Slipping standards, poor products, terrible customer care at Helix-Timex-Titan
Titan is a wonderful brand. It belongs to the Tata group. And, yes, this company is known for the quality of its products, and its amazing customer care.
That may be true of Titan even today, but that may not be true of its subsidiary Timex, and even less so in respect of its Helix range of watches.
Timex Group India was incorporated in 1988 as a joint venture between Timex Corporation USA and Titan Watches (a Tata company) to manufacture watches. Timex Group designs manufactures and markets innovative timepieces and jewelry globally.
But by 2013, Titan Industries and Timex Watches have announced an end to their five year long relationship, with Timex taking over the marketing, design, sale and service of its products from Titan (https://www.business-standard.com/article/specials/titan-timex-wind-up-marketing-alliance-197122301097_1.html).
But even today, Timex watches are sold through Titan outlets, with both brands often appearing next to each other. That gives customers the impression that Timex and Helix too are part of Titan and are therefore part of the Tata group. Such a perception gains credibility when one finds the Titan group not responding to my emails about Timex, or to the Tweets about this matter. There does appear to be some connection.
In some ways this article is a bit unusual. It rakes up a complaint made in July 2022/ But the reasons are many. They are given towards the end of this article.
My exposure to Helix began when I was travelling through Surat on a business trip. I had some time to burn, so walked into a Titan shop and purchased a Helix watch. I normally do not make purchases from cities other than Mumbai where I reside because then I can walk into the seller’s shop, and complain. But I was confident about the Titan brand. And so, I walked in.
As I could not visit Surat once again, I had to deal with the customer service department of Helix/Titan/Timex.
The software for the watch gave two customer service addresses — firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Strangely, Coveiot responded to all my emails. Coveiot, I came to learn, was a third-party agency to which Titan/Timex/Helix had outsourced all customer care issues. But when things get complicated, or when it came to replacement demands, this agency passes on the buck to Titan/Timex/Helix. Unfortunately, all my emails to Timex bounced off. Not once, but at least three times. And my Tweet too, which had been marked to both Timex and Titan did not elicit any response.
First, my watch refused to sync. I had to spend hours to get it to sync.
When it did, the sleep monitoring software would not work. After uninstalling the software, it began working, again after much effort.
But there was another problem.
The sleep software only showed.
- Deep sleep
- Light sleep
It did not record interrupted periods when a person could be awake. All good sleep-monitoring-software have these four categories. The Helix software had only three. I pointed this out to Coveiot and to Timex at the email addresses shown in the software of the watch I had purchased.
When I began pointing out all the glitches in the software and the serial numbers and wanted a replacement, Coveiot asked me to contact Timex. I informed them that all emails from Timex had been bouncing off.
I had written a series of emails, to the third-party agency ‘Coveiot’ — to whom Titan/Timex/Helix had outsources customer service. My emails and tweets went without a response from Helix/Titan/Timex, though Coveiot tried its best to address some of my concerns. My tweets were marked to @titanwatches and @timex (Tweet thread – https://twitter.com/rnbhaskar1/status/1547879881362456576?s=20 15 July 2022). There was only one confirmation from Titan registering my complaint and stating that it would get back to me. But that did not happen.
By August, I had more or less decided that I would have to get myself another watch. But till then I continued wearing the Helix watch.
Then, sometime in September, the glass cover, which shows the time and other data, came loose. I used some rubber solution to bind it to the body, because I knew that writing more emails or sending more tweets would only be a waste of time. By November end, I discovered that the glass top which was also the watch dial had fallen off somewhere, I was left with a watch with its innards exposed.
That effectively confirmed to me a suspicion I had harboured that the quality of product selection at Titan/Timex/Helix was extremely poor. Their customer service was even more rotten.
That raises the question: Why is this article being written now? The reason is simple. In the past year, I have interacted with products and services of three Tata group companies. I admire the work that the Tata group has been doing, and this article could be in the nature of a lover’s quarrel with the world.
The three interactions were.
First with Helix/Titan/Timex. I have deliberately included this as part of the Tata grup on account of the reasons explained above. The details given above confirm my feelings about both product quality and customer service.
The second was Vistara (details can be got from https://asiaconverge.com/2022/12/vistara-is-disabled-unfriendly-despite-belonging-to-the-tata-group/).
The third was Croma (https://asiaconverge.com/2023/02/croma-is-customer-unfriendly/).
I had problems with all the three, and my writeups about my experiences explain why.
The response of Croma was the best. After a few attempts on the part of junior management to dodge the issues – one person even said that laws did not permit the shops to register another GST number other than the state in which the establishment was located, but refused to give that claim in writing – the management immediately realised that there was a problem, and refunded to me the CGST amount that I could not get credit for. It is possible that the company will rectify their accounting processes and ensure that customers are not short-changed in getting credit for their dues. I am happy that the management took suitable measures.
Vistara finally apologised – after first telling me that the reason why I was given a rear seat in the aircraft was because they thought I would prefer being near the toilet! Later the management apologised, and said that the matter had been escalated to the highest levels. But there was no assurance that this would not happen again. In the meantime, Vistara was asked to show caused by the Office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities. A copy of that show cause notice can be found from the website referred to above. However, with the possibility of the Vistara brand being extinguished after its merger with Air India, the matter remain infructuous. But it is sad that the management has not made any amends, or given any concrete assurances to date.
The worst performer in my estimation is Timex/Titan/Helix. It has not even bothered to respond to emails. Emails to Timex have bounced off. Clearly, the customer care staff of this organisation is celebrating a paid vacation. The customer does not matter. The quality of products does not matter. All that matters are the perquisites of the staff. And that is a terrible sign of the shape of things to come.
I do hope that the brand custodian of the Tata group will take cognizance to such incidents which only corrode the excellent image the Tata brand has enjoyed till now. I am aware how, in the past, when I wrote to Ratan Tata, and to JRD before him, action was taken immediately, and attempts to redress the issue were made promptly. Clearly, such a speedy response is missing now – at least with both Vistara and Helix/Timex/Titan.
I, for one, have decided not to use the products or services of Vistara and Helix/Timex/Titan till some kind of clear assurance is forthcoming. Hopefully, they will mend their ways.