May 2007

Airtel Chennai launches easy automated account related services for postpaid

It was a pleasant surprise yesterday morning to recieve an SMS from Airtel (my cellular operator) that a new service for checking account balance, payment history etc has been activated. We just need to enter *121# and press the call key. Airtel responds with the menu options. Next you need to select the Answer key and in the textbox that pops up, enter the choice number. Currently the available choices are Unbilled Amount, Payment History, Request Status etc.

Sometime back, they have introduced SMS-based service where you send a text message like UNB (for Unbilled Amount) to 121. You can send a message like Help to get the full list of commands that are supported.

The # command already exists for Prepaid but for Postpaid it is a great tool for us to keep our calls in control. However, still the postpaid data gets updated only after 24 hours. 😦 🙂

I feel both these Service Code and Text messaging commands would be greatly useful since we can now avoid wasting our time with customercare who are nonchalant to our queries.

Brisk Sales of Head-Protecting Gadgets in Tamil Nadu

Thanks to the Government Order in Tamil Nadu stipulating that helmets be compulsorily worn by all two wheelers including pillion riders, it is a great good news at least from the health perspective of the people. A significant number of accidents end up being fatal only because of head injuries. There is a great expectation amongst the people that the order which gets into practice starting June 1 in the metro cities of Tamil Nadu like Chennai, Coimbatore etc and July 1 on other cities would minimize the number of accidents for two wheelers and make a healthy transportation route in the state roads.

We should also appreciate UTI Bank for emphasizing the need of helmet wearing long time since. Here is a discussion on the same: “An hardware to protect the software“.

Even for business houses, this seems to be a brisk business. I saw a petrol bunk in Anna Salai yesterday while travelling to the ‘Routine Temple Trip‘ that ‘Purchase one helmet and get 200 INR HP Petrolcard for 100 INR’.

Similarly, it would be great if Government could stipulate that wearing of Seat belts in cars is also mandatory. The other day, my friend gave me a ride in the car till Pallikaranai. It was a modern new car but he hasn’t cared to have a seat belt system in his car. We have already discussed about the how rash and reckless is the traffic condition in Velacherry – Tambaram freeway. I see traffic police have put advisory notes near Anna Flyover like ‘Wear Seatbelts for Safe Journey’ in English and Tamil. But I don’t think our guys would listen to advisory notes unless a whip is brought in.

The next significant thing the Government should try bringing in stricter lane disciplines. Yesterday while returning from temple to home, I really found tough lane violations in Sardar Patel road, Adayar, which has been made one-way from Raj Bhavan to Velacherry. I could literally find vehicles darting across the lanes in thier own whims and fancies.

Would the state transportation department maintain the high spirit in making the transport cleaner instead of jumping back to slumber after the helmet project?

StandardChartered Rocks

I had been using the payroll associated account with Standard Chartered while was at C S  Software, my previous organization. After resigning from C S Software, I actually transitioned the state of account from the corporate payroll status to a normal accounts. Santosh was actually reluctant to emulate that action since it was a private bank and might levy all sorts of gibberish charges and hence chose to close it. I closed-and-opened a normal savings account. I think it was a wiser decision.

Rather than sticking with all sorts of shit private banks like ICICI and HDFC (the booty banks), I think this stands distinct. I admit that there are quite a few charges for a few services but not all of them comes for free. When it is like free, the service quality is compromised.

After a while, for the past two months, my ATM card was not working in Standard Chartered. SCB was believing it should be ATM PIN issue not matching up and hence was considering reissue twice. Then they did  a detailed diagnosis and found that the card is defective. The request was taken on Wednesday. All associated records with ATM flew in as couriers right even in three days. Last week, there Standard Chartered Personal loan pranksters were playing fun through the forenoon. As I also forwarded a report along with this request, that stopped too. Rather the bank staff who address got intimidated by the representatives’ behavior. My guess was those staff should be hailing or inheriting ICICI behavior. 🙂

In short, Standard Chartered Bank — a wiser bank for a long term financial investments and decisions. It was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) (Gangadharan Manari) who chose the corporate accounts with Standard Chartered and hence I would like to sincerely credit thanks to him for getting us all with a good wiser bank to bank with. Thank you, Manari.

Pennywise and Pound Foolish

This is my observation while travelling in Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses in Chennai. Wherever you travel in public transport facilities like Hyderabad or Bangalore, you are never encountered by situations from ladies demanding exclusive seats and literally pushing you off if you are occupying one. Chennai witnesses a most peculiar culture that woman are not agreeable to adjust seats with any other male counterparts. Is it like a very closed culture?

I admit that they are very sceptical in dealing with strangers because of eve-teasing cases which are going astray and hitting headlines time and again including from the cops itself. A few of the eve-teasing topics that we discussed sometime back are:

  1. Security of Woman Under serious question
  2. Operation Anamika
  3. Selayur Police strikes headlines in Abusive SMS Scam

Nevertheless, I think these things should not make woman to become closed loop lest they again fall into the trap being subordinated. The nation needs woman who are brave and could win more laurels. We aspire for womanhood who could conquer spaces like Kalpana Chawla and not just appreciate ones who could involve in petty fights with the downtown newspaper-wala or creating all sorts of hullabaloo in buses and public transportation facilites. We need to strive abolishing the male chauvinism and the stupid belief that still prevails in larger part of the state — denial of education for woman (as the folklore superstitious quote in Tamil goes “அடுப்பூதும் பெண்களுக்கு படிப்பெதற்கு“) We need to strongly celebrate Kavimani Desiga Vinayagam Pillai who celebrated the greatness of woman and encouraged thier growth winning success and laurels everywhere they go (“மங்கையாரக பிறப்பதற்கே நல்ல மாதவம் செய்திட வேண்டுமம்மா‘).

There might be crooked minded pranksters in the buses who seemed to abet and support them to vie for pennywise seat capture in bus seats. But the twenty minute bus seat is not a big apple to be visioned upon. They should try having a more broader vision, ignoring such pranksters. Would they think?

Air Deccan Employee finds himself as prime accused in Credit Card Felony

In yet another case of breach of trust involving service providers facilitating credit card based transactions, an Air Deccan employee has been proved guilty and has been taken into custody for allegedly misusing the credit details of the customers of the company to make himself comfortable in exoribitantly expensive electronic gadgets through an online order.

While casually browsing through Dinakkaran, Tamil Nadu’s number one morning newspaper, I found this credit card felony. You can find this incident in thier ePaper version dated 26th May, 2007 (Chennai Magazine section) — Page 17.

Nitesh Chandran (24), is working as sales executive in Air Deccan chennai branch. It is customary for Air Deccan customers to submit proof of identification when dropping in to purchase tickets. Some elite person has brought in the concept of submitting copies of credit card bills. All were fine till this Satan struck the deal. He used to note down the credit card numbers from the photocopies. And interestingly he has placed orders to a famous cell phone shop based from Alwarpet through thier website. When he went in person to get the mobile, the shopkeeper got suspicious since his name and card details didn’t match. When the merchant alerted the credit card issuing institution (HDFC in this case) regarding the anomaly, the bank in turn contacted the credit card holder who was the then travelling in Andhra Pradesh. He conveyed that he had not made any online orders whatsoever. Now Nitesh Chandran is behind the bars for his Credit Card felony.

[Air Deccan Credit Card Felony]

Now comes some interesting observations based on this incident.

  1. Handing over photocopies of credit card with even the CVV numbers visible is highly dangerous. We have been having another interesting encounter with a SBI Credit Card agent long time back stubbornly demanding photo credit card and I had shoo shoo him away.
  2. Air Deccan has pioneered in providing low cost travel and it is a great welcome boon to facilitate Air Travel for middle income group. But alongside the slash down of the costs, there had been a lot of negative points too.
    1. Too very often, you can find Air Deccan shuffing its flights and/or canceling it.
    2. The customercare is simply nonchalant to any of the customer demands. My colleague, Ashutosh Ravindra Inamdar, once booked a ticket from Chennai to Pune. The flight was initially at 11.30. But three times the flight was rescheduled and it was starting at 1930 in the evening. Interestingly when he called the customercare center, for a continous period of 45 minutes, the phone was just repeating the hold music and no customer care was caring to address the call.
  3. Air Deccan confirmed tickets are not truly confirmed.

An interesting encounter with Citibank Telemarketer — Investigation Results

For those who have actively followed my other post on ‘An interesting encounter with Citibank Telemarketer‘, here are some more information to share. Initially, I was planning to update the same post as comments but eventually the later developments, related observations on the various accused parties qualified this post to be an independant new one instead of bieng as a latent comment.

Till the day I started to Dallas on Feb 13, 2007; a guy claiming to be Citibank Manager wanted to meet on the incident. I have informed him that I have no free slots/schedules for the next three months and we can meet next only after May 11, 2007. In the meanwhile, I could learn from home that Citibank still seemed to have made a significant amount of calls, which my mobile kept recording as missed calls.

Coming to the other party, Redhy Palakatil Issac seemed to have been showing extra-ordinary proactiveness in negotiating deals with the telemarketer with almost a call every hour. Again as the parent post indicates, there was no clue for his showers-of-kindness to the telemarketer. I wouldn’t like to drag into describing it beyond the Views and Reviews principles and policies. However, there were certain relationship speculations that a citibank supporter Kumaraswamy had given in the parent post and I have replied there too.

After the return on May 11, I just thought of opening the file again by dusting it. Now Citibank seemed to have a different screwup to depict. For the same case reference number, after the usual three to five business days, I got the following response:

Dear Mr. Maheshwary,This is with reference to your email dated May 14, 2007.We are concerned to note the dissatisfaction expressed in your mail, with regard to the call received from one of our executives.We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you in this regard.We confirm having shared your feedback to the concerned department and assure that such instances does not recur.We have also updated our records to ensure that you do not receive any unsolicited calls from our end at your numbers 1412711671 and 22743617 .Should you have any other telephone numbers, please intimate, for us to update our records.

As per the process we will require 30 days to register a customer for Do Not Call Service. This is required to ensure that the calling lists available with our different partners are provided with this feedback.

We assure you of our best attention at all times.

Warm Regards,

Officer – Customer Care

“The information contained in this message is confidential and intended only for the use of the individual or entity identified. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of the information in this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message by error, please notify the sender immediately.”

So, the following points can be deduced from the latest screwup:

  1. The reference numbers that Citibank gives does not have a good enough time period of even 6 months, which is normal for a bank cheque.
  2. Within a short timespan, the reference numbers are assigned to a different customer.
  3. Even if (1) and (2) are not true, then it still means a more hilarious comedy or a severe mistake of swapping customer responses — landmark bug.

When I brought this to the attention of Citibank, the next three business days was like investigation for them. Then they seemed to have sorted it out.

Today I got a call from one Mr. Abhit introducing himself as Personal Loans Relationship Manager (914442226033). He conveyed and declared the issue resolved claiming the following. Let us now hope the issue does not crop up any further with any more customers.

  1. It was purely the telemarketers fault to keep persistently disturbing the customer inspite of non-interest conveyed and also being in the Do Not Call Registry.
  2. There is a gross overlook of things by Redhy Palakital Issac. This typically reflects how people are careless.
    1. Just to satisfy their bestial instincts and/or of monetary pleasures, people just try to rent/sell of friends/family relationships to anyone.

So, this case has been a huge success story for us in more ways than one.

  1. A good incident where a telemarketing scam was unearthed at even in its inception.
  2. As part of the investigation spree, I could fondly recall that Srinivas Thirunagari (the then CEO and now Chairman of my previous organization). I clearly have the words ringing even now afresh and as green. The words might not be verbatim but at least stick to the context and convey the essence. “Let us try to be as magnanimous and generous to all and at all occasions as far as possible. Even these evil pranksters help us in a significant way. We should thank them for serving and helping us as guinea pigs in our learning labs”. I really salute him for his extreme optimism in looking at any things.

Velachery Railway — An Elusive Wild Goose Chase

Chennai’s most attractive transporation is the suburban Railway system. To complement the road transportation services, about eight years back, they brought in something called ‘Mass Rapid Transit System‘. Currently this system serves the flying railways from Chennai Beach till Thiruvanmiyur. The proposed introduction of this Railway system till Velacherry and then linking to the traditional railways at St. Thomas Mount seems to featuring as Hanging Gardens of Babylon or something like that for more than three years thanks to the core bureocratic red tapism.

The Railway Minister seems to paying regular visits and I could fondly recall three good statements, a bit optimistic statements like ‘Velacherry MRTS would be a Deepavali gift’ (in October 2006)’;

‘Velacherry MRTS would be a Pongal gift for Tamil Nadu (in January 2007)’;

‘Velacherry MRTS would be a Tamil New Year gift for Tamil Nadu (in April 2007)’;

But now even June 2007 is going to come and the construction work at Velacherry MRTS seems to be going in quite a slow pace.

This is one distinct example of how much inertia any government project would showcase at least with respect to Tamil Nadu. Considering the peak traffic in Chennai, MRTS if launched in Velacherry would really mean a great boost in revenue for the Government but for some reasons best known only to the so-called officials in the goverment, the project is busy gathering dusts.

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