November 2007


An encounter with a CountryGroup Trojan

Today I had an interesting call from a guy in Bangalore with the number flashing
in mobile as +919342654414. It was just about 3 minutes 40 second call at 10:57
hours in the morning.

I would like to share a synopsis of the call with others for two reasons:

  1. Either the caller was on behalf of CountryWide, trying to act smart.
  2. Really dumb caller who didn’t have even basic consumer rights awareness. If
    this is the case, we have to step-up consumer rights awareness in the country
    still more aggressively to combat unscrupulous service providers.

This guy had a problem like this:

“He seemed to have signed up for some Country offers yesterday and today he has
got referred to Views and Reviews and has visited this post
(https://viewsreviews.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/countryclub-violates-ndnc-and-asks\
-what-is-ndnc/
). Now is getting tensed and trying to call a few customers
getting their reviews and is intending to cancel it.”.

Now comes a few funny (but thought-provoking) questions:

  1. While talking to some one for a consultation, wouldn’t it be a polite courtesy to introduce oneself first? [He missed it one shot]
  2. Should he have been so careful regarding the club membership, then he ought
    to have at least skimmed through the reviews first and then signed up for the
    membership. This should be a better and decent approach than getting wedded and
    then trying to find a good advocate who can get a divorce, which brings it with
    a lot of heart-breaks too.
  3. What is the guarantee that he expects that the callee would guide him
    properly? The reason behind this question is there might be a slightest of a
    light doubt that he might be a ‘Trojan’ acting on behalf of Country itself.
    Worse it, we can even get suspicions that he might be one of the Telemarketing
    employees spying on a random set of violators to get a public opinion about
    thier company or trying to get to the mercy of TRAI.
  4. Also, I feel it is unfair to treat these cases on a one-to-one basis, perhaps
    due to the following two reasons:

    1. Point No. (3) Above
    2. Similar to Technical Discussion Forums, here too, when a query is
      answered, it becomes part of a valuable knowledgebase and hence future users can actually save time waiting for the answers by searching the knowledgebase. Actually, I have an article in one of the technical discussion forums, which I would like to share. A good number of points, I guess, should apply here too. http://www.dotnetspider.com/kb/Article1703.aspx (This particular violation is actually an extreme of the point (“Do not attempt using a Private Message option in the messages …”)
    3. Unless and otherwise it is a definitive legal contract like
      advocate/client, customer/service provider, a stranger’s one-to-one solutions
      should not be recommended, unless one has to exchange really confidential
      information. In that case, I would suggest defaulting to the first part of 4a.
  5. I was not able to control my laughter and just gave him three points for him
    (rolling over it again-and-again).

    1. Goto Country and say “I am not interested”. There may be plenty of
      reasons. Check out any fine prints in the document. Adhere to it and have your offer canceled.
    2. You ought not to mention any reasons. But if CountryClub is so crazy to
      force you a reason, just spell something gibberish like “I am going abroad”. It
      is kind of ‘Tit for Tat’. If at all, he is going for abroad, then he should be
      knowing well before 24 hours right? 🙂 🙂
    3. I suggested one more thing. Come to
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/consumer_voice_india/ and post your message so that some panelists would be able to advise you. I think this is a good way. This makes the solution filed as a knowledgebase too.

When I was talking about CVI (as a promotional measure 🙂 ), I think he was acting innocent and asking what is that? I don’t think, a person can act so dumb. If he is looking at Club Membership, he should have some basic knowledge of world tricks right? Or are we really lacking on consumer awareness so much? I actually read out the intro of the group to convince him. 🙂

If he was one from CountryWide staff, then I think I was relatively successful in marketing ConsumerAwareness to the courts of ConsumerFleecers. Should that be
the case, I think, CountryWide is then eligible for one more INR 500 penalty from TRAI.

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CountryClub violates NDNC and asks what is NDNC? 

Today I trapped one telemarketer who called my other BSNL number inspite of it
being listed in NDNC and after 45 days of September launch of the same.

The following are the chain of events:

13th November 2007

1000: The call landed in my house BSNL landline from CountryClubIndia. It was a
clear-cut violation of NDNC since the 45 days has crossed already. Since I had
informed my parents to inform any calls to get addressed to my Airtel number.

1224: Sharmila from CountryClub, Vellore, India calls from +914164215105. When I
gently reminded her of NDNC, she was totally ignorant of the concept at all. For
anything and everything, she was pointing fingers at Chennai HeadOffice and her
supervisor. When I had to use the NDNC whip to threaten her that they might be
penalised with INR 500 per instance of violation and possible disconnection of
thier telephone service, she immediately banged the phone down.

But as part of the first line queries, she was telling that she got the number
from one book/magazine called SearsLocal. Anyone who is aware of what is this?
Does this publicize everyone’s cell number?

1234: A purportedly supervisor lady,claiming to call on behalf of Sharmila
called me from +914164215137. When I asked her the name, she started to be
offensive. She just rained down a few messages in one shot:

It is our duty as telemarketers to introduce offers and get sales leads. We
don’t care about do not call registry and other things. We are not bothered
about that. Our head office will take care of the same. The head office gives
all the numbers and we call everyone, even if the customer refused in the
previous instance.
Even for asking her name she just replied “It is not
required
“.

Here are a few queries:

  1. How about a branch manager behaving that hostile way?
  2. How is the deal that a telemarketing organization does not know about or
    bother about NDNC?
  3. What is the respect that these organizations have for the government or TRAI?

Airtel sends obscene Messages as Service Messages

Bharti Airtel now ushers to give preactivated GPRS to every user and you can make use of it without rental other than the charges for download which are like INR 1 per 100 Kb. But once the GPRS is active, you also get regular promotional messages under the banner of ‘Service Messages’. Some of the messages are really vulgar and I can brand them as obscene pornography. I even reported to Nodal officer to opt out but till date there has not been any redressal of the same.

Particularly, when you are in an austerity like to Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa where abstaining from woman relationship is strongly recommended; messages like ‘Sizzling Beach Beauties. click http:// … wml’, ‘Smashing Saturday Hits. Visit …’ are just very indecent. I am planning to report this to TRAI also and let me keep posted over the developments.

Bad Bad Road States

Just a little showers and Chennai roads would turn into faces that keep smiling at you awfully with so much of potholes. The State Government of Tamil Nadu, which is keen in opening industries and depriving villagers and citizens of land looting in many places should morally stop those unethical activities and see that basic amenities of the areas are first satisfied.

Typically, a quick drive along Madippakkam – Kizkattalai, Kundrathur – Mangadu and Chembarambakkam are very much in despair and totally unmotorable rendering regular commuters in the area prone to spinal and other problems. The Government should first stop its ‘junk’ and ‘scam’ industrialization activities that are going on like the following

  1. Pallikaranai Flyover Scam
  2. Pozhichalur Airport Scam
  3. Sriperumbudur SIPCOT Expansion Plan Scam

I am just appending scam to every plan for the simple reason that they have been resorted without caring about basic amenities of the people and just to fill the wallets of the ministers.

Cost-Saving with a Vodafone Chennai India Connection

Yesterday while I was bit free, I was surfing through Vodafone India (Chennai Region) website. The most interesting thing I found was that every user is associated with a caller profile at the server. This way, when the user roams out of home network, he can opt to configure his profile suitably. When a caller tries to reach the number, he would get a message like “The person you are trying to reach is travelling” or “The person you are trying to reach is outside the country”. This way, the considerate callers would be helpful in deciding whether to pursue with the call or not. Typically this is very useful in the case of International Roaming where charges are really pretty high.

Vodafone does charge for the SMS activation and deactivation of the service at INR 3. Also, the default time the profile is set with a new value is 48 hours unless it is specified explicity via the activation/deactivation SMS.

Check out Vodafone site for more details here.