Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Raising a child in India

Raising a child with a partner that is from a different culture and living in their culture is definitely not easy. It takes so much communication and the things he thinks are really important, are minor to me and vice versa.
I think Junayd and I are doing a relatively good job at meeting int he middle, but it's some of the small things that make it really difficult to parent. Admittedly, I am doing the parenting about 70% of the time, mostly because he works and he is gone for 10 hours a day.

Junayd and I spoke about this the other day.  He feels,I raise Yasmine with day to day goals, like saying please and thank yous, eating her food, behaving, etc... but he has these long term ideas, which of course are super important but I feel are not worth dealing with right away. He is very very adamant about our children never living with a partner before they are married, and also he feels that our children marrying young is way more beneficial than waiting until they are older.  In his mind they are less likely to be promiscuous if they get married early. It's quite an Indian attitude, that's for sure. Whereas, I'm very detached about stuff like that, I think it's mostly my western attitude, because, once they turn 18, I feel that a lot of stuff will be beyond my control. You can teach your children well, but these kinds of things are really hard to enforce when your child is 25 and telling you they will live with their boyfriend/girlfriend.  Believe me I have been there done that. My parents didn't like my choice, but they certainly didn't disown me. I would never force my children to marry young and I would never disown them for living with their partner before marriage.

But some of the smaller things are what really frustrate me. This business of letting kids do what they want, when they want, is just ridiculous to me. Yasmine is almost 2 years old, and just because she wants chocolate doesn't mean she gets it. I am having the hardest time fighting with my own husband about stuff like this.
Kids stay up until all hours of the night here, and people expect me to do the same with Yasmine. I make compromises, but I don't feel like a 2 year old should be up until 10pm. I was at my in-laws the other day and it was 830, already late, and I told my mil that Yasmine had to get to bed. And she said "so early?"  I was like, she is normally sleeping by now!!

Also this business of feeding her crap is getting to me as well.  Last night, as an example, I was at my in-laws and we were cooking chicken and a few other things.  I told Junayd to make sure Yasmine didn't eat anything before dinner because she wouldn't eat.  I turned around 5 minutes later and she had this cake in her hand. I was like who gave her this?? My fil was like I did, she asked for it, so I gave it to her.  I was so livid. I turned to Junayd and I said, this is why our daughter is NOT eating her meals. He just shrugged and was like, grandparents are supposed to spoil the grand kids.  So of course I took away the cake and she cried bloody murder, and I am once again the bad guy. And this has happened so many times I can't even count. This is where I need the support from Junayd.

My MIL gave Yasmine some coke at like 7pm at night when I specifically said no, and right before my eyes I see her giving Yasmine coke, and before I could take it away, Yasmine had drank half a glass.  Guess who was awake until 1130pm???  I mean who the hell is the parent here?  Every time we go over, she gets chocolate, and during Ramazan we were there 4 times a week so she got chocolate every time. There's only so many times you can fight with them.
My in-laws are terrific people, and they love Yasmine, and I know that's how they show their affection, but I need to draw the line somewhere. If it means less visits over there then so be it.  But what I really need is support from Junayd with this stuff, he needs to tell his parents to stop. But again, he just doesn't see this stuff as major issues. But to me it's still all part in raising a healthy unspoiled child, and because she gets whatever she wants at her grandparents, she expects the same at home too. It's more battle than I care to deal with.

It will just take more work and communication and I know I have to let a lot of this stuff go, because some of it is not worth stressing about. But I hate always being the bad guy in this situations, and Junayd needs to step in and discipline as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Awful customer service

This posting is just an continuation of my facebook status message that I posted about being completely stressed about shopping here in India and dealing with bad customer service. My friend Amy, who has been to India put it aptly, that it is complete indifference. Customers are treated like they are a dime a dozen, and I guess in a country with a population of a billion people there will always be customers coming, but really is that a way to do business?
I have worked in customer service most of my life and I know how customers should be treated and how important it is to the company to maintain it's customers. Just ask my sister what kind of deals Bell Canada threw at her when she threatened to change cell phone providers.

Here are 3 recent scenarios that have happened to me and my husband, that can try and explain the customer service. There have been many many more, but these are fresh in my memory.

Scenario 1
A few days ago, I went to buy a toy for Yasmine from us for Eid (the end of Ramazan celebration). I walked into the shop and she instantly fell in love with a riding toy. She started riding it around the shop and having a good time. When she got off the toy, I noticed a small crack on the seat. Nothing huge, but enough to warrant a discount. I'd still buy it, since it was not that big of a deal. I didn't feel like running to many different stores as Yasmine was running all over the place and at 33 weeks pregnant running after was not an option. When I showed the sales associate the crack, he said he had another one to replace it, which was fine with me. But then I realized he wanted to sell me another colour completely, which was pink. I didn't want to buy pink since i don't know the sex of this baby and it will most likely be passed to him/her. I wanted the yellow one. I told him as much. He pointed me to the counter and I thought they would give me a discount. Then when I went to the counter, they told me they would give me a phone number to call. What?? I didn't want to deal with more bad customer service, I just wanted a discount. They refused to give me one, and didn't even try to keep my business.  So i told them I would go to the store across the hall and buy from them. And they didn't seem to have any issues with that.  I went to the next store, found the exact same replica of the riding toy without any damage and bought that one, and was even given 5% off the toy because I had some discount card.  After I bought it I made sure to walk by the other store and show them that they lost a sale.  But I'm sure they just didn't even care.

Scenario 2

Junayd and I have been with the cell phone provider Vodafone for a couple of years now, we haven't had any issues with them so have never really had to deal with their customer service until recently.  I used to have blackberry service, but passed that phone on to my hubby once I got the Iphone. So Junayd called vodafone in June to cancel the blackberry service on my phone and transfer it to his phone. Easy enough. Well low and behold they did not cancel the plan which is 600 rps a month ($12, on top of our regular plan) and so they have charged us for 2 blackberry plans. So when we got our bill it was almost double the price it normally was. So Junayd called customer service (at the end of July)!  They gave him such a hard time about this. They kept passing the buck and telling him  it would get resolved in 24 or 48 hours. He escalated it to management, who all they did was make excuses. But not once were we told that we would be credited the amount (2 months at 1200 rupees). It is now September and nothing has been resolved. Junayd keeps getting passed to every Tom, Dick and Harry, and has even been given an email address to make the complaint, after 5 weeks of already making formal complaints! We were told that we would get a response in 48 hours, and that has long passed now, and now Vodafone has barred our services. We can only get incoming calls and messages. We are so ANGRY and we refuse to pay the bill until this is settled. What I don't understand is, Vodafone is more worried about 599 rupees than keeping Junayd and I as customers for the long term. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Why can't the customer ever be right in this country?  I was sitting right next to Junayd when he cancelled the Blackberry service, so I know it was done! We ARE right!

So now since we have no use of our phones, and with me being 33 weeks pregnant, I need to be able to call someone if I need to. Luckily we have a land line at home, but what if I am out and something happens. I have no access to my cell phone! So now Vodafone is forcing us to go with another service provider and we will have to change our phone numbers!!  It really sucks. They have been so unhelpful. I know many people would say, just pay the bill..but we refuse to pay for something we didn't use. It's about principal at this point.

Scenario 3

Junayd bought me some headphones for Christmas as one of my gifts. When I opened them to try them out, the left side was not working. So we took it back to the store. Junayd was told he would not be able to return the headset, even for an exchange, because he bought it more than 12 hours earlier!!! He actually had bought them like 48 hours earlier. We weren't bringing it back because we didn't like them (although we should be able to do that if we wanted to). The damn headset wasn't working! Junayd argued and shouted with the sales people and manager for over 40 minutes until finally they exchanged the headset. I mean are you kidding me???  It's not just me that is flabbergasted by customer service here, my husband and many other Indians are just as annoyed.

You can never ever get your money back when you buy something here, it is exchange only, and that also depends on the mood of the manager that day. My friend has bought shoes for her daughter that didn't fit and just decided to forget about even trying to return them because, the stress and effort far exceeded the price of the shoes.

I just don't think the concept of customer service is taught here, and there is a reason why foreigners are being brought in to teach Indians how to deal with westerners and customer serivce. But sadly the Indian customer service (call centers) provided to foreigners is much better than the customer service Indians give to their own people. It's truly sad.