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b0rken, unethical practices,

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2010 March 23 [Tuesday]


Last week, I had to urgently fly back to North America on a personal emergency and given the urgency of the situation, at around 08:10 hrs IST on Mar17, I logged onto flightnetwork.com to book two tickets, one departing from Chennai in the wee early hours of Mar18 and planned to do the BLR-MAA route by car. 

IME, the e-tickets are usually emailed within an hour but when both credit cards were debited multiple times, with no sign of the e-ticket until noon, I tweeted and dented and also filled out a customer service form with dimming hope on the Flightnetwork website.

The easier option was to call the airline before leaving Bangalore, so I called up JetAirways to confirm that I _was_ booked and confirmed to fly out within 12 hours. I didnt want to reach Chennai and learn that I didnt have a confirmed ticket.  But, as I suspected, Jet said that flightnetwork.com had not sent them the booking details --This despite my credit card being debited in Dollars by flightnetwork.com, within one hour after booking via their search engine/travel portal for both tickets actually.

The Jet Airways staff understood the emergency and were kind enough to issue me a PNR despite the flightnetwork.com not sending them the booking details on time. I explained that I could not call the portal office as it was outside of their office hours and left BLR for MAA hoping that it was just a software glitch and the email would arrive en-route.

Nothing of that sort happened.

We reached Chennai at 7:30pm, my flight a mere four hours away from departure and the portal had still not sent me the e-ticket. Jetair kept insisting that even though they had issued me a PNR, the portal had to send them the details.  In desperation, I called the Flightnetwork.com help desk from Chennai only to be connected to Ms.AM after 3-4 multiple attempts. I gave her the reservation code and when asked why my bookings were not confirmed after 12 hours had passed, she yells back "do you want to argue or let me book it now?".  Err...what was she and flightnetwork.com doing for 12+ hours then?

Ms.AM was rude, belligerent and argumentative, despite the emergency situation being explained to her, after much prodding gave me the wrong e-ticket booking number, blamed the delay on "quality checks", etc ... and disconnected the line when I asked to speak to the manager.

Pft$@^$... puhleze, a quality check when my flight was leaving in around 4 hours and I didnt have a ticket? Kidding me? Strangely, the flightnetwork.com software system was prompt enough to issue instructions to debited both credit cards as soon as the tickets were booked (more than 12 hours earlier) but failed to issue tickets--especially since their TOS clearly states 'no refunds' for missed flights. What a scam!

To cut a long story short, I managed to travel that day because the Jet Airways staff were polite, understood what customer service was about in an emergency, were prompt enough to issue my tickets (against just a PNR) after taking the portal name and booking reservation numbers.

Flightnetwork.com's CTO had seen my tweets, emailed me and apologised, I had replied, and that was that. I thought it sums up my stressful 12-hour experience with flightnetwork.com and I travelled on. Wrong....there was more ...read on.

However, later that day, an employee from the sales team sends me this email:

Thank you for sending us your email. In regards to your concern that you had not received your electronic tickets, kindly note our office hours are between 9:00am EST to 10:00pm EST, so we were unable to send you your electronic ticket until we were open. When emails are sent to sales there is also a message generated to advise we will answer within 24 to 48 business hours as they do take time to distribute.

Please note we have sent your ticket this morning however I have just resent it to you in case you did not receive it. The ticket was issued last night, which means if you were to cancel there would be a cancellation fee of $200.00 CAD and then you would receive a refund to your credit card.

If you would still like to cancel please call us at 1-800-671-5032 as our agents would be happy to assist you. We are open until 9:30pm EST tonight.

24 to 48 business hours? WTF? seriously, what if I am in an emergency and my flight leaves within 12 hours of booking? What is the traveller supposed to do? ... wait for your operational 24 to 48 business hours to travel? 

Its the "I dont care a damn about you" attitude reflecting in his email and scant regard for the paying traveller that prompted me to blog about my lousy experience doing business with flightnetwork.com.

I'd rather stick to cheaptickets.com or my local travel agent --the latter, besides getting me the same route for 100 dollars less, would never use weasel words like 'quality checks', non-office hours and TOS. He just delivers sans the marketing jargon and crappy excuses. Period.

2008 April 27 [Sunday]

exciting weekend

my weekend could not have begun on a more exciting note. Someone in KEB decided to celebrate "earth weekend" and switched off power for a particular phase early saturday morning. so just a few of the houses have no power in the sweltering summer. As if the excitement of doing my bit for the environment by crashing into objects in the darkness was not fun enough, i managed to lock myself out of the house... Oh, Joy !!
/end sarcasm.

2007 May 19 [Saturday]

indian blog spammers

Spam on blog comments is not new but off-late it has been increasing. Since the last year or more, the maximum visitors were from USA among other countries. Lately India has topped the list comprising 61.46% of the total visitors to my blog.

The old theory that Windows machines are taken over by viruses and become spam bots in return is not completely true, because the maximum visitor comments on my blog was from a machine running the Firefox 1.0.7 browser with Linux as its OS located in India with the host being : triband-mum- (, who left around a 100 comments on a single blog entry.

Well, outsourcing has aided the Indian economy and how.... we now have local spammers who have learnt to use Gnu/Linux in such a commercially productive way. Ideally I would have kept comments open but now am a reluctant moderator on the verge of turning off all comments which seems to be an unfriendly option.

addendum : How to make the life of a spammer even more easy

2006 August 3 [Thursday]

false advertising

Most phone/cell companies sell their phone users database to telemarketers without user-consent which is something we live with, even through calls at odd moments when companies try to sell X/Y/Z credit cards and so on… but recently an advertising agency has been trying to palm off tobacco products as health-related products. (Those were the exact words used !!)
The sales agent would not give out the name of the tobacco manufacturing company, which I guess would be revealed only if I heard the longish information pitch, rather she kept insisting that this tobacco product was healthy (sic) as it contained lower amounts of tobacco when compared to other brands of cigarettes. Despite asking to take my number off the database the call center does not give up.

Advertising and marketing products with typical jargon twisting is one thing (maybe even justifiable) but using the convoluted logic that a tobacco-product is healthy as it had a lower tobacco content, hence can be marketed as a health product (exact words used by 3 different agents) is an outright falsification of years of tobacco-related scientific cancer research. India has a substantial illiterate population and millions of teenagers who ape their film star’s on-screen smoking antics, all easy prey for such products but more disturbing is the involvement of Indian companies who dont spare a thought for the disastrous health consequences.

2006 July 6 [Thursday]

water water everywhere

... and not a drop to drink !

Just kidding ... but its heart-warming (and jaw-aching :-)) to answer calls from frantic friends and family who are justifiably concerned when they see pictures flashed across all the news channels and print media about your once-upon-a-time beautiful, turned stinking, currently sinking city being in disaster mode aided by the complete collapse of civic services and basic infrastructure grinding to a halt with the advent of torrential rains since the last 5 days. Will this be a repeat of last year or 26/7 as its commonly known? Who knows ... I sure hope not.

The Municipal body recieves crores of rupees as revenue each year for civic infrastructure but cite inadequate funding coupled with continued migration of people into the already over-pupulated city as the reason for the current situation. This is farthest from the truth as you can get. Being an island city is just one part of the picture, rather the proliferation of slums has everything to do with the Municipal authorities turning a blind eye and is not due to a lack of funds as they like to claim.

The reality is nobody knows if the existing funds are being utilised properly since corruption has always been closer than a shadow in each politician(s) life. Migration occurs in other cities in India too with people looking for a better quality of life but quickly realise that life in the big city is not as rosy as depicted in Hindi films. Too late... the harsher aspects of city life here is something people quickly adapt to without complaining just like R.K.Lakshman's Common Man but that does not mean the authorities are not responsible or accountable to the citizens and they should be doing a better job of handling the civic infrastructure properly.

Forget Singapore and Shanghai, we just need proper roads and a decent sewage system.... Is that too much to ask ? If these problems were not enough, the advent of rains always brings with it a viral attack (or flu) and despite avoiding street food its not something you can escape however careful you may be. So for now its simple fare like bissi-belle-hulli-anna and pongal till things get better.

2006 April 21 [Friday]

empty vision

The vision for Bharti's mobile business is :

To be globally admired for telecom services that delight customers.

ironically, as a customer i was left behind but today, the role reversal and tactics employed by some companies leave much to be desired and certainly dont delight me || to retain a certain category of customers, just deliver the promised service being paid for rather than harassing them to stay on ||

2005 November 22 [Tuesday]

customary diligence

yesterday i got a showcause notice (letter) from the ever diligent customs and excise commissioner for the ubuntu free cd's package which had arrived in early november and is sitting in the ballard estate office for about a month now. The hard(ly) working officers found time to draft a letter only 2 weeks ago which is understandable ..... there are bigger tonnage goods in terms of moolah than this small package of cd's. However any opportunity to keep a steady cash inflow is never wasted and the letter reached me after travelling the grand distance of 30 km in a week's time.

reading every printed alphabet on the sheet of not-so white paper, i finally discovered the phone number on the top-left hand corner ... anything smaller and i would need a microscope to view the secret numbers.

finally (close to noon) my frantic calls were answered by a voice at the other end who politely summarized reality very succintly, meaning :: "dont call me, come to the office, give me the cash and your packet will be released...no questions asked ..., else be prepared to do the rounds of various agencies/departments located in different parts of the city".  Am i glad that i did not travel 60 km (up and down), with only an entirely unproductive, wasted day to show for it.

meanwhile i plan to get my ubuntu cd's package released inspite of the chai-pani (read, bribe). This charter makes an interesting read while i await the ubuntu cd's in roughly another 2-3 weeks time ... patience is the name of the game ;-)