Results are in from the “WORST PRODUCT AND SERVICE OF THE YEAR AWARDS”, conducted by the Consumer Guidance Society of India.
THE WORST PRODUCT 2008: ICICI Credit Cards
THE WORST SERVICE BRAND 2008: Airtel
One can imagine that ICICI’s credit card division is much reviled, if not for its charming debt recovery tactics, then certainly because the behaviour it enables – making people pay for stuff without worrying about paying for it – guarantees a certain degree of buyer’s remorse. We can only hope that this award proves a leading indicator that India will come to its senses before becoming pathological about credit. There are signs that our experiment with “leveraged” living is fading in the downturn, but that’s nothing a little cheap credit can’t reverse…
Airtel, on the other hand, has almost certainly fallen from grace because of its disastrous mid-year service outage in Mumbai. This entire, long running episode was handled extremely ineptly by the company. Subscribers were served flat-out lies via SMS about the improving health of its network and had to face a frustrating miasma of connection issues months into the crisis and long after Airtel had triumphantly assured everyone that service was back to normal.
Note: The total sample of the survey (in both categories) is 176 respondents, so, while the marketing folks at these companies need not commit hara kiri on their abbys as yet, they might count on good discipline to suggest that any criticism, especially customer outrage, should be taken to heart.