Examples of bad customer service experienced by Sanjeev Sabhlok

Thirty months from commencement of construction and Guymer Lynnch has not yet completed the house


His photo:

Families in limbo as Victorian builder places company into liquidation. [ScreenshotHTML code


Contract signed with Shane Guymer, MD: 18 November 2013

Contractual date of completion: 12 months from issue of building permit. Building permit was issued on 27 February 2014, therefore date of completion under the contract was 27 February 2015.

30 months over on 27 August 2016, and house not completed

It is now 30 August 2016. THIRTY months from the date from commencement of construction. The house is still not complete.

My details: Sanjeev Sabhlok, sabhlok@gmail.com.




Fix the aluminium sheet to the tiles on the upper balcony so that the repairs to the major leak in the roof are permanently fixed

Fix the water stagnation issue on the upper balcony roof, else the roof will rust and water will leak into the house in a big way

Fix the leak in the toilet seat in the powder room on first floor – photo has been provided.

Fix the wall that has been damaged due to absence of door stopper in the main entrance (and install door stopper)

Repair tile at the main entrance (near stairs) and trim the stair to avoid tripping.

Repair the storm water exit from the root in the back side of the house – water spills everywhere during rain, indicating either a blockage or damage.

Repair the damage to the door frames from nails from wooden blocks that prevented access – as requirement for the occupancy certificate.


Laundry stairs: Either these are installed as per the contract or an offset for not installing it agreed, with only a permanent screen door installed, instead (a screen door is part of the original contract).

Clothesline: Install a Hills Large Double Folding Frame Clothesline Pebble Beach (https://www.masters.com.au/product/902486876), with steel posts. Location: Just outside the garden shed. Dimensions 2.2m x 1.2 m.

Screen door on main entrance: Install screen door on the main entrance door (near the main stair)

Linen cupboard: Fix shelf in the cupboard on the upper level of the house (just one shelf will do, instead of multiple shelves in the original contract)

Incomplete carpentry work: 1) external door for entrance to the area below the house; 2) Agreed defects identified in the the New Home Inspections report and signed by Shane Guymer as works requiring completion.

Incomplete rendering: There are large portions of the external area that have not been rendered. E.g. the entire side of the house with the main stairs, the front of the house with the electricity meter.

Incomplete painting: There are areas outside the house (e.g. stairs; areas of the walls) and inside the house (e.g. main doors) that have not been painted as per the contract.

Structural defects rectification: These are the agreed structural issues from the New Home Inspections report.

And anything else that was agreed as per contract but not listed here.


Upon Shane Guymer not responding to repeated emails and SMSs, we lodged a complaint with Consumer Affairs Victoria. Today, CAV have closed the complaint on the ground that he refused to respond to them. Extract from CAV’s email below. And, of course, it is now more than 34 months since official commencement of construction of the house, and it is not yet complete.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) emailed the following information to Shane Guymer and Guymer Lynnch Pty Ltd on 6 December 2016 (requesting a response by Tuesday 13 December 2016).

C2016/11/000691 – Ms Sabhlok

I spoke with Ms Sabhlok at length today and she will be sending me an email overnight setting out building defects and contractual issues that are still to be addressed which I will forward to you tomorrow. I remind you that Ms Sabhlok and her family took possession under a conditional OP which needs to be addressed.

Further I advised that ‘CAV cannot conciliate such domestic building disputes unless you engage in the process and are willing to work towards an agreed outcome’.

As the options available to progress are limited, I asked the builder to consider whether he was prepared to complete the building contract or make a commercial decision to settle. I also advised that I would be happy to meet with him at his business premises to try to develop ways to move forward. Unfortunately the builder has not responded to CAV. This means that CAV is unable to conciliate.

CAV aims for its conciliation process to be open and transparent, to be direct and clear in communication and for both parties to understand each other’s position and work towards a resolution. The builder has been afforded ample opportunity to address the issues raised in this complaint. CAV suggests that you obtain legal advice regarding your next steps that may include an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a determination.

CAV has also advised you to contact the RBS for advice on your next steps.




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Telstra’s structural problem of management: left hand doesn’t know what the right hand does.

I’ve become a Telstra customer again after many years (My last experience was TERRIBLE – see outline here).

I bought a bundle from them for $139 per month, but it appears Telstra CONTINUES TO BE is a horribly inefficient organisation.

More details later. For now, just this: [https://www.facebook.com/Telstra/posts/10153520908569315]



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eGlobal Digital Cameras is a Hong Kong company that pretends to be Australian. Customers should understand this clearly.

[ADDENDUM 20 SEPTEMBER 2015: The company has since fixed the defective mobile phone – but I’m not happy with its continuing claim to be an Australian company. And that its Australian contact people are uncontactable. Based on information obtained over the past four months, I’ve slightly amended my post, below, – took me more than 4 months to get my phone fixed. Either way, a bad experience, but some of the issues that have emerged are wider than just my phone]

I am loathe to write against companies but my experience with Eglobal is something that needs to be recorded. This company, with a “.au” URL is NOT an Australian company but purports to be one.

Details of my interaction with it (in relation to a mobile phone that I purchased from it) are provided here. [Updated as at 20 September 2015]

I purchased the phone believing it to be an Australian company (the .au URL). Turns out it is located in Hong Kong and the company’s warranty DOES NOT apply to Australia.

The phone died during the warranty period.


(1)  The phone could not be returned to Hong Kong since Australia Post does not carry mobile phones by air.  

This issue has since been resolved. It was clarified by Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) that there was nothing to prevent Australia Post from carrying my defective mobile phone by air. Turns out this was an Australia Post internal rule. I complained and was informed that Australia Post is changing its rules and will carry mobile phones by air within the year.

(2) It is misleading (but not illegal) for a Hong Kong company to use .au domain

I reported this company to AUDA at 9:40 pm on 20 July 2015.  I have taken screenshots of e-glogal as at 20 July 2015 [Download herehere and here]

AUDA has confirmed in writing and verbally that all a company needs is an ABN number to get an “.au” domain. AUDA does not care whether the company actually operates in Australia.

(3) The company has an ABN but it effectively NOT an Australian company

Its details:

Trading name Trudark Pty Ltd
ABN    58 003 759 662
ACN    003 759 662
Type    Australian Proprietary Company
Business Location NSW 2128
Locality    HARRIS PARK NSW 2150
Active from 31/03/2000
GST Status Not Registered
Business name Dwi Digital Cameras/ Digital World International
Websites ** eglobaldigitalcameras.com.au, dwidigitalcameras.com.au, eglobalbeauty.com.au

Domain Name    eglobaldigitalcameras.com.au
Registrar Name    Melbourne IT
Registrant Contact Name    Hugo  Oliphant
Registrant Contact Email    admin@eglobaldigitalcameras.com.au

See also: https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/57309

I have written to Hugo Oliphant at admin@eglobaldigitalcameras.com.au for more details. I have sent two emails to the company’s publicly declared email ID. No response. 

I now need to report this Hong Kong company to ASIC and the Australian Tax Office.

(4) Violation of Australian consumer law

No company should be able to sell products in Australia without ensuring these are waranteed and fit for purpose. I suspect eGlobal Digital Cameras has violated consumer laws. I will investigate and report the company appropriately. [I have not been able to pursue this line of inquiry, so now that the phone has been repaired – being sent to Hong Kong – I’m not sure whether this violation applies.]


I have also reported company to Product Review, providing PDF copy of the invoice (Order #16078540). I have reported this company to Trust Pilot.

(5) Seemingly asked me to violate the Dangerous Goods Act – BUT E-GLOBAL WAS RIGHT ON THIS.

After my persistence, they have agreed to pick up the phone for a fee of $50, but are now asking me to break the Dangerous Goods Act (see email below).

***** Please do not reply directly through this email. *****

Dear Sanjeev,

Regard the order to return, we will arrange with the courier (TNT) to collect your product.

TNT will send you an email for the pickup arrangement. Please check your email box and open the link to submit the order.

Kindly remind you that the invoice is required for pick up by the courier, please click ‘YES’ on the shipment details by submitting the order. Please do not mention there would be a battery inside the box.

Please print the invoice that TNT provided by the email and give the invoice to the courier man, thanks.

The fact that mobile phones (with batteries) cannot be carried by air is due to the risk they may create, potentially causing loss of lives. The company is asking me to make a false declaration, penalty for which is specified in the Act, below.

44A.    Offence to give false or misleading information
(1)    A person must not give information in complying or purportedly complying with this Act that the person knows to be false or misleading in a material particular. Penalty:    240 penalty units for a natural person; 1200 penalty units for a body corporate.

On this matter, however, I found that Australia Post was non-complaint with the law. It is OK to send a mobile phone by air, as confirmed by CASA.

Accordingly, there is NO requirement to declare a single mobile phone battery. When I did, after verification of the laws, send the phone by courier, I DID not declare any dangerous good, as was consistent with advice from CASA.

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The world’s most arrogant, least customer-focused company: Paypal

I had mentioned my pathetic experience with Paypal here:




After many years they contacted me that my matter required “resolution”. I said I’d try again but the SAME OLD MESS. No human interface. I had to type material print it then scan it in order to send them STINKING INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR LACK OF CUSTOMER FOCUS. I ASKED THEM TO CLOSE MY ACCOUNT. THAT TOO THEY WOULDN’T DO.

Finally, they forced me to upload ID documents (as if they hadn’t got enough of these already) and finally “reactivated” my account.

They then sent me a survey.

I have given them ZEROS on almost everything, and here are my comments:

You are the LEAST customer oriented organisation I’ve ever come across in my life. The most obnoxious system where there is no human interaction. Customer is treated like DIRT. Emails (yes, there was a time when someone responded by email) are NEVER responded. There is no phone number nor any address. I have never come across a more ARROGANT organisation than Paypal.
Your process is TOTALLY ARBITRARY, AUTHORITARIAN, RANDOM – without reason.
Your approach is totally DISRESPECTFUL of the customer.

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New Balance model 623 is hopelessly tight

I have been using model 854 of New Balance but then bought 623 with the same size, etc.


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My unhappy experience with Cornell Conveyancing 1/726 High Street Kew East VIC 3102

I’m writing to warn potential customers about this company.

Serious incompetence
This company doesn’t know its basic work. It made a massive, error in calcluating stamp duty, over-estimating it by thousands of dollars. Only later, upon my asking a question, did the company recalculate and found it had over-charged by many thousands of dollars.

In the meanwhile, the cheque had been issued, settlement done. Only by chance the stamp duty had not been paid to the SRO, so there was an opportunity to redo the amount. To fix the problem I had to spend inordinate amount of time running up and down to the bank, conveyancer, etc. A nightmare.

Finally, it forgot to get the invoice from SRO. That meant I had to remind the company about this issue. There was NOTHING the company did well.

Extremely slow, does not deliver in time as promised
The company took weeks to get the title deed. Settlement was 8 June. I got the deed only on 16 July. After repeated reminders. And thereafter I had to go to the owners’s house at night to collect it.

Incorrect invoice
The company is so incompetent it sent me an invoice for $660. Later it found they needed to pay something else, so they charged me $770. To get a revised invoice I needed to remind them repeatedly! Everything was a nightmare with this company.

Does not represent you in the transaction
The company refused to represent my interests at the settlement (e.g. getting a written condition about completion of identified defects). I was told by Student Housing Australia that my conveyancer should have insisted on this condition. But this conveyancing company’s view was that they needed to get settlement out of the way, and there was no way they could insist on this at settlement.

Basically, if you want your interests to be represented, don’t hire these guys! This company is incompetence personified.

I’m VERY unhappy with this company and would like to warn any potential users against this company.  Review score: ZERO out of FIVE.

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Philips Azur 150gm steamglide – a third rate iron

Within a month of purchase, this iron’s sole plate started eating up various fabrics. The material would stick and had to be cleaned by using Eucalyptus oil. By now I’ve consumed $20 worth of eucalyptus oil and the sticking is getting worse. The steam function is also pathetic and stopped working within a few months.

Sunbeam was FAR better but its element died off after 2 years.

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No one is claiming that the private sector is perfect!

As many of you have by now noticed, I write a lot about government incompetence and government failure. And indeed, it is very important that we realise the risks of letting governments undertake things that can be better performed by the private sector.

But as those who have read BFN and my draft manuscript, DOF, know well by now, I am not a fanatic believer in the private sector. I am fully aware that the private sector is not perfect, and that human imperfection haunts us all – whether in the government or private sector.

The only reason I advocate greater freedom for the private sector is because by having a powerful and diverse private sector we get to make real choices. If a private sector provider turns out to be an idiot or a cheat, we can move to another one (at least most of the time). When a government fails, however, there is little we can do to improve our situation, unless we want to pack up our bags and move from country to country like a vagabond.

Indeed, every few days I’m amazed at the absurd levels of stupidity displayed by many sections of the private sector.

Let me give a few stories from my own experiences:

1. For many years I got my cable broadband service through Optus. All went well till the service started having intermittent outages. I called the company and they sent a technician to repair things. The technician who came to my house said that the fault was in the poles somewhere outside the house, and went off to work on the poles. I waited for the technician to return but he did not! The problem was not fixed, either. I was kept in the limbo, my time (in getting hold of this repair person) having been totally wasted. On checking with the company over phone they had no record of what had happened. This was a display of such sheer incompetence that I left Optus and switched to Telstra – another private provider.

2. Telstra’s cable broadband service was fine (except that it was very expensive), but its billing service was in total shambles. For nearly one year it did not charge me for something it should have and charged me for something it should not have. Paying through the direct debit system I did not check the details of my bills till one fine day Telstra billed me a few hundred dollars for alleged backlogs in billing! I contacted the company and after a transferring me from one person to another for about one hour they finally told me they couldn’t even find me on their system! I then had to lodge a complaint with the industry ombudsman to resolve this matter. I was disgusted with the incompetence displayed by Telstra and swtiched to TPG, with which I have so far stayed even though I get slower ADSL service.

3. On another occasion, I procured a credit card from BP-Citibank which promised a 1% repayment on purchases. However, within a few months they reduced this repayment to 0.5% of the purchases, without changing (reducing) their annual fee. I complained and they finally waived the first year’s fee, but their arrogance was excessive that I soon changed my credit card provider.

4. I have a regular investment program with Colonial First State. I contacted them today in order to increase my contributions. After half an hour of wasting my time asking me one question or the other, the lady on the phone told me that she’d send me a form to fill in. I asked her to fill in the details and send to me for signature. She apparently couldn’t do that. So why waste my time!? If I had to merely fill a form, I could have downloaded and filled it without contacting her and wasting half an hour of my time. I’m done with this stupid company and will switch.

5. The other day Paypal froze my account on the ridiculous pretext that I’m a ‘charity’ and need to provide them with this or that information. They provided me with no coherent method to communicate my questions or grievances. Finally, through a convoluted process, I found a way to contact a real person, and now they tell me that they’ll reinstate my account. However, I’m definitely going to switch to a better provider. What gall – disabling my account in such a shabby manner. Arrogance. I don’t tolerate arrogance. I leave.

6. A few years ago I bought thousands of dollars worth of household goods from a major retailer, Harvey Norman. One of these was a kitchen sink but they supplied me one that faced the wrong direction. When the builder came to fix the sink it would not fit, and I had to buy a more expensive one from a nearby store given the urgency. Harvey Norman declined to compensate me for this major error of theirs, nor for the hassle they caused. For years I have therefore not bought anything from the company. Harvey Norman has lost thousands of dollars of my business due to their stupid action of disrespecting my time and not compensating me for their error.

I’m sure you can readily supply many such examples as well.

In each such case “reputed” private sector companies seem to behaved stupidly or arrogantly, treating customers and their time with disdain. As if these companies can survive without customers! The customer is ALWAYS the king. The company that forgets this does so at its peril.

In each case I voted with my feet – leaving the company for ever. I’m sure you’ve done that many times, too.

No doubt, many excellent companies exist, as well. I’d rate Officeworks, OPSM, Target, K-Mart, Bunnings and Myers as excellent companies for (based on my experience so far) they genuinely care for their customers and work hard to keep their customers satisfied. I therefore go to these stores again and again.

One may well ask, in such a competitive market, why do stupid private sector companies exist? I don’t know. But they do. Clearly the private sector is not perfect. But we should not deduce from this the the government is perfect! The government sector is at least equally imperfect.

The only good thing with having a diverse and competitive private sector is that if one supplier fails us, we can switch to another.

With the government there is no such relief.

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Beware of Daniel Baldwin of Insight Systems (formerly Dr Audio)

WARNING TO ALL PEOPLE TO BEWARE OF Daniel Baldwin, Director of Dr Audio Group Pty Ltd. Also on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/draudiogroup. Now Insight Systems Melbourne http://insightsystems.com.au/audio-visual-consultants/merger

This person put a misleading advertisement in E-bay about a printer (basically selling it without a cable). After he was asked to provide the cable, he promised in writing to provide it but after REPEATEDLY AGREEING TO DO SO and assuring he was doing so, he did not, and upon being reminded after two months refused point blank.

Daniel is a person who can mislead and sell non-functioning products (you should read his advertisement for the gross exaggeration of the product!), as well as NOT KEEP HIS WRITTEN WORD. Such is the world today. I’m now out of $31 and have wasted two months trying to get a printer. That is fine. I’ll pursue further, or write it off as a BAD experience.

But this information on Daniel Baldwin will now be a permanent reminder on the internet about him for the world to see, and therefore to deal with him with IMMENSE CAUTION. His word means nothing.


“This great laser printer has been refurbished and is in great working order. Has a relatively new genuine HP printer cartridge. Pickup is available from Eltham. A great printer and very useful for the small medium or home office.”


Email trail of the printer that Daniel advertised for sale without making clear that the printer cable (which is ALWAYS a part of all printers on purchase) was not being supplied. Clearly no one expects to buy a non-functioning printer. That is misleading conduct, to say the least. Why would ANYONE buy something that can’t be used?

EMAIL 1: 12 January 2010, after I picked up the printer from his house and came home to find that it wouldn’t work without a cable.

Dear Daniel

I was puzzled when I picked up the printer, you recall? The reason was there seemed to be no wire. There is no printer that comes without wire, and I was puzzled how this printer seemed not to have one.

I almost returned back to your home half way but it was late and I thought I might have a spare wire at home. I’ve actually got 3 spare parallel wires at home but this one is non-standard, and one fits it. (I’ve got a spare power cord). In other words I can’t use it.

Do you have the wire for the printer? It is a critical component to be able to run this printer? If so can you please mail it to me asap please?



EMAIL 2: 13 January 2010, Daniel replies to me.

Hi Sanjeev,

I don’t have those cables but will see if I can find one at the office to provide you. The cables do not typically come with the printers either. I know when I bought it I had to purchase a cable as well. [MY COMMENT: WHY WAS THAT CABLE NOT GIVEN TO ME, IT BEING A USELESS THING FOR DANIEL ONCE HE WAS SELLING HIS PRINTER? WHY DID HE NOT EXPLICITLY STATE THAT HE WASN’T SELLING THE CABLE? SINCE WHEN ARE PEOPLE EXPECTED TO BUY THEIR OWN CABLES FOR PRINTERS? WHY DID HE SELL A NON-FUNCTIONING PROCDUCT?]Let me see what I can find and I will come back to you.



Daniel Baldwin


Dr Audio Group Pty Ltd
Factory 1, 256 Bolton Street
Eltham, Victoria

Direct: 03 9422 1131
Office: 1300 883 569
Fax: 1300 883 769
Web: www.draudio.com.au

EMAIL 3: 22 January 2010. Daniel finds the cable and asks for my address. I send it to him.

Hi Sanjeev,

I have found a cable at work. What is your address so I can send it out?


Daniel Baldwin


Dr Audio Group Pty Ltd
Factory 1, 256 Bolton Street
Eltham, Victoria

Direct: 03 9422 1131
Office: 1300 883 569
Fax: 1300 883 769
Web: www.draudio.com.au

EMAIL 4: 6 February 2010. Daniel hasn’t yet sent the cable so I remind him. He replies petulantly.


Settle please. We have just had a baby and I have not been at work.

I will post the cable, even though it was not included in the auction however it will be done in my time wen I am back at work.

Please do not email about this again.

Daniel Baldwin

Dr audio Group Pty Ltd
Factory 1, 256 Bolton Street
Eltham VIC 3095

Ph: 03 9422 1111

On 06/02/2010, at 8:18 PM, “Sanjeev Sabhlok” wrote:

Not yet received. Would appreciate a response to my last three emails, please.

EMAIL 5: 10 March, a month later, the thing hasn’t arrived so I write to him:

Dear Daniel

Congratulations on the baby. I trust you’ve settled down to the new routine and are soon returning to work. As you are aware the printer has not been used since 12 January (two months ago) when it was bought. I’m happy to come over and pick up the cable from wherever it is (or send over someone to pick it up), if you haven’t been able to go to work yet.

Please let me know what is most convenient to you.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

EMAIL 6: 16 March, I write to him since he hasn’t responded. I become quite serious about this and inform him that I will now need to do various things in case I don’t receive the cable immediately. He replies questioning MY behaviour (after not having supplied a non-functioning product AND not having kept HIS word!)

Hi Sanjeev,

Thank you for your email. Could you please send me a copy of the contract between yourself and I identifying where it specifies that this connection cable is included with the printer?


I had contemplated giving you a cable for free [MY COMMENT: THIS MAN GIVES IN WRITING THAT HE IS GIVING THE CABLE THEN CLAIMS HE WAS ‘CONTEMPATING’ IT!!] however your behaviour has been far from acceptable and I find you pushy, rude and ill educated.

Again, if you can give me proof that the listing with eBay was to include a cable I would be more than happy to provide it. If not, either purchase one yourself or you can purchase one from me.



On 16/03/10 8:10 AM, wrote:

Dear Daniel

I’m sorry to not have received your response so far. Is there something I can do to help?

This matter isvery small but I will now need to escalate this seriously both over E-bay, over the internet, and legally. I do NOT let myself be misled or cheated by anyone, or sold non-functioning products. Every dollar I earn is valuable to me. Not for throwing down the drain.

1) I’ve got a website that names and shames people who mislead or cheat me. I’ll be forced to report the FULL details of this matter on the internet. I do not let off those who sell me non-functioning products easily.

2) I will also need to report the entire affair to Consumer Affairs Victoria that Ebay (and you) since have have sold me a non-functioning product in violation of Victoria‘s Consumer laws, and did not make amends within a more than reasonable timeline. I am reasonable but it is unreasonable to expect me to wait more than 2 months and force me to send off tens of emails to you to remind you of a basic matter.

Please treat this as my last email.

I now expect an immediate response (i.e. the relevant cable in my mail). Alternative remedies will thereafter be applied.





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Climate control/ air-conditioning/ heating in Ventura Buses

This is a response to my inquiry re: why buses are so terribly hot. I’m going to have to chase up the Australian Design Rules issue, as well as the alleged audits. Some other issues to follow up, based on further correspondence:

Don’t ask don’t know don’t care (don’t survey passengers to identify issues; don’t allow for easy complaints)

Don’t read details in the complaints

Don’t investigate thoroughly (putting on demister while heating is a false cause!)

Don’t replace under-seat vents

Don’t try to understand the physics of bus heating (like solar cookers)

Don’t know how to fix AC thermostats (mostly defective).

Perhaps a table on these lines:

Issue | Primary responsibility (Driver/ Management)

* Make it difficult or impossible to complain (tick management)
* Do not listen to complaint carefully (ie. listen with ears closed) (tick management)
* Do not put on A/C (tick drivers)

– The reality drivers NEVER experience the problems experienced by passengers so how can they report???? And there is no place in the bus to report excessive heating. So WHO knows about this? When a passenger repeatedly chases up (as I have done) even that is denied.

– how can an audit occur when no complaint is allowed or received, or if received, denied?

-This is a highly defensive response. DENYING the problem doesn’t make it go away, simply demonstrates a thick-headed bureaucratic attitude.

– reminds me of a Third World bureaucracy.

– no signalling mechanism to let the driver know that the bus is hot (e.g. when A/C is switched off), but when complaint is lodged with the company/ department, there is sheer denial.

(The following supercedes my ad hoc posts during 2009).

Excessive variation in temperatures within Ventura Bus Company buses, mostly towards the hot and suffocating side


by Sanjeev Sabhlok, an unhappy passenger

While buses perform a valuable service to the community, some of them act as sauna baths in the inside, causing profuse sweating, suffocation, and headaches to passengers.


The stated policy

Ventura has a policy on climate control inside the buses, which effective aims to keep the temperature at 22 degrees. The thermostat cannot be altered by Drivers. The new buses have 2 opening windows only to ensure the air conditioners work effectively. Since the introduction of the additional air conditioned buses into our network it is very rare to receive climate queries even though we serve over 24 million customers per year.”

– Managing Director of Ventura Bus Company, in an email to me.

Reality: This policy simply does not work! Winter is the only tolerable time to travel in many Ventura Buses. I sweat it out badly most days in spring/ autumn and summer, during which it feels like travelling inside a sauna, leaving me exhausted, and suffocated (almost). At the same time, one freeze in some of the buses because of excessive cooling. Temperatures are usually the highest at the back of the bus.

1. Too much variation in temperature, mostly too hot

a) On many warm days some bus drivers do not switch on the air-conditioning. Given the solar cooker effect of large glass windows, the still air inside the bus creates sauna like conditions.

b) When air-conditioners are switched on, the result depends on the quality of the thermostat, most of which are defective. As a result, many air-conditioners spew hot air even when ambient temperatures are warm. While hot air is preferable to no air (for movement of the air is better than sticky, stagnant heat) the result is miserable. On the other hand, some bus air-conditioners blow cold air even when the temperature is freezing. As a result, temperatures inside a bus can vary from 15 degrees (or lower) to 35 degrees or higher.

c) Some buses have heating vents below the seats which blow hot air at around 50 degrees. One’s trousers and bags become really hot to the touch, but problematically, these under-seat vents add a huge amount of heat to already over-heated buses.

2. Ventura Bus company does not monitor temperatures

For the last eight years since I’ve used public buses (earlier this was called National bus company) I have not seen anyone come in to measure bus temperatures.

3. No feedback sought by Ventura Bus Company

Ventura Bus company does not maintain any readily available system to receive feedback from passengers. There is no suggestion box on buses, and bus numbers are not painted inside. When one gets down a bus, by the time one assembles one’s thoughts, the bus has moved on. It is therefore extremely challenging to make note of bus temperatures for specific buses and provide feedback. Indeed, customer service in Ventura was hostile to my initial reports of a systemic problem, insisting that I must talk to the individual driver first – whereas the problem is systemic, not bus driver related. I had initially thought that drivers control heating and cooling separately. Later I discovered that when a driver switches the AC, it uses the thermostat to control what it does (heating/cooling). The problem is therefore not a driver problem at all, but a systematic defect of the air-conditioning system. g) A customer service rep. asked me to identify the driver – but this is not a one-driver issue! Yet, I did identify drivers twice – out of possibly twenty drivers who had similar issues. Of course that didn’t solve the problem!

Summary of my temperature reports on a few buses

I tried to note bus temperatures (table below), but these observations are only indicative since I may have made mistakes re: bus numbers.

Bus No.




1650 AO

31 March

9 am

Very HOT! (in patches, because of below seat heaters)

1651 AO

25 March and 31 March

9 am


1651 AO

14 April

6:30 pm

Same bus is now very pleasant. Good combination of heat and cold – don’t know what is the reason for this strange transformation.

1652 AO

19 March

9 am


1655 AO

23 March

9 am

very hot!


24 April

9 am

Like a blast furnance inside – outside temperature was 17.5 degrees


9 April

6:30 pm

Freezing cold in bus even though it was already cold outside. This is very similar to 1651 above. Don’t know what is happening.

1657 AO

1 April

9 am

better than other buses. However, still a bit on the hotter side.

1658 AO

24 March

9 am. Good. A bit on the cooler side.

1659 AO

getting a bit better (seems OK – but likely I’ve mixed up number plates)


In addition to below-seat heaters and non-functioning thermostats – and drivers who do not switch on (their defective) air-conditioning system, the following issues exacerbate the problem:

a) Buses trap huge amounts of heat. With big windows, buses absorb sunlight in large quantities and act as solar cookers. Temperatures inside buses can easily become 6-10 degrees C higher than outside. Recall that kids actually die when left in the back of a car for even 40 minutes on sunny days. The same effect is at work inside buses, multiplied manifold because buses have huge windows.

b) Windows are sealed. Modern buses to not allow air to enter from any nook or cranny (unlike old ones that had large windows and gaps in various places). As a result there is no air flow inside buses, causing severe suffocation (apart from the foul smell of over 50 passengers).

c) 50 radiators inside the bus: Body heat. The body heat (37 degrees) of 50 or more passengers in the bus significantly increases heat build up inside buses.

d) Switching on the AC depends on drivers’ heat sensations: Whether the (often defective) air-conditioner is switched on at all depends on whether the bus driver feels like turning it on. Drivers, however, are not a good judge of heat inside buses. They face a lower temperature than passengers because:

Drivers come to work by car (they are not sweaty after having walked uphill for 5-10 minutes to get to the bus – like many passengers have to do)

They board the bus 30 minutes prior to passengers getting on, hence they have cooled off.

They have a seat in a wide-open space where there is frequent motion of air as passengers come in and out, so they don’t experience the still air that passengers experience when ACs and fans are kept off.

they have no humans around them, hence no heat ‘radiators’

they can open their window easily (and many do) whenever they want to; passengers can’t.

Thus, drivers usually don’t experience the ‘still heat’ and suffocation that passengers experience.

e) Passenger own body heat can often be very high: Passengers often walk uphill for 5-10 minutes at great speed to get to the bus in time for work. Sometimes they run. And passengers often required to wear woollen suits and ties as part of their work attire. Drivers wear loose clothing, and are stagnant and therefore much cooler.

f) Passengers would rather faint than complain: Social psychology tells us that passengers are reluctant to complain about temperatures unless they are virtually going to faint. In large buses it is also impractical for each passenger to go to the driver to discuss the bus temperature.

g) It is a very bad idea to ask bus passengers to inform drivers about the temperature. A customer service representative of Ventura gave me as the customer the responsibility of walking over to each bus driver and complaining about the bus’s temperature. (She did not send me the formal company policy which directs passengers to talk to drivers about bus temperatures, but since she said this in writing – see below – I presume this must be company policy):

Customer Service representative:

“Dear Sanjeev, All you need to do is ask the driver to turn the heating off if it is too warm! Kindest Regards, Customer Service Ventura Bus Lines / National Bus Company”

“Is there a problem with asking the driver to turn the heating off? If you have asked and a driver has not been accommodating then I would surely see your problem”.

Problems with this approach

Passengers on at the back of the bus, with standing room only, can hardly be expected to walk up to bus drivers and complain. Passengers should in any event not speak to drivers in moving buses in the interest of bus safety. It is also dangerous for passengers themselves to walk inside fast-moving buses. Clearly this particular Ventura Bus company policy is seriously flawed and must be changed.


I asked Ventura Bus company to conduct a study on this matter but they declined this request. However, based on my understanding so far, the following solutions would be relevant to the resolution of this problem. In particular, (1) and (2) will make a big difference:

1. Seal off the below-seat heaters. There is no justification for these below-seat heaters found in old buses, given that buses already heat up excessively. When one’s leg comes in contact with the vents of below-seat heaters, one can literally get singed, even in winter, for the temperatures near these vents exceed 50°C. Use of such heating vents on arm days adds significantly to the problem.

2. Investigate the functioning of thermostats. Temperature sensors in most buses are non-functional; being either of poor quality or not designed to sense temperatures across various parts of the bus. Better and functional sensors would help ease the problem.

3. Publish a passenger comfort policy. Bus designers presumably consider human factors and set out conditions of its use to ensure passenger comfort. However, such policies do not readily exist on any government website. Policies in this regard should be published. In particular, the policy must require temperatures to be kept between 18-20 degrees inside the bus, instead of the 28-32 degrees that is commonly experienced even on slightly warm days.

4. Paint bus numbers inside the buses. This will allow passengers to report problems.

5. Put a suggestion box in each bus with a few sheets of paper readily available that people can write on and lodge complaints.

6. Ask Ventura executives to walk uphill and board buses and experience average passenger experience themselves. If they never travel in buses they can’t understand what is going on to their passengers.

7. Review temperature policies in consultation with passengers.

8. Ask drivers to not overheat buses when the weather outside is mild. If they notice passengers removing jackets and sweating inside the bus, they should switch off the heater (if they can!! – I gather they don’t have any control on that – so this suggestion may not be relevant).

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