Call drops by telecom companies – Minister threatens action

In the initial years of the ‘telecom revolution’, telecom companies promised many quality measures. There were measures that promised to provide free calls to customers if there were call drops, promises by companies about how they would stick to a high level of quality standards. Over the years, these promises all fell by the wayside and companies stopped trying to promise anything about quality. When companies made statements or any notification about business plans, these all related to how they were trying to acquire more customers and how they were trying to get more revenue from every customer; which is not bad by itself, but the quality standards they were providing were steadily falling. In all this time, the company and the regulator were apparently sleeping on their desks, since they took no action.
It seems very similar to another problem that only got significance when it started affecting the high and mighty. A couple of years back, when telecom consumers were upset because of a large proliferation of calls and SMS that were in the nature of unsolicited correspondence, it only got importance when ministers started complaining of these, and then a somewhat effective Do Not Disturb registry was setup. Now, one has to wait and see what the Government will be able to do about the problem of call drops. It has got so bad that many people are thinking of getting land line phones installed; in my case, at home I get to know that somebody has called me on the phone when I got a missed call notification (link to article):

In the backdrop of frequent call drops faced by consumers, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said the government is exploring the possibility of bringing in disincentives for telecom operators to counter the issue.
Stating that telecom operators need to ensure that call drops are ‘minimized,’ the minister said telcos need to strengthen their system.
“Call drops need to be minimized. They (private operators) need to reinforce their mechanism. I have directed officials in the department to work on a disincentive architecture (for the operators),” Prasad said during a press conference on completion of one year of NDA government.

CIC slams Delhi land agencies for harassing person

From time to time, one comes across cases where land owning agencies act in a totally arrogant manner, without caring about the rights and needs of citizens. We have already seen many cases where consumer forums and courts have acted against municipal agencies and others for working in a way that the needs and rights of citizens have been thwarted. However, this case takes a look at the land owners who have been giving up their land for compensation, many times unwillingly. Vast regions of Delhi and the outskirts (Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad, etc) have been settled by taking over land belonging to farmers and then providing them compensation for the same. However, incompetent authorities in many cases take a lot of time to provide this compensation, or corrupt babudom would want some money for authorizing the same. Recent years have seen some fightback in these situations, with the courts giving some support to the land owners, as well as with the increasing voice of these land owners who protest and push back when Government agencies try to exploit them.
This is a bad case. This regards land taken over by the land owning authorities in Delhi 37 years back, and yet the land owner is fighting for compensation. Imagine the arrogance of these agencies, supposedly meant to provide help to the people, when the land owner is unable to get either the compensation or information regarding the compensation. Finally, an appeal to the CIC (Central Information Commission) to get the status of the compensation due to the land owner caused the CIC to get into a shock about how the land owner had not get any compensation and ordered a preparation for replying to the query by the land owner (link to article):

Pulling up three land-owning agencies of Delhi for “harassment” of land owners, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the land and building department and land acquisition collectors to provide information on compensation.
Information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu was responding to an application made by 77-year-old Lajinder Singh who sought to know the status of compensation for his land acquired 37 years ago in 1977-78.
“The whole country is suffering from problems of land acquisition, and Lajinder Singh is an example of victim of lethargic attitude of government. The commission also finds these three departments highly non-responsive. They should have human concern for these victims,” Acharyulu said.

Delhi court blasts banks for high credit card charges

Credit card charges tend to be very high. Some of the charges on credit card can be as high as 2.95% per month, with some annual credit charges being as high as 36% per year. These are very high charges, which is why all financial experts recommend that one should never use credit cards for money (treating it as a loan). Instead, one should always pay credit card charges in full by the due date and not roll over the money payable (especially since if one rolls over amounts after paying the minimum charges, the interest rate is applicable from the date of purchase and not from the payment date). However, many people are not too aware of this, or have not seen the fine print and pay huge charges. What happens sometimes is that people have credit card outstanding, and with interest amounts piling up, the amount finally paid is much higher than the amount for which the credit card was used for.
One of the reasons quoted by the banks which issue credit cards for the high interest charges, was that these are unsecured loans and there are a number of defaulters, because of which the interest charges are higher; and that these interest charges are disclosed in every communication to the customers. However, for the individual customer, once they fall into a credit card overcharge trap, the amounts they have to pay can be very high. Continue reading Delhi court blasts banks for high credit card charges

Supreme Court raps Supertech, wants them to refund money

Over the past few years, the courts and investor forums have grown increasing ready to take action on real estate companies, who have got used to having policies that are anti-consumer. My most horrible example of how real estate companies operate is a company that did something incredible in Noida. It delayed its delivery, and when consumers wanted to get the prescribed delay penalty from the company, it did a recalculation of the super space of the flat, increased the super space because of this calculation, and then wanted an increased amount from the customer. However, given the lack of options for consumers to assert their rights (and probably because there was little precedence), customers really did not have too many options. However, in the past few years, consumers have many options available for them now, whether these be the traditional courts, or consumer forums, or the Competition Commission of India.
Judgments in the recent path have come forth that have sought to correct this imbalance, providing some relief for consumers. However, the provision of applying penalties to the companies where it is clear that they have taken anti-consumer steps is not yet being applied; the argument in favor of high penalties is that these act as a deterrent to the company, where it is obvious to them that if they take illegal steps, they would have to pay more than any advantages that they may have got. These deterrents have worked to some extent in other countries, so one is pretty sure that sooner or later, courts and consumer forums will start applying higher penalties.
In this case, Supertech had built some towers whose construction was challenged and the towers were ordered to be demolished by the High Court. In the Supreme Court, the company had been directed to refund money to those of the customers who wanted their money refunded, along with interest, and this was supposed to be done in 30 days. However, the company seemingly did not do this seriously, and the court has rapped the company more seriously (link to article):

Supreme Court on Monday directed real estate giant Supertech to refund money to the flat owners within 30 days, saying “developers can’t take investors for a ride.”
“You cannot be holding back money of investors who do not want to be relocated in other projects … Developers can’t take investors for a ride. If they want refund of their investments, can we deny them this relief,” a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said.
“We direct the respondent (Supertech) to refund the amount sought by the petitioners. Principal amount shall be paid in 30 days,” the bench, which also comprised Justice A K Sikri, said.
The apex court also directed the company to refund the interest within 60 days after the principal amount is paid to the investors.