July 2008


Infinite Sink :: A Good Anti-dote for Telemarketing

You would have read about my encounter with a hostile telemarketer recently. I have tried deploying a simple ploy of having them hooked upto into a Call Conference when they attempted to call me from thier own numbers multiple times at the same instance. I actually used CallConferencing and I put my phone on hold. This way those two would be howling against each other at thier own expense. Since both are incoming calls to me, I would not be charged by my provider and also I am serving as a ‘connecting link’ (free EPABX kind of) for the telemarketing organization. Am I sounding too very optimistic and social service kind of? 🙂

But not everyone would be comfortable with having a Call Conference facility active on the mobile phones. Hence I just thought of sharing a concept which we can send as a suggestion to our network operators. They can provide some thing like ‘Infinite Sink’ number, which should be Toll-Free. When a telemarketing call comes, we should just transparently transfer the call to this number. The Sink Number would start reading about promotional offers for the telemarketer.  I am actually trying to see an implementation example for ‘Reverse Telemarketing’. This way, we are helping out our network operator with some free ad targets for their promotional offers.

Extending it still further with more innovation, the ‘Infinite Sink’ number can also play some music, recite slokas or scold them too. In that way, you can make the telemarketers get bored out of thier folly and they would try to correct themselves.

Readers: What do you think of this ‘Infinite Sink Toll Free’ number concept?

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Reverse Telemarketing

These days, inspite of having stringent regulations in place and TRAI having launched the NDNC and trying to implement it strictly, telemarketers are going scott free. In a way, they are also trying to be abusive on the potential prospective client/customer, if they refuse to accept their offers. I would say, in a way, they are trying to involve in a diplomatic beggary (translated from Tamil what we call as அதிகார பிச்சை).

I just thought we should try some novel strategy on these telemarketers and try to make some benefit out of them too.  How about having a ‘Reverse Telemarketing’ applied on them? By ‘Reverse Telemarketing’, what I mean is that when a telemarketer calls you, you should not warn him of NDNC or shoo-shoo him away with a ‘NO’ for his offer. Rather, we should try selling or advertising some product/service to him. Let me illustrate this with an example:

Telemarketer A calls you right after your lunch when you are busy preparing an important accounts excel sheet. You should not shoo-shoo him away. Rather you can take a moment of time and try to explain him some of the things like the below.  

  1. Try to showcase offering of NDNC Telemarketing Registration. Convince him about some benefits in the same style as he sells his product. He should soon be bored off this and should run away.
  2. We can also try making a deal with the telemarketing organization to donate some amount to a charity organization. Ask him to donate an amount of INR 20000. This way, we can make the telemarketers realize their folly and run away.

I would rather suggest, this would be a Tit-for-Tat strategy to shoo-shoo the telemarketers since they succumb to listening to product/offers on thier own style and also the outbound telephone call is paid for them.

 Readers: What do you think? This would reduce our tension when an unsolicited call rings next time on our phone and make the situation humorous for us but would make the telemarketers scream hysterically. 🙂

HSBC — A Sincere Attitude Change to being Lethargic, Lazy and Cheat

Sometime back, I wrote about HSBC’s bad attitude towards RBI guidelines of issuing passbooks and their hidden charges about the FREE ATM Cards. You can check out the post here. For the past two months, I have been having unpleasant set of experiences with HSBC which I would like to share it over here for the benefit of other readers. Escalations upto nodalofficer.im@hsbc.co.in does not elicit a standard response. Every response takes upto one week and it again just imitates as a copy-paste of the canned response, which provides an emphasis for us that they haven’t bothered to care about our issues.

 

  1. Block and reissue of Credit Card: I had an unfortunate incident of having credit card damaged about two weeks back. When I called HSBC Contact Center to report this, the bank executive offered to block the card and reissue at the charge of INR 100. I asked her to hold back block/reissue so that I can discuss this the next day. But she vehemently went ahead and blocked the card. A day later, when I logged onto Online@HSBC, I found the card account missing and only when I called PhoneBanking, the card block action of the phone banking executive came to my knowledge. I asked about any reissue. Fortunately this time, I had a courteous phone banker who offered me to waive the reissuance charge and arrange delivery of the replacement card. I think the number of courteous and active people in HSBC can really be counted with fingers. Since, after one proactive action, when I hoped that the card would reach in a week’s time, it took a fortnight [3 times a week].
  2. High Value Cheque Clearing Melodrama: I had to deposit a High Value Cheque from one of a Nationalized Bank to the HSBC account. The deposit happened at 0945 AM on Monday morning. I was expecting a SMS alert of Uncleared Balance (“Credit on Clearance”) almost immidiately since the actual clearance itself was advised to be happening the same day and the funds would be available for clearance the same day night. But only on Tuesday afternoon, I got the cheque being sent out for clearance. And only on Thursday night, the cheque amount came to my account. I had three queries to HSBC through online@hsbc:
    1. Why was the delay in clearance of a high value cheque?
    2. What is the point of having a high value cheque cutoff time when it was slower than a MICR clearing?
    3. Would I be eligible for a interest payment for delayed clearance?
  3. For all queries 2.1 through 2.3, I was getting standard canned response that ‘You are sending a request through unsecured email. Please send your name, date of birth, mailing address’ to assist you further. Alternatively, use our secure message option’. However, when I send a message through online@hsbc, it takes a fortnight for them to respond. I really want to know why does HSBC need all those crappy lengthy details like date of birth, address etc for a simple stupid query. Are they running a matrimonial bureau and are they going to cast my horoscope, do some bridal matches and arrange my marriage? 🙂
  4. When I escalate each time through PhoneBanking, the guys just put on hold and vanish into the wild.
  5. When I brought this to the attention of Nodal Officer, Chennai, about ten days later, some called me and asked for more details. She told she wants to check with branch and call me two working days later. And I was getting the response that the nationalized bank (“Canara Bank”) branch did not participate in the high value clearing and hence it was routed through MICR. But my Canara Branch, when I checked with them, denies this allegation outright and baseless. I just wanted to share with you about some of the mean attitude of HSBC staff just to shift blame onto others and wash-off their moral responsibilities.

In Today’s Dinamalar, there is a coverage of the article about delayed cheque clearances should be credited with a Fixed Deposit equivalent interest. I have again written to HSBC on this front. Let me share with you the message I get from.

First kickstart on the cyberway to drive on the highway or to fly…
 
These days of Internet Age, booking tickets and planning a travel has never become difficult, as long as you carefully draft an itinerary. Whatever be the mode of transportation (roadway, railway, airlines or ships), you can always count on a quick website to do a travel booking for you at the comfort of your home/desktop and tickets delivered at your doorstep.
 
This post is actually intended as a compilation of various websites that offer travel booking to various places. This list is no means exhaustive. If you know a different provider, feel free to share it as a comment for the benefit of other readers.
 
  1. Indian Railways: IRCTC Online Passenger Reservation Site
  2. Roadways:
    1. State Express Transport Corporation
    2. Parveen Travels
    3. KPN Travels
    4. Rathi Meena Travels
  3. Airlines:
    1. Indian Airlines
    2. Air India
    3. Air Deccan
    4. KingFisher
    5. Lufthansa India
    6. British Airways

Perhaps if you know of similar websites, please feel free to share it as comments for the benefit of other readers.

Vexatious and Annoying Telemarketing Call from The League Club, Chennai

Around 1400 hours today, I got a call from some one who told calling on behalf of ‘The League Club’. She failed to introduce herself (which is the first telemarketing etiquette). She virtually barged into the one-duplex conversation of narrating offers on The League Club Membership. I interrupted her and confronted her with the following single statement:

“You are not supposed to call me since I am registered for more than an year with NDNC operated by TRAI. You should really make some earnest efforts in understanding NDNC and Privacy Requirements of the Potential Customers”.

She hurled a hostile word in Tamil like “porukki” (பொறுக்கி) and banged the phone down with a huge thud sound. I really don’t understand if the above polite advisory was in
anyway that harsh. There had been a spurt of calls from 1304 to 1327 and the entire call durations ranging from 2 minutes to 30 minutes. [The total call duration of the calls from their subnet totals upto 30 minutes]. The following are the phone numbers that I am getting a call number till about 1525 hours. A continuous circle of two or three persons were flying
abuses unabated for the period of 30 minutes. In the lighter vein, had I been Chitragupta, who checks for sins committed, I would frankly say that the sins committed by them and the words used by them would just label them as gruesome, heinous sinners of the world.
Call Origin Numbers (as flashed from CLI of mobile Phone):

*+914424712977 (1303,1304,1337)
*+914423700060 (1327)
*+914423700075 (1300, 1301, 1304)

 

You may observe that the call landed from numbers (1) and (3) concurrently. Since I had conference facility active, I just thought instead of wasting my time over these illegal telemarketers, let me just hook them into conference and put on hold so that they get bored off in their own, instead of wasting my time, energy and also jeopardizing my mental
tranquility.

Since the caller was persisting very much to a nauseating and disgusting extent, I switched off the phone for ten minutes and when I switched on, I got the following Missed Alert from Airtel:

“You have missed calls from +9144237700075 (44:1313), +914424711766(1:13:11) and
+914424712977 (8:13:5)”.

Again I started getting the calls. When I picked up, the guy openly started to hurl unparliamentarily abuses in Tamil language. He even wanted me from refrain using English and speak in Tamil. He was openly brandishing that he knows upper hands and can trace out and threatening of physical assaults and harassments. I really wonder about some base, mean, people’s attitude towards a gentle advisory. I have reported the very first telemarketing attempt to Airtel and also the subsequent flurry of assaults from their network to Airtel Customercare. As per telephonic discussion with 121 PhoneCare (Airtel), I have written the entire incident in detail to Airtel CustomerCare in writing besides Chennai
Commissioner of Police (cop@vsnl.net).

 

The above conversation has also been sent to the following:

 

  1. Airtel Customer Care [121@airtelindia.com]
  2. The Greater Chennai Police Commissioner [cop@vsnl.net]
  3. League Club Administration*
  4. League Club Website Management Team*

*The website http://www.THELEAGUECLUB.IN/ [http://www.theleagueclub.in/] did not
have any contact email addresses and hence I did a preliminary investigation to
get their contact address from http://www.registry.in/cgi-bin/whois.cgi
[http://www.registry.in/cgi-bin/whois.cgi]. This was necessary since the phone numbers mentioned would be circuitous and again landing on those vexatious telemarketers without providing any relief.

 

A few observations regarding the above incident:

 

  1. The telemarketer needs to be friendly and polite while introducing themselves. In the above conversation, that was given a straight miss.
  2. The supervisory cadre in the telemarketing organization should have given a unbiased view of both the parties and then try to come to some conclusion rather than succumbing to flattery of his colleague and abusing the customer.
  3. If this would be the attitude of a club, which is intended to provide relaxation would anyone join it? Incidents like this would only serve to enhance the hypertension of its subscribers.

Let me keep you posted with the updates from Airtel/COP regarding the above queries.

You can also this discussion thread posted in Consumer_Voice_India forum for the benefit and security of other readers over here.

‘Money is not everything’ — Where are the humanitarian values now?

I have been thinking of writing this topic for a while. A few interesting incidents that happened in the bus last week sparked off and just thought I would consolidate the topics and write on it.  These days, a lot of people seems to be becoming so much mechanical in one aspect and also trying to cultivate good amount of avarice and ill-will on others. I have two sporadic incidents to share on this.

 1) During my recent trip to US, I had a chance to call my school friend. She is currently married and settled in Missouri. Her spouse’s friend had a chance to meet me in a quick party over the weekend. He and her spouse seemed to be active in some Britt Worldwide group. Immediately, every alternate day, he was asking me whether I can also join that group. He was using all sorts of fancy words like ‘Good Investment’, ‘Better Lifestyle’. I was just trying to ignore them continously. Even after I returned to India, he was telling me about how about having contact with the Indian association here. I was just wondering if that is all the value to the relationships people give. In fact, I don’t know these guys.  Even his spouse’s school friend is not exempt and these guys try to spread the wings of their network; trying to monetize relationships.

 2) Last week, while travelling in Chennai in a bus from Koyambedu to Velacherry, there one Max New York Insurance sales guy sitting next to me. All of a sudden he opened up conversation bolt out of the blue. And then started to blabber about all crap insurance schemes.

 Would people ever realize the distance of marketing and personal life and where to market and where not to?

Taxing Taxes — Are they gruesome Axes?

 Sometime back, we were discussing about effects of inflation over here. Towards combating such menace and to ensure that we save something peanuts for the rainy day, if we try to cut our daily expenses and putting in some nationalized banks, there seems to be a few other horror devils waiting to smile at you with sinister face.  

I just compiled from a few persons on the various clauses that are present in IT Tax Returns Forms. This topic had been in my Todolist for a while. It took me a while to publish this post, since I had to meet a few chartered accountants too to understand the various clauses in a typical Income Tax Return form for salaried class.

 1) Interest on deposits is again taxable. Shouldn’t the Finance Ministry of Government of India learn to be more rational and compassionate to the hard-working salaried class. If they really want to be hard on money launderers, they should start from the top-up rather than splattering their efforts on the salaried class, who are already subjected to a heavy Tax Deducted at Source and whatever little money they are trying to save, there seems to be a booty spree for that too on the pretext of ‘Income from Other Sources’.

 2) Adding fuel to the fire, some of the base-minded coworkers eye at your funds with envy and vye for a free-ride like treats and satisfying of their bestial instincts at the value of your hard-earned money. 

Really, really the need for the hour is that government should learn to be more compassionate to the poor middle class, who are already suffering the heavy yoke burden of inflation and rising prices of commodities all around.

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