This practice runs across Indian service providers, from insurance agents to carpenters.
This is not a column about insurance. Even though it could be. And possibly should be. Since insurance companies and their agents desperately need a stringent code of ethics. Or a separate manual. With rigorous physical training thrown in. A sort of boot camp in manners.
This column piggybacks on their torture trail to illustrate another great Indian habit, called passing the buck. It all starts rather innocuously. Invariably with a simple phone call. The context is always the same: your policy renewal is due, can we help you with this process. You like that. You really like that someone else is keeping track of your needs and taking the time to follow up. There are so many times I have wished that a system of reminders existed across the board. From my dentist reminding me that six months are up to my hair colourist telling me my greys are out of control. But this wonderful habit is offset by what happens next. A multi-pronged attack conducted over constant phone calls by anyone in the company who can access your number. Soon, you try and change your number but the telecom companies are part of this conspiracy, so to no avail. After four months of the most ridiculous conversations and slanging matches about policy choices, an email finally arrives. You think this is the end and you write back selecting one. Predicting the end of bad days.
Instead, that’s when they amp up the attack. Fresh troops are sent in. The phone calls quadruple. The timings are varied to catch you at your most vulnerable. And that’s when the blame game starts. “Madam, why aren’t you telling us where we can collect the cheque?” “Madam, why aren’t you choosing the policy we want to give you?” “Madam, why aren’t you taking our calls at 10pm — we are only doing our job.” You remind yourself over and over again, they are doing your work. You cut the cheque and hope the matter ends there. It still doesn’t. My insurance agent came up with an entirely new plan that hadn’t been communicated to me and told my driver it was this or nothing. When I called to question the high-handedness of the approach, they blamed my driver. Once again, I was told, “But we told him!” Arguing that it was