At your service but you better do-it-yourself!

I was looking for a local travel agent to get my visa done for an upcoming overseas trip. Didn’t waste time scouring through all the available options. Instead, I just focused on the best one (highest rating with the highest number of reviews) and gave this person a call. He didn’t pick up.

An hour passed by and still no response. So, I called back. Thankfully, this time he picked up. I shared details of my trip and asked him about the process. His response was classic: “Can’t help with this specific country. The appointments are hard to get by so we’re not doing it. Schedule something with them and call back.”

I was stunned! What the hell am I going to do? I’ve booked the tickets well in advance and now I won’t get a visa? I asked him, “What do I do now? Is there anything you can do to help?” He said, “I can’t sir. Please schedule an appointment with the embassy and then contact me.” He hung up.

I couldn’t help but stare at the phone’s screen. What the heck just happened? I thought I had called a service provider and it sounded anything but service. As if he’s doing me a favour!

Helplessly, I called another agency I’ve relied upon previously. The person picking up the phone didn’t know whom I was calling for. He noted down the details and assured that someone will call back in a bit. It’s been 3 hours already and nobody has. And I’m pretty sure nobody will. It’s close to 9pm now. I’m super anxious about the whole thing now but one way or another I am going to get this done.

But that’s not the point. This is — small businesses exist to provide value to their customers by saving them time and/or making it convenient for them to get things done. Yes, they should (sometimes) turn away business from customers who’re high maintenance. But denying a business opportunity just because it’s not convenient or way too hard (compared to the fee they charge) doesn’t cut it. And if that’s the case, they probably shouldn’t exist.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

%d bloggers like this: