One website, which I love as a concept, is MouthShut.com. I don’t really visit the site often, but I think the idea of giving consumers a place to voice out their opinion is great. We live in a totally consumerist society, with kids of today growing up in Malls (if you don’t believe that, you should visit MG road on a weekend), so it is great to have a place to have our say.
Today while googling for reviews on Citibank’s Shopper’s Stop credit card, I stumbled upon Mouthshut.
A little history – I visited Shopper’s Stop near Banerghatta road a couple of weeks ago. A sales guy approached me and told me about the store’s First Citizen card and its benefits. At first I wasn’t interested, but after a while I was sold. As far as I remember, at no time during the conversation with the representative did he tell me that what they are really offering is a Citibank Credit card with a Shopper’s Stop logo. I filled in some forms, but forgot about the whole thing once I left the store.
I started receiving calls from Citibank after a few days for their mandatory background checks. In such situations, I let the agents do their job and don’t really shout at the them or anything. In fact, it didn’t occur to me that these phone calls are for this card and I didn’t even make a mental connection between Citibank and Shopper’s Stop (you get comfortably numb when these agents call you time and again).
Finally yesterday I got my card. It was no Shopper’s Stop First Citizen Silver (or Gold?) card. It is a full fledged Citibank credit card co-branded with Shopper’s Stop. Although I did feel irritated about the whole thing, I gave the benefit of doubt to Shopper’s Stop because I don’t really recall the conversation I had with the sales guy at their store. But I am sure that if I was told clearly that they are going to give me a credit-card, I would have refused the offer. And it turns out, as told on Mouthshut.com, that someone else has had a similar experience with Shopper’s Stop. So actually I was right and Shopper’s Stop does hide facts. Calling up the number listed on their welcome kit to find out details about annual fees didn’t help, because the number didn’t work.
Anyways, out of curiosity, I began checking reviews on other credit cards on Mouthshut.com. Interestingly, none of them have a decent rating. All of these credit cards seem to have a consistent (bad) rating of 2 stars (out of 5). Reading some of the user reviews, I was shocked at the kind of bad experiences some people have had. I have been using an HDFC card for the past 3 years and I have never had a bad experience with them (touch wood). I have had outstandings worth several ten thousands, but I have always made it a point to pay my minimum fee. I have been responsible from my side, and the bank has been from theirs. I have called customer service many times and have always had my problem solved. But on Mouthshut.com, I read bad reviews of HDFC bank, and from people who, like me, have been paying their dues.
Some interesting points:
- Most people choose to write a review only when they have a bad experience. I guess it is human to vent out your frustration when you are pissed. With this in mind, I wonder if you can really get a fair review about a product (from websites such as Mouthshut.com). If I were to go by the reviews I read about HDFC cards, I would have to think that it is a really bad product. But my own experience tells me otherwise.
- People like to use superlatives like ‘worst’, ‘never’, ‘best’. I personally wouldn’t write in such a manner. I would prefer to take a more balanced approach and leave it to the reader to judge. Of course, I am not expecting the same from everyone, but I wonder if the use of such words drives home the point. I mean, would I really spend time reading a review written in all caps and full of superlatives? No, I would pass on to the next review.
- Almost always, all fingers point towards customer service. Again, I think this is normal. When you are steaming and waiting to butcher someone, you don’t want to be placed on hold or be spoken to with a fake accent. Nevertheless, the truth is that raising your voice doesn’t help when you are on the phone with customer support. It might work in a real shop where the shopkeeper is worried about his reputation in front of other customers, but I wouldn’t want to shout at an agent.
- If you cannot handle something like a credit card, don’t ever sign-up for one. I think this is the simplest truth about credit cards. I suspect that most people who have had bad experiences with credit cards don’t know how to use one. They probably got one because of the over enthusiastic credit card agents who call at the wrong time. Many a times, the same mentality that makes you consume everything that comes you way, causes you to think that it is your birthright to abuse anyone who doesn’t treat you as king. I refuse to believe that customer is king. In today’s world, the customer is a pawn living in a vacuum of materialistism.
I make it a point to stick to one or two vendors in all walks of life and transact with them on a consistent basis. This is not because I am brand conscious, but because life becomes simpler that way. So if you ask me, HDFC, Spicejet, Indigo Airlines, Hutch, Fotocircle etc are all good people to deal with. But I also know that I cannot expect everyone to agree. Thats life