Wednesday, 11 July, 2007

Sawai stupid

Sawai means 1¼. So Sawai Man Singh meant Raja Man Singh was 1¼ times as intelligent as ordinary mortals.

A recent episode finds me keen to confer the ‘honour’ on the people who maintain records for a certain mutual fund.

We got four almost identical letters assuring us that the change of address that we had asked for had been made. To reassure us the old and new addresses were printed side by side.

The trouble was (a) not only had we never asked for address to be changed; but also that (b) the two addresses, old and new, were identical. The old ended with ‘Maharashtra India’, the new, with ‘Maharashtra’ - otherwise, the address was unchanged!

What made matters worse was their sending two of the letters to the old address, not that in our case it made any difference at all.

Why did they send the same address-change communication in quadruplicate? Well, one reason was that we have two accounts, and they don’t seem to have bothered to note that.

This miniature misadventure in CRM points to graver problems. First, are we worth half as much as we actually are in their eyes? They do treat the two accounts quite separately.

Second, is it possible that they are over-quoting, among themselves and to the world, the number of investors? If yes, then by how much? We are small fry, but there are surely many big fish, with numerous accounts. What if these accounts are counted as unique investors?

And if this is how things are, how long before they end up misreading the market (reality: I sell off three units; perception: three investors sold their units)?

Perhaps I’m too naive to understand these matters of high finance. Yet, one comes across plenty of such nonsense every day in marketing. Is it impossible that they are absent in more serious matters.

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