Navigation Photography

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fight for your rights! - Update 17

Last week we went to the police station and met the Sub-inspector. He was very helpful and asked us to meet him on a certain day. On that day, my wife went to the police station herself (I was traveling). The milkman was there too. He apologized and signed a statement saying that he had done such-and-such and was sorry and would not repeat such behavior in the future. So ends one chapter in this story.

Tomorrow is the Consumer Court hearing, but we have no witnesses, no affidavits, nothing. We do have the signed statement from the milkman where he had admitted that he had overcharged and misbehaved, but I wonder if such a statement can be admitted to court. And somehow I can't help thinking that it would not be right for us to give his statement to the court.

Read Fight for your rights! - Update 16.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Traffic problems are everybody's problems - 3

Yet another B'lore blogger joins the fight against rash drivers. Check out The Write Nonsense, where Nisho describes how he took a driver of Sapient to task. Absolutely marvelous! Nisho, keep up the good work.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

On all search engines

The search string "everyday bloggy" throws up this blog as #1 on all the usual search engines: google, yahoo, ask, msn, lycos, altavista. I've my ego massaged for the day, heh heh heh.

Charging over MRP at airports

We all know about the rampant overcharging of packaged items at airports/malls/multiplexes etc. This is clearly illegal and we as consumers must take this up with the required authorities. See my earlier post "Hotels can charge extra for bottled water, says HC", where the high court ruled that hotels can do so because they are offering a "service". But by no stretch of imagination can we say that airports/malls/multiplexes are offering a similar service.

A few days ago I was at B'lore airport, where I bought a 200ml packaged juice with an MRP of Rs. 10. The guy at the counter sold this to me at Rs. 30! This time, instead of keeping quiet like other times, I decided to take on the shop which was selling everything above MRP.

I asked the guy at the counter whether he knew that he was committing an illegal act by selling above the MRP. For those who don't know, overcharging is illegal under the Packaged Commodities Rules (PCR), which states that any trader charging more than the MRP mentioned on the package can be prosecuted. He said that they have to sell above MRP because of "taxes". When I asked him what tax, he said "airport taxes". He first gave me a bill which didn't even have the name of the item on it. It said "Power failure" and "Item 1 --- Rs 30". Unbelievable! I asked him to give me a bill with the name of the item on it, so he gave me another tiny bill with just "Juice --- Rs 30" printed on it.

I then asked him to give me a hand made bill mentioning clearly the exact item that I'd bought, the printed price of the item I'd bought, and what were the exact taxes that were being charged. He, of course, refused. Then I asked him to call his manager. He said to wait for half an hour, his manager would come. Yeah, in half an hour, so would my flight. I asked for the name and phone number of his manager, but he refused again. I continued making a racket, all the while he continued serving other customers. Then I told him that I would take out my camera and take his photograph and take that as proof. Finally when I did take out my camera, he said that I can't take his photo without permission. I said I would unless he gave me a proper bill. Finally, he called his supervisor.

The supervisor came and I asked him the same stuff and asked for a bill. He refused to give me a bill as well. I told him that I would not only complain to the consumer court about overcharging, but I would make further complaints to the IT department and the consumer court about not giving an itemized bill and not mentioning the exacts taxes that are being charged. This guy said that he didn't know anything, his manager set the prices, etc, but refused to give me his manager's name/number as well. Finally, I got him to write the name of the juice packet on the bill itself with ink and made him stamp it. Hopefully that will do as proof. I got his name and phone number as well.

I fully intend to take this up with the Dept of Legal Metrology, the Consumer Court and whoever else I can as soon as I am back in India in a week.

BTW, a bit of search on the net turned up this wonder article "Check before you pay" about a woman complaining about a similar incident at an airport. She had complained to the Airport duty manager. I didn't know that one could do this. So on my way back through B'lore airport I will additionally also give my written complaint to the duty manager.

Continue reading Charging over MRP at airports - 2.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Do autoricks in B'lore get your gall? - Part 3

On 28th Feb, the article "Legal metrology: only a feel good factor" came out on page 3 of The Hindu:

Right after this article came out, the DLM responded to my wife's e-mail and said the following:

"Based on your information i.e., Police Serial number & DL number the dept. has undertaken investigations but unable to find the addresses.

However the Police Complaint has been lodged at Kadagondanahalli Police Station on 05-03-2007 with a request to trace the address & produce the driver along with the autorikshaw to this office for further inspection.

Your e-mail complaint has been forwarded to the DCP, Traffic east & Transport Commissioner with a request to investigate & take suitable action.

Yours faithfully

Department of Legal Metrology"

And I'll post another part to conclude this series.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Hotels can charge extra for bottled water, says HC"

As I've said earlier, hotels are allowed to charge extra for bottled water, etc since they are charging consumers for establishment costs and the ambiance. There's a difference between service and retail sale. There is not a thing you can do about it, and it is legal.

Yesterday, the Delhi HC said the same thing in so many words. Read this article: Hotels can charge extra for bottled water, says HC.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Do autoricks in B'lore get your gall? - Part 2

In a previous post, Do autoricks in B'lore get your gall?, I'd highlighted some problems faced by auto rick users in B'lore "city". So what happens when you actually try to make a complain? My experiences from some months ago:

1. I called up the central RTO with the license plate number of the auto rick which had refused to ply. They advised me to call up the RTO that the license number was registered with and place the compliant there. The license number was a Jayanagar one. I tried calling up the Jayanagar RTO many times but nobody picked up the phone. I gave up.

2. Similar to the last incident, I called up the concerned RTO for another case of overcharging which my wife faced. The RTO people said that I should have got the Police Serial number and the DL number of the driver. The license number is not useful to track the driver. OK, we're wiser. Next time we'll get those details.

3. Once I wanted to take an auto from Madivala-silk board into BTM Layout. No auto was ready to go. Exasperated, I told one auto driver that I would complain to the police. This guy was brazen enough to say that he will take me to the police station himself, so I took him up on his offer and we drove over to the Madivala traffic police station. When I went inside, this guy disappeared; guess he realized that I was serious. Anyway I spoke to some constable there. This time I had all the details. He said that I should put in a written complain at some "main" traffic police station and that he would not be able to help. And that was the end of that.

4. Yet another time I did put in a written complain on one of these little yellow or pink cards and submitted it to one of the "main" traffic police stations at one of the BDA complexes. He dutifully put it along with a bunch of other complaints.

Things went on like this for many months... we never did follow the complaints up. Time is always a problem for working people. But a couple of weeks ago there was an article in The Hindu about this department called Department of Legal Metrology (DLM) which takes up auto-rick complains. See my previous post What do you do if you are short-changed?. This article had a couple of phone numbers that one could call to complain. We were extremely pleased that there was a department that was dedicated to take care of consumer complaints.

Right after this article came out, my wife had another problem with an auto rick. She travels by the same route many times and always uses an electronic meter. The meter was rigged and came up with an amount which was more than 10 rupees the usual. On top of that the auto driver refused to return the change.

My wife had noted the name of the driver, the Police Serial number and the DL number and she called up DLM to make a complaint. But the person who took the call expressed her inability to register the complaint since my wife didn't have the license number of the auto. (Remember, earlier the RTO had said that the license number is not useful.) She talked to a couple of people at DLM and told them that the RTO had asked us to take down the other two details, but DLM said that they would not be able to track down the driver/vehicle with the Police Serial number and the DL number! Exasperated, my wife gave up and mailed Hindu instead and CCed DLM.

In part 3, I'll post about how my wife has taken this issue further.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Traffic problems are everybody's problems - 2

Over at Bangalore and Bangaloreans Ravi has been writing about how he got a BPO driver suspended for rash driving. He has been facing a lot of flak from people over this. The usual argument is that a call center driver drives rashly because of the work pressure, or pressure from the admin people/travel agents. Like I said before in Traffic problems are everybody's problems, this is not a very concrete argument for the reasons I have summarized in that post.

If you belong to that misguided camp, here's my take on it: Offer constructive suggestions, instead of your negativism. We don't need it, we have enough of our own. Ravi is spending his personal time and doing a bit to make the city safer, and you guys are busy discouraging him and making the usual disparaging remarks. If you are so concerned about the driver losing his job, go do your bit in whatever way you can to prevent rash driving on B'lore roads, instead of whining about what someone else did. If you lead by example rather than vacuous talk, people like Ravi will surely follow.

And here's the bottomline: Its very easy for you to preach today. Heaven forbid that tomorrow one of these taxis should ram your vehicle, injure or kill your wife or children or you. Then we will see where all this generosity and misplaced magnanimity towards the driver goes. Then you will be frantically calling up the police, your "connections" and who-have-we to get the driver punished to the greatest extent possible. Lets see how generous you are then to say "poor guy, he was driven to rash driving because of the admin people or the travel agent, lets go after them instead". Ha ha ha.