Messaging from Tata Indicom coming after midnight

There are known times for interactions with companies and customers. Many organization have set times when their offices and their cost centers are open for their customers to contact them, typically between 9 AM – 10 AM , and 5 pm – 6 PM on weekdays. You have any complaint with them, you call them up between these times; there are still not many organizations who provide 24 X 7 support. The reverse is certainly true. If some organization has to call you, the better ones will make sure that the time works for you, if not then what time works for you. But it is absolutely unheard of for organizations to call you outside of these hours. Or contact you in some other way, SMS being one of them.
Earlier this month, in May 2015, Tata Indicom changed their plans, with allocation of download bandwidth data limits for day and night being separate (the night was set between 12 midnight and 7 AM – not too much time for the night bandwidth data limits to be used). So, like a number of people, I ran out of the day 10 GB data limit and was restricted to data being able only during the night timeline. And there were every other day reminders in terms of SMS about buying new data bandwidth, so slightly irritable but the SMS’s were tolerable.
However, what makes these very weird is the timing of these SMS. Typically, I would get an SMS during the night (after midnight), and there would be 2 of them. For example, last night, these SMS came in at just after 3 AM, and I don’t know of anybody who turns down the volume of their phone at the time of sleeping, just to be careful of idiotic companies who send SMS at night. I wonder who in the company came up with this anti-consumer policy, and there is no easy way of turning these off. If I can figure out how to take on the company on this, I will do so.

Airlines – Keep a lookout for cancellation charges

Recently, the Indian airline regulator (DGCA) has made it possible for airlines to charge an increasing amount for different services. As a result, airlines can charge for the seating of different seat positions (whether it be the aisle or window seats). This has been done to an extent that if a family travels together, they would have to ensure that they book seats together, since that is not confirmed when they actually show up at the check-in point. It has been argued that these charges allow the airlines to make some money to shore up their profits when they are providing lower cost services, so it is for the benefit of consumers when one looks at the total picture. That may be true to some extent, but it is also necessary that consumers take a close look at their tickets and others before they consider the total cost of their tickets.
So, for example, when one books a ticket, consider that earlier weight quotas of 20 kg allowed as check-in luggage has been reduced to 15 kg, which means that either you reduce the amount of luggage carried or pay extra; similarly you have to pay for food and drinks on board; you pay for having a window or aisle seat (which were earlier allocated on request); and you pay an enhanced cancellation charge (used to be Rs. 750 for domestic flights, but can now easily cross Rs. 1500 at the minimum). If you look at the screenshot below, you will see that the the cost of the ticket is Rs. 5597 (for a Vistara ticket from Delhi to Goa for end September), but the surprising matter is that the cancellation charge is Rs. 4560. This is a travesty, and there will be some people who will not look at the cancellation charge before booking their ticket; and they will be for a surprise when they actually try to cancel the ticket (and cancellation could be done for any number of valid reasons).

High airline cancellation charges

The regulator seems to be sleeping at their seats; if they are not able to control this kind of high cancellation charge, might as well wind up and go. This is fleecing of the customer for no reason whatsoever.

Bombay High Court: Right to a pothole free road fundamental right of people

For the past few years, we have been seeing that there is an increasing emphasis by courts and even consumer forums on tracking the services provided by municipal authorities. Earlier, it was a simple assumption that services dealt with by municipal authorities were provided by the Government and hence could not be challenged, did not come under the rights of citizens to challenge, and only the Government could control and regulate them. So, roads could be problematic, repairs could take forever, garbage collection could be a mess, roads once laid down could get spoiled in a few months after a brief burst of rain, and so on. It was the inability of the Governments in power to regulate them that has led to courts getting involved (and this is happening in many areas, for example, in the area of pollution control). Now, even when courts do rule like this, it will not get the authorities to take action, one knows that by previous example. It will take penalties and punishment before the municipal and other authorities start to take action, and that is a shame for the state Governments that run this country.
It would seem odd that the court could rule something like the right to have a non-potholed right along with right to life, but the correlation has been drawn and it will difficult to refute. The connection has been drawn between lack of decent roads and the consequent slow traffic and resultant traffic jams, and this in turn causing economic loss and even loss of human life. This is an action taken with regard to multiple cities in the state of Maharashtra, which would mean that it implicated the current political and municipal leadership of the state (in this case, would mean the Shiv Sena and the BJP). With this judgment, more citizens and citizen groups could be able to file cases with respect to poor maintenance of roads, repairs, file for inspection of road repairs, take compensation for injuries due to potholes and other problems.
If these judgments can be extended to other cities in the country, hopefully this will be another step in ensuring that the Government can be taken to task for not doing their job (link to article):

In a landmark interim order, the Bombay high court on Wednesday held that right to good roads is a fundamental right of citizens under right to life and held that it was the state’s statutory obligation to provide good roads.
A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and C V Bhadang directed the civic administrations in Mumbai, Thane and three other municipalities in Thane district, as well as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) to maintain all roads under their control and keep them pothole-free.

Telecom – Massive increase in Tata Photon Internet charges

An internet connection is an absolute requirement nowadays; and one needs internet on the move. One option that a lot of people now depend on is having a 3g connection on the phone, with the phone itself being used for internet connectivity even from laptops and desktops (by setting the phone as a hotspot). Others use either a wired internet connection or use the Wireless Internet services provided by a number of companies (such as MTS, Airtel, MTNL / BSNL, Tata Photon, etc).
One’s dependence on these services can be critical for one’s success nowadays (cut your internet connection for even a day, and you will realize the difference if you are no longer connected to the internet). Now, all of these services come with different plans based on your needs – you may want a higher speed or are fine with a lower speed, you may be using a lot of data or just use it for browsing and do not need much data, and so on. The plan to some extent also depends on the amount you are willing to pay for your internet connectivity, and it may sometimes take a couple of iterations to get to the desired internet plan.
What happens when your internet plan suddenly changes massively ? It can be shocking, since your budget may need to be changed, or you may need to adjust your activities to incorporate the changes in the internet plan (for example, if you watch a lot of videos on Youtube, and your plan suddenly changes the data available (reduces it), you may run into data availability limits much more quickly). In such cases, you may either want to pay more money to move to a higher plan, or change your service provider to look for one who provides a plan more suited to your budget and needs (but there are some initial costs, such as installation costs or those associated with buying a new dongle).
What do you do however when the plan entails a massive reduction in the data available, or you may need to double your budget to get to something similar to your earlier plan ? Well, this is what has been effected by Tata Indicom (they also set slots for day and night browsing, where night is restricted to between 12 PM and 7 AM, in effect meaning that either you become a night owl or you give up on the night data that they are offering you) (link to article):

Tata has hiked the tariff of its postpaid photon max wifi in Delhi. The Rs.1250 plan which used to initially offer 30GB data now offers only 20GB (10GB day + 10GB night) which implies a 33% reduction of data offered. The 30GB pack tariff has been increased from Rs. 1250 to Rs.3000 which translates to a 120% hike in tariff.
The Rs.1250 plan which used to initially offer 30GB data now offers only 20GB (10GB day + 10GB night) which implies a 33% reduction of data offered. The 30GB pack tariff has been increased from Rs. 1250 to Rs.3000 which translates to a 120% hike in tariff.

This is a massive hike, something that might force many consumers to switch to an alternate connection.

Mumbai – No need to get a police NOC before renting out property

For some time, there has been a condition imposed by the Mumbai police that before renting out an apartment, or for a tenant, before taking an apartment on a lease, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) had to be obtained from the local police station. This, as most people, who do not work closely with the police would know, is something that meets with a lot of apprehension (somebody who of course works closely with the police will know all the processes to speed up the process, whether it is through meeting some local demands or using some sort of influence / friendship to ensure that the NOC is available soon). For others who are not so aware, it would mean either contacting the local police station to get the NOC (which in most cases would mean spending a lot of time or multiple trips to the station or finding an agent who would do the necessary work; I once had to get a character certificate from the local police station for some work, and for this purpose, it took me 3 trips; was ready to find somebody who could help me in this particular work) or eventually discovering that somebody at the police station is delaying this in the hope that some tip money will be offered. And this had to be done by both the tenant and the landlord. What was the reason for the same ? Apparently, this will ensure that some criminal or terrorist does not take up residence in the area under a false guise.
This would seem like a noble intention. However, it also seems like a procedure made by somebody who does not care about the discomfort to citizens (after all, just ask them to come to the police station, that’s easy, right ? Even if they have to make multiple trips for the same); and with the number of houses that are lent out, is there some belief that the police would be doing verification in each every case (if this can be settled through a bribe, then obviously there is no verification in each and every case).
Finally, some relief was provided, maybe part of an effort to review the kind of interactions that a citizen has to go through, and this step has been modified. Now, there is no need to go to the police station to get a NOC before the transaction can be deemed to be complete, instead the agreement can be sent by post to the police station. They will issue an acknowledgement, which will be enough for the housing society to accept it (link to article):

Until the circular was issued, any landlord or tenant of any commercial or residential property had to visit to the local police station in person to inform the cops about the agreement and submit a copy of the same to the police station. In most of the cases, real estate would charge high fees to help the landlord/tenant to get an NOC from the police stations. Besides, the landlord/tenant would have to spent almost a day in going to the police station and getting an NOC.
DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, said that this step will help the citizens to come forward and give data about about tenant. “Once we receive an agreement, we will issue an acknowledgment receipt and it would be sufficient enough to show to the society office bearers that the agreement has reached to the police. If any data / information is found wrong, the landlord will be held responsible,” said Kulkarni.