Tuesday, July 23, 2013

E-Commerce Diaries Part 1: Myntra pickup guy is trained to treat all customers as dubious!

Either I am terribly unlucky to be on the wrong side of the customer service of almost all e-commerce companies I have transacted with in last 9 months, or something is systematically wrong about all of them at the same time.

Let's take the latest case first: Myntra. The word in the market is that Myntra has among the best service across all e-commerce companies in India. Ironically, I am standing at a juncture that I don't think I will order with them for a lot of time to come for the reason of (abysmal) service quality.

This is the off season for most apparel companies. Enticed by the heavy discounts, we ordered two sports sandals on June 26th, my first ever apparel order on e-commerce. True to Myntra's reputation, the products did arrive in a jiffy. On trying, we realized that both the sandals were of the wrong size. So we called the customer care and they took the return/exchange requests. One of the products was indeed picked up the very next day! So far I was impressed!

Here is the interaction I had with the delivery man who came to pick up the second sandal (July 3):

Sujeet (The delivery man): "Sir, the sticker is intact and this product looks unused, but I can notice a few specks of dust on the back of the left sandal. Did you use it?" 
Me: "No, we only tried it for a couple of minutes only to realize that it was not a fit. It was never used or cleaned" 
Sujeet: "Sir, unfortunately, we just had a training in which the company informed us of a change in policy. We have been asked not to accept any order which we may suspect is used. If I take this and the Quality Assurance team does not accept it, I will have to bear the cost of this product from my pocket." 
Me: "What kind of logic is it when you can also see this doesn't look used, you will not accept it? Can I speak to your supervisor" 
Sujeet: "Sure." (He now calls his 'boss') 
Me: "How can you not accept something which is so clean? Do you expect us to not even try it?" 
Boss: "Sir, we don't know whether you used it or not. We are only in the logistics department or the company and we have to work according to the policy. Please call up Bangalore office and we will take this back if they take a decision in this regard." 

My expectation of 'empowering' customer service and 'customer delight' from Myntra just vanished in thin air. Having no other option, I clicked a few pictures and uploaded them on the site on July 9. They promptly sent an email promising a revert within 'three business days'. Then there was no update from them for a week. On July 16th, I had to call to elicit a response. After a 22 min long customer service call, I was promised that this order would be picked in another three days. Upon asking why wasn't the promise in the previous email kept, I was told this happened because I chose the 'wrong sub-option' on the returns form. What a brilliant excuse!

Sure enough, a pickup man did arrive the next day. On this occasion the same product was acceptable to him and his QA team and my refund was processed back to Myntra cash. I thought this would be end of my woes with Myntra.

To use the cash we just received, we ordered another two sandals on July 21. This time we were at least sure about the size of sandals. True to its reputation, the orders were delivered in two days flat. But guess what, one of the pairs is covered with dust, has scratches and appears as if it was lying un-boxed in a warehouse for a long time. If Myntra was training its people to be so hard-nosed about accepting borderline cases in returns, how can the same team deliver much dirtier products and expects the customer to be okay with them? I so wish there was one shop-owner I could shout at. 

Something seems to be terribly wrong with the way we build customer focused companies in India. Even while we know that customer is king (I am sure Myntra surely believes so!), the processes on ground are created with a false objective of 'efficiency', even if that turns customers away like nothing else.

Although the various discounts offers in my inbox will keep enticing me, I will surely think twice before ordering apparel online.

[This is first of a series of blog posts that outline my experience with e-commerce companies in India. In the coming episodes, I will outline experience with Indiatimes ShoppingFlipkartShopClues and ZoomIn. If any of these sites want to touch base with me, I tweet at @arpiit]