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November 28, 2010

Contradictory messages in communication – Part - III

This is the continuation of an earlier blog about contradictory messages. Contradictory messaging is one topic that interests me a lot. The topic is like a sleigh of the hand of the expert magician. The message says something and the understanding is something else. Savior the following

One professor wanted to show his students the ill effects of consuming alcohol. He brought some alcohol in a jar to the class and put it on the table. He then took some mosquitoes and some house flies and dropped them into the jar. The mosquitoes and the house flies struggled for a few seconds and died. The professor then addressed the class and said “what is that you have learned from this demonstration?” Somebody from the back tittered “If you take alcohol all the parasites and viruses in the stomach will die and our stomachs will become clean” The professor was speechless when he heard the answer.

Another professor said sarcastically pointing his pointer towards a student “at the end of the stick there is a fool’. The student said “which end sir?” Groucho Marx the famous critic once famously said “I don’t want to join any prestigious club that will accept me as a member”. Very succinctly said; the attraction of the club is only when it does not accept anyone as a member. Once a membership is granted the allure of being part of an elusive group is lost.

An actresses said “It is painful to be recognized. It is irritating to be mobbed and being the centre of attraction. People gape, made snide comments and pinch you”. But she quickly added that being recognized and facing all that irritants is much better than being ignored completely . The actors who walked into the sunset find it very difficult to face the reality where they are no longer the centre of attraction.

A mother was comparing notes with her friend “I have sent my son to the boarding school. He wrote a long letter saying how much he missed me. He was home sick and feeling so depressed that he is not able to eat. I feel very bad and upset. But I would feel very very sick and extremely upset if he was not feeling home sick”

The rule of the game is to understand the real message of what anyone says. One should be adept at reading between the lines. What is said is not as dangerous as what is not said. My boss once said to us in a meeting “If you don’t understand my silence you will never be able to understand my anger”

November 27, 2010

Taking advice – the story of a thirsty traveler in the desert – Joke III

A man was lost in the desert. He was desperately hungry and more than hunger he was thirsty. He was desperate for a drink. He kept walking in the desert. He walked and walked for days together. One day morning he was struck by a strange sight. He saw a man selling ties that too at Rs 500/- each! “Take one of them sir” advised the seller “you might need them in the future” The thirsty man refused the offer. His mind was only looking for the drink and buying of ties was the last thing in the world. The next two hours the same thing repeated two more times. Only the rate of the ties went up from Rs 500/- to Rs 2,000/- to Rs 5000/-. Every time the seller advised the thirsty man to  buy the ties at least one of the tie and warned him that not buying the tie could be very detrimental.

Finally at the end of the day the thirsty man saw a sight that was balm for the sore eyes. There was a bar beckoning him! He ran towards it. As he neared the entrance he saw a sign and fainted dead.  The sign at the bar said “Drinks free for any thirsty traveler. Entry only for a traveler with a tie”

Moral of the story: as a sales person it is always better to take advice of the friends and seniors as how to make one self a better sales person. Because by the time the advice is really needed – it might not be available”

Sales techniques and Product Knowledge – Stray Kitten and antique Chinese mink dynasty vase – Joke – II

A man was selling a very innocuous looking kitten. It was a drab barn reared stray. But like all small babies it was very cute. An interested bystander stopped to look at the kitten. He was stunned when he looked at the feeding vessel of the kitten. It was a antique Chinese mink dynasty vase. “My god it is worth at least a lakh rupees’ He said to himself. “May be the seller does not know the value of the vase” Hello, how much for the kitten” “Only Rs 5,000/-“ said the seller “ that is a lot for astray but then the vase will compensate for the kitten” the bystander said to himself  “okay” said the bystander  “I will take it”. The bystander quietly paid the money and gathered the kitten in his arms. He was walking away and suddenly stopped as if struck by a thought “Hello my friend I think it might miss its feeding vessel, why don’t you give it to me?” “No sir, I can’t do that I have already sold two hundred kittens showing that vase and I have a family to feed”

Moral of the story: If your selling skills are based on solid techniques and sound product knowledge (the antique Chinese mink vase) it is very easy to sell any product (stray barn reared kitten).

Sales executives and Sales Manager - Hard working or hardly working - Joke - I

It is said that people learn from stories. That is why Aesop tales and our own Jataka Tales are held as ultimate examples in giving small doses of knowledge but albeit in the funny and easily understandable format of stories. Let us today examine three jokes that will help us learn sales management nuances.

One person was selling puppies. Three puppies were priced at Rs 10,000/- and one was priced at Rs 50,000/-. The problem was that all the puppies looked alike. When quipped about the same the seller clicked. The three (Rs 10,000/-) puppies were off in a jiffy. In no time they were after a rabbit and after a titanic struggle killed it. They proudly brought the rabbit carcass and placed it at the feet of the seller. “That is why they are worth Rs10,000/-“exclaimed the seller. “That much I understand but why is the fourth puppy priced at Rs 50,000/-?” the irritated prospective customer retorted.

“Now watch” the seller clicked again and the three (Rs 10,000/-) puppies were off again. The fourth one was at the heels of the three puppies in front of it. The three puppies were frantically searching for the rabbit. All the time the fourth puppy kept yapping and trying to bite the puppies into action. It was appearing to do a lot without really doing anything.

Finally the three puppies found a rabbit and killed it. They were bringing it back. Just before they could place it at the feet of the seller the fourth puppy snatched the carcass of the rabbit and galloped in front of the other three and placed it at the feet of its master. It gave a huge sigh and sat obediently at the feet of the seller “That is why the fourth puppy is worth Rs 50,000/-“ “I still don’t understand” said the puzzled customer” “ Arre Saab the first three are the sales executives and the fourth one is the sales manager”.

Moral of the story: It is always the sales executives who do the job but it is the sales manager who gets the credit.

November 26, 2010

Height of Optimism and Pessimism ( The case of a Sales executive and a Finance Executive)

Sales men are always optimistic and Finance executives are mostly pessimistic. There is a joke that reflects their respective attitudes. A sales executive and a finance executive were residing in the same house. They had hung up stockings on the Christmas Eve. The next day morning the sales executive sees that the stocking is full of horse shit and he is overjoyed. The finance executive finds two fresh packets of milk and he is terribly unhappy. A common friend finds both the sales executive’s and the finance executive’s attitude very strange. 

He asks the Sales person “how can you be so happy and how can he (the finance executive) be so unhappy. The sales executive responds “Santa Claus has sent the horse shit today and the horse will come tomorrow." The sobbing finance executive adds “the milk is fresh today and it will get spoiled tomorrow. That is my worry”. That in a nut shell shows how two different professionals feel about their jobs.

It is always better to say that the glass is half full than saying it is half empty. Say that Tank Bund connects Hyderabad and Secunderabad rather than saying that it separates the two cities. Always be optimistic.

A shoe company had sent its sales manager to a remote African country to find out the sales potential. Within a few days comes a telex “No one wears shoes here. 100% market share can be expected”. Not totally believing the sales manager the Managing Director sends the finance controller. The telex arrives within a few days” “No one wears shoes here, zero market potential”.

Alarmed at the variance to these two reports the Managing Director sends the Head of Strategy. After two weeks a detailed report is sent by the Head of Strategy. The reports says the following" Both the sales manager and the Financial controller are correct. No ones wears shoes. So theoretically there is a possibility of 100% market share. But in a country where no ones wears any footwear the finance controller’s observation is also correct.

The company has to make people believe the advantage of wearing shoes over walking barefoot. Product trials have to be done and opinion leaders have to be won over. So cost will have to be incurred before some of the local population start wearing shoes. Once some of the people start wearing shoes there will be a cascading effect and many more will follow suit.”

The head of strategy does not stop here. He goes on to add " The company will have to invest in new machinery. This is because the typical shoe sizes in India are 7, 8 and 9. In Africa the typical shoe sizes are 8, 9 and 10. The country is very poor and does not have liquid cash. But the country is very rich in cloves”. The head of strategy suggests a barter system where the shoe company ties up with a local entrepreneur and supplies shoes in wholesale and take cloves in return. This true story illustrates the necessity of being optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. But Moderation is the key!

November 21, 2010

Worst marketing practices of Indian Mobile service operators – Part II

5. Over billing: This is one of the most popular ploy in post paid connections. Simply show lots of excess billing. In most cases the user simply pays off. If he does not it is a matter of conflict and arbitration. In one example the user was given a bill of Rs 16,000/- for a month. The shocked user complains. The reason given was that he was using the push mail service and that he was downloading files every time he used the push mail service. The user clarified that he was using these service and that he was told that he would be charged only Rs 2/- per e-mail service and that he was not told anything about the downloads. After agonizing wait the bill was waived off.
6. Give less on free calls:  The service operators give lots of free call on their own network free. This is used as a carrot to get the users to get their accounts recharged. Sometimes as many as 200 free calls are given in the same network. But critics argue that these are only notional free calls and that the user does not get his quota of 200 free calls. After all no one really count his/her free calls.
8. No proper verification: In the race to get numbers the service operators have given a bye to all rules and regulations. It was a breeze to get new SIM cards in India. One just needed an address proof and one photograph. Getting an address proof in India is very easy. It is rumored that the same address proof was used many times and many SIM cards were issued to many new users including anti social elements. The scam became so big that anti social and terrorist organizations started using multiple SIM cards and confusing the intelligence agencies. The India’s intelligence agencies had enough. They issued a dikrat, shape up or ship out. Scared of getting out of business the service operators have come down heavily on their agents who dish out the SIM cards. It is said that now there is a proper verification of a new user before a SIM card is issued. Let us hope it stays that way.
9. Life time validity: Getting life time validity for a mobile connection was a great motivator. It was assured that life meant life of the user. But it was not the case. It meant the life of the mobile instrument that is 4 to 5 years. Luckily for the customer the market economies have meant that no one is really talking about life time validity. If there was protectionism and if there was no choice for the customers the service operators would have withdrawn the life time validity scheme and would have started collecting monthly rentals charges like they were doing before the starting of the life time validity scheme.
10. Just dial and the ringing time is also shown as call: This happens with my service operator and that too in the post paid scheme. If the number that I am dialing keeps ringing the time ticker starts off. The ringing stops after may be 30 seconds but the time shows “call: 30 seconds”. I fail to understand how the call can be transacted by just calling. In our times the call was supposed to be completed only if the receiver picks up the phone and talks. But maybe that is the cost that we have to pay for modern technology!

Worst marketing practices of Indian Mobile service operators – Part I

When they are good they are good and when they are bad they are very bad. The mobile boys have also given us lots of bad marketing practices in a cut throat rate race for acquiring and retaining numbers. 
1. Selling of phone numbers for a very cheap price: Funnily enough the customers that the mobile service operators have acquired with so much of pain and effort are given off at a very cheap price to SMS operators. These SMS operators then harass the customers which all types of unwanted products and services.
2. Number Portability: The worst thing about having a mobile connection in India is that the customer so wedded to the operator for life. The mobile number becomes the extension of the customer’s personality and he/she does not want to take a new connection for his entire social network and friends know him/her by that number. The TRAI (Telecom regulation Authority of India) wanted to introduce a number portability scheme where the customer can if he wants change his service provider without changing the number. And Presto all the service operators came together to protect their (un)holy turf. Leaving the customer with no choice they are fighting tool and nail to see that the scheme of number portability scheme is not introduced. In this war for profits the customer is left holding the bag. He can’t do anything but to curse his fate for choosing the service operator that he is struck with.
3. Auto cut off:  One o the annoying thing about mobile calls is that the calls get cut abruptly which is popularly called call hanging. It is said that the cutting off is because of faulty network and cell transfers from one cell tower to another. But critics point out that call hanging does not happen with land line networks. They allege that the call hanging is a way of getting extra revenue. When a call gets hung up the customer has no choice but to makes another call.
4. Silence is YES: An issue that was very contentious and which went to the court of law. A customer gets a SMS which says “get your favorite ring tone at Rs 30/- per month. If you want to subscribe to this service send a SMS to this number”. The catch is the customer may simply ignore the SMS. The operator immediately deducts Rs 30/- from the user’s balance. This deduction goes unnoticed in the post paid connections but in pre paid where balances are used very carefully and judiciously this comes as a big blow. Finally the judicial system in India has to intervene and clarify that Silence is actually no and just because the customer kept silent it can’t be taken as an affirmative action.
An affirmative action has to be confirmed with sending of a SMS to the number mentioned. But in a country that is so illiterate it is very difficult for the user to understand so much of technical talk. The user is hassled and suddenly he/she gets a SMS. The SMS prompts the user to press the Yes button and he/she innocently presses the Yes button. The service is immediately activated. Once the service is activated it is very difficult for it to be deactivated. Calls to the customer care center are usually not very helpful. The customer care centers become helpful only if the caller becomes belligerent and threatens legal action or cancellation of service.

November 14, 2010

Best marketing practices of Indian Mobile service operators – Part III

1.     7. Night time calling is charged less: One of the striking feature of a cell phone is that it offers unique possibilities of having intimate conversation and it guarantees total privacy. Thus it is not surprising that a cell phone is lovers' best friend. This has been en cashed by cell phone operators who offered very good rates on users calling each other at nights. Thus a new opportunity was created to garner more business.
2.       8. Roaming charges: This was a lucrative business for the operators. Whenever a user moved from one circle to another roaming charges were charged. This way making and receiving calls when traveling was a very expensive affair. Again the operators quickly moved in. Now days for a extra Rs 62/- the roaming charges can be slashed. Now making and receiving calls when traveling has become a breeze. Same is the case with calling relatives and friends residing in countries like the USA, UK and Canada. Calls can be made for a unbelievable rate of 1 paisa per second. 

3.       9. Talk more and pay less: It works on the simple principle that the more a service is used the less the service will cost per unit of service consumed. This way calls for the first 500 calls will be charged at Rs 1 per call. 501 to 1000 calls will be charged at Rs 0.90 per call. And Calls from 1001 to 1500 calls will be charged at Rs 0.80 per call. This meant unshackling of the Public sector mindset of Indian marketers. For example Electricity users in India are charged the exact reverse way. The more one uses a service the more he/she would be charged. That way the public sector utilities were limiting the usage of their service.

4.       10. Customized packages: Mobile service operators are very aware of the fragile relationships that they  have with their customers. Users demand exacting standards of service and they are very unforgiving of any shoddy service delivery. They demand that any complaint be addressed swiftly and to their satisfaction. In such a scenario the operators can’t lose users. A user trying to shift especially in the post paid category is induced in all possible way to retain his connection with the existing operator.CRM professionals in that company study the usage of that user and design customized packages that give the best value for the user’s money. In the same way the operators have realized that prepaid users are not very lucrative and all types of inducements are given to shift then from prepaid to post paid status. But the unsavory reputation that the collection agents of various service operators have acquired has meant that many of the existing prepaid users are not willing to convert their connection into post paid status.

Best marketing practices of Indian Mobile service operators – Part II

Incidentally India is one of the few countries in the world that does not respect its own small change. No one in India accepts 25 paisa any longer. And in many places even 50 paisa is not accepted. One rupee has become the minimum currency that is being accepted. Just imagine the extra profit that all the retailers especially the super markets and petrol bunks must be making by not giving out the change. One report says that over 300 crore rupees is gained in a year only by the retail petrol bunks. Loose change is not something that has to be sneered at. It is money after all. 

1.       4. Location wise tariff: This was the innovation of Aircel. I would say a very interesting concept. It works on the concept that there is heavy traffic on some networks and less traffic on some other networks. I assume that customers are made to pay more for calls made on more populous networks and less on less populous networks. But what happen if the customers were to be in a car and keep moving around in the city and would use different networks at the same time? Would he be charged an average of all the different network usage? Very confusing for the customer, I would say! The scheme has not been popular as the customers found it very confusing and the savings if any were very difficult to quantify. This was definitely no no for the cost conscious Indian cell phone users. Like the management saying goes - Keep It Short and Simple (KISS principle).

2.       5. Five  number concept: a concept that encourages users to get a rebate on the tariff if the same number is being used again and again, The same concept is extended if the user were to lock his home number as his favorite number. This strategy is something that is puzzling. What does the service provider gain by offering rebate on some numbers? I assume that the 5 number plan acts as a loss leader pricing (a concept where a seller offers one product at a loss and expects to gain overall profitability when the user buys a basket of products).

3.       6. SMS service: a smart move to tap the texting craze that has sprung up. The operators offer add on the regular packages that offer as many as 300 SMS messages at a throw away price of Rs 30/-. At the same time the cell phone operators are happy as on any special occasion like the Diwali or a national festival the rates jump to Rs 1/- per SMS. The rate of SMS for finding out airline timings are charges at Rs 3/- and participating in game shows and Television programmes  make the pocket of the user lighter by as much as Rs 6/- per SMS. SMS is always a very lucrative business as text messages occupy less band width and many can be squeezed at less cost than network demanding and band width guzzling voice calls. Vodafone the street smart operator has concentrated on the value add services and is supposed to be more profitable than the voice dependent players like BSNL and Airtel.

Best marketing practices of Indian Mobile service operators – Part I

So what are the practices that made Indian cell phone market one of the most lucrative in the world? Let us examine.

1.      1. Life time validity: Initially the cell phone had a separate tariff for incoming and for outgoing calls. But the market savvy mobile service operators saw a huge business opportunity. The SIM card used to cost to be very cheap but the pre paid connection used to be very costly. Upto Rs 1500/- used to charged for a connection. Airtel was the first one to offer the connection in installments and offered a carrot - life time validity. Of course now a days the connection has become so economical that a connection can be had for less than Rs 50/- . At the same time incoming call were made free. This killed whatever nascent and minuscule market that was held by the paging service providers. At the same time it opened huge market of users like heavy duty truck operators, drivers, and courier boys. These users only have to receive calls and rarely made any outgoing calls.

2.     2. Tie up sales: The mobile cell operators hit upon a win-win situation. The Mobile phone manufacturers started offering post paid connections a part of the package and this spouted the sale of the cell phones. The same was used by the cell phone service providers. For a connection and a sum of let us say Rs 1,500/- they started giving a connection and a basic cell phone was thrown in free. This way the customers gets an connection and the instrument and can start using the service immediately. In a fiercely competitive market like the mobiles the customer has to start using the service immediately and he has to use it frequently and for lots period of time.

3.       3. 1 paisa and ½ paisa per minute:  For a long time it was De rigor for the cell phone operators to charge Rs 1/- for any call made. This was the legacy from the BSNL times that the cell phone operators were en cashing on. There was equilibrium in pricing and no operator was complaining. The only people complaining were the customers who were being fleeced Rs 1/- for even ten seconds call. It took a maverick like TATA DOCOMO to turn the traditional wisdom on its head. It introduced 1 paisa per second tariff. Suddenly paisa gained prominence.

Everyone laughed at TATA DOCOMO and TATA DOCOMO laughed all the way to the bank. It quickly gained market share and even the market leaders BSNL and Airtel had to follow suit. Now it is quite common for all operators to charge a 1 paisa tariff. Significantly the profitability of all the operators have dropped drastically but at the same time the networks were being utilized much better and the 1 paisa tariff had brought new customers and also added customer who have taken second and in many case even three connections. 

November 12, 2010

Mobile markets in India

Mobile services were introduced in the early 90s in India. Initially they were seen as rich men’s toys. The hand set was chunky like the wireless sets that police and airline employees possess. They were unwieldy, would not fit into the pocket and would act as very good self defense tool – you could cobble an attacker senseless with one hit from the hand set.

Incoming calls were charged at Rs 16/- and outgoing calls at Rs 32/-. Only the super rich could afford the cell phones and bear the call rates. It was very common to see a car stopping and the driver getting out of the car to take the call. It was a fashion symbol that had to be flouted.

By 2010 things have changed and boy how. The cell phone has become so common that in India today there are more than 550 million cell phones and counting. There are more cell phones in India than toilets. They have become so common that even sleeper class compartments in Indian railways carry charging points for ever eager mobile charging patrons.

India has become the mobile market of the world. With breath taking numbers that keep adding up every month it is set to outstrip China as a biggest cell phone market in the world. Its 3 G circle auctions were snapped up at awe inspiring figures.

So how did India achieve so much in so little time? India had one of the least tele densities on the world. So how did it leap frog from being the country with the least tele density to one having one of the highest tele densities on the world and all that in a decade and a half? Indian Mobile industry is a classic case study of what can happen when the shackles of protectionism are lifted off and private players come in and operate in a market place where survival of the fittest is the only mantra for success.

Fell by the way was the behemoth of the erstwhile era, the land line phone that customers used to wait for years together for a connection. Also fell by the way was BSNL mobiles services which recently lost its leadership position to Airtel inspite of having very good infrastructure, very competitive pricing and tacit governmental support.  BSNL was the only operator to have 3 G facility in India till now. 

We would examine in the next blog posting about the best marketing practices that made Indian mobile market the best in the world. Flavor this as I make my way out. India is one of the few markets in the world where share of post paid connections are much more than the pre paid connections.

November 02, 2010

India - Poor Country – Rich in common sense and business sense – Part - II

6.       Street food that is tasty and very affordable:  In most places in the world street food is either not available or is simply too costly. But in India Street food is always easily available and that too it is very cheap. One can get a full meal of rice and dal or roti and curry or Poori and curry all for Rs 10/- rupees (at a jaw dropping price 20 US cents). The food is cheap, mostly hygienic, served fast and is incredibly tasty.
7.       Vada Pau: that is more than a snack and less than a meal. The iconic food that originated in Mumbai Vada Pau gives competition to Mac burger and beats it hollow. Vada Pau is intoxicatingly, tasty, is fresh and is incredibly cheap. Vada Pau costs Rs 10/- in most places and that is at least three times cheaper than the most basic burger served by Mac Donald. Vada Pau is so famous that it has caught the attention of MacDonald which wants to make it a part of its own fare and call it a Mac Pau!
8.       5 rupees ice-cream and 50 rupees shirt: India is one of the few countries in the world that serves food very cheap. It is very common to se Rs 5/- (10 US cents) cone ice-cream that is tasty and very very affordable. At the same time a customer can buy a shirt (popularly called Kumar shirts) at a surprising price of Rs 50/-. Is the Rs 50/- shirt durable? Definitely not but at the same time it makes buying new shirts for the innumerable Indian festivals very pocket friendly. At the same time the typical Indian customer is very fashion savvy, so why waste Rs 1500/- on a branded shirt when you can get 30 shirts at the same cost and enjoy the feeling of wearing new shirt and the variety of new shirts, fashions and color thrown in free of cost!
9.       Car for2000 US $: When Ratan Tata announced a car at less than 2,000 US $ all the major car makers laughed at him. Toyota CMD made a bet that it was not possible and has to eat humble pie the day the car was officially launched. Initial hiccups aside Nano is doing great guns and is showing the world the Indian way of making rock bottom priced utilitarian products.
10.       Dabbawalas: The world famous Dabbawalas have proved many points. One need not be highly educated or highly placed or earn a six figure salary to deliver quality service to the clients. At the same time the cost of service need not be exorbitant to guarantee flawless, 6 sigma quality. The humble Dabbawalas charge only 6 US $ to take the home made lunch to the destination (usually the office) and take it back every day for 25 Days in a month. That is 5 cents per journey. And the distance covered could be as much as 80 kilometers one way. The most Amazing way of delivery of service in the world.

India - Poor Country – Rich in common sense and business sense – Part - I

What do you say about a country that is full of contradictions? A commonwealth games that was doomed to failure becomes a beautiful butterfly that emerges from the cocoon of sleaze, controversy, charges of corruption and suspicion. End of the day India delivered a beautiful Commonwealth and the icing on the cake was the stupendous performance of India who emerged a creditable second in the medal tally. Doom day predicting Pundits were left wringing their hands in anguish “we (Indians) are like this only!”

So what makes India and Indians tick? I think it is the enormous pressure that our population exerts on the individual that leaves no choice but to fiercely compete and emerge as a winner – aka “survival of the fittest”.
1.   Old rice becomes vadiyum/Fryums: Rice or food is considered as manifestation of god in India. “Annam Para Brahma Swaroopam”. It is no surprise that Indian Homemakers are loathe at wasting rice. Yesterday’s rice becomes Vadiyum a sort of crispy Fryums like potato chips.
2.       Old rice becomes curd rice and Pullihora: In the same way yesterday’s left over rice becomes Pullihora (colored flavored rice that is very liked as a snack)
3.       Bread bajji: Indians are very fond of fried food. And what is better than mixing two different types of food items bread and bajji and this was born an extremely popular snack food bread bajji.
4.       Plastic containers become foot wear:  India is one of the countries that recycle most of the products and that too very efficiently and effectively. So it is very common to see old plastic bottles becoming footwear. The best possible branding exercise for the multinational giants and also serving the poorest of the poor, a photo-op for the CSR group!

5.       Sharing auto concept: 14 to 17 people in an auto rickshaw:  India is experiencing rapid urbanization and in most cases public transport is either too crowded or totally inadequate. The middle class and the poor are left to fend for themselves. Autos (three seater motorcycle like vehicles) and taxis are too exorbitant. In stepped the concept of sharing autos. All types of autos came into the picture to cater to this demand, regular three seater autos with extra space (Piaggio auto), seven seater autos, and Tata Ace. These can comfortable fit 7 to 10 people and tightly fit 14 to 17 passengers. Yes the seating is very uncomfortable but what the heck the distance is short may be 5 to 8 kilometers and the charge is only what is charged by the regular road transport buses. The sharing autos, seven seater autos, jeeps and Tata Ace do a yeomen service in meeting the transport needs of the poorest of the poor. And what do they get in return? Harassment by the traffic police. The police take bribes and this is the way we treat our service facilitators who make our life a little easy!