Archive for the ‘Business’ Category
One of the hazards of being in services is that people expect you to be responsible for all service issues they’ve experienced with that company. So general conversation moves very quickly from the usual “Where do you work?” ice-breaker to the “oh! you work there? I had this terrible experience last Tuesday with …”
All too often, my response has been an apology on behalf of the company and a request for the new acquaintance’s contact details so that I can pass them on to someone in the Customer Service Department.
Until recently, that is. Now I ask “Have you complained?” and surprisingly get the answer “No” more often than not. When I ask about the hesitation to complain – “no, it’s not nice – no?”, “but service is generally very good except for that specific area” are the cliché responses. I then take some time to explain that complaining is the best way the company will find out about the problems in its service delivery.
Do we as Sri Lankans have a problem with complaining? Is it because culturally we are expected to be nice to people and therefore feel bad about pointing out a failure, albeit a minor one? Or is it that we as a people don’t take complaints in a positive manner – so much so that the “victim” feels that there is no point complaining since there will be no redress?
I looked back on my own experiences with less than satisfactory services/suppliers. Historically I’ve been the type to just not make a fuss, but somehow I find that I’ve become less tolerant of poor service.
And then there’s the time that I was put on hold for 15 minutes when booking a flight with JetStar which made me appreciate the better response from our local call centers. When I gave them the feedback via their website, I got a letter from their Manager apologising for the inconvenience. When Sri Lankan Airlines forcibly offloaded my Mother-in-law with no proper explanation and we complained in writing, in the months that have passed we have not even received an acknowledgement of the complaint. So basically we can complain, but YMMV.
From a personal viewpoint, it’s the criticisms of my actions that have helped me improve. Sometimes those criticisms have been misdirected, so I’ve had to exercise some judgement on whether to change or not. But overall, complaints have had a positive impact. I would imagine that companies would benefit from adopting a similar stance.
I was very happy to read in the Sunday Times that there’s a proposal to bring in LED street lighting to Sri Lanka. The company concerned with the project, Carbon Futures is also planning on using local production facilities in partnership with local company RONA Electricals (Pvt) Ltd. The initial investment that they make is not a gift or donation – the company plans on making use of the carbon credits that it will generate to recover the costs. But that’s still great news. At least it will make it possible to reduce the costs of lighting our streets. With development taking place, we will have even more roads to light up, not to mention homes, factories and offices. With better LED lighting, there should be at least some cost benefits to people.
Given that we use oil to generate almost half of our total electricity supply as of 2008 (IEA statistics) any methods of reducing eneregy consumption should be made use of.
Given the low energy consumption of LEDs, one other point that came to mind is that these could be married to a Solar solution. Although established Sri Lankan company SolarTherm also provides a similar solution, it seems to be more of a standalone product, whereas solar panels on street lights could be connected to the national grid. The result would be generation of power during the day (although a small amount, given current power generation capabilities of solar panels) which is fed to the national grid, followed by minimal usage during the night when the lights are in operation. The electricity bill is calculated on the net of the power supplied by the grid and the power used by the lights, so the state should save some money. Apparently, MAS Thurulie uses a similar “netting” method as well, among its many other energy saving methods.
If the news of Solar Power Stations in 2011 turns out to be true, then it would seem that we are already moving towards some sort of renewable energy use. But then again, I’m not sure how long lived the solar powered street lighting initiated in 2006 turned out to be.
It’s also interesting to note that Sri Lanka is better positioned than America to make use of the “Energy Internet” described by Thomas Friedman in “Hot, Flat and Crowded”. Having just one electricity grid, we would be better able to have individuals or companies able to generate their own electricity (using non-fossil fuel methods) feed the grid. Imagine all those houses just exposed to the hot Sri Lankan sun – what if each of them had a Solar panel, feeding the grid during the day, while also reducing everyone’s electricity bill?
I recently had the opportunity to read Banker to the Poor – the story of the Grameen Bank by Muhammed Yunus. While you can easily find out the story of Grameen at its Wikipedia page, there are some points of interest in the book that don’t make it into Wikipedia:
The worm’s eye view
Most interesting is the point that is made right at the beginning, where the professor is confronted by the magnitude of human suffering caused by famine in 1974. Upset by the scenes of death in Jobra village, Muhammed Yunus decided to take a different view in order to help solve the problem:
I promised myself to try and learn everything about the village. I thought I would be fortunate if I could understand the life of one single poor person. This would be a big departure from traditional book learning. By attempting to equip the students with a bird’s eye view, traditional universities had created an enormous distance between students and the reality of life. When you can hold the world in your palm and see it from a bird’s eye-view, you tend to become arrogant – you do not realise that when looking from such a great distance, everything becomes blurred, and that you end up imagining rather than really seeing things.
I opted for what I called the ‘worm’s eye view’. I thought I should rather look at things at close range and I would see them sharply. If I found some barrier along the way, like a worm, I would go around it, and that way I would certainly achieve my aim and accomplish something.
Not only did Muhammed Yunus adopt a radical approach to the problem, but he also adopted an attitude of not letting obstacles prevent him from achieving his goal. There is a lesson here to anyone in business – your feet need to be on the ground if you plan on delivering a good value proposition.
Cynicism and Independence
Another constant theme throughout the book is the professor’s cynicism towards the various international aid agencies and notably, the World Bank. His reasons for independence from their influence reminds me of the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. By refusing to obey the rules set by international agencies, he has been able to formulate an approach to the problem of poverty in Bangladesh. The book details many occasions where Grameen has maintained its independence, even though it meant refusing significantly large amounts of funds in the form of “soft loans” from the World Bank.
Interestingly, he alludes to a proposal made by the World Bank in 1984 for an alternative micro-credit organisation; the Bangladeshi government rejects the proposal which (according to the prof.) is then amended slightly before being thrust upon the government of Sri Lanka.
Too often we are prepared to take solutions from elsewhere and simply dump them on our problems with the expectation that the results will be the same. Blind faith in foreign intervention is clearly not the best approach. Possibly, the approach of learning from others (the prof. was a Fulbright scholar with a degree in economics from Vanderbilt University) and tailoring the solution to the specific problem would be the better alternative. Here in Sri Lanka, IMHO we find that many policy proposals are made by people who believe wholly in western ideals, or those who wholly reject them. Perhaps a healthy dose of disbelief of foreign motives, coupled with lessons learned from foreign lands would be better?
Charity is not a solution
This is a theme also constant throughout the book, where that age old adage of feeding a man for life by teaching him to fish can be evoked. Muhammed Yunus criticises Bangladesh and other third world countries for adopting and sometimes deliberately promoting the view that they are in an incurable situation. Being a realistic observer of politics in South Asia, he points out how little of donor funds would actually end up helping the supposed beneficiaries and how much would be pocketed by intermediaries. This is a lesson that we should take to heart. As a nation we have many issues to sort out, but also many avenues of growth. While it may be difficult to sway those “educated” people who firmly believe it is the government’s job to generate employment, there are surely plenty of people with the skills and the desire to grow wealth who can do some wonders with access to funds (see Rajaratarala’s post on Sri Lankan ingenuity).
Passion and Attitude
HRH the Prince of Wales in his foreword mentions the passion in Muhammed Yunus towards poverty alleviation. Similarly, there is mention of how recruits to the bank were hired not on banking experience but on their desire to carry out the bank’s goal of reducing poverty. In fact, “experts” with experience in traditional banking were rejected, since “re-programming” would take too long. By generating the feeling that they are instruments of change in the community they operate in, Grameen empowers its employees to help alleviate poverty, empower rural women, encourage entrepreneurship and educate the younger generation among other things.
In a country like Sri Lanka where the traditional “honour thy elder” culture has been perverted to the stage where hierarchy exists to stifle employee motivation, there is much to be learned. There are companies which have grown thanks to passionate people which have nevertheless burdened themselves with unwieldy hierarchies. While in some cases a hierarchy cannot be simply done away with, it must not exist to distance the employee from the company’s objectives. Of course, it’s a lot easier to create employee engagement when dealing with a notion like eradicating poverty, but there are surely ways of engaging employees in order to achieve optimum results. By creating a passionate environment and encouraging a “can-do” attitude firms can achieve good results, but it may require a lot of management of the egos of those higher up on the ladder in many cases.
A poverty free world
The book closes with the question on whether a poverty free world is possible. While economically there will quite likely continue to be a gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, Professor Yunus’ ideal of a world where everyone is able to meet their basic life needs seems quite plausible. Hopefully, we can learn from his experiences in Bangladesh and perhaps adopt a similar approach in Sri Lanka.
…of my intellectual property that is. What really hurts is that it’s not even one of my better works.
UPDATE (2009-09-15): The folks at Derana replied my email and apologised for the unauthorised use. They have taken off the pic from their site. I forgive them, but am keeping the post up, since I still think there will be a need for a stock photo site.
ORIGINAL POST: So I’m surfing the net on a lazy Sunday afternoon and I come across the pages of Ada Derana. I scroll down and find something that looks vaguely familiar (click on image for larger picture):
The picture highlighted seems a little familiar, so I click on the link http://www.adaderana.lk/news.php?nid=5210 to get to the main story:
And there it is – why does this image look so incredibly familiar?
Then it occurs to me that this picture is identical to the one you will finid on my blog. Yes, the same one in the post Pow-Wow-II dated September 07, 2005. That’s not very nice. Especially since my blog has always carried a copyright notice, which generally means you’re not supposed to copy my work without my endorsement. Even then, the picture itself – if you were to browse on Flickr – is licensed under a Creative Commons license that requires the author to be acknowledged. Don’t see any of that either.
Is there any point in even bringing this to the attention of the authorities at Ada Derana? I drafted them an email just in case. What really irks me is that this is just a photo randomly taken, with no greater a camera than the one that comes with the Nokia 7260 (VGA, 640×480). Obviously it’s not high quality.
I can imagine photos by Thishya W, Chamil T or Sandun S (all of whom have some fantastic photos on Flickr) being stolen. But then again, those are just fantastic, high quality photos. Nothing very humdrum about them.
So here’s an idea for all you photographers out there in lovely Sri Lanka: A stock photo site. Maybe something like ThreeBlindMen, but with some ordinary, day to day photos thrown in (I’m not an expert, but I don’t think either Rukshan Jayewardene’s, Dominic Sansoni’s or Sebastian Posings’ photos can ever be called ordinary). Licensing might be an issue (did I mention that www.creativecommons.lk seems to be down?) but I’m sure there’s someone out there who can help. Charge an appropriate fee (not too expensive, since the local media prefer stealing, which only costs them their reputation) and you just might be on to something.
Not so long ago I wrote about the scam involving the use of the AirTel name and the promise of an iPhone to harvest email addresses. It seems that any new entrant to the Sri Lankan market can be almost guaranteed that its name will be used for a scam.
Just consider what I found in my inbox today:
If this is indeed the genuine article, whoever is behind it at AirAsia should be given a good dressing down for shoddy publicity tactics. I harbour serious doubts that this can be anywhere close to legitimate.
- The fact that there are no contact details apart from a gmail address and the AirAsia website.
- The bad spelling – e. g. “SriLankan’s” (although a misplaced apostrophe is quite common in countries where english isn’t the first language).
- The bad grammar
- The use of an older background image which was used in AirAsia’s initial promotions for the low cost fares to Australia.
- The sneaky use of the “Sale” tags on the current AirAsia promotion (the ones in red, blue, green and yellow hanging off the top) renamed “Free”.
- And finally, the use of the term “their” when referring to the company – doesn’t sound legit at all
If I were working at AirAsia I’d try to find out who’s behind all this – although I don’t know whether harvesting email addresses is an issue addressed by the laws of our lovely isle.
Alternatively, anyone who just watches and waits for the spam ads to turn up in their mailbox would know exactly who is behind this.
So in conclusion, if you happen to have gotten this email – please do the world a favour; delete the message and break the chain!
UPDATE: It seems that Amitha Amarasinghe also came across this recently. Of course, he managed to get through to Air Asia and confirm that it’s a scam. Well done Amitha!
I’m pretty sure that the Sri Lankan online community includes more than a few freelancers who primarily operate off the web. Even then, there’s probably just a handful of freelancers or even small businesses that have given any thought about their invoicing. I’ve seen plenty of individuals and SMEs sending out invoices which are clearly MS-Excel spreadsheets or even MS-Word documents (Excel makes sense, but why anyone would go through the extra hassle of using Word is beyond me).
That’s why I thought of sharing a resource for invoicing which some of you may find useful – CurdBee. The objective is simple – if you’re doing some sort of business, it helps to look professional. So what better than a free solution that allows you to send out professional looking invoices?
Of course, you needn’t take my word for it, check out what the rest of the web has to say:
- Manage Client Invoices and Accept Payments with CurdBee by Rick Broida on BNET.
- Included in WebWorkerDaily’s list of 10 apps you can’t do without
- Featured on ES Developed, in a post about CurdBee’s new features.
- Used as the billing method at WeAreAGoodCompany.
In the interests of full disclosure, I used to work at Vesess - the company behind CurdBee – for around a year, ending November 2005. The only reimbursement I would get out of publicising their service is the satisfaction that I was part of a small Sri Lankan company which is now able to offer world class solutions.
The allure of books written by millionaires or billionaires is that there might be something in it that’ll help the reader along the same path. Of course, reading alone won’t get you far, but it helps understanding how some people made it to the top.
Jon M Huntsman is a billionaire who has written a slim little book called Winners never Cheat. It covers some lessons on morality and integrity that immediately appealed to my idealistic side. These lessons are broken down into ten compact chapters, each beginning with a couple of quotes relevant to their content.
- Chapter 1: Lessons from the sandbox. Everything we need for today’s marketplace we learned as kids.
- Chapter 2: Check your moral compass. We know darn well what is right and wrong
- Chapter 3: Play by the rules. Compete fiercely and fairly, but no cutting in line
- Chapter 4: Setting the example. Risk, Responsibility, Reliability – the three R’s of leadership
- Chapter 5: Keep Your word. It’s high time to corral the corporate lawyers
- Chapter 6: Pick Advisors Wisely. Surround yourself with associates who have the courage to say no.
- Chapter 7: Get Mad, Not Even. Revenge is unhealthy and unproductive. Learn to move on.
- Chapter 8: Graciousness Is Next to Godliness Treat Competitors, colleagues, employees and customers with respect.
- Chapter 9: Your name is on the Door Operate businesses and organisations as if they’re family owned
- Chapter 10: The obligation to give back Nobody is completely self made; return the favours and good fortune
Finally, the book ends on the note that Acceptable moral values are child’s play, not rocket science.
Starting with a quote about the fourth of Gandhi’s seven sins - “Commerce without morality”, the book covers Huntsman’s take on the ups and downs of doing business in America – the American Dream and how so many people cut corners to make a quick buck.
A recurring point in the book is Huntsman’s dealings with H. R. Haldeman - the White House Chief of Staff during Nixon’s tenure. As White House staff secretary, Huntsman was independent and demurred to the practice of “blind faith” in the president that Haldeman propounded. As a result he left the post within six months – making him possibly “the only West Wing staff member not eventually hauled before the congressional Watergate committee or a grand jury”. Throughout the book, the idea conveyed is that values are not ambiguous, but are simple lessons that are learnt at an early age.
Huntsman includes Sophocles’ message that “There is no witness so terrible or no accuser so powerful as the conscience“. He presents that laws and ethics may overlap, but the exercise of the latter is often up to the individual.
The painful truth that doing something because you were “pressured into it” is merely a way of glossing over a lack of backbone is driven home quite solidly.
On leadership, there is a small anecdote on how Huntsman misheard the confirmation of his orders from a helmsman during his time in the navy. As a lieutenant who was responsible for ensuring the formation of ships, this caused a dangerous disarray, with possible collisions between warships of different nations. The captain immediately takes over (albeit in his bathrobe) and instead of berating his junior, explains that he continues to be responsible for what happens on his ship and that the occasion will be a life-long learning for the young Huntsman. This is a lesson for all CEO’s the world over, a reminder of what we call Agency Theory.
Huntsman seems to have a dislike of corporate lawyers and their insistence in creating mounds of paperwork just to ensure that people keep their word. Of course, this is going to be de rigueur until everyone in the world decides that their word is their bond, but his point is that these long clauses tend to impede the execution of a promise.
The best example is a quote featured from the National Review:
The First Amendment is 45 words;
The Lord’s Prayer is 66 words;
The Gettysburg Address is 286 words;
There are 1,322 words in the Declaration of Independence,
but the Government Regulations on the sale of Cabbage total 26,911 words.
That there is a danger in being surrounded by “Yes-Men” is also included in chapter six. As mentioned in the book, the reason for having so many whistle-blowers is the lack of a proper internal warning system -something that many companies will be mindful of in these times of crisis.
Chapter seven was my favourite, since it pretty much summed up one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life. Getting beyond petty squabbles and thoughts of revenge (for whatever reason) helps keep a much clearer mind and causes less heartburn in the long run.
The most compelling message however, is at the end of the book in the tenth chapter, about giving back to society. That Jon Huntsman Sr is one of America’s biggest givers lends more credence to his appeal that businesses and individuals spend time and money to make better the lives of the less fortunate. As he says (and the same is often said by my better half), “Save for God’s grace (and a few worldly breaks), there go us“.
I’m fairly sure that at some point people will read this book and criticise it for the high level of Christianity prevalent in it. That Huntsman is close to his religion and has leveraged it to make him a better person is beyond doubt. Reading this book, my cynical self thought whether it was just good morals and values or Christianity that was being propounded – a point many anti-conversion types the world over are likely to pounce on.
However, if anyone is willing to read this book for what it is – a slim volume of thoughts cleverly and appeallingly written about the importance of morals and values in both business and life – they will not be disappointed.
During my days at Vesess, making presentations was pretty much 80% of what I did. Design support was from Prabhath, while tweaking the overall focus was done with Lankitha’s support.
My experiences in debating lent themselves to an advantage in presenting in front of an audience, which sometimes led people to think I had an innate talent in presenting.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Being an inherently shy person and a Geek to boot, social interaction was never my forte. That is probably why my mother encouraged me to join in debating and Interact. During my stints in both organisations in school, I studied my seniors as well as others in how they presented themselves, developed relationships and handled situations. These self-taught lessons would thereafter be mashed together with my own perspectives to define my own style of doing things.
So while I may have had some experience in speaking in front of an audience (which in many cases is the biggest hurdle of them all), I was by no means an accomplished presenter. However, thanks to the internet I was able to expand my learning and thought I’d share some of my favourite resources with you:
- Seth Godin did an ebook called “Really Bad Powerpoint”. A google search would yield the .pdf file, while his article can be found here.
- Garr Reynold’s did a summary of a book by Dr. John Medina – “Brain Rules” – on Slideshare, which can be found here.
- Garr Reynold’s site “Presentation Zen” does a good job of highlighting the work of one of arguably the world’s best presenters – Steve Jobs.
- You can watch Steve Jobs demo the Macintosh in 1984 on Youtube by clicking here and you can watch him demo the iMac here. Both are interesting to watch. If at all, I identify with Steve not so much in terms of presentation skill, but in terms of receding hairline…
On a completely unrelated note, many thanks to Jack Point for linking to some cool retro songs!
January 12th saw the launch of Bharthi Airtel in Sri Lanka. That tune which was so familiar on Dialog TV (ironic, I guess) began to feature on the local TV channels as well, with Sharuk Khan greeting Sri Lankans with a cheerful “Hello Sri Lanka”.
It was not long after this that another ad did the rounds – it features our very own Kumar Sangakkara talking about being shushed all throughout his life and now wondering why complicated mobile plans should stop him. Then those words (Unicode Sinhala required):
?? Airtel ??? ???? ????. ?? ???? Simple plan ????.
(Translation: I switched to Airtel. It’s a very simple plan). This was apparently considered by many as a betrayal, since Kumar had been prominently featured on the hoardings, advertisements of Hutch – one of the smaller players in the mobile telecommunications market.
Soon afterwards, my inbox received emails which features Sanga’s face and various products and that infamous tagline;
?? Nestomalt ??? ???? ????. ?? ???? Simple plan ????.
(Translation: I switched to Nestomalt. It’s a very simple plan). This played on Sanga’s present status of appearing in ads endorsing the malt drink “Viva” (which led not so long ago to the whole “??? ????? ?????????? Viva” fiasco) and the fact that Nestomalt is the competing brand.
?? Eva ??? ???? ????. ?? ???? Simple pad ????.
Translation:I switched to Eva (sanitary pads). It’s a very simple pad. Some wordplay involved here.
Then there was the email about Sanga switching to being vegetarian and how that’s a simple plan, while there also were various photoshopped images of him pondering the Dialog logo on his T-shirt during the match.
In addition to this sudden influx of anti-Sanga sentiment was our own office colleague who quipped (after hearing that Sanga had lost his wicket);
?? Pavilion ??? ???? ????. ?? ???? Simple place ????.
Translation: I switched to the pavilion. It’s a very simple place.
Ah… poor Sangakkara.
What seems to have gotten the goat (goats?) of some of Sri Lanka’s netizens is not so much the fact that the guy switched his endorsements from one provider to another, but the fact that he had the cheek to actually say so on national television. After hailing the guy for his forthrightness, I think it’s pretty unfair to criticise him for being forthright about changing his endorsements. After all, endorsements are surely a major source of income for professional cricketers in Sri Lanka.
That said, this has caused some negative publicity for both Sangakkara (for switching sides, so to speak) and Airtel (for poaching Sangakkara).
I just hope that this undue criticism has had nothing to do with his recent performance at Dambulla.
On a completely different note, this is my first post to include Sinhala. Although it makes me cringe to see the kombuwa follow letters in unicode Sinhala, it was the easiest way to express these sentiments online (plus, my limited requirement didn’t involve much opportunity for the attack on Sinhala). Hat tip to Shaakunthala for having the Real Time Font converter from UCSC and the Local Language Resource Portal links on his blog, without which this post wouldn’t have been possible.
UPDATE: Sangakkara has a short and sweet reply on this issue at this blog, here. (thanks Don!)
I came across an article on the Freakonomics blog today about the difference between autorickshaw (3-Wheeler in Sri Lankan parlance) drivers in Delhi and Mumbai.
According to law, autorickshaw drivers must only go by the meter reading that is reported after a commuter’s trip is finished. However in Delhi, there are hardly any autorickshaw drivers who go by this law, and instead they quote nefariously high prices. In Mumbai though, no matter what the time of the day or night, the drivers go by the meter.
The reason for this difference put forward by the writer Abhishek Rawat (himself a reader of the Freakonomics blog) is simply competition – there are more 3-wheelers in Mumbai than Delhi and there are less alternatives in Delhi. As a result, the commuters in Delhi are more likely to pay whatever the three wheeler driver asks for and get to wherever he or she is headed.
Stephen J. Dubner put forward the following first three reasons, whereas the other reasons were also submitted in the comments;
- Differences in law enforcement in Delhi and Mumbai
- Whether or not drivers belong to a fleet or operate independently
- The possibility of differences in professional culture (Abhishek discounted the notion of cultural differences).
- The government-set rates are not sufficient for the drivers in Delhi to make a profit
- Differences in the commuters’ economic status in the two cities – Delhi having wider gaps between the rich and poor while Mumbai has a middle class more interested in value for money.
This reminded me of the All Island Three Wheeler Drivers Welfare Association (Meter taxis, contactable on 0712-500800) which has gained a lot of Word of Mouth popularity these days. Here in Sri Lanka there are plenty of three wheelers around. The profession isn’t viewed very favourably, which led to the formation of the Association, as can be seen in Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera’s article about the Meter Taxis from the Sunday Times.
Calling the hotline mentioned on the website revealed that the rates are now Rs. 50/- for the first kilometer and Rs. 30/- for each thereon. Given the current situ, I’m wondering if they qualify for the reduced rate of petrol for three wheelers announced for the 2009 budget. They certainly meet the requirement of having a meter.
So what are the chances of mass adoption of meters by the Sri Lankan three wheeler drivers? Pretty slim, I think. My reasons?
- Regulation and the lack of it. Apart from registration (due mostly to the negative reputation of the profession) with the local police, there doesn’t seem to be any other type of regulation. Without any formal rules, I’m not convinced that many of the three wheeler drivers will adopt using the meters.
- Peer pressure – not everyone wants to give up the opportunity of fleecing prospective customers, especially foreigners. With most three wheelers operating from “stands” where groups of 3 or more operate, the guy with the meter is likely to be ostracized. This will result in resistance to using a meter. For example, anyone picking a 3 wheeler from near Odel or Majestic City will be surprised at the rates charged by other three wheelers.
- Lack of information. In the article mentioned above, the profit per day from running with a meter is given as Rs. 1,500/-, while there is also mentioned a greater demand than the Association can meet. However, I don’t think many three wheeler drivers are aware of this.
- Lack of customer pressure. People who use three wheelers often would have honed their tactics (or Tuktics) for getting the best rates. Some people will travel with only a selected few, whom they contact on their mobile numbers and are guaranteed reasonable rates. This leaves the occasional traveller to deal with and that probably doesn’t warrant the trouble of having to fix a meter.
However, given the popularity of the three wheeler as a means of transport and the difficulty in parking in Colombo during the day (and sometimes night) there’s a likelihood the situation will change in favour of the meter. That should benefit the traveller by means of more economic transport, while also providing the owner/driver with more business. More business because the hassle of bargaining is taken out and transparency in the pricing is created.