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Monday, June 09, 2008

How first-time entrepreneurs suffer...

My website is just a week old and it's been exactly nine months since I started work on it. So, in a way, it's almost been like having a baby. I just had to share with my readers what an experience it has been - one might call it a warning of sorts.

The companies in India that provide support services like domain hosting, server space, domain registration, corporate e-mails are dime a dozen. But as with everything else, I asked a friend to recommend the right people to do business with and he suggested Net4 India, who also host his site www.carbonyatra.com. I went to them for all of the above services, except domain registration which I got done at a cheaper rate with India Internets.

On May 17, a Saturday, I transferred money to Net4 India's account and I was told by their sales executive Savita Kamath that everything will be enabled in 24 hours. But in reality, till May 29, it was apparent that they were just not capable of giving me great service. After giving them 2 weeks to sort out problems, it still hadn't been sorted out. So, on May 29 (Thursday night), I told my developer to take my site off their server and he immediately posted it on a US server and the site was online in a matter of hours on the same night. Now that's called quality service...wouldn't you agree? So, I'm entitled to get a refund right? Wrong! Net4 had found ways to hang on to my money, by getting someone from their office to call me and tell me that "We didn't deny you services, you chose to leave!"

For more on this issue, I'm posting my e-mails to them and their responses to those e-mails. I hope you read them and learn that giving quality service is the last thing on their mind and hanging on to your money is more important to them.

Ultimately, they still have my money and I'm going to transfer domain registration to them and and use it up that way, so as to not use too much of their awful services. But read the emails...

From: manali rohinesh
To: savita.k@net4.in
Subject: Expedite my refund
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 13:15:10 +0000


I would like a complete refund because Net4 has not been able to host my website. It's been two weeks since I made a payment of Rs 3,818 to buy ASP.NET, a package of 5emails and just simple hosting and it's been a never ending process of raising trouble tickets.

If Net4 has so many issues that needs people to raise trouble tickets so frequently (even BEFORE the person's site has been hosted), may be there is something here that you need to look into.

My experience has been an unhappy one. Trouble ticket queries were not resolved except the one about the webmail not working. And shouldn't this be working when a Net4 executive tells me that my email IDs have been enabled? Apparently not. Because no one bothers to send me a mail saying that after enabling, I've got to go to the control panel, create aliases...and then after that go to another website called mail4india.com and do the same procedure again. I don't call this a user-friendly method at all. Was I supposed to get all this step-by-step process to 'enable' my emails in a dream or in an e-mail? Also all this information was given to me over the phone by your technician after I asked 'how does one know these IDs are active?' And even then, your mail forwarding didn't work for which a trouble ticket was raised...so please tell me what exactly did you enable?

I can't work with a backup support that needs this much hand-holding and where it's such an effort to provide smooth service.

The delayed launch of my site has been a victim of Net4's inefficiency. I'm in a curious position, where because of word-of-mouth publicity, people are waiting to check my site out and I've got business cards printed to give out to people, but I don't have the site hosted yet!

Please expedite my refund immediately as decency demands this because Net4 has not been able to provide the services, for which it was paid, to begin with.

Please credit my bank account for the same. My account is with ICICI Bank, Prabhadevi branch and the A/c no is XXXXXX.



I got a verbal reply saying there would be no refund. So, I took it to the next level...to Savita's boss Mr Sanjay Kathuria whose 'head in the sand' attitude and complete state of denial was really amazing. Here's my next e-mail to him.

From: manali rohinesh
Sent: 03 June 2008 11:13
To: sanjay.k@net4.in
Cc: savita.k@net4.in
Subject: FW: Expedite my refund

Mr Kathuria,

I want my money back for the services Net4 has not provided. As a listed company, you shouldn't be hanging on to people's money through crooked means. Not having provided a service, you've got no reason to hold on to my money...and this is understood in any language in any country across the world...except possibly in India and your organisation.

I can prove in any forum that I've made this payment. Can you prove you've kept your end of the bargain?

So, on what grounds are you refusing to refund the money?


His response...

From: sanjay.k@net4.in
To: rmanali@hotmail.com
CC: savita.k@net4.in; anamika.m@net4india.net
Subject: RE: Expedite my refund
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2008 11:56:41 +0530


I am getting it checked, you will get the update by end of the business day.

As such we have automated system at the backend so what caused the delay is something important to know.


Sanjay K

After this e-mail, I got that great phone call and I then wrote to him again.

From: manali rohinesh
Sent: 04 June 2008 10:59
To: Sanjay Kathuria
Cc: savita.k@net4.in; 'Anamika Mukherjee'
Subject: RE: Expedite my refund

Mr Kathuria,

I got a call from someone from your office yesterday. Please don't waste my time by getting your people to call me and trying to justify to me why Net4 would like to illegally hold on to my money.

I was not impressed by the girl's argument that 'Net4 never denied you service, you chose to leave'. Before making such stupid statements, please remember 'why' I chose to leave. I gave you ample time to provide me with your 'so-called service' and out of frustration, I had to see what was good for me. You probably would have liked me to stick with you guys indefinitely, even when I don't like the quality of your service, which is JUST the question here.

I would like to ask all three of you to whom this e-mail is addressed to - do any of you use the other services that your company provides to people? Apart from your corporate e-mail IDs, I don't think, any of you know the first thing about 'using' any of your own company's services. So, please don't pretend you know what I went through. If anyone has a fair idea, it's Savita.

If you were not served at a restaurant after sitting there for more than 10 minutes, you would consider that as being poor service. Would you like it if you were charged for just sitting there? Would you like it, if the restaurant manager came to you and said 'I'm not denying you service but you chose to leave' because 'eventually' he planned on serving you? This is exactly the case with me. I don't think I need to highlight the issue anymore in a more clear manner.

If the only smart person in your organisation with any conscience is Savita, then you need to seriously do some thinking. After all, I don't think India is a banana republic, where this kind of behaviour is acceptable. Have you heard of terms like 'corporate ethics' or not?

What's more, my developer has told me that every other company in India doing exactly your kind of work, has a 30-day refund period. Money has to be refunded if the work is not done satisfactorily. So, I repeat, I'm well within my rights in every sense of the word to demand my money back. Net4 didn't provide satisfactory service and as a free citizen of this country, I can take my business anywhere else I want to.

Please let's not quibble anymore. Also stop looking for endless reasons to hang on to money that does not belong to you. You don't have a ground to stand on. Today is Wednesday, and I want this issue resolved by the weekend. And when I mean resolved, I mean to my satisfaction - this is the least 'service' your company can provide...let me see if you do that.


His response...

From: sanjay.k@net4.in
To: rmanali@hotmail.com
CC: savita.k@net4.in; anamika.m@net4india.net
Subject: RE: Expedite my refund
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2008 18:13:44 +0530

Dear Ms Manali

Let me be absolute clear with you, There is no intention to hold money of any customer. As a service provider we value the customers and their importance but at the same I will not buy the argument wherein you said services were never delivered to you. I have personally gone through all the TTs opened by you and responses(you can also read in net4 control panel), in which 2 were for mails and 5 for some add on feature and folder permissions on hosting. That clearly states service was delivered to you.

Your developer’s statement of 30 days refund seems to be very generic with no base, As per our knowledge no India service provider do the same and even if someone is doing the same it’s not a regulatory requirement.

Dissatisfaction is more of a gap between expectations and deliverables and that can happen on any instance. Now keeping our commitments intact towards customer satisfaction we can extend the credit note of the equivalent amount that can be adjusted with any service offerings from us in future.


Sanjay Kathuria
Head - Online Business

In the above e-mail, he admits his company may have not lived up to my expectation, so why was he still not refunding the money? Here's my final e-mail in the drama..

The fact that so many trouble tickets needed to be raised BEFORE you people even officially were hosting my site speaks volumes about your service to begin with.

Are you seriously telling me that you think you provided me service because trouble tickets were attended to? I've admitted that only the Webmail issue was attended to and if all those trouble tickets raised over hosting were taken care of, I wouldn't be having this conversation with you.

(His quote) "Dissatisfaction is more of a gap between expectations and deliverables and that can happen on any instance. ...."

Which it definitely did in this case. Nice of you to admit that your service didn't live up to my expectations.


And here is what my developer had to say on the issue...

1] Enabling read/right access to file and folders IS NOT an add on feature.
2] You say the issues were resolved, it's still not resolved till date. Replying to a ticket doesn't mean (the problem) is resolved. Also you guys changed the status of the ticket to resolved as soon as you reply, how can you do that?

My advice is to stay away from this firm. Anyone not knowing and more importantly not caring about customer service behaves like this.. we deserve better.


alok said...

it is an eye-opener for all of us...
as discussed wd u, some ppl simply don't hv ethics...

Manoj said...

we are a recent victim of net4.in& almost have the same history,they duped us for ten thousand for two domain booking and two hosting plans for 500 Mb each but were not able to host on their server, well we plan and are sure to spend another Rs.10,000 more and claim Rs.50,000 as a compentsation for the harrasement we went through, we are about to complaint this matter to the concerned consumer court and registered a complaint in police station and other higher authorities, our instance is just recent. We are web developers in case you want to join us our email addresses info@digibytes.co.in and manoj.behal@gmail.com, if you mail please mail on both emails

Manali said...


I'm glad my story has helped you. If you want, you can use it to beef up your case but as for me...they have got Rs 3,818 of my money, (for ASP.NET and a package of 5 emails) which I'm going to use for maintaining domain registration, which I will transfer from India Internets to these guys. Once that money is used, I don't plan to stick to them.

Go ahead and get back your money and take these low-lives to task!

Manali said...

Manoj responded to my email and here is 'action-taking' report. Go for it guys!

Hi Manali,

Thank you very much for reply, we are suffering till date coz they didn't provide us the "A-Record" for one of the domain we booked through these cheaters so we had to book one more domain at a new site and just imagine we had to make the changes at many pages (according to the new domain) and they hv not provided us the "A-Record " yet, we are planning to file a case against them,
May god bless u from these "DRAGONS"
Thank you.

Manoj Behal