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So much for customer care… April 10, 2010

Posted by prasadhms in Pickles.
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I was on an international flight last evening and like most of my flights there was something interesting to capture on this one too. I was flying with a friend and the seats in front of ours was occupied by an old South Indian couple…one of those who’ve probably seen the world and old enough to expect shoes to be polished to a shine even if it was a suede!  The knot in the story was tied way before take off when the stewardess walked around to mark the vegetarian seats and did so rightly for the two where the couple sat. Guess they’d marked themselves as vegetarians during the booking of their tickets. The marking was over and the pilot got off with his job of lifting us off the ground…I often have this imagery of Hanuman lifting Sanjeevani mountain when the pilots lift the metal bird up! Then the most awaited “feeding the fanatics” scene opened out. Trolleys being pushed, food trays being passed, drinks being poured and aluminium foil being crushed. The trays landed on the couple’s tables and then it was “Lights Camera…anddd Action!”. Our old gentleman with the beret and his partner who had pushed her sleeping blinder to her forehead to check out the food…blew their fuse over the food that was served. We thought the reason for the furore was probably the serving of chicken vindaloo in place of mutter aaloo! But the issue was apparently the absence of rice in their dish…as the fight with the crew captain continued, my friend and I watched with a giggle after taking a ‘sneak preview’ inside our dish and found rice there! Hey hold it…we were not being rude by holding the couple’s packs with us…every other person, I could peep over, including the couple’s son had rice in their dish but not the couple! While a simple replacement of the dish would have diffused the situation, the guy who was “negotiating” was reasoning large enough for the whole world and the elephant to hide behind! He gave up…the couple gave up…when the decibel levels interfered with the flight’s radio transmission system!  Eating continued but the embers will still glowing…ready to fire up anytime someone touched it! And yes…the food taste was good / bad enough to trigger it all again! This time the complaining was about the taste of the food…and boy! did the old couple look like school kids complaining about the boy in the front bench who stamped their white canvas shoes before assembly time! Guess the issue still was the absence of the rice and not so much the taste…one of the ladies probably caught this and figured out the best way to shut down the telecast was to give them the rice! And lo! came packs with rice and the telecast toned down to an ‘understanding grumble’…an empathetically toned “you know the food while we flew from chennai was so good…” to the lady who gave the rice dish…and here came customer care at its best…the lady listened to the couple and with the ‘sincerest’ face and puckered up lips she could manage at that altitude, she said…”hmm yes ma’am. we will fire the chef! we will definitely fire the chef! bad…very bad!” . As she was in front of the couple and we were staring right into her face, from behind the couple, she had to do all of this while battling distraction from two men and their guffaws in response to the ‘care for the customer’ exercise she was into…and how everyone except the couple knew that she really dint mean what she was saying…Phew! “Fire the chef?!!?” Give us a break!  Situation diffused and smiles returned…well that bit of exaggeration did help indeed! So much for customer care…

Will pickle again!