can be easily spotted on the 5th cross just near the underpass. The primary advantage of this clinic is the limited parking facility in the basement, whereas Wockhardt does not have inside parking and we have to go early and park it on the main road itself or side roads or Valet parking is arranged.. After waiting for some time we underwent the fasting blood test procedure. Next to our surprise they said that there is no water facility and we cannot organise for breakfast. We just curiously checked with them they said they will give us 20 bucks rebate each for breakfast. I just told them please keep the change in your kitty we are advised to have a heavy breakfast and off we trudged to Halli Mane. We had a lovely breakfast in a hygenic atmosphere, puri, pongal and masala dosa. It was surprising to note that during postprandel blood test they recommend light breakfast. It was a contradictory opinion particularly for checking the diabetic variation.

Then we had chest x-ray taken and confirmed with the technician how many x-rays can we get exposed to in a lifetime, for which he did not have proper answer ? We moved on to ECG, which a Mallu Nurse quickly completing the procedure. The same nurse was engaged to complete the TMT procedure too. She was training the xray technician to undertake TMT procedure in future. I was able to withstand the stress test walk for 8 minutes which is a good tolerance level, i presume for 48 year old. Than we underwent post prandel blood test. The weighing was completed and to my surprise i had put on 2 kgs, which was a little let down.

We were supposed to undergo sonography or ultrasound to check on our abdomen kidney, lever, prostrate etc. The doctor concerned gave us the reading too, which i may not remember anyways, he seemed quite skillful. But before we underwent this procedure, we had to wait nearly 1 and half hours and we used our time to catch up with shopping, but one gentlemen was totally annoyed with the receptionist and he started blasting them left right and centre to have kept him on wait for 1 hour. The FIFO procedure too was given go by. We were first to arrive, but somebody who had come almost was made to undergo test first. Amazing technique was followed. The mineral water was to be provided which the clinic was not able to procure, so we bought 2 acquafina from the market and filled our gullet or bladder.

In the meanwhile my wife had to undergo gynaecology check which was given a go since the doctor concerned had packed up. My wife was upset, but anyways we asked them to keep all the reports ready for wednesday and we said we will be back to complete the rest of the check up in the evening. So the saga continues............Let me not come to any judgement till we undergo the balance part of diagonsis or health check package

Disclaimer : I would rather be neutral on recommending Apollo since first time around in Apollo mumbai in 2000 we had a nice check up and the right approach with plenty of breakfast to check diabetic parameter.  The review is on the franchisee of Apollo, one can expect deficiency in procedures and set up

Update : Yesterday we had been to Apollo to get the follow up on Phyician, Dental and optho, they were all professional to the core, except that timings was not maintained, luckily there is Kanti sweet restaurant and we had pav bhaji and alu tikki to pass time. Parking was not available. The reports were all in borderline and it was revealation that i have to walk the talk.  Once again the private canvassing of doctors to visit their clinic is a total let down.  It is obviously eating into the revenue of the parent organisation.  The example i have quoted in Fortis review holds good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Godrej Interior Experience

Prolouge :

One day Sridhar anna and self were having a small party at my residence.  We were happily dicussing various topics under the moon, obviously during night time.  Suddenly Sridhar anna collapsed along with the Lavina chair giving way.  Luckily destiny had better things in store for him, otherwise i would have to take him to a hospital for a broken hip joint or ribs. 

Now coming back to the brass tacks, we visited Godrej Lifespace in August 2006 and inspected various products on the offering.  Our main concern was durablility of the product rather than looks of the product, that is what Godrej meant to us as a consumer.  We selected Lavina dining table with 6 chairs, Steel double cot with 6x5 feet, Slimline 3 door cupboard with mirror and a dressing table.  An estimate of all the ordered goods was furnished by the Godrej salesperson.  We enquired regarding the delivery of the products, their standard reply was ASAP.  We drew a DD or pay order  towards full payment of the material which was approximately 42 K in favour of Godrej and remitted the same with 3 days. 
Our travails with the Godrej way of servicing the customer started.  After 3 days i rang up to the concerned salesperson with whom i struck the deal, to my surprise he uttered that in due course the delivery will be effected.  Again after two days when i checked up the billing sales person ( executive ) revealed that the concerned salesman has taken off on leave for his marriage.  Ok i wanted to know if he is on his honeymoon i do not want to disturb him.  She confirmed with next two days our materials will be delivered.  Of course after two days the dented slimline cupboard and our double cot was delivered.  Again after two days an outsourced mechanics arrived to fix up the slimline and cot.  After fixing we noticed the dent of the cupboard, we asked him and he said it is a defective piece.  The locking mechanism of the cupboard too was defective.  Than an inspector was deputed to certify replacement.  The replacement took 3 months to arrive from Mumbai.  We understand the delay since it has to be indented and than manufactured. 

Our experience with the cot too was funny.  Being in the mattresses business i understand that a RC coir mattress requires a firm support, but Godrej sales person advised me to use a mattress without a plywood.  The cot was squeaking with a foam mattress of Sleepwell and it was a horror to sleep with nightmarish metallic music as one rolls over.  If one has a sexual encounter on such a rattling cot you can imagine the symphony it generated.  Lol.  I ordered for a classical heavyduty rubberised mattress from Sunidra, where my friend was working.  I thought my problem of sleeping with metallic harmony would be over but alas it persisted with much lesser degree.  Than i had to order a plywood support for the cot.  This helped me solve the noise problem to 90% satisfaction. 

But the horror of dining table  chairs is still haunting me.  One by one chairs collapsed despite rare usage during parties.  We have long given up the luxury of having dinner on the dining table, I now have it on my computer table and my wife on the sofa.  The dining table and chairs were delivered after a month and half.  Now my friends are shocked what type of Godrej chairs are manufactured, the entire design is faulty otherwise how will a steel chair collapse, if it cannot bear 90 kg weight what is the use of going for Godrej.  I am only hoping against hope for solutions.  Otherwise one day while the shareholders are meeting in their AGM I plan to donate the chairs to the chairman of the company with best compliments. 

With regard to the dressing table the product was never delivered.  We had to collect our refund.  Overall if you want to experience how marketing should not be undertaken than go for Godrej, on the hindsight you may have many more capricious stories to tell to the world.  I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of buying Godrej and living with them.  I would like to thank my stars, since the price of Slimline has shot up from Rs 12000 to 18500, at least i ended up saving 33% for an early decision.  Slimline was worth our investment.


Update : One Ms Shilpa has written to me after Shalu has forwarded the complaint to them, she asked me for my address and contact no, i have forwarded the same. 

Waiting for resolution ( May 2010 )

Currently I am a shareholder of the company, still i have to undergo this horror of an experience without resolution, i shudder to think of ordinary customers.  I would recommend guys better to go for Godrej Seconds, the quality you get for the price is worth it. Lolz.

This review was posted in and the problem was resolved after a number of comments from various members condemning the after sales service attitude of Godrej. 

THANK YOU GODREJ, I have received the repaired chairs from your company. The quality of repair has to be seen to be believed, only the veneer is peeled off. They did not even bother to collect Rs 800/-. All is well that ends well is the morale of the story. ( 15th September 2010 )

Disclaimer :  All the above experiences have been sent to the company in writing, I got a loyalty card from the company in response but resolution to the collapsed chairs 4 in nos and rest 2 is also on the verge of collapse is overdue.  The salesmen who sold me the products is still on honeymoon i suppose.

Whirlpool Washing Machine

When we decided to upgrade from Videocon semi-automatic to fully automatic, we were apprehensive how to select the best so that it lasts at least for 10 years. 
We studied the various options Samsung, Videocon, Haier, IFB, etc.  We narrowed on Videocon and Whirlpool.  When it came to change we thought Whirlpool seems to be purely a white goods manufacturer and with their international collaboration should deliver us good value proposition.

We finally bought the machine in Jan 2005, and got the extended warranty made at Rs 1600/- so it was covered upto 10th Jan 2010.  Well it was really worth the buy.  The operation is simple with pulsator technology which rinses and washes the clothes very efficiently.  The automatic setting is basically fine tuned to the load on the machine.  High water, Medium and Low water settings are basically designed for optimum wash  cycle.The extended warranty scheme now in vogue is a ripper, the company has hiked up the charges to more than 4 times the original price.  An extended warranty for 5 years could cost at least Rs 6000/-, instead one should use their washing machine with care and look for insurance options.

We faced the following problems during the 5 years of operation were in the nature of  plastic under protector got damaged in transhipment from Mumbai to Bangalore.  We called up the service and they came and replaced it by charging us Rs 240/- no service charge was levied.  Secondly there was a drag sound emanting from the machine, it was also corrected by the technician within warranty.

Around 5 years when the machine started vibrating we complained almost on the last day.  The technician bought all the replacement springs and changed it.  It was great feeling since the next day onwards the warranty would have expired.  Meanwhile the service engineer suggested we should go for attaching hardwater conversion filter.  It costed us Rs 1800/- which we reluctantly undertook.  We found little difference to the washing efficiency.

Basically when your ground borewell water is hard than a good detergent in surf excell would take care of  the wash.  There is a special pack of Surf EXCEL  which clearly mentions converts hard into soft water.  The alum in the detergent takes care of it.  Next time buy it for a better wash whichever washing machine you are using.

One important thing for washing machine users, once a year one needs to clean the messy residue using a special cleansing powder, which is sold by Whirlpool.  A 40 gm pack cost 135, which is quite hefty, of course they believe in making hefty margins on after sales products.  I hope they get down the price of this cleanser.  It should cost a maximum of  60 bucks, even than the company will be earning 200% margin.  They insist on you buying the entire pack of  6 nos which is negative.   The company suggests you cleanse using this powder every month.  It depends on your load of washing, if you wash once a week or twice a week, once a year is fine.

Overall Whirlpool works wonders for those who own it and use it with care, do not spray water on the electronic panel, it is bound to spoil the motherboard.  This product is value for money, back up service is their forte.  

Purchase Price 12 k, extended warranty Rs 1600 for 3 years, now the company seems to have raised this warranty fees

Fortis Master Health Check Up

This review is related to  Master Health Check up undertaken by my family at  Fortis, Cunningham Road Bangalore, which was earlier Wochardt heart hospital.   The review has nothing to do with the cardiology department for which it is was earlier famous.  

The process of appointment and registeration is seemingly smooth after a span of 4 years from Wockhardt days.  Anybody visiting Fortis for Master Health check is advised to check out which day the rush is less or the number of patients already registered.   This will determine how much time one has to spend in the premises for completing the health check up.  Normally the facilities can handle upto 15 patients smoothly within 4 hours.  It is advisable to avoid holidays since the process will be delayed bottleneck being threadmill test  Blood check up procedure is not regulated on FIFO basis , which was our first observation.  This happens because the patient go the blood bank directly without hinderence, when others are waiting.  A system of issual of token would be in order.  The blood bank guys can call out the token numbers or names.   

During our Mumbai days when we used to attend to medical check up we were advised to have full meals or breakfast and return for checking the PP after 2 hours.  What we found in Fortis they have limited option of  Sandwich, Idly and Set Dosa.  I opted for set dosa which suited my advice.  It is better to have additional breakfast at Chandrika hotel nearby.   The seating arrangement is only for 8 members, which seems to be average crowd for medical check up.  Weekends there may be 20 or more, for which seating arrangements are not available at present.  There is full fledged room which needs to be renovated for operating as restaurant.  In case it rains the canopy is not sufficient, so better avoid during rainy season. 

TMT is a bottleneck in this hospital for medical check up.  There are two machines only one machine is operational currently due to shortage of staff.  The staff  too keep changing and their skills on operational matter is doubtful.  My wife was refused TMT because her BP reading was 196 / 120 and she was asked to consult the physician.  Within 5 minutes her reading 160/100 when she went to check up ECG.  How can such variation occur within 10 minutes is matter of intense speculation.  The treadmill which is on standby is better than what is normally used for test in terms of gradation.  Maybe the norms have changed, or is it the lack of space ? 

Sonagraphy test which checks kidney, prostrate and lever seems to be upto the mark.  If one questions the operator one can get an insight into their condition, particularly if one is detected with stones, prostrate enlargement and fatty lever.  Accordingly one can go to the concerned doctor for futher treatment.   

Chest x ray facility is good, but there is a question mark on how many exposures one can have in a life time, particularly for individuals undergoing tests every year.  One needs to find an answer for this since the technicians answers are not reliable. 

ECG reading and procedure are simple and quick too.  But how far the physicians check the utility of the reports is a matter of conjecture.  Ideally ECG should be conducted before TMT, but i was asked to undergo TMT first and than ECG which is strange i thought, but it saved me time. 

Dental check up is not included in the master health check up, even dietician consultation is not included.  Gynaecology consultation is included in the test for lady patients.   If one wants to undergo some other tests there is additional charge for each of the test.  Earlier instance there was goof up on pregnancy test  of my wife, however it was not FORTIS management than. 

 Opthmology test was little more detailed for me this time around since I am diabetic for almost 8 years now.  I was doused with a spirit and asked to sit for 20 minutes, to check the retina condition.  It is believed that Retina damage can be serious if the diabetic sugar levels are not under control.  The doctor advised me get check up at intervals of 6 month obviously thinking that i am on company reimbursement plan.  He gave me his private visiting card.  I believe most of the opthomology tests are conducted free of charge by Titan care or Vision express, but if one does not faith in their test, it is better to visit an ophthomologist, at least once a year particularly for diabetics.

One of the major flaws in corporate health check up is outsourcing of doctors, majority of the specialist are in the category of consultants without loyalty to the organisation.  Most of these so called consultant doctors want  the patients to visit their clinic for private and futher consultations, which will be a huge drain on the hospital income.  For example one Dentist who acted as consultant in Apollo quoted Rs 250 per cosmetic filling for 8 tooth.  We got the entire filling done for Rs 120/- just imagine the ripper of quote.  So it is CAVEAT EMPTOR, when it comes to private consultation guys.

Disclaimer :  Being a shareholder of  Fortis at the time of  writing this review  I have tried to present a neutral and factual picture, ignoring the fact that i have an axe to grind Lolz.

Mediplus Pharmacy

I have been shopping with Medi plus for the past 3 years. Initially they were offering 5% discount for people below 60 on prescription drugs.. Later 10% was offered unilaterally for all customers. The basic advantage of purchasing with Medi plus is not only for discounts, but to ensure that medicine are not fake or duplicates. I hope they keep up their quality standards by sourcing from the original manufacturers. The recent trend of marketing their own product under their brand name is disturbing. On these products they are offering 15% discount. Will they be able to keep a strict vigil on the quality, since these outsourced product will offering if not 50% margin or more profit to the company.  

 "Medicines are delicate items. If not produced under proper conditions they will not work effectively. If not stored at the right temperatures they will loose their potency. Unfortunately, it has been found that as many as 30% of the drugs produced in India could be fake or substandard. To make matters worse over 75% of unbranded medical shops do not use air conditioning, despite the Drugs and Cosmetics Act mandating the storage of medicines under 25°C. Why put your health at risk?

 Why is this so important? With approximately 20,000 drug manufacturers in India, telling the difference between a good company and a substandard one becomes difficult for consumers. To cut costs, unethical manufacturers produce drugs in plants which do not meet approved standards, reduce the amount of active ingredient in a medicine, and add ingredients which should not be in a drug to begin with. The resulting lack of purity and efficacy in a medicine can cause serious health risks to a consumer.

Unfortunately, in many instances these substandard medicines are sold with the full knowledge of the retailer. Seeking to make a little more profit, the retailer accepts these medicines and passes them on to unsuspecting consumers. The retailer may even pay doctors for referring patients who have been prescribed these questionable medicines." source Mediplus website. 

There are more than 600 Mediplus outlets located across south India according to their website. The claim that all their stores are AC is a misnomer, since most of them have AC but it is never operated, may be a cost saving drive is undertaken. The location of the stores is quite aptly selected. Stocking of the popular range of medicines is undertaken without flaw, but some medicines they run out of stock, which they arrange to procure from nearby branches of theirs. This service is very useful. The promise of home delivery is mostly not honoured due to staff shortage. In fact i had given 19 K worth of medicine order and they gave excuses to deliver the medicines @ home. We had to collect it from their counter. This was a shocker to us, but my friend needed the one year supplies very badly since he was travelling abroad. We compromised on their default. I am surprised that the company did not acknowledge this record billing of 19 K to us as a customer. ( R. Pandurang )  Yesterday when i went to purchase Nonil they curtly replied that they don t have stock of the product nor it is listed in their dossier or catalouge.  This was surprising, what i would have expected from them is to arrange for supply of alternative, at least the suggestion, which they did not give. It obviously shows that they are careless in discharging their duty.  In fact many a times i found the salesmen canvassing extra quantity of the same medicine or OTC product to increase billing to achieve their targets.

The staff are mostly well behaved and enthusiastic in promoting sales. Majority of the times computerised billing is effected so that we are not cheated. Sometimes they adopt manual billing, which should be avoided since price calculation can go awry against us. But last time around my friend got the benefit of 350 bucks on manual billing. The salesmen was taken to task i believe. Overall i would definitely recommend Mediplus for buying medicine with a Caevet, which is applicable to all purchases in general.

Epilouge :  Of late i have noticed that despite advance information Mediplus is unable to procure a particular brand of medicine, there seems to be something wrong in replenishment or order system.  The staff seems to be casual in indenting and follow up.

Reliance Reliable ?

The big dilemma when you recruit is whether to stick to merit or go for recommended candidate. On the hindsight my decision to recruit AB purely on his merit and all round capability proved to be the right decision. I chose to recruit AB ( not to be mistaken for Amitabh Bachhan Lol ) for his sheer integrity and versatile character. After advertising for a vacancy one tends to get lot of prospective candidates particularly if a company happens to be Kurl-on which is a market leader. One dynamic lady too applied for the post, but she made a mistake of calling up my boss and putting pressure on me indirectly to recruit. I refused to bog down to peer pressure and i am happy i made the right choice and selected AB for the vacant post..........oops sorry guys for the digression, but it is relevant to this review on Reliance landline connection.

One fine August day i received a call from one acquaintance stating that Reliance Landline is the best, i said why not send your rep i will go for it. I was wary of BSNL at that point of time, and i was happy with their broad band experience. On 16/8/2006 I filled in the forms and gave the cheque in favour of B.V.Telecom for Rs 1350 for landline connection from Reliance. I complied with all the formalities for getting the connection for my office, with id proof, residential address proof, PAN card, etc.
I was promised landline connection within 3 days, but after a week i received a call stating that my connection has been refused since i don t possess a gas connection. This was height of ridiculous statement that i have come across. Landline refused for want of gas connection for an office. I accepted the decision of Reliance representative gracefully and requested for refund of my hard earned money which was already encashed by the distributor.
The horror story began, i ran from pillar to post to get my refund. The distributor switched his address twice from his original location. All the Reliance representatives started refusing attending to phone calls after checking out the number being displayed. They must have obviously marked my name as idiot or danger.
Next option to me was to communicate to their customercare, who responded with request to furnish them details of deposit paid etc. All their customercare executives were only promising resolution, but promises were never meant to be kept. Meanwhile i went in search of the acquaintance who had recommended, she too had vanished from her job. Now i started doubting whether Reliance is really reliable ?

I went to Reliance world at Cunningham road and expressed my problem encountered with refund. They just feigned ignorance despite being their regular customer for broadband. Here too i noticed lot of manipulation on pre-paid purchase of broad band time, wherein employees pocketed the surplus on bulk scheme. However since it was centrally located i used the connection regularly day in day out. I was happy with the broadband speed.
The easiest thing was now to approach the consumer court to get redressal, but that is not what a hardcore marketing professional would do. It is perseverance which pays. I started regularly sending reminders, but hopes started diminishing day by day. Time flew now it was nearing 4 years.
One fine day i came to know our AB was working for Reliance group company in Mumbai, i just casually referred the problem to him. He asked me to send me all the correspondence and details to his e-mail id, which i gleefully obliged. He forwarded the same to his contact at Rel com. Behold there was a call from Sa. She said she wanted all the details and bank statement etc. I furnished the same. Again there was a lull.

One fine day she said my problem is resolved, oh my goodness at last my hard earned money is getting refunded i thought. But they refused to pay me by means of a cheque ? i gave them an alternative why not debit the draft or pay order charges and send me draft to my address. She said it is not possible. I was compelled to go to their office and collect the cash ? I had to express my dissatisfaction that after nearly four years you are settling the amount that too without interest. I have to spend my valuable time and money to travel all the way to other extreme corner to collect my legitimate due. Minus Rs 150 bucks fuel expense Lol. She said that the distributor is sacked, which i take it with a pinch of salt. All the concerned have quit the company etc. What surprised me was her statement that i made a mistake of giving cheque in the name of the franchisee. At that point of time only franchisee were authorised to collect deposit, which i had questioned later. Anyways she hand over a cover with cash for Rs 1350/- to bring the refund issue to its logical conclusion.

Anyways ALL IZZ WELL that ends well, it is now for you all to judge whether Reliance is Reliable or not.

Kent RO water purifier

Earlier we used to buy Bisleri in 20 litre can costing Rs 50/-.  In june 2007 we decided to go for KENT RO, and called for the salesperson.  He landed next day at our doorstep.  We were impressed by his detailing and demo on the quality of our borewell water.  The impurity level was around 170 and we decided that we would go for RO, but the price was quite exhorbitant @ Rs 15500/- for Kent Grand.  I bargained and got a hefty discount from the Kent Incharge.

Next day he landed with the product and installed at my residence, and did not even bother to collect the payment.  Meanwhile my sister with her three kids landed from Paris, and they were treated with KENT RO purified water.  They are used to good water abroad and Kent RO passed the test without upsetting their tummies.  When it came to payment i was little cautious, i told them i would like to make payment directly in the name of the company, KENT RO SYSTEMS, Noida.  It was my experience that in most cases the distributor or dealer will not be fully committed to providing service.  My precaution paid off since there was a dispute between the company and distributor.  The distributor refused to send his service personnel for mandatory service after six months.  He was giving some excuse or the other, than i sent a sms stating that I am filing a police complaint against the MD of the company.  The distributor suddenly realised the gravity of the situation and than rushed the service person to attend to the problem.  It was basically cleaning the sedimentary filter.  The company is supposed to provide two free service at interval of six months.  The second service was never honoured.

Now after usage of the product for 2 1/2 years,  the time has come for change of the carbon filter, sedimentary filter and a small filter according to the service personnel.  I was promised that I will be charged max Rs 500/- for changing all the spares and service.  But to my surprise i find that the cost has escaled to Rs 1050.  Changing of the filters is basically a simple job, which should be taught to each and every consumer at the time of purchase, levying a service charge of Rs 250/- for service is a put off.

I have experienced that any product costing more than Rs 12 K should offer minimum 3 years warranty so that the customer recovers the cost of investment.  For example SONY H3 camera is offering 3 years warranty.  I got my flash and Lens mechanism changed under warranty.  Similarly we had extended warranty scheme from Whirlpool for Rs 1600/- for 3 years along with 2 years warranty.  The refridgerator too is covered under 7 years extended warranty scheme for Rs 1300/-  Thus any reputed mfg should offer value for money in terms of longevity of the product.

The current models are now manufactured with water level indicator, computer controlled operation for filter change and UV fail alarm which is pretty useful alert.  Unfortunately we don t have this in our old model.  The built in SMPS has taken care of the voltage fluctuations which is prevalent to a large extent nowerdays.

One complaint is that the company has not passed on the excise duty relief which was passed in the budget, the company should have announced boldly the price cut.  I hope the company implements 3 to 5 years extended warranty scheme without fail at reasonable cost.  We would definitely like to recommend the product provided if the company implements the suggestion.  We are satisfied with product ulitility.  If the company does not implement the suggestions it is better we revert to buying Bisleri cans rather than buying another water purifier.  At least it will help in employment generation in India.

Epilouge : The after sales and service of  Kent is a suspect.  The change of  carbon filter, motor, sedimentary filter etc is quite high.  It could be as much as Rs 5000/- for every two years depending on the consumption of water.  Instead it would be prudent to go for a Bisleri can of 20 litres instead of  depending on after sales.  If one takes into consideration cost benefit analysis, i would go for Bisleri mineral water in 20 litres can which is regularly supplied by your neighbourhood kirana wala at Rs 60 per can.  For us it would be maximum Rs 300 per month, which would mean Rs 3600 per annum.  Just multiply by 4 it would mean 14400/- whereas in RO technology one has to invest additionally Rs 3000/- for changing the filters once in two years.  Please do your calculation according to your consumption.  I am struck with Kent and waiting for it break down in another year or so requiring replacement Lolz.