July 2009

Truant Telemarketers seem to be bursting out gay to make the best hay whilst the sun shines …
As today’s thursday demonstrated, the telemarketers seems to be active after a good period of hibernation because of the global economic slowdown and since the economy is showing slow signs of recovery, they want to make the best out of the moments to make fastest bucks and to jump-and-escape into the wild.
At least today, I have reported two major telemarketing violations on a number which has been registered and is staying-protected with the National Do Not Call Registry of TRAI for more than two years. Either the TRAI seems to be in deep slumber or it has got tired of these truant telemarketers or these telemarketers are entering into a bargaining spree of pitching hot sales deal versus penalties to be paid for reported and booked violations, taking into account of the less penetration of NDNC knowledge amongst the masses. In this juncture, it is our responsibility to ensure that we contribute to the nation in ensuring that every mobile user is brought under NDNC protection, subject to their interest of abhor towards those smelly telemarketing nuisances.
We would need to we wary of these telemarketers who just sell off crazy unsolicited things draining our wallets, filling up our mailboxes with rubbish and piling up our brains with tensions of multiple creed and kind. 

How would you treat people who just hop back at you only when they need something  for themselves?

These are too much mechanical days. Gone are the days of undivided families and/or kind of agraharams where everyone lived together, meeting and wishing everyone everyday or almost on every available moment. These are the days when because of necessity and invention, families are split into multiple geographic territories like parents in one country and children in totally different timezone. That is the reality. Wait. But technology has given us a truly great assets to offset this and rather gain from it too. Powerful and streamlined communication systems. Aren’t we blessed with a hassle-free private free emails? Hasn’t anyone been denied of a good cheap or free internet telephony like Google Talk?
This post is a close successor to my most recent post on ‘The Craze of Changing Mobile Numbers at their own whims and fancies …‘. Rather the straw that broke the camel’s back or which had been the inspiration for this post to get generated was the question in the post ”Do you have the number of Sasidharan?’. At least if the call started informally like ‘How are you?’ and a little Qs before barging directly into the ‘information solicitation’, it would have been tolerable. He is not reaching a customer care of a directory services for sure. Isn’t it? People had been in neighboring states of the same country, the sovereign securlar democratic republic of India but haven’t had the courtesy to even send a simple email wish during the festivals. But when it really comes for any information or service requirement for themselves, they just shamelessly knock the doors of anyone. At least in my perspective I always ensure that a friendly ‘hi’ knocks their mailboxes once in a while as a casual ping or a keepalive. I gave him another litmus test on if he replied me to a more recent email sent a couple of days before the conversation. The test ran till the midnight of 24th July 2009 00:00 hours and since that informal email failed to elicit a response, I had to adjudge him as a befitting ‘guinea pig’ for this case-study and none short than that.
Around in 2007 [roped in from my personal diary], I remember, someone from my previous organization was trying to reach me and was telling me if I could assist them or point towards some assistance with Drupal PHP Framework. Since I didn’t have much idea on what the heck was that all about, I just replied back with the following set of information. I just thought I would the bullet-point thoughts shared across here to emphasize the need for the people to-keep-in-touch with the circles rather than floating around in their own whims and fancies and knocking/bugging others only one they feel the pinch of a need.

Some of the things I replied back were: 
  • I have no idea regarding the specified framework called Drupal. If you would need, I can muster some PHP folks through my known recruitment circles and help you with. That would take a week’s time.
  • Not sure, if the entity mentioned as ‘some one’ is very important and is on a pressing need and hence I would not rather give any firm commitment from any delivery commitment from my perspective in this aspect.
  • I also expressed my dissatisfaction in that this request is being routed to me after a long sojourn of no-contact and then just as a ‘bolt-out-of-blue’, this request is bothering my attention.
In the similar vien, I have another ‘gem sample’. Some people get carried over in sharing personal contacts for proliferating on their business relationships. Typical example is that BWW-Amway guys. I believe, we have discussed about this a while back over here.
At the same time, I also feel that there are a few treasures that come out because of such rotten apples too, just like an accidental keypress that turned out to be an amicable assistance for some one in the elevator for me. A colleague of mine coming out from the same alma mater had been helping our (alumni) group good through the various organizations he had been in.
  • When he joined an insurance company in Chennai around in 2002, he could help us with a good insurance policy to enrol. Had we been visiting another new insurance agent, we would end up with a class two policy paying up a higher premium for the same, since we were in the start of the career then and not knowing how best to negotiate and clinch for a good deal.
  • He joined another private bank in 2004. He used his privileges to bargain for different loans with processing charges either heavily waived or subsidised for a number of associates in the group who were interested.

But the benefit I outlined should be treated as a one-off case. The bottomline of the story is that let us not treat others as just only information carriers/service provider piggybacking on them for selfish benefits. That does not fit the ethical spirits too.

The government should consider distributing its officials including the ministers throughout the state instead of keeping in one closed place of the city.

This discussion applies from the observations based from Chennai. It might be applicable to other states as well. Readers: Please feel free to share your views on this as well. A number of main ministers in the state of Tamil Nadu actually relocate to Chennai after being elected so that they can attend the daily assemblies in the secretariat. But the catch is that most of them are located within the same area. Either like MLA hostel or in posh areas of the city.  For example, I remember, Stalin was better associated with his residence in Baby Nagar (Velachery). Whilst he was in Velachery, the state administration was very particular in ensuring the civic and commuting infrastructure of the town. But once he was elected as the minister, I believe, the statutory shifting of the residence process chipped in and he was moved to Greenways Road. Perhaps similar plight and argument applies to other ministers as well from other parts of the city.

My concern is that since we have a lot of portfolios in the state and if the government could distribute the ministers across the city, it would give a lot of benefits:
  1. The civic administration agency would have a fear and would ensure that the area would be maintained in a good order.
  2. The police would ensure that law and order situation in the area and vicinity are perfect.
  3. This would also ensure that one particular area does not become cordoned off for the general public and minister-public rapport/relationship would be elevated to a greater extent. In other words, the difference between them would shrink.
  4. Since they are in different areas, they would know the problems faced by the public and help achieve the resolution quickly.

Readers: What do you say?

Shoudn’t punitive acts by the government be made more stringent so that it would be deterrant for recurrence of law breaking attempts?
 This is the followup of my earlier post on BSNL CBI Campaigns on Anti Corruption Drive. I was just thinking a while back that what is causing so much of corruptions rampant in our country. Besides, the state administration taking efforts to eradicate the corruption, it seems to be prevalent so much and very much deep rooted. Also, if one flips the newspapers regarding the way government officials are treated for the negligence of duty or offence, the maximum punishment that they are meted out is Temporary Suspension or Transfer to a different place.
On the other hand, if it comes to private enterprises, punishments towards business conduct violation would be stringent, strict and in most cases go upto legal litigatory compensation from the offender upto and in most including termination of employment of the offender in the group company involved. The stringent punishment like that helps to instil a sense of fear in the minds of the employer to be loyal to the organization, honest in his deeds and friendly to the customer. But when it comes to government employment, the officers are really callous towards the rules and regulations because they know for sure, they are in ‘very safe hands’. Even if government is imposing a strict punishment on any offender, there comes politically-biased unions which save them rather unscrupulously. We are actually aware about the JACTO-GEO strikes in 2003. You can check out the post over here.
Also, very recently, the previous commissioners of police in Greater Chennai (Sekar, Radhakrishnan) were all just mute spectators in the Law College incident, which triggered so much hype across the media. We did discuss about this incident sometime back over here. I would say, the current indian police system needs a radical renaissance. At least in Chennai, after Lathika Charan and Vijaykumar (the Veerappan fame) the commissioners who have been taking charge are just dummy ones without much contributions to the civic life style protection of the people and/or adding any value to their positions. Would the state administration do something to remedy on the maladies?
Staggering list of political parties, sky-exploding list of cine star and celebrity fan clubs along with their massive membership base can really make a good community initiative
Whenever there is a interview with the top brass of city corporation or police regarding the slowness of law and order protection operations or civic community development procedures, the standard response that they give is ‘Paucity of labor’. They normally get to lament almost immediately on the slightest provocation of the question that ‘We are running short of staff to delegate to all spheres and areas. We are working round the clock to serve the people’.
I used to wonder what it causes them to voice such a blatant white lie when we have other occurences in the same city wherein the same personnel who when associated with their parent political parties never fail to show a solidarity of their big bunch of loyal followers and in an earnest attempt to demonstrate their ‘arm-strength’. I did some quick research over the political parties of India. The Wiki Page over here has a good comprehensive collection of political parties that are functioning from India. Each party, for sure, has good presence and command in their own areas of operation. Also, if we take stock of cine actors/actresses, amongst the thousands of them, each of them have a good amount of followers who literally worship them. I can cite the example of Khushboo, who is seemed to have adored by her fans with a temple near Trichy. Check out the Wiki page of Khushboo over here.
My only view was even the administrators could develop a community-conscious rapport with the political parties and cine actors, their entire mob can be transitioned as a good productive workforce for a number of constructive activities towards the upliftment of the society and the nation. A few of them, which I could immediately, think of are here under:
  1. Revamp and renaissance of the Friends of Police movement. This would complement the efforts of the cops who seemed to be having a shortage of labor in enforcing law and order in the nation.
  2. City/Town beautification efforts
  3. Quick relief disbursements

Readers: What do you feel? Do share your thoughts on this topic too…

The so-called state-of-the-art banking enterprises still clinging to obsolete technology (components)
I have been observing the tall claims of two private banking entrepreneurs in India (ICICI Bank and Citibank India) who seemed to having tall claims on the state of the art banking style but when closely analysed their internet banking modules suffers from serious flaws. I have personally reported them to their customer care which just ‘acknowledges’ the feedback but it had been more than twenty four months now (on the average) with no improvements on the horizon.
  1. ICICI Bank Infinity Logout still uses defunct Web Browser object and gives Scripting Errors: When you are logged on to the Internet banking module of ICICI Bank (called Infinity) and after completing the transaction when you logout, you would for sure encounter weird scripting errors because of the now obsolete Web Browser control. You can see the following code in the view source of the page which reveals the bad programming practice used by their development team and also use of old unsupported code:

    <OBJECT ID=”WB” WIDTH=0 HEIGHT=0 CLASSID=”CLSID:8856F961-340A-11D0-A96B-00C04FD705A2″>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=”JavaScript1.2″>
    function winload()
    if(navigator.appName==”Microsoft Internet Explorer”)
    var BrowserVerStr =navigator.appVersion;
    parts = BrowserVerStr.split(“;”);
    var preBrowVer = parts[1]
    var BVNum=parseFloat((preBrowVer.substring(5,preBrowVer.length)))
    if (BVNum >= 5.5)

  2. Every page in Infinity gives a warning like ‘This page contains secure and insecure items’ warning page, which is rather very irritating when one seriously is involved in a banking transaction. There hasn’t been any visible effort by the bank to correct the same too.
  3. Citibank Online seems to be nurturing an aspiration to make internet banking as difficult as possible for the user. You have to logon using a big debit or credit card number. Only a few days now, they have started to bring the concept of storing a nickname for the number and that too as a cookie in the computer. So if you use five to six computers to logon to Citibank Online, you would need to setup the nickname in five to six computers. You also end up effectively in divulging your debit/credit card numbers to multiple systems and the fiscal peril increases its wings and dimensions when you are using a shared computer from a library or an internet kiosk. Standard Chartered was using this workaround long time back but now they have migrated it to a friendly username rather than beguile numbers for logon process.
  4. All these internet banking applications also have something called timeouts. Even if you are typing a long message to customercare, the timer still keeps ticking and half away through the message the clock would alarm and signout of the application, if you aren’t careful. Not sure, what is causing them to monitor keystrokes within the application and have the timer automatically renewed.

I just thought I would share these observations with other readers so that people can be careful whilst dealing with these buggy internet applications.

The Other avatars of Telemarketing
Whilst GoI has endeavored through its DoT and brought in the NDNC to curb the acute telemarketing menace to a little control, I am sure, many of us would share the tale that other forms of vicious, dubious, unrelenting and barbarious marketing attempts are continuing unabated. Let us see two forms of such marketing over here:
  1. Mobbing
  2. Reference Spamming
Mobbing: Spot any big technology park or a business establishment in Chennai and at the entrance of the building you can find scores of marketing agents vying with each other with printed pamphlets with some weird mobile numbers. They not only obstruct the free passage, entry and exit of people to the business establishment but also cause a lot of hullabaloo in the environment. You can also find such personal loan agents in front of ATMs.
Reference Spamming: If you had taken a credit with a bank, most probably you might be getting a lot of such calls requesting to give the numbers of your friends so that marketing can be targetted on them too. Using this reference as a shield, the banks do away the allegation of unsolicited call under the cover of ‘reference’. I would also draw your attention to our earlier discussion on this topic over here.
The latter two can be ‘contained’ if the cops are little active and come out of their shell of deep slumber and lethargy.
BSNL CBI Campaigns on Anti Corruption Drive
For the past few days, there had been an aggressive text message campaign by BSNL in support of CBI Voice against rampant corruption that is widely prevalent and deep-rooted in every possible government department in our country. I just thought I would share the message with other readers so that it would be a little support for them too besides that more people can get the message and benefit from the same.
Email Address to Report: sp1acchn (at) cbi.gov.in
Telephone Numbers: +91 44 28255899
Text Message your Report at: +91 94440 49224
Feel free to share it with your friends and relatives too.
Customer Care Of Private Banks in India — ‘We make the customer to pull out the hair in despair’
The latest trend of many private banks and other establishments like Vodafone India seems to be making customer care very hard to reach for the naive customer. They usher to ensure that the customers are just cows to milk as much as possible without needing to benefit them. Here are a few recent developments.
  1. Citibank: Whenever you call Citibank India, you would be required to punch in your long debit card number first. A few months before you were prompted to enter your telephonic PIN (to waive off any crazy q&a session with that cabbage phone banker). They have intentionally modified this to entering your date of birth. But when you transfer to the customer care, you should again opt to exercise your choice (1) Pending Query (2) General Query. You need to brief to them first your problem. He would summarize you again. Now he would put you on the IVRS to authenticate your TPIN. Again you have to brief them since by the time you go to IVRS and come, there is a good ninety per cent chance that the phone banker would forgotten your query only to greet you with ‘Thanks for authenticating your TPIN. How can I assist you?’.
  2. Standard Chartered: Even after you authenticate TPIN, you are always forced to have some interactive Q&A session with the phone banker. Some of the questions are:
    1. What is your name? [In future, they might include ”What is your dog’s name?’ too. :)]
    2. What is your account number/full card number? [Can’t they read it from the input I have already given to the IVRS?]
    3. What is your date of birth?
    4. What is your mailing address? [They might tweak this to “Where did you have your hair cut this Sunday?”]

      I challenged them quite a few times on the need for this redundant validation. They just have the same standard gibberish scribble (through Internet) and feeble replay (on the phone) that ‘for security reasons’. Not sure what is that curiosity in the crazy security procedure they are trying to use.

  3. Vodafone: Vodafone is another set of jokers. I believe we have a good length discussion on this topic already here.
There is also another incident with Citibank CustomerCare. I used an ATM near Tambaram and the Citibank statement was telling ‘Indian Bank Kancheepuram’. The phone bankers were just running away on challenging this info. When I wrote them, they wanted fifteen days to investigate and then scribble back with the crappy response that ‘You have withdrawn from Indian Bank, Kancheepuram’.
It is high time that we see that our funds are transferred to public sector counterparts and boycott these useless enterprises, who just make us feel uncomfortable.