Well, coming back to the beautician, a well dressed middle aged lady with looks of a doctor. Efficient acting I say. Even she exchanged the customary pleasantries (guess it is part of their training), asked me to be seated in front of the machine. I got excited. Wah! At last some action is about to happen. Well, she asks me to look at the screen, while she had a rod shaped camera, which she thrust on my face. After doing this at four different locations on the face, she declared that I had a dry skin. Wha? I can see that. You don't need a camera to say that. I told her sarcastically – "Even my hair is dry!" She again started off with the rod and placed it at four different locations on my head, and declared "Yes, Indeed". Baka joked, "That is because he has lots of alcohol". The lady immediately picked it up and started, "Yes, see here in the front part of your head, this gets directly affected by alcohol, and thus it is drier. Needs to be like a tight rope.. blah! Blah!" BullShit.
Mrs. Yogita now suggested that I meet the trainer at the Gym. I admitted, "Well ma'am, enough of these GLOBE sessions, we have lots of them on college. I can even find the same info online, and if required myself take a session. Let me know if there is some action happening. Some tangible activity, that I can speak about" She declared, "NO, today all our people our busy" and again pointed to the voucher stating for a prior appointment. I persuaded her, and she asked me to come back in an hour. Okay great! Talking about this Mrs. Yogita as soon as I and Baka first saw her we smiled at each other and hushed in Telugu, "if she herself looks so bad with a pimple affected face, a skinny posture, and an awful smile, how possible could she treat others to look good." I tried to reason, "Come on Baka, Doctors themselves need not be perfectly in shape to be able to treat others. Look at our Doc – our Batch mate".
Now I need to frikkin' wait for the damn service for one complete hour. We go out ganjing. Already full with the biryani we don't feel like eating anything, and just while away our time wandering across the mall. We get back to the VLCC centre at 5:45PM, in forty five minutes itself.
After a fifteen minute wait there, we get this opportunity to meet the busy Mrs. Yogita. She expresses in despair that everyone is still caught up. She offers to arrange a meet with the trainer. Well, something better than just waiting and watching oversized aunties inn their gist to get back to their old sexy days. We went to the gym. A crap small room, filled with treadmill, and just having a couple of weights. I swear the IIML gym is better. The trainer – a bellied person, trying to look smart by conversing in English. And again the same pleasantry – "How are you sir? What do you do?" I reply, "I am a student at IIML", and the conversation carries on.
I guess this initial pleasantry is to gauge the worthiness of the client. If it is a HNI, give more time, else just shove him off. He shows me the equipment. "Dude, it is not my first time to a gym", I mutter to myself. And then he explains, "Body building is an art. It requires much more than will and dedication. It requires passion, earnest enthusiasm, .. Blah! Blah!.. ". "Dude, I have heard this lot of times, tell me something tangible". He starts off again, "It is important to have a good diet and a pleasant mind. Sleep is also necessary.. blah Blah!", "Stop stop dude, I know that. Tell me something that I can practise back in campus.", I say politely. He starts, "It requires a personal trainer to tone up the body. Here I would tell you something, you would do something, and then that would spoil my name and reputation (Does he have any?), as people would think I suggest these kind of wrong exercises. So I suggest you join in our three month program, I promise I would develop your body into a well toned full of muscles."
The last part of the talk was in Hindi. I guess his sales pitch has been trained upon him in Hindi. I bid him a good bye, with a promise to think about it. Think? Ba*&^!!
Then I get back to the waiting zone, looking at their clients. Here I would classify the customers into three categories:
- Wannabies – Rich spoilt teenagers. The ones who don't mind spending a grand or two just to get that streak or that curl before that all important party of their cousin's birthday.
- USA – Un Satisfied Aunties. The ones whose husbands toil out hard all day in the office, and they spend it all on kitty parties. Looking slim trim and tones is secondary. Going to VLCC itself is a status symbol for them.
- OUU – Over Used Uncles. The rich ones, mostly those who have inherited wealth from their family. After a particular age, and having earned enough, these people believe that they need to look younger to their teenager son, and start dressing in Goa tees, loose jeans and even try to impress in their broken English.
(I am thankful to Mr. Rajeev Kumra, our service marketing prof. at IIML to have suggested these classification titles which seemed very apt in this situation.)
Now after enough of waiting, even Mrs. Yogita I guess feels bad, and falls to our patience. She is convinced that these guys here are determined to get something done, and offers something to talk. I ask if a facial would be possible. Baka tries pitting that this guy is going to Jaipur to attend a wedding, and in very high probability may get engaged. So he needs to look good. Please get something done. She replies," Sorry Facial is not included in the voucher". Thank you Baka for making it clear in the beginning itself that we not paying a single paisa more than the voucher amount. I am frustrated to the core, "What the fuck is allowed in this God Damn Voucher?", I say to myself. She reads the frustration, and applies principle 23 of Customer Servicing – Give something to the Customer when he reaches threshold of breaking out. Remember hannah's case in Data mining.
So Mrs. Yogita announces, " You can have a face wobble. It is about.. Blah!", "Okay". I am in no mood to hear what it is. She replies, "Please wait!" After about 15 minutes, she returns and asks me to come inside, "Ah! Finally" I ask Baka to wait and I enter. Well, I am asked to wait here now. Thankfully a short wait. And then I am called to the facial – 1 cabin, and asked to lie down on the bed. Looks so much like a hospital and it is a beauty clinic. The similarity is just the word clinic I am sure.
Lying on the bed, the guy there starts off with routine initial pleasantry. Damn! Now I am irritated with this. Please give different lines to different people, at least at different levels. The head of the clinic asks the same memorised question, and so does the attender. He applies some mint flavoured cream, which felt really cold in this winter. Wish I was availing these services during summer. At least the mint cream would have been worth the effort. After the mint cream, my face is again cleaned back to normal, and I all the time presume that yes! Now I have the Hrithik looks. The guy there then applies some cream, which looks like scrub and leaves it all over the face.
After leaving me and my face smeared with cream all over for more than ten minutes (the guy must have felt a sudden urge to smoke) the guy comes back with a huge machine. He nearly burns my face with all the steam from some machine. Then he holds two tong like things and starts giving me mild shocks on the face. Shit! I was scared. "Please please I would pay, don't give me a shock treatment", I wanted to shout. But, I preferred being silent. After sometime when the pain started getting unbearable I asked him what it was. He replies calmly as if this is something I get done everyday – "Nothing sir, it helps tightening your face". I was like, "yes, it would. You are burning half of the cells on my face". After the Shock treatment for 10 odd minutes, he starts wiping my face and all the cream over it. I was happy, "yes, it is finally getting over". I could not have been more wrong. He again applies some white cream and leaves me, while he takes away the huge machine from the cabin. "Ah! No more shock treatment". He comes back and then after removing this strange white cream, he applies the mint cream that he first applied. The mint cream was probably some kind of solution to disable me from feeling anything more on the face. After removing the white cream I was finally told that it is all over.
The guy exchanges pleasantries and asks me if this is my first session. I reply, "Yes, first and probably last". I don't want to condition third degree on myself voluntarily. I walk out of the cabin. The guy was actually pushing that I actually take the face and hair treatment packages both. Each of which exceeds 5000 bucks.
After the session, I walk jubilantly to Baka who controls his laugh in vain. He chuckles and asks, "Dude, where were you all this time?" I reply, with lots of pride, "Getting a face wobble done". He satirically mocks that I don't look any different. Huh! So much, for one complete hour of pain and misery inflicted by the process, not to forget the wastage of time.
We are then led to the same Mrs. Yogita's cabin who greets us with all enthusiasm. She chats normally and agrees to extend my voucher till my next visit. (She probably realised that this did not make a good conversion of a voucher holder to a permanent client). She then also tries to cross sell the hair cut and shave service, which again is not included in the voucher. I excuse myself with the promise that I would return back.
I walk out of the centre at around 7:30, quite unsatisfied.
Update: I got a call yesterday from the customer care at VLCC asking me for my feedback (Desperate attempts to convert me into a permanent client). I reply back rhetorically and express my despair with the whole affair. After some time I am again called by someone senior who tries to pacify me. The second customer care executive or whoever she was even offers to include all the services in the voucher and requests me to the come to the centre once again. NO!! I don't want to risk whatever minimal looks God has bestowed on me. Whatever minimal this looks might seem. I at least look like something Human.
Some comments on VLCC on the internet,
" .. thanks to this fat punjabi women. A few years back Ms Luthra promised white complexion a la Michael Jackson and created a frenzy and a furore. Now she is claiming a world record in achieving 82 Kgs fat loss. But the reality is very sad. I have seen a patient too weak even to walk, skin hanging in folds and on the verge of heart collapse after record breaking fat loss through chemical diets and apetite suppressants. There should be combined public opinion to ban such kind of unhealthy practices. The best way to weightloss should be under a medical supervision. A healthy lifestyle, excercise and a beautiful mind is all it takes - not some dumb blonde with hobby course certificates from foreign countries. i've closely seen how it all works and some people may view it as libel etc. but I have seen one of my friend's suffering and I feel I must tell others as well."
"..I took the Bridal package at VLCC Koramangala, Bangalore. I am EXTREMELY UNHAPPY AND DISSATISFIED with the kind of service being provided there. The only thing they are interested in is how to take out money from the customer. Once they are done they are least interested in attending the clients.i have spent 22K. But I didnt see single improvement. I have spent so much money there that I cant even afford to take the service from other parlour and nor I have the time to take the service as my marriage date is 27th April.
Some of the incidents I would like to mention:
1. Thrice i was given appointment during weekdays. After attending office when i reached there, the attender told me that she cannot provide the service as some or other has to leave early. I literally had to request them the provide the service as it was a bridal package and i couldn't postpone otherwise I ll not be able to complete all the sessions.
2. Even after taking the appointment for almost every session I have to wait for 1/2 an hr to take the service. so most of the time my waiting time is more than the time spent on giving services.
3. Most of the time staff remains busy in their cat fights, and least bothered about the client waiting to get the service.
4. Once I was given an appointment for hair spa. n no body was ready to do the service that time. When i forced for that, a new girl who didn't know abt the treatment was appointed to do the service.
5. I took the micro derma treatment costs 15K. I was assured that i ll see at least 40% relief. But after 2 sittings of the treatment, some other doctor started taking the session the and she told me that i should have taken the glycoloc peel and this treatment may not give any relief. Now i don't have time at al to go for some other treatment. I would request to take action against them as the staff at VLCC, Koramagala is spoiling the image. I would never ever recommend anybody or take the service from VLCC. "
Okay so it was not only me at the receiving end. Some Solace.