Wednesday, September 5, 2012

B.E.S.T So not the BEST!

The King Long B.E.S.T AC bus scam has already been beaten to death by one and many in the world of media. At the end of the day, nobody seems accountable for the fact that in the name of King Long buses from China, buses that were purchased were in effect made in India. Mumbai Mirror covered the entire scam but no one gave answers. What is strange is the company King Long never hit back against any of the allegations either! You can read more about Mumbai mirror's coverage of the issue hereWell, here's my personal experience aboard one such King Long, err, Fultoo Desi. 

King Kong B.E.S.T AC buses ply the road in Mumbai.
Image source: Mumbai Mirror
I usually avoid B.E.S.T AC buses because I have known them to be super slow along with malfunctioning ACs leaving the interiors all stuffy as well as the fact that they have become notoriously famous for leaving commuters stranded owing to a host of mechanical faults. But because there seemed to be none others in tow, my mother and I were aboard yet another useless AC B.E.S.T bus where the air conditioning was not functioning (at all!) and the bus was super-slow. So when we finally complained to the conductor, upon discussion with the driver, they pulled into a depot and brought it to a halt to be checked by the mechanic. The conductor and the driver both hailed curses on the mechanic since they had apparently raised this issue already with him in the morning before driving it out of the depot. The mechanic however, had okay-ed the bus and had said everything was working fine. Allegedly, since that conversation, the AC had broken down multiple times that morning. While we argued with the mechanic, bolstering the conductor's and driver's statements other commuters were absolutely silent. Finally, because we were running late we fought to travel by a normal bus where we wouldn't pay for the tickets because we had already paid for the AC bus (way higher than the non-AC!) which had been brought into the depot after not even five minutes of travel and we still had a long way to go. Initially though the ticket-checker wouldn't let us, despite the fact that B.E.S.T's the one that stood to gain money, he finally let us. It was probably just to get rid of us though! As we got into the non-AC bus, I heard a commuter from the AC bus saying he was okay to travel by that same bus, he didn't mind that it didn't have AC and was slow. His argument: Not everyone in Mumbai has AC in their homes or cars. "People don't walk around with an AC on their head, do they?" He remarked animatedly. 

My point: People who do not have AC in their homes don't pay for one do they? And if they do, do they not have a right to expect a decent level of service? At the end of the event, I was still left with a bad taste in my mouth. Arguing with the bus driver/conductor/mechanic was hardly going to solve the problem, especially if we were the only ones doing that. It's not a question of a few rupees, its a question of accountability. 

Are commuters in AC buses expected to be cool and classy and standing up against such scams considered lowly? Why is everyone expected to just go along with the nonchalance charade? What's with the 'Chalta Hain' attitude? 
I would love to hear your views!

20 comments:

  1. Happens Deepa...I guess that translates to 'Chalta Hain' :D Some of the other commuters may have had more urgent tasks to attend to probably? But you know what, in front of the complacence of these conductor/driver/mechanic trio coupled with the 'What can anyone do to me if I dont do it rt?' attitude, nonchalance saves you energy and time compared to arguing about it! Well, having echoed the aam junta's voice here , I would like to laud you for being different and trying to make your voice heard. We must stop being silent , I agree.

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    1. Yes, to that part I agree. There's only so much you can argue or want to fight about in a day. Otherwise, we end up spending time and energy for nothing. After a point of time, you get so tired of all of it all ! Sometimes it is very tempting to simply walk away rather than get frustrated :) But as far as the other commuters go, if they had something urgent to get to, then why travel by the B.E.S.T AC which seemed to be travelling slower than a bullock cart! At least, I have vowed to never ever travel by a B.E.S.T AC bus again, no matter what :) I refuse to contribute to their money purses and fleecing tactics in return for shoddy service! :)

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  2. Ah! I have found these wonderful intellectuals arguing such nonsense too in my life. I was arguing with an autowallah in Chennai when a bystander, seeing the airlines tag on my bag, says, "You will pay thousands of rupees to travel by Air but will begrudge the poor autowallah an additional hundred rupees" to which I retorted, "Next you will be asking me to pay Rs. 50/= for a matchbox because I traveled by air!" Everything has its price and a service is promised with that price tag. This sort of specious arguments that compares one thing with the other so illogically is the reason why this country will never have a strong consumer rights system - not to mention the fact that these high IQ chaps seem to have little else to do but put their oar in on other people's discussions.

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    1. LOL, isn't it funny how you come across such people in all walks of life. Prompted me to post my Facebook status update as 'I can only argue with one idiot a day!' :) I am glad someone went through the same grind and hence can empathize with me! :) But true, its because of people like these who not only simply put up (that part I can understand, sometimes you are left no choice) but those who justify it, that we're in such a sorry state of affairs. B.E.S.T continues to run into a loss but because of loyal followers like these, continues to ply these buses to make what little money they can off of such people. If everyone were to boycott, maybe they'd think twice?

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  3. This lack of accountability & extreme inefficiency is the bane of India.Sometimes we feel outraged & protest,while bystanders will take potshots at us;but it gets too tiring also.

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    1. Yes, it does after a while Indu. How much really do we want to spend on these people? At one point, you just feel so consumed by it all!

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  4. Ah well what can i say .. I have no clue what to say here.. if only people did only 10% of the work truthfully we will be doing good ..

    Bikram's

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    1. Fair enough. That's all I ask. Do your job right. No one's asking anyone to work more than what they should. But like they say in Hindi - 'kaam se no chori'.

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  5. People do not understand the meaning of accountability at all. I have all the right to argue if I do not get the desired service.
    I had no idea that such a scam happened. There was some news about the DTC AC buses frequently breaking down too but the situation was not this bad.

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    1. Yes, unfortunately its yet another of those scams which got shoved under the carpet. I did not see coverage on any other national newspapers or channels. And B.E.S.T continues to ply these buses and accept blame in the name of King Long!

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  6. I don't want to start a fight, but I feel lucky to be in Delhi.

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    1. No fight, its all about perspective. There's good and bad everywhere!

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  7. Good thing you were in the bus..driving anywhere near a BEST bus is even worse..

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    1. That's a whole different issue isn't it? That talks about traffic rules, sense and sensibility and I am not even going there! There's a nice post about Driving troubles in India that I had read on a co-blogger's site. Here's the link.

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  8. Yes..Delhi maybe better if you are guy or a girl who won't step out after 7 in the evening..

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    1. Like I said, all about perspective. Being a girl, I'm probably OK with receiving shoddy B.E.S.T service but not OK moving to the NCR. But that's not to say, that all's wrong in the NCR. I am sure there's positives and negatives of every place.

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  9. First time here. Very well written. I have never been to Mumbai. So I don't have full grasp of the problem. I can say one thing. You should expect/demand the product for which you paid for. You paid extra for AC, you should get AC. Pay for AC and it is ok to travel as a non-AC bus? That guy is a loser.

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    1. Thank you SG for the support! Welcome to my blog and I hope to see you here more often! I just wish people drop the 'chalta hai' attitude so there's consistent feedback!

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  10. This sort of poor service or giving less than what is promised is happening not only in bus service even in railways where the AC does not work or with deficiency and toilets/coaches are not cleaned or in air lines where the flights are delayed waiting for a VIP or cancelled to fly it on another route.The passengers are always ata the receiving end.May be resort to consumer courts withe signature of a few passengers should set matters right if the courts awrd heavy compensations.But it a time consuming process like one guy who fought for years to get nine rupees refund from telephone company.There must be other easier ways to redress the grievances and punish the inefficient workers.

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    1. I completely agree KP Sir! Customer service in public transport seems to be going downhill. Originally it used to be only government owned transport now as far as flights go, even private airlines are doing the same. Its a blessing that at least in the banking sector, privatization seems to be helping, but I wonder how long that would last! They really need to have lower level consumer courts where it doesn't take as long to sort out such matters.

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