Have WiseTechie.com email ?
Login Wisetechie.com email


Oct 18

I am a hardcore Amazon fan. I don’t mind paying for prime to get the free shipping and the awesome service I receive. So when Amazon opened up its subsidiary in India, I expected similar stellar service and regard for customer from them in India too. Till now I hadn’t had a chance to test Amazon India’s website. This Saturday was going to change all that. Dad wanted to me buy a mixer grinder for the maid and Amazon apparently had a good deal. A maharaja mixer grinder for Rs. 899. Nice deal I thought. Except when I started to search for the item on their website, I couldn’t find it. No matter how hard I searched, I just couldn’t locate it. Here is the ad in question, 100 points to you if you can locate this on amazon.in. I had heard of Flipkart’s infamous billion day sale disaster, but this was new.

Amazon.in fake sale ad

 

I started a chat session with customer care, the session in all its glory is below. As you can see the chat person was polite but really couldn’t do anything to help me out. She tried to search at her end and then just told me to keep checking for it every 30 minutes. As if I don’t have anything better to do than to keep refreshing Amazon.in’s site.

amazon fake sale

 

Well screw you Amazon India, I just went to Infibeam.com and got another deal at a decent price, slightly more than what Amazon had promised though. I also gave feedback at the end of the session asking to be contacted, well no one ever contacted me, strike 2 for amazon.in. For a company that prides itself on customer service, this is a really bad way to start an international subsidiary. Hoping the folks at Seattle take note.


Oct 10

Ok, so its no news to people that most banks in India are pathetic to customers. I think I am going to see some of that first hand. I woke one October morning seeing an abnormally high balance on my Standard Chartered India credit card. I was here sitting in the US so wondered why the large balance, I sent out a mail, soon there was a charge on my statement which I didn’t recognize. The charge was in Navi Mumbai, a city I have not visited for more than 5 years I think. So I call up Standard Chartered bank in India, went through their ancient and archaic phone banking system, and somehow managed to reach someone on phonebanking.

Suspiciously, I got disconnected twice on telling them about the dispute. Third time was a charm, I was told my card is blocked and I was told to send across a dispute form to them. I was also told I would get a temporary credit to my account. Awesome ! , yeah right, they are just complying with the law here. Note that I reported the fraud as soon as I could humanly, I didn’t get an alert on the transaction on my phone and even before the transaction had posted to my account, I had filed a dispute. I had my phone from India here and didn’t receive a call or SMS regarding the transaction worth half my credit limit in a city thousands of kilometers away from where I stay. so much for Standard Chartered’s automatic fraud detection. If I ever interview someone who has worked for them, I will ask about their algos or lack of algos to detect fraud.

Here is where things do downhill however, they are doing the above just to comply with the law, the real shrewdness of the bank comes in now. This is the dispute process outlined by the bank in a response to my netbanking message :

1) With regard to Dispute:

We are in receipt of the Dispute Declaration Form and have forwarded the same to the concerned department to investigate the disputed transactions.

We inform you that, we had provided temporary credit to your card account for the disputed transaction and the same will reflect in your next statement.   
As the process involves the concerned Merchant Establishment, his Banker and us, we will need a minimum of 45-50 days to complete the investigation. Formal correspondence will be sent to you with regard to the outcome of investigation.

We request you to contact us after 14 November 2015 to update with you the dispute status.

2) With regard to Dispute payment process:

Please note that you have the following two options regarding the repayment towards your account while the disputed charge is being investigated at our end.

a) You can pay the total outstanding (including the amount disputed), to ensure no financial charges are billed to your card account in the subsequent statements, while the investigations are in progress.

b) You have the option of paying the outstanding in your account less the transaction disputed by you. Your subsequent statements will incur financial charges due to short payment towards your outstanding amount.

Upon completion of the investigation at our end;

1) If we find that you have incurred the charges based on the supporting documents, the amount would be debited to your card account and you would be liable to pay the same, along with the financial charges accrued.

2) If we find that you have not incurred the charges (in the absence of any supporting documents provided to us by the Merchant), the permanent credit will be provided to your card account.

If the dispute resolves in customer’s favour, the financial charges will be reversed to their card account along with the disputed transaction.

 

This is the WTF part to me. Why am I responsible for these finance charges while the dispute is being processed. What’s the point of a temporary credit, only to appease RBI gods ? And why do I need to contact them after Nov 14th ? , shouldn’t they call me and let me know, they owe it to me when I have an annual fee of Rs.999 on the card. It’s a Manhattan Platinum, their most premier card. Well obviously, the disregard for the customer is uniform. There is a nice article on RBI around credit card disputes, apparently in 2013 RBI had asked banks to install chip and pin machines and to give chip and pin cards. The lazy cheap folks at Standard Chartered bank didn’t bother to issue a chip and pin card to me to save a little money. Compare that to HDFC and Citibank who had both issued chip and pin cards to me. Quoting from the article :

Pointing out that banks were told that there would be no further extensions, the RBI said, “It has been decided not to grant any further extension of time. Accordingly, banks not complying with the requirements shall compensate loss, if any, incurred by the cardholder using card at POS terminals not adhering to the mandated standards.”

There are usually two banks in every credit card transaction. One that issued the credit card and the other that has installed the swipe machine. The RBI has said that the card issuing bank should ascertain in three days whether the fraud has taken in a non-compliant machine and within seven days refund the money to the cardholder. The card issuing bank will in turn recover the money from the bank which has installed the swipe machine.

Not sure if it was even legal as per RBI for Stan Chart to not update my card to a chip and pin one.

There is also an onus now on banks to prove the credit card owner acted fraudulently, again, good luck proving that in court :

This has resulted in banks levying late-payment penalty. The new rule is announced by the Banking Cdes and Standard Board of India (BCSBI) that works to protect customer rights. It makes banks responsible to find evidence that the customer had authorised and was responsible for the disputed transactions.

I really hope I don’t have to go to court for this since I don’t want to waste time, but seeing Stan Chart’s response (finance charges making my blood boil), this may go down south pretty soon. To be fair, they haven’t yet decided the dispute. Lets see what information the merchant presents.


Sep 21

We woke up yesterday to some very unsettling news, a hedge fund manager starts a pharma company, takes over the rights for a drug and then jacks up the price. In a perfect world this wouldn’t happen, even in an imperfect world this wouldn’t happen, however in this world this just happened. Turing Pharma’s wannabee CEO Martin Shkreli has done the humanly unthinkable. He raised the price of an essential AIDS drug by over 5000%. The price of Daraprim tablet was raised from $13.50 to $750 overnight by this company which just bought some rights to the medicine and had invested nada in its R&D.

The smug CEO who should probably be running playgroups instead of deciding the fate of millions of people started an all out war on twitter, responding arrogantly with the (non)-elegance of a baboon. The price gouging as expected was criticised not only by the general public and doctors but many in the pharma industry itself. By evening the twitter war took a much graver turn for the CEO, when Kurt Eichenwald on his twitter feed suggested that the feds may soon go after him. From tax violations to stock manipulation, he seemed to suggest that Martin would be the subject of a legal witchhunt and lets be real, no jury is selecting non-guilty. At the end it looked like that Kurt had found some sort of a whistleblower :

My view is very simple on this, I love capitalism, its one of the things that makes American super great. however there needs to be a balance of forces. Just like Nestle cannot take over all the water on earth, you cannot just raise the price of a life saving drug by 5000% and think that the world wouldn’t care. If your company isn’t profitable, fix it honestly keeping your greed in check, don’t buy drugs and try to exploit a monopoly.


Sep 21

I was reading through Reddit India today and it seemed like the topmost post was for a user who reported Airtel for showcasing false broadband plans from a different state. Well I too have a story to share about a false misleading advertisement. the ad was from Naaptol.com advertising their shitty ‘Aluminum’ wallet. It was told to have RFID blocking capabilities to protect your PAN card and your Aadhar card. Intelligent readers would have already thought of the fact that none of these have RFID chips. What irked me more was that my dad asked me to buy the wallet for him. I was not going to buy this shitty wallet and decided to ensure that the misleading ad is caught. I immediately filed a complaint, but to be honest I didn’t expect much.

A week after filing the complaint the ASCI had forwarded the complaint to Naaptol.com, and a month later (ish) they had a response for me where they had upheld my complaint.

Here is the response from ASCI in the matter :

 

Apr 7, 2015

Dear Mr. <name redacted>,

Re: Decision – Your complaint against the advertisement Naaptol Online Shopping P. Ltd(*)-(Aluminium Secure Wallet)

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
The complaint was considered by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) at their meeting.

As per their decision, the complaint was UPHELD. The CCC viewed the TVC and considered the Advertiser’s response. The CCC concluded that the claim in the TVC, “the product prevents theft of information from contact-less RFID cards”, was not substantiated and was considered to be misleading. The Advertiser has not provided data wherein their product did indeed thwart attempts at reading the RFID information from cards, nor if the wallet is indeed made out of aluminum, as claimed, and if so, to what extent. The depiction of a chip-based card as an RFID card is misleading. PAN and Aadhar cards issued by Indian Government agencies have no RFID features. Hence the claim of protection purportedly provided by the product in the context presented “PAN card and Aadhar card are also safe in this’, appears misleading as to information skimming.

The TVC shows tests against similar products but the tests are not of skimming of RFID information. The tests shown are like those of dropping wallets. The TVC contravened Chapters I.1 and I.4 of the Code.

We have requested the Advertiser to modify appropriately or to withdraw the said advertisement by April 16, 2015.

Thank you for having referred this complaint to us.

Assuring you of our services in the pursuit of Self-Regulation in Advertising.

Yours faithfully,

<name redacted>
Executive Assistant
The Advertising Standards Council Of India.

The purpose of this post is not to blow my own horn but to guide people around how to complain about misleading advertisement in India. Here is an infographic from their site.

 

How to lodge a complaint

 

If you spot a false or misleading advertisement, log onto ASCI’s website and file a complaint. That one complaint could save the hard earned money for millions of people. You will get a tracking number and will be sent regular updates on the progress. While self regulation sounds shady, the 2 successes I know of now give me more hope around there being a better future for advertisement in India. Here’s a tip of the hat to the The Advertising Standards Council Of India.


Sep 19

lucknow-typewriter-smashed

If you follow social media in India, you would have seen the above images already, a policeman (Pradeep ?) goes and destroys the livelihood of an elderly man. He breaks his typewriter leaving the old man in tears and possibly with no way to earn for himself. This story however sad it may sound like, this story had a happy ending. The happy ending is there only because there was a huge uproar and a lot of important people saw the photos and made noise. Eventually the UP govt. had to save face and gift the old man a typewriter.

typewriter being giftedtypewriter being gifted2

Now step back and think about how many such incidents go unnoticed every time ? Was this even this cop’s first illegal act ? There is only 1 solution to this problem and its accountability.

The police needs to be accountable to the public, to the govt. and to the laws. Without anything to confirm this accountability we will always keep having such incidents. There need to be CCTV cameras in each police station. Every policeman must wear body cameras which must record all the time. If the recording is found to be tampered or deleted, it should be grounds for immediate suspension. All police vehicles must also have dashboard cameras.

 

The above images are not copyright of Wisetechie.com, unfortunately our script causes that to happen, these images are owned by their respective owners.


Sep 14

In a funny news article that seriously puts into doubt whether the bosses running telecom in India are competent or not TRAI has come out with a report that mobile phone towers do not cause radiation. In a claim that can at best be called laughable, TRAI claims it tested 300 towers in Himachal Pradesh and no radiation was detected. I quote directly from a news article :

“There are 300 towers in Himachal and during the study conducted by Trai no radiation was detected and the myth has been exploded,” Trai adviser SK Gupta said

Of course any kid who has studied basic science would tell you cell phone towers are a source of electromagnetic radiation. I wonder if the TRAI baboons, oops I mean scientists were looking for nuclear radiation using geiger counters and failed to find any. If yes, they need to be sent back to high school. What’s worrying is that most such articles then go onto implore the importance of creating more mobile phone towers. Many news articles go onto quote Modi that call drops are an emergency (maybe crime in Delhi, dengue cases etc. should be  the emergencies the top babus look at ?).

While its debatable if mobile phone towers can cause diseases or cancer due to their radiation, what’s undisputed is the fact that mobile phone towers, often called as base stations do emit radiation. Now if only TRAI would stop publishing non-sense and disseminating it via Indian press. It may not be sheer incompetence on TRAI’s part but a simple case of pleasing its masters. All in all, with the sheer speed of environmental clearance fast-tracking India is seeing along with dubious research reports such as the one released by TRAI, God only can save India and its fragile environment.

A quick search of Google scholar had enough references 1 2 3 4 5 6 to radiation from mobile phone towers that I no longer question my sanity, and before you start a tirade against me, no I didn’t have time to read them from cover to cover.