Dear conglomerate: spend your money elsewhere. Please.

Shopping at Cromā lead to an interesting experience with BigBasket. Hello, ruthless data sharing.

Be aware this is a draft post — please adjust your expectations accordingly. Get in touch if this post could use an improvement.

Tata Group is a huge family-run conglomerate in India. Recently, they have acquired/bought Air India, 1mg, and BigBasket. Of course, they have many more brands already like Vistara, Croma, Cliq, Motors, Steel, and it goes on and on. Heck, they even run Starbucks as a JV in India.

Founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868, the Tata group is a global enterprise, headquartered in India, comprising 30 companies across ten verticals.

A common thread across all of this is how terrible the websites and mobile apps are for the majority of these brands. It’s amusing that even their acquisitions tend to have poor apps to begin with. Tata 1mg is an exception here – mostly.

For such a big conglomerate, my expectation is nothing short of world-class user interfaces.

Unifying the login systems. → Cromā.

When I went to purchase my iPad at Cromā, I was hit with very funny stuff:

  • Using my phone number, they had my Tata 1mg data on file.
    • I immediately questioned them and the conversation loosely went as follows:
      “Oh you must have shopped here before.”
      Yep. It ended in awkward silence.
    • At first, alarm bells rang. Did they buy this data?
  • The address on file was made up using two, different addresses.
  • The pin code was from a third address.
  • Recalling they recently bought 1mg, I was a little more at ease. Perhaps it was simply exchanged.

Anyway, I gave them correct info and was on my way.

Cromā → BigBasket.

Fast-forward to today, I tried to log in to BigBasket. No idea if I used my primary number or throwaway number… so I entered my throwaway number to check that that’s the number I used to sign up before, and what happened next was interesting.

Side-note: I specifically asked the Cromā staff to only use my given email for signing up my AppleCare+ or connecting my Apple ID to the purchase. And otherwise not to enter this email for their own records.

My BigBasket mobile number based login showed up with my Apple email ID! An on-demand account created using information available elsewhere (Croma).

I also asked them to use two different names — Ru for their system, and my full name for billing as well as AppleCare+. But nope… the BigBasket login had my full-name on display…

Sour taste.

I’m upset, obviously. These companies are exchanging data internally (fine), but not giving me an opportunity to provide this data myself if I want to (not fine). They don’t allow correction either (unless I input a whole new number) — a “solution” recommended by the Cromā staff.

Getting new numbers in India is not an easy process, which is also why there are no VoIP companies here like Hushed.

Whatever is happening, it seems like they’re at work integrating many brands into a single sign on system, or something along those lines. I’m sure this is all covered in their terms and conditions neatly, which I of course accepted, but that’s not what this is about, is it?

I wish they would spend this money on teaching their staff to respect their shoppers’ data (and simple instructions for that matter). And then on their apps to improve their ease of use (which is almost always extremely poor).

All of this discovery was only made possible thanks to using wildcard email addresses — thanks TyChi for the tip… sometime last year…or 2020? 2021? Who knows any more.

Photo by Nick Linnen on Unsplash.


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