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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.


Sep 14

So I decided to take a vacation to Portland, OR. It would have required a night of overnight stay so I started looking for good hotels online. Since we were 4 people I wasn’t able to use a lot of websites. Sites like Hoteltonight.com don’t even have an option to configure the number of people in a room. Not wanting to argue with check-in staff later, I started to use Hotwire to book my hotel, I would like to point out that at this point Priceline was unable to find me a hotel for my price and Hotwire was in fact showing me such a hotel. Pricewire is also a much more shitty interface. Maybe all the money they pay Kaley Cuoco and William Shatner came from product development. For those uninitiated with Hotwire, here is how it works, you tell Hotwire your hotel location and check-in and checkout dates and Hotwire will show you hotels available with amenities and ratings from their customers. The actual hotel names and locations are only revealed post booking. Kind of like Name your price tool of Priceline except you don’t have to keep guessing a price.

Day 1

Anyway, so day 1, I search for hotels in Portland, OR. I got a nice 3 star hotel for $100. Remember the stars here are their own ratings and 3 star doesn’t really mean anything. It turned out to be Extended Stay America in Hillsboro, OR. The location was pretty premium and I was happy. We drive down to Crater Lake in the morning, calling at 11am to confirm our booking at Extended Stay. We checked in at 8pm and lo and behold, crap unfolds. I am told there are only smoking rooms available and there is ‘no wiggle room’ to fix it. Wait, didn’t I just pay you in advance and book my room. The hotel was sparsely staffed. At 9pm, I really was in no mood to fight with customer service and find another room. I did leave poor feedback after the stay to Hotwire, no followup from the company. Boo ! Also, the taxes and fee is a little shady at Hotwire :

This is what they claim :

The taxes are tax recovery charges Hotwire pays to its vendors (e.g. hotels); for details, please see our Terms of Use. We retain our service fees as compensation in servicing your travel reservation.

 

hotwire - extended stay america portland hillsboro

 

Day 2

Unhappy with our demotion to a smoking room and no remorse, I didn’t want to extend my stay at ironically named Extended Stay America. I was able to get a better deal near the Portland Airport area, less prime area, no breakfast but $20 cheaper. It turned out to be a Holiday Inn. The hotel was much nicer and cleaner. No free breakfast though. Again see the disproportionate tax and fee added.

 

hotwire - holiday inn portland airport

 

Verdict

Overall I think I did save some money thanks to Hotwire, however be careful about these loopholes like no smoking rooms. I also read online about some people landing at their hotels only to be told the hotel was overbooked and then hotwire making them do the turnaround. I would advise to use Amex cards in that case. Amex has very consumer friendly policies, I would just take it in written that the hotel room was not available, book another room and chargeback Hotwire and sure them. Even though they may have terms against this and USA’s most stupid arbitration laws are applicable here.

 

Would I use hotwire again, probably only if I save a lot, but I would be very aggressive about pushing and flexing my rights. So if you do book through them, call and confirm your booking even though hotwire tells you not to. You do end up saving some money. For some people $15 you save maybe an expense they are prepared to give for peace of mind.


Sep 13

clearance sale


Sep 13

So I was looking at some of the calls I had received which I didn’t pick up. The advent of spam calls is so high that you really cannot pick up every unknown number. I usually look them up in truecaller to see who called. Sometimes the names are cryptic and I have to callback and ask. However I came across 2 gems today. Guess who are not getting callbacks today Open-mouthed smile (For non-Indian readers, they are some cuss words with prefix and/or suffixes telling me it’s a bank or an insurance company).

icici

bekaar insurance