The Startup boom in India
2014-2016 witnessed many mobile app based services in India as a part of the startup boom. These 3 years was supposed to be the best period in India for startups and we saw many services which are made easy using mobile apps. A few of such wonderful apps are Uber, OLA, HouseJoy, Urban Clap, Bro4U etc. We would like to focus here on the app based maintenance & repair services. Will this trend continue to grow or will the consumers go back to the old times of getting the contact number of the shop/repairman and contact them directly?
We have tried many of the apps for house maintenance and we relied on the best ones, HouseJoy & UrbanClap. We have to agree that the until the point the serviceman reaches our home, it is a very satisfying experience. A beautifully designed app, simple user interface, pricing isn’t great but we would think that even if we call a repairman directly, we would end up paying the same or even more as bargaining comes into the picture. So we would go ahead with the pricing whatever is listed. We don’t have a documented proof, but we have learned that such apps charge a commission of 10% – 30% per work.
A Case study on App based services
In these services ads and also in the app screens, they show plumbers, electricians, mechanics as neatly dressed professional looking people as their workers and somehow it gets into our mind that “Yes these people might send professional people only” until we see the plumber (in this case) at our doorstep with a shabby dress, 100% unprofessional with a tag of the company who sent them. The first thing they say after seeing the work is that, whether I do or not, the minimum rate for the visit is Rs. xxx. We have no option apart from saying “yes”. The next thing they do is to identify whether the work is Big or small. If the work is big, how to do it in an easy way by charging more than what is required. If the work is small, then they would think, “How to make this a big work” and charge more than what is required.
In the case we have experienced, we had a problem with the Solar Water Heater where the output pressure was so low. So the only thing he wanted to check was to remove the output line and check for blocks. If the block is in the Water Heater side, then he won’t be getting anything as nothing is there to repair for him. So the first thing he did was, he noticed that the output pipelines were old and had some rust in the joints. Pretending to remove the nut at the end, he just turned the whole pipeline without giving any support at the other end. Boom.!! the pipe broke at the joint and the whole pipeline has to be replaced now. Next, comes the dialogue “See sir, the whole line is damaged, everything has to be changed. Don’t worry I’ll do it for you.” Now, do we have any option apart from saying “yes”?
The next thing is even though we denied, he wanted to get the spares by himself from the shop he knows so that he can “create” the bill according to his needs. As we denied it, he gave the list and was never satisfied with the quality of products received from the nearby shop of our choice. However, we had to run behind him ensure that he does not create any more work. So the line fixing is done, now the real problem still exists, the Water Heater output water pressure. It is still low from the heater side itself and he does not remove it as it comes under Solar Water Heater service people. He charged more that what it is, which includes the commission of the App based company gave the bill and walked out happily thinking “A Job well done from my side”. But the real consumer is still left behind with the problem he has initially called them for.
We might get the same experience if we call a plumber by ourselves and probably we might end up paying more that what we paid now, but the point we are trying to make is, it is no different in an App based service company. We wanted to bypass such things so that the company takes care of all these, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. Here the plumber is still the king. The benefits with an app based company are,
a) Booking a service made easy.
b) The repairman comes on time.
c) We get a bill even though we are sure that we are cheated.
Such experiences made me a good plumber, electrician & even small scale mechanic who repairs anything and everything in and around my house after much help from Google & Youtube. Yes, it may not be a professional work, but with the amount of DIY videos and articles we have on the internet, it is possible to repair anything by ourselves even though it may take more time & effort than required.