AC service – a study in how things work in India

Hi Everyone

I have had a rather slow start to the morning today. When I came back to India, I noticed that my AC (air-condition) seemed to make more noise then what I was used to. So I decided to get a service on it. Some friends have told me that they have service on their AC’s about every third month. So after 9 months it should be about time I would guess…

Yesterday I called the AC provider. First I got to speak with a person who did not really understood English. But shortly after I was transferred to another person who understood English quite clear and spoke it well. Everything was as it should be. She told me that the service person could come at any time the day after (meaning today). So I suggested 8.30 in the morning. Then she said that they work from 11 in the morning to 8 in the evening, so 8.30 were not possible. Fine, I said. So make it 11 then. She confirmed that. Some hours later she called me back and asked if I really wanted the AC installed! I said clearly that; no, the AC is already there. I just want to have a service on it. But fine. Its better that they call one too many times than one too less.
Based on previous experience, I did not really expect anyone to come at 11 today, so I called them up at 10.30 to confirm that it was 11 they should be here. No answer. Then I tried another number. No answer. At around 11 o’clock I finally came through, and they said that the person would come in about one hour! This person was not very good in English, and he gave me the number to the person who should actually perform the task. I tried to call up him also, but no answer.

Then it was back to call up the original person, and say that this was not really what I expected. She promised that she should call up the person and be back to me in 5 minutes. 5 minutes later she told me that he would be there in 15 minutes. 20 minutes later, I called her back, and told that I had not seen him. She called him up again, and called me up, and said, well, what you think; he would be there in some 15 minutes…

20 minutes after I called up the person and asked him where he was. He is not that very good in English, so he did not understand me quite well. Luckily, one of the guardians at my building could help. He told me that this person was at a place called Chandivali, which is, surprisingly, about 15 minutes away.

After some more waiting and another call, he finally showed up. Well inside, the only thing he planned to do was to take out some filters and clean them! I checked in the user manual, and it was quite clearly described what to do there, and something I would very easily have done myself! When I told him, or rather tried to tell him, that I really expected him to do something more, he kind of looked strange at me. Some arguing and persuasion later, he finally took out a vacuum cleaner and cleaned the machine from outside. I still expected that he should take something apart and really clean it inside, but that never happened.

The payment should be 350 rupees. I did not have the correct amount and gave him 400. Off course he had no change. I now realize that I should have given him 300 and told him that I had no change… But at that point of time, I just wanted him away as quick as possible, so that I could get to the office.

What is the morale of this story then? Well, first of all I think I have proved for myself that I have still not learned. Off course, I should not have expected him to show up at time. Off course, I should not have expected it to be such a huge job he would have done. And off course; having change? Well, have a laugh. But also, this is how the society here in India works. I’m an office worker and not supposed to do this kind of work myself. We have other people, possible of a lower rank that does this. But next time; oh yes, I will surely clean it myself 🙂

Talk to you soon!


2 thoughts on “AC service – a study in how things work in India

  1. Tommy, DIY will not work in India – on the other hand this is a business opportunity for people like the service man. From what Karsten described, this could be done with anyone. I’m hoping social enterprises emerge that can help professionalize such services. Meru Cab has shown it can be done — just need a Service Management bent of mind.

    Karsten, Your experiences ought to be a gold mine for a social entrepreneur 🙂


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