Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Speed, that was supposed to free up time! Tata DoCoMo Photon+ reviewed.

shovon chakraborty review product service india
The Photon+ advertisement promised, "Get Speed. Get Time." Catchy enough. Isn't it? The trick is to catch you first and then take you for a ride.
shovon chakraborty review product service india
Photon+, according to its parent company, is a high speed Internet access device and should be able to deliver uplink speed of up to 1.8 Mbps and downlink speed of up to 3.1 Mbps. These stats look great on paper, but the reality is a bit different.
shovon chakraborty review tata photon+
Well, let’s start from the beginning. This Tata Photon+ came to me as a bundled offer with my Lenovo ideapad. Although apprehensive, due to my past "not so sweet memories", I decided to go ahead with Photon+, as it offered seamless connectivity in the North Eastern regions too, unlike Reliance Netconnect+. Starting then, it has been a tale of unfulfilled promises. Let me share a couple of such instances.
In the first case, the speed had been down to a crawl. After I had lodged a complaint, someone from the Customer Care informed me that a technician would be visiting my house to check the problem. She further stated that if faults were to be found in their network, there would be no service charges. However, if the problem was at my end, I will have to pay Rs.150/- as service charge. The technician duly visited and could find no fault with my system. It seemed that the cause of the problem lay in their network. But, come next billing cycle and surprise! They had added an additional Rs.150/- as the services charge. When confronted, they claimed that something was wrong in my system, which, by the way, was a plain lie. How do I categorize this? As cheating, of course.
In the second instance, which started on the morning of 25th May 2012, the connectivity had pulled a Sorcar like trick and had disappeared altogether. I tried calling the customer care at around 12.30 pm. No success. Around 6.30 pm on the same day, after 7th or 8th attempt, I could speak to a Customer Care Executive (CCE) at last. But, it did not solve the matters and the CCE told me that some kind of upgradation work is being done in the area where I lived, and assured me that normalcy would be restored within 2 hours. Even after 7 hours and 4 more phone calls, the situation remained the same. It was 1.30 am on 26th May 2012 by that time. What followed next is the tale of going round in circles without any solution in sight. However, by that time, I managed to do two things. I had sent a formal complaint mail to the Customer Care, thereby raising a ticket. And, I somehow checked the available bandwidth, which was a princely 11 kbps. After 36 hours had passed since the beginning of the connectivity problem, at last I could get a reliable estimate of time period till normalcy to be restored. A CCE told me at 10.45 pm on 26 May 2012, Sunday, that the services would not be back to normal state before Monday (27 May 2012) morning. Monday morning arrived, but the problem persisted. It was only around noon, that the issue was finally resolved and normal connectivity was restored. However, no one bothered to contact me for the resolution of the complaint till 31st May 2012, when a lady called me to say, ".... Sir, regarding your complaint with ticket number xxxxxx, I would like to inform you that we are closing the same as resolved, as the connectivity problem no longer exists." Without really giving me a chance to say anything, she ended the call abruptly. May be, that’s the newest way of resolving customer complaints!
Overall, the Photon+ service has not been able to stand up to the hype surrounding it. The major issues with the services, according to me, remain as follows -
1. Pricing: Photon+ is definitely costlier than its competitors. When Reliance is offering 3G 5GB unlimited services at a speed of up to 7.2 Mbps at Rs.600/- per month, Photon+ 5GB unlimited data plan costs Rs.950/- plus taxes and that too at a lower speed of up to 3.1 Mbps. 
2. Speed: As I have been using wireless Internet connectivity since 2005-06, I have had the opportunity of experiencing and experimenting with almost all the available service providers. I can definitely vouch that Reliance Netconnect+ Broadband provides a faster connectivity in Kolkata and surrounding areas. 
3. Reliability: Photon+ does not provide a very reliable connectivity and as such, it should not be depended upon as the primary mode of Internet connectivity, especially by the professional users. 
4. Signal Drop: Another major problem seems to be the drop in signals after a few hours of continuous use. The only remedy to this problem is to follow the Disconnect and Reconnect routine. At the middle of some serious work, it can be really annoying. 
5. Customer Care: The less said about the Customer Care, the better. The CCEs seem to be totally clueless as to the happenings in the network. When it comes to even the most simple of trouble-shooting works, their lack of technical prowess comes to the fore. Add to that the tendency of the CCEs to finish the calls in a hurry, probably to meet some call time target, and you have what you can call a totally "uncaring" Customer Care.
On the positive sides, Tata Photon+ has got a decent network coverage, that covers even the North Eastern states. Also, one should get relatively fast Internet connectivity in all the major regions of the country. The same however, cannot be said about its competitors. In case someone has to travel a lot and the travel itinerary include the states of the North Eastern region, only then, I would recommend buying a Tata Photon+ connection.
Otherwise, my advice would be to steer clear of Photon+. One may check out other service providers’ offerings and settle for the one that offers reliable connectivity across different regions , without any substantial drop in the speed and at a cheaper price . With 3G and 4G services kicking in, it might not be a bad idea to consider a GSM product too. However, the only problem in choosing a GSM service would be the vast difference of speed between any of 4G/3G with that of an EDGE or a simple GPRS network.
P.S. While writing this review, I have had to follow the Disconnect - Reconnect routine twice!

Friday, August 17, 2012

In Focus - LiveChant.com, the start-up to watch out for

I have this habit of looking up random websites, new ventures et al. People fiddle with their television remotes for zapping through channels, while I go through web directories, search engine results, entrepreneurship forums and groups to learn about new ventures, visit their website(s), try to understand the underlying business model(s). If possible, I also try to analyze the robustness of the business basics, conduct a simple SWOT analysis and make an attempt at predicting how good, bad or ugly the business would fare in the future. Of course, I am no Warren Buffet, and I do this simply because of my love for strategic management.
shovon chakraborty
LiveChant is derived from Live Merchant
LiveChant, a platform
for sellers & buyers, is
a portmanteau of
Live and Merchant
That's how I came across an interesting website, a virtual platform to be more specific, named LiveChant.com. The very first impression, the so called "halo effect", made sure that I would spend the next half an hour or so, exploring LiveChant. What attracted me was the simple, yet solid business model, that the promoters of the business have banked on.
By the time I exited the site, I had already decided to showcase this tech start-up in my blog. So, I connected with one of the promoters, Arindam Paul, who is an engineer from National Institute of Technology (NIT), Silchar and prior to founding LiveChant, had worked with some of the biggest names in the IT sector. After a couple of rounds of detailed discussions, my belief about the viability of the business model and success of the business, were further strengthened. It does not mean that they do not have any vulnerability, but if they continue to play according to their strengths, there should not be any reason for LiveChant to not succeed. These discussions and my own background research, helped me in aggregating enough information on LiveChant.com. Armed with these, let me try and decode its target client base, business model, value proposition and its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, i.e. SWOT, which, when combined together, would determine how the business will shape up in future.