On Saturday around 6.30pm — shopping prime time — I found myself standing in an unending queue at a shopping mall. There were close to six cash counters, but only two were functional. The others proudly displayed sign boards declaring ‘Counter Closed’.
The spikey-haired guy behind me lost his patience 20 minutes into the wait. “How can you have just two open counters on a weekend?” he screamed at the guy behind the counter. Red-faced, the clerk mumbled “company policy” and then ended up bungling the bill he was processing.
Spikes lost it and demanded to meet the manager. The wait got longer, but anticipating a showdown, no one budged. Eager to be part of the drama, people began swapping stories about their ‘closed counter attacks’.
Glow Girl (she was wearing a fluorescent top), started things off with her tale of woe. “I missed 20 minutes of Dum Maaro Dum just waiting for popcorn as only two counters were serving! Did they forget that 300 people were going to buy drinks during the interval?” A friend who had accompanied me to the mall narrated how she was stuck in a queue of 30 people at the only ticket counter open at the Noida Sector 18 metro station last Sunday.
Not to be left out, a portly man with a strange accent piped up: “Sometimes, going to cash counters is like going to a sarkari office. Half the people are on a break while the other half are overworked and inefficient.” I agree. A cash counter should logically be the most important part of any business, manned by double the staffers at peak business hours. But in Delhi, it’s during this time that most counters are shut! Try the Gurgaon toll at rush hour or airport check-in counters an hour before a 6pm flight — odds are that you’ll be running late even as a ‘Counter Closed’ sign stares you in the face.
But who does one complain to? Look at what happened to Spikes. The manager asked him to lodge a complaint at the mall’s Customer Care counter. He would have, but all the booths were closed!