Is competition always good?

Don't think so. At least in the context of Indian market. As per the established belief, market becomes a better place for consumers if there is fair competition. However, contrary to this, Indian market is establishing a fact that we don't care about the consumer, we all are competing against each other for the sloppiest service award.

You might very well be aware about my opinion about the retail outlets like Reliance Fresh, More, Spencer's. They have one thing in common - not having stock when the consumer needs it most (weekends, holidays, month-ends etc) . On top of that all of them have started putting air-conditioning off or to the minimal level. In my opinion, most of these places have been built assuming that there will be artificial ventilation provided in terms of A/C. So when you turn off the A/C, people inside the store have no choice but to get drenched in sweat. When asked, the rep would embarrassingly tell you that A/C is not working.

Recently, Pune has been blessed with two more radio channels - Radio City and Radio One. I was hoping to get some better experience with this competition in place. After allowing some time for these new channels to settle, I feel, both of them are equally bad as compared to Radio Mirchi. Enormous amount of time spent in Advertisements and RJ chatterbox. I would accept the advertisements part, as that is the main source of income for these radio channels. But the RJs they are much annoyance than anything else. On top of that, all of these channels have to play the same songs again and again and again. Many-a-times, I end up listening the same song thrice while driving to office or way back. If one channel is giving out free dinner passes, other has to shell out cash as prizes for some stupid questions. If one channel goes with INOX, other has to go with City Pride. I am okay with the fact that few people are benefiting with these pennies, but the sad part is that it's at the cost of annoyance to other few thousand folks.

Extending this competition to realty business - same story. Everyone know how competitive this market has grown. However, most of them are giving sloppy service to end customers. There are few brands which are still retaining the trust, but overall impression is not good. So competition hasn't really helped the consumer even in this industry.

Story with IT sector is a bit convoluted. Fierce competition has actually become a problem for the companies. On one side they have to keep the rates competitive (read as as low as possible) at the same time they need to be competitive in terms of employee remuneration (read as high as possible).

Consider the scenario with voice providers. Every customer has a single complaint - I get signal from other service providers but not their own. BSNL, Idea, AirTel, Vodafone everyone. Every evening it's a nightmare to get a call through. Cross connections have become a feature and getting complaint resolved next to impossible. Every player in this field just promises better service and ends up in providing below average. But since everyone is almost same, customer doesn't see a point in switching the providers and that has made the situation worse for them.

At the same time, if I look at the global market, situation appears to be different. A cut throat competition from Google has made Microsoft think innovative and do something different to win some share in the search engine market.

I am sure even India will reach that stage only if at least one of the players decide to be the best and not just be better or equal as others. That will boost the healthy competition and will force others to do better than the best in order to remain in the business.

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