Illegal behavior by many retail and ecommerce companies regarding SMS

The receiving of spam SMS on your cell phone can be very irritating. There are people who would say that it does not matter, all you have to do is to delete it when you get it, and it would not take more than half a minute. And SMS receiving is free, so there is no cost involved. However, there are problems that are there –
1. It is very irritating when you get a number of SMS in a day, and can quickly make you angry if this goes on day after day.
2. If you are outside your base, or in another country, then it is no longer free, since even receiving an SMS can cost substantially.

There are many apps that are available that let you mark SMS as violating Do not Disturb (you can easily find them on app stores – I got mine from the Android App store). They take care of the work of creating the SMS to report the spam, sending it to the appropriate complaint number, and from there, the remote Do not Disturb service takes care of these. All of these however, do require some effort, and you start wondering as to why you are getting stuck in such a trap right at the beginning.

Now the problem is, large retailers are doing the same. You go do a purchase, and they ask you for your mobile number for their records, or you are becoming a part of their loyalty program, and now you are in their trap. You will start receiving SMS from them (the more polite ones don’t send SMS more than once in a week, while the more outrageous ones send a SMS more than once every day). You have not signed onto receiving messages from them, even if they did take your mobile number. And it is interesting that these messages come from registered numbers, where the store has actually registered with a telecom provider and gets a ID from them instead of a number (and also means that you cannot reply to these messages).
I started getting stuck with this behavior and it got very irritating. I had gone to a local shop called “Tulip Style”, and provided my mobile number when they asked for it, without realizing that I should not have done that. After that, the message would come every day, or more than once every day when they had a sale. There was no information about how to stop receiving such messages. I actually went to their site and checked the privacy policy, and they had mentioned that if one wanted to stop receiving SMS from them, then I should call their opt-out number. And guess what, the messages did not have such a number.
Many large retail stores did a similar stuff, and in some cases, it was even more irritating that there was an opt-out number given, but even after calling, the messages did not stop. Eventually, I decided that the use of the anti-spam App was the desired way to proceed, and that is what I did. As soon as I received such a message, I would send it off as a complaint, and it seems to have worked. Even though I have no confirmation, the messages from many of these stores have stopped coming. Of course, if I was in the United States and such messages were coming to a number of people, I would have filed for mental agony and wasted time, and with enough people irritated about spam, maybe I would have even won an award.

Airtel penalized for not providing services even after receiving payment

What happens when you want a service ? There are a number of service providers who provide you whatever service you would require. For example, if you want to get DTH services, there are plenty of service providers who would be ready to jump when you need such service and you would typically get the desired service installation within a few days. With the level of competition present in the telecom field and broadband industry, you would expect that there would be a high level of service quotient in this industry as well. However, when you take large organizations, there are many occasions when things don’t go as well. What also seems problematic is that in such cases, even when the consumer lodges complaints or tries to get in contact with somebody who could help in resolving such issues, it is not clear as to why nothing seems to happen (and I am not saying that it happens in all the cases, but there are many cases where the companies for some reason of their are not able to satisfy the consumer and lay themselves open to action to protect the consumer).
If you take this specific case, there can be no reason for the problems faced by the consumer. As per the facts of the case, a couple wanted to get internet TV and broadband services combo to be installed and has made the required payment. In addition, the company had apparently installed some equipment at the home of the couple, and yet the services were not started. One can imagine the frustration of the consumers, who had made the payment and had also got some hardware installed at their home, at not getting the services started and at not getting an answer from the company about why this was not happening. Finally they approached the necessary consumer court, at which time the company offered a refund, but at this time, the couple was not willing to settle in this way. They were awarded compensation, which one hopes will ensure that the company atleast thinks about why such a situation came to hand (link to article):

Telecom major Bharti Airtel has been directed by a consumer forum to pay Rs 38,500 to a Delhi-based couple for not providing them Internet TV and broadband connection even after receiving the payment.
Central Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, presided by Justice Rakesh Kapoor asked the telecom company to pay the total sum — Rs 25,000 compensation, Rs 10,000 towards litigation cost and Rs 3,500 as refund, to A C Mohan and his wife Alka Mohan.
“It appears to us that exasperated by the ‘Devil may care’ attitude of the opposite parties (Airtel), the complainants (couple) have approached this forum with the present complaint,” the bench said, noting that the company neither replied to the letters sent by the couple, nor did it attend to their grievances.

Bad quality of food detected after leaving the restaurant …

This happens often enough, but there is no clear way on how to handle this kind of problem. We were on our way to the city of Hardwar from Delhi, and it had been around 2 hours already. We had a kid in the car who was getting impatient after being strapped in the car seat for such a long time, and there was a need to get out and stretch for some time. It was also getting clear that we needed to provide some food for the kid, so on the Khatauli bypass, we saw a Cafe Coffee Day. The kid does like a good pastry, and when it is well made, a pastry is more than enough for satisfying his immediate hunger, till the time we reached our final destination.
So, we stopped at the joint, got out, and decided to exercise our legs for some time. However, we also knew that this was a break mainly to get some food for the kid, and neither of us wanted anything to eat, although the spouse did want some coffee. So, we had the coffee, and decided to get a nice chocolate pastry packed for the onward trip, with the kid starting to eat it in the car itself in the next 10-15 minutes.
So the plan was executed, and we set off again from the shop with the pastry, ensuring that the kid would not go hungry. However, when the spouse opened the packet, there was something weird. One taste, and it was clear that the pastry was not fresh, and obviously the pastry was not given to the kid. In fact, we had to stop at another place a few kilometers ahead for food for the kid. However, by the time we got to know of this, we were already some distance from the coffee shop, and hence there was no point in going back to complain.
However, such an experience typically pushes us to reconsider our choices and it was clear that although we get on this route a number of times, we would avoid the Cafe Coffee Day outlet on this route and instead look for other options.

Emirates airlines fined for not having seat belt for passenger

A seat belt is a critical item of safety for passengers, for almost any kind of moving vehicle. Especially when the vehicle is moving fast, the restrictions imposed by a seat belt can ensure that the passenger suddenly does not go hurtling anywhere. When you consider the case of an airplane, the plane can move at speeds of around 800-900 km per hour, which is pretty fast no matter which way you think about it. At such speeds, when the place feels some kind of turbulence, there have been a number of cases where people have encountered harsh turbulence in the flight and even suffered injuries. Wearing a seat belt can help in drastically reduce these kind of injuries, but if you don’t have a seat belt at all, then this option is not at all present. An airline is seriously negligent if it gives a passenger a seat with a faulty seat belt. For any reason, if there is turbulence or some other such issue, and the passenger got injured, it could lead to some serious litigation and damages against the airline.
Yet, we have a case where an airline gave a seat to a passenger with a faulty seat belt, and when the passenger objected, there was no real action taken. The passenger finally filed charges and demanded compensation for the incident; such incident mars the trip by the passenger and could cause the passenger to face agony over traveling like this (link to article):

Thavasu Vella Thambi of Chennai had boarded an Emirate Airlines flight in 2012, but to his horror he found that he had to fly without seat belts as the seat he was allotted was damaged and the flight crew even denied him an alternative arrangement. Three years after the incident, the resident of G N Chetty Road will be compensated as the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Chennai (North), has slapped a fine of Rs 53,000 on the airlines for deficiency in services.
Thavasu said in April, 2012, after he boarded his scheduled Emirate Airlines flight he found workers repairing his allotted seat 22G. However, they failed to fix the seat and the flight crew told him to adjust in the damaged seat, promising him to find an alternative seat later. But even after take-off he was not given another seat and, according to his statement, he ‘faced a nightmare’ during take-off and landing.

When to make a store non-accessible to customers (Funskool)

Typically stores spend a lot of time and energy in ensuring that their design is such that customers are able to freely browse, are able to find the right items that they want, and are drawn to items that the store wants to sell. There is big money in ensuring that stores get their placements right, make it comfortable for customers and so on. Makes sense, right ? So, you would expect a store selling stuff to kids and children to make it easy for parents to get there, for them to look at products, and so on, even when their children are there with them.
Funskool is a brand that brings a large number of toys, some of them are pretty good and is supposed to be a good place to get some toys. There is a Funskool store in the Shipra Mall in Indirapuram, located near East Delhi, and when you see this store from outside, it looks great. There were a lot of toys such as Lego, and other interesting toy brands. So, we decided to go inside the store to buy the stuff. One small item, we had an infant with us, who is all of 17 months old. He is now old enough to recognize toys, and sometimes points out to toys, some of which we buy as well.
So, we decided to enter the store, along with the infant (who was in a stroller). As soon as we entered the store, the guard told us that the stroller needed to be put to the side. Interesting – typical stores ask you to keep previously purchased items (say if you have bought items from other stores previously before entering this store) along with the guard, but never have I seen a store asking us to keep the stroller on the side. We told the guard that we were not planning to move the infant from the stroller, but he was insistent, that no matter whether the infant is in the stroller or not, the stroller could not be taken in the inside of the shop and needed to be kept with the guard.
I could not understand what was happening, after all, it could not be that the guard was telling me to go and shop, and leave the infant in the stroller with the guard. And if he wanted us to remove the infant from the stroller, it seemed very strange. Whether to move the infant from the stroller is my decision, not based on the demand from the guard. The only step we could take was to vote with our feet, and that is what we did. I did ask to speak to any employee in the store, and he told us that this was indeed the policy. Apparently, their store design was meant to optimize carrying capacity, which meant that the shelves did not have enough space to move the stroller inside the store, and hence they do not allow the stroller inside. I continued to be flabber-gasted; this is a store that is selling toys to babies and kids, but will not allow a baby in a stroller inside. Well, I know which store that I am not going to be going again to.