Two days ago, I wanted to buy a birthday gift for my son. He wanted a video game, like most kids of his age – he turned 8 today, incidentally.

He had seen a couple of gaming consoles at his friends’ place and was keen on a PSP…a portable player, not so much of a TV console. So, like any interested buyer, we decided to look for a place near home to acquire a PSP.

This was an early evening on Saturday…in Bangalore. The traffic outside was already starting to pile up and I did what any sane person would do – search online for the store closest to home where we can buy a PSP. The online option (Flipkart, my first choice) was out since the birthday was 2 days away.

I searched. Got tons of results – mostly from local search engines like AskLaila, JustDial, local yellow pages websites and so on. I called every possible store nearby – Tata’s Croma, Reliance Digital, eZone, Viveks, Sony showrooms…you name it.

Most…no, sorry, make it ‘every’. Every call went nowhere. Yes, nowhere. Most numbers were outdated. A Sony showroom mobile number was answered, but the guy at the other end gave me a landline number to call, which went nowhere. Some numbers had another human picking a call, but it was the front desk of the store and by the time he understood what I needed and requested me to wait to transfer the call to the concerned department, 10 minutes had lapsed. And no one from the ‘concerned department’ picked the call. So, I had to call again.

This process – entire process – took about 45 minutes. At the end of this session, I got to know that Reliance Digital and eZone did not have stock of PSP; Sony showroom did not have anybody to pick the call in the first 20 minutes of you trying; and others had a phone for another reason that what it was invented for.

45 minutes to merely know if a product is available (and if it is worth the effort driving to the store) is utterly ludicrous.

I was wondering about communication channels that help in ‘immediacy’ earlier. A friend sent a text message with an urgent (personal) call-to-action one night after I had slept – so, I missed the urgency of the message that night. In the morning, it was submerged in the other text messages that we in the inbox and I managed to see that ‘urgent’ message only the next day noon! If text messages are this immediate, imagine email and social networking status messages. I suppose the only way to be immediate is to meet face-to-face or call, on a phone.

But the experience above doesn’t seem to be helping the calling cause. It is one thing to make correct phone numbers available and it is completely another thing to have people attend the phone when it rings…whenever it rings.

And it is totally another thing to have sensible people to address the specific requirements of customers when they call with some expectations of immediacy, instead of putting us through an extended waiting period in a really real-time device like phone.

And to think the world is going ga-ga over Twitter as a real-time platform!

A very appropriate, related read:We donâ??t have phone conversations anymoreâ??we have one-on-one, scheduled phone meetings

Pic courtesy, Marketcalls.