Oct 162017
 

As I open my computer table drawer, I am simply not able to take stock of situation that going on inside. Corners of multiple phones protruding out of a tangled mess of charging cables, old and new, more useless than useful. As I reach my hand to pick up the old ipod box with the ipod still on it, a male jumper cable pokes my palm, reminding my neglect towards a “well planned” project on my Raspberry Pi. The yellowed charger cable for my Kindle 3G keyboard doesn’t turn anymore white than it was a month back. Below it, lies the remains of another Kindle with a broken screen. The Kindle was bought in that state, another home project, which was pushed aside on cost concerns. More cables and pins and stuff hint to a mess, long neglected, under the assumption that this mess would be needed one day or the another.

Right now, all I need to do is cleanup. And it would be a good scenario if i could #CleanUpCashOut .  A little cash against this mess wouldn’t hurt.

I had my opportunities to get rid of the situation. But you develop an affection towards these things which have been with you for long and you can’t part away. Some years back, I thought that my days with kindle were over as I had a respectable sized smartphone with kindle app on it. I could now access all my ebooks on my phone and carrying another gadget around seemed very yesteryearly. So I listed my beloved kindle for sale on an online portal with a high price. I was actually in two minds about selling so I listed a high price, thinking that it would not sell and I would just use it as an excuse to keep the kindle.

If you gave me a rupee for all my wishes which didn’t come true, I would have been a millionaire. The kindle sold quickly, as if it was the last piece of equipment on earth. So I finally decide to come to terms with this relation and packed the kindle in its original box, with all the original accessories(manual included, I am fair in that sense). I went to the post office and was shocked at the amount I would need to pay to get it across to the buyer. Between the postage and the commission for the portal, I would be giving it away at half the price for which I listed. My heart sank.

I excused myself from the post office and went back home thinking. I had to come up with something which would prevent the buyer from giving me a poor rating and I wouldn’t be penalised by the e-commerce portal. But I just couldn’t come up with anything believable.

At home, I unpacked the kindle and reached for the same drawer full of mess to keep it back in place. As I opened up, the drawer it gave me the solution to all my problems. I saw the kindle with the broken screen lying below a pile of cables. Guess what I did…!!

No. I am not some fraud. I might be a bit of a lair in this case but I wouldn’t cheat anyone off their money. Of course I didn’t send the broken kindle to the buyer. I sent a message to the buyer to either provide his phone number or call me on mine. He gave me his number and I explained to him the situation. I told him that while packing the kindle screen broke as I applied too much pressure. I didn’t want him to feel cheated so I didn’t sent the broken kindle to him. This would also prevent any escalation with the e-commerce portal. He was a reasonable guy(to whom I lied but didn’t defraud or do any harm) and he understood the situation based on what I told him.The kindle stays on with me and I have read many more books on it.

But now I feel it is really the time to part with it. My kids are too small to start reading and they will break it apart if I give it to them now. When they grow up, I will get them another one. Meanwhile this one can ‘kindle’ another person’s interest in reading.

Cashify

I found a website which deals in this stuff. Buying old stuff off your hands and also paying you for it. It’s https://www.cashify.in/ . I plan to sell my kindle to them along with my other accessories like the old iPodd Shuffle, two working mobile phones etc. Check out their video below. The famous dacoit, Gabbar selling his phone to cashify using his famous dialogue sequence is genius.

If you use the coupon code CLEANCASH on their website, they also provide rs. 250 additional for the sale that you make to them.

Cashify is also available as a mobile app. Download it here. Come on #CleanUpCashOut .

Oct 022017
 

Ever since I joined the corporate world in 2009, I have come across this tradition of wearing different colored clothes, fixed for each day of Navratri. The people in human resources circulate instruction to wear these colored clothes on those particular days. These are called as the colors of Navratri. I have always assumed that these colors have some religious significance. So I have followed this dress code to be part of the group, for many years. At least when I have the clothes of the particular color.

But when I read a news article today, I was shocked to realize that the colors have no religious significance. Or this is what the news article claims. There is a marketing gimmick linked to it.

The Story behind the nine colors of Navratri

As it turned out, Maharashtra Times, a newspaper published in Maharashtra had low circulation back in 2003. It was considered a masculine newspaper. The editorial team, came up with an idea of wooing women to increase their readership. They decided to play on the assumption that women love to buy and flaunt new clothes. The just needed an occasion.

Maharashtra Times provided them with just that.

Picking up the occasion of Navratri which continues for nine days, they started appealing women on their front page to wear a particular color. They even displayed pictures of successful ladies, dressed in the color of the day. The paper asked the ladies to click a pictures in office and send them in. The newspaper displayed the best photos on a dedicated page.

In time, they added more colors of Navratri, including white which is not worn on auspicious occasions. The women wore it just because the society had accepted this gimmick. Slowly the trend picked up along with the readership of the Maharashtra Times. The trend later became a culture.

It’s not a bad culture at all. Just that people follow it without knowing the truth behind it. The uniformity in colors during these days signify unity in diversity.

For me, I have a weapon to play with in case someone points out why I am not wearing the colors of Navratri. I can just ask a counter question regarding the significance of these colors.

In reality, I do not own pink, green, white. And I think one more color which I forgot.

All that is written above is based on an article which appeared on thequint.com. I take no credits for any research leading to this reveal. Neither do I intend to hurt religious sentiments via my blog. The link to the original article is here.

Sep 192017
 

At this very moment, Mumbai and its suburban areas including Thane, Vasai – virar etc are experiencing heavy rains. Naturally people are circulating messages on various Social media with updates on rain and transport conditions.

There seem to be lots of rumors going around. Kindly do not believe in or spread rumors. Stay in touch with disaster management cell on Twitter at their handle @DisasterMgmtMum.

Currently they maintain that there is no forecast of very heavy rain and they have not issued any advisory for schools, offices to remain closed tomorrow.

But I suggest that you step out tomorrow only after checking their Twitter handle. Also keep watch on official news. Stay safe. Keep your mobile battery charged if you are going out. Carry a water bottle for the sake of emergency use. I suggest you also carry along a pack of chocolate, biscuits etc. as a standby measure.

Feb 192016
 

 

It was last year that I was duped online by a certain website named Fashionershop.com. The website has ceased existence ever since. This website listed lots of costly products online for a “sale”, and the sale price was unimaginable. A Rs. 4000/- watch for just Rs. 799/-!! Oh how did I fall for that. I got blinded to the fact that this couldn’t be economically possible but the website made tall claims of manufacturer warranty and such. Later I didn’t receive the watch that goes without saying. I check the regular forums online for any complaints about this guy and found a lot of people in my position. I investigated further and found the details of the person who had registered this website and communicated him via multiple email. No response. I even thought of raising a complaint to cyber cell but that would have to be done in Bangalore as the seller was registered in Bangalore.

I finally lost steam. I knew that it could be a waste of resources to pursue this matter further.

The seller happily pocketed Rs. 799/- belonging to me. And I assume various amounts belonging lots of other online shoppers if he has not yet been brought to justice.

The business the seller was doing online was actually not of selling any product. He was actually banking on the fact that even after the scam, given some time, people would forget and leave him alone. For him it was a risk worth taking. His risk paid off.

Present scenario.

A new company called as ringing bells sure does ring some alarm bells. No one knew who they were as opposed to flipkart which started small and rose to fame step by step. Or Amazon for that matter which was already flourishing worldwide and shopaholics in India were praying for its arrival. Ringing Bells was registered in 2015. As a matter of fact, the domain name freedom251.com was registered on 10th February 2016.They do not have any import listings. They do not have any manufacturing plant as yet. They do not have any previous track record. Yet they claim to be able to sell a phone which would be worth about Rs. 2500/- for just Rs. 251/-!! Nothing adds up. They claim that they can reduce manufacturing cost by sourcing parts from India. Well, Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, Sony, or for that matter, Micromax didn’t dig deep enough in to the manufacturing industry of India to locate the manufacturers of such parts in India itself. Or the case could be that there aren’t manufacturers in India(which I think is the correct scenario).  Then how is this all possible?

For a start, reports in media point out that the phones used during the launch event were actually some Adcom phones with the brand name covered using cheap whitener. Bells start ringing. Then their website crashes thus pointing towards it being hosted on a cheap hosting account, similar to the one which I use for this blog. The shopping cart doesn’t direct to the payment gateway which means that before the launch; even the testing was not done properly. Then they use the phrase “Economics of Scale” but fail to fully explain how it works because for economics of scale to work, the production cost should come down. But the material cost itself is said to be more than Rs. 1500/- as per few analysts. So if that’s not coming down then their losses will mount in proportion to the economics of scale.

Nothing adds up here.

If I had been the promoter of such company where the business model would not work but I still would want to launch a product with a fanfare, I would actually be thinking on two lines

A . I get enough publicity for this product so that I am able to get orders for about a 10,00,000 phones. Which comes to about 2.5 crore rupees. Put it in a bank for a term of 4 months. Effectively I could get 2.5-3% interest. After 4 months, buy a few re-branded phones, deliver to few customers (say about 100) and then declare manufacturing difficulties or any other excuse which is digestible. Return all the money without interest(I would take care to put a clause in terms and conditions that any refund would be without interest). Everyone is happy. The customers who got a Rs. 3000/- phone for Rs. 251/-(comes to Rs. 3,00,000/-). The other customers got back their money. I got to keep the remaining of interest minus income tax on interest. I could also claim deduction on loss in business which was generated through sale of rs. 3000/-  phone for Rs. 251.

So here we go:

Amount collected = 10,00,000 * 251 = 25,10,00,000

Interest Collected in 4 months(assuming 3 % for the entire period) = +75,30,000

Loss on sale = (3000 – 251) * 100 = 689999

Tax on income = 75,30,000 * 0.3 = -2052000

Refund = 9,99,000 * 251 = 250749000

Miscellaneous expenditures ( Fanfare Launch and website maintenance) = 5,00,000

Leftovers = 4500000(Truly “leftovers” without any “wrong doings” for which the government is currently on watch)

Now that’s Economics of Scale

B. I publicize with so much hype that my website gets million of hit per month. I display one product for few months but prevent booking from going through (only random bookings allowed). People keep on coming hoping that they would finally be able to book (heck they are trying to buy a smartphone for a steal). Meanwhile I sell my webspace for advertisements and start earning. I will try to figure out whether I would want to sell something else for some real money. I can always refund the booking amount fully.

Though this may not be my preferred business model, this might be one line of thinking

No matter what their business model be, they sure got their share of publicity. They are capitalizing on economics of scale in some way or the other.

Couple of day back I was talking with my brother and his friend about getting in to some kind of business. I revealed to him something I had been thinking about for quite some time. India is a country of more than a billion people. If you could get 1 rupee from each of them by some way, now that would be some business. It’s a land of mass scale everything and you just need to know how to capitalize. Some do it by duping but there are always clean ways to do it.

If you could extract(and I mean by fair means) Rs 1000/- from 1000 people per month it would amount to Rs. 10,00,000/- income per months. But it may be a bit difficult since you would need prior exposure of your credibility. So toning it down, if you could extract Rs. 100 from 10000 people per month, again same income and lesser need of credibility but you would need better marketing. Now if you go a notch down and wriggle Rs. 10 from 1,00,000 people per month, again it would earn you same amount but with much larger need of marketing. The person giving out the money would not be polishing his shoe one day, that’s all he is spending. An on an on can the calculation go.

Simple Arithmetic. 1 Billion people* 1 Rs = 1 Billion Rupees.

So a person, who understands this arithmetic and knows how to apply it, may have wasted all his years of education which taught all the complex stuff of life. Gravity is there to live and so are the magnetic waves. Calculus has made life complex for me during exams. And if you are in to the business of making money, you do not need to know all these. These are just the things which are “nice to know”. If you want to start something in the line of business, you need to capitalize on Economics of Scale.

And if you are in India, you have a Billion and a quarter plus opportunities.

Oct 232014
 

Couple of weeks back I had written regarding a goofed up case of two tablets, exclusively launched on two different websites. Such things happen between overzealous rivals. But sometimes, things go out of hand when you start competing with yourself.

Such seems to be the case with Flipkart, which has just come out of the big billion business/dare/scare/whatever you prefer to call it. Though I felt that Flipkart did a commendable job, managing the deliveries of the tsunami of orders on The Big Billion Day, internally, it seems to have implemented a sales algorithm which contradicts itself and shows flopkart flipkart in poor light.

A listing of Canon EOS 1200D appears on its website with stock lens kit for Rs. 27,196 whereas they have also listed a Canon EOD 1200D with stock lens and a 55-250 mm lens for Rs. 26,500. Both listed side by side.

Absursd!! But true. Here is the link(might be corrected by the time you see it hence the screenshot below). It will take a person with abilities to overlook details and/or understand simple arithmatic to go for the costlier deal.

untitled

 

It could mean that:

Either the double lens kit package has some manufacturing defects

or

Flipkart simply goofed up.

There cannot be any other explanation. Both the listing are by WS Retail (Flipkarts own listing, not a third party seller listing)

Wake up flipkart. Unless you do not intend to have many more successful Big Billion Days.

Jul 162014
 

Disclaimer : I do not wish to defame any bank in any way as I type this post. I just intend to create awareness amongst the readers about their options. If you own a bank which conducts fair business practices, I am pretty sure yours is not the bank that I mention henceforth.

In one of my previous posts I had tried to elaborate on the various measures we can take while carrying out online transactions to secure our money and our data. That being done, we still handout lots of our support cash to someone we barely know, for safekeeping and growth. That someone are the financial institutions.

But what if these very people whom we trust, breach our trust and leave us with nothing? Time and again we have learnt about large scams with lots of big financial institutions, including banks, collapse due to a huge scam, resulting in the loss of poor mans hard earned money. It makes us shiver and make a beeline to liquidate our assets/savings and keep cash on us. But the prospects of being robbed, force us to trust the lesser of two evil and we stay put with the banks. So who protects us from the treacherous practices of such institutions?

The answer is Banking Ombudsman. It is not another scam devised by the government to fool us. It actually works and has been handing out justice when banks have been dubious in their acts. Let me narrate two episodes.

A few years back, one fine day, I logged on to check my account, and found that the bank which held my savings account had deducted a considerable sum from my account with some unintelligible narration for the transaction. At first, I took it to be some regular deduction which banks always carry out, based on some finely typed clause(maybe font arial 6) in their 20+ page application form. But later as I remembered, the bank “official”, who had been very forthcoming and courteous in his manners while opening the account, had assured me that I wouldn’t be charged anything for the first year. My year was not yet up and I decided to take up the case.

Wearily, I dialed up the toll free customer care number and after minutes of punching in lots of details on the phone for the benefit of the Interactive Voice Recording, I began my wait for the “executive” to answer. The executive was polite and upon investigation, informed me that I had failed to maintain the average quarterly minimum balance as prescribed by them. I informed that I had maintained the balance as was informed while opening up the account and the executive responded that the balance requirement had been increased in previous quarter. I informed that I had not been updated regarding this, to which the executive said that I must have been informed since they had sent emails and SMS to everyone. I was pretty sure I didn’t receive any such mail and asked the executive to file a complain to which I was denied any complaint and told that I was at fault.

I decided to take matters further ahead and send a mail to proper customer care complaint department, then to nodal officer, within a week of each other. I kept on receiving those “ we are reviving your complaint and will get back to you in a weeks time” for three consecutive weeks, every Monday. That’s when I decided to take matters higher. Armed with all the mail trail, and reference number of my telephonic conversation, I sent them one more strong email, while keeping in cc, the Banking Ombudsman.

One point to be noted here. Whenever you are dealing with such firms on phone, ask for the reference number of your current conversation. They are bound to give it and they are bound to keep the recorded voice communication for a certain period of time, by law. They say one wrong word against themselves and the case comes in your hand.

After sending the email, I didn’t expect much since my idea of Banking Ombudsman was some hall, filled with about 20-25 people, one or two computers(intel i386), old creaking fans, lots of papers and files covered with dust and a child laborer in a short pant and a vest, serving tea to all. Little did I know that the office of my imagination was most feared by this financial institutions, in case they were wrong. I didn’t receive any auto response of delayed response the next week. In fact, the next morning I got a message that the deduction had been reverted. And hour later, I got a phone call from the pseudo apologetic customer care executive, regarding the wrong deduction and inconvenience.

Needless to say, I closed the account shortly.

Very recently, my colleague narrated an experience she had faced with the same bank. Early one morning, she woke up to book a ticket for her father in law as he had to  travel to his native place on some urgently matter. She went through all the processes and when the time came for payment, it was declined. She tried multiple times and it was declined all through. Luckily, she managed to book the ticket using some other source. She didn’t investigate initially, but had a suspicion and later called up the customer care to check out the reason. To her shock, she was informed that her card had been blocked since the bank had detected some fraudulent transaction on her account. She demanded why she was not informed regarding this via email or a phone call, to which she got no satisfactory reply. She was very angry at such an irresponsible practice from the bank since it was her salary account, she had forgotten the password, she couldn’t use the debit card and all the options to create a new password were linked to her debit card. Effectively, her money was locked in to her account and she would not be able to use it in case of emergency.

She made a complaint regarding this on the regular email and she got a new card delivered immediately within a day or two.(I guess the bank realized their mistake and wanted to amend, a little to late since my colleague was adamant on getting some kind of apology).

When I heard this, I immediately asked her to go through the proper channels, with banking ombudsman in the loop. Later, from what she told me, banking ombudsman started their own process of investigation from their end and it seemed they didn’t get any proper response. The Ombudsman also kept her informed about the progress of her case.

A couple of days back a very respectable amount was transferred in to her account. She was informed by the bank that this amount was the fine levied by the banking ombudsman on to them which was to be paid to the customer for their wrong doings. Though my colleague, was reluctant to take the compensation, since money was not her concern, I asked her not to feel guilty for someone else’s mistake. The compensation was given to her fair and square and the bank needed to apologies and ensure such incidents don’t happen again.

My belief in the banking ombudsman has increased considerably and my mental vision of its office has changed from some desi babu’s office to a swanky high tech houston mission control.

Here are few details for the mission control and the Banking Ombudaman Scheme 2006.

I just hope my colleague doesn’t find a way to return the money to the wrongful owners….

Jul 062014
 

It’s that time of the year when everything gets wet and stockists get concerned about their stocks in the godowns getting ruined and the best way they feel to avoid huge loss is by selling. Or in other words by ‘sale’ ing.

Sellers loss, buyers gain!! We buyers are not going to show sympathy for a change. Come monsoon sellers come up with variety of Sale advertisements and we stand to gain from it. Higher the percentage of discount, Fashion Salemore the possibility of stock clearance and this fundamentals have driven ecommerce websites to offer huge discounts.

Flipkart being one of them, has a Fashion Sale in progress right now with HUGE discounts. Some reaching up to 70 % with extra 40 % on the final price if you shop for more than rs. 1999. That’s a steal!!

Catagories of the sale items include Womens Clothing, Women Footwear, Sunglasses, Perfumes, Other Accessories, Clothing, Home Furnishing, Kids Clothing, Mens Footwear, Jewellery etc. Check out the discounts by clicking on the links.

Happy Shopping……Go ahead, Loot them!!

Nov 172012
 

“Ubha Maharashtra Petvun Taakin”(a metaphor to signify the ability to create an uprising at moments notice) were his words when Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena Supremo, was addressing a rally years back. And it was true. If he decided so, he could do it and no one would dare touch his hair, as the saying goes. Such was the influence of the late Bal Thackeray over his followers, that they would spare no measures to fulfill his word. Looking around at the state of politics in Maharashtra, it is difficult to find a politician, clean or corrupt, who can command such an influence over the common man, barring Raj Thackeray, his nephew whose influence has not quite developed due to the divide in sena a couple of years back. From a humble cartoonist, to the (Ektaa Tiger)lone Tiger, his journey of 86 years has not been without the roar.abd9a57f8b61c3daefba46aff842-grande

The future of sena lies in shambles with Uddhay not quite in a position to take up stress and Raj estranged from the lot. But I am sure that the Tiger has taken care of matters before he passed.

Truly the End of an Era with the passing of the charismatic leader who had a huge influence over New Delhi and common people. May his soul rest in peace.

Nov 082012
 

The name nexus commands respect in the field of mobiles and tablets due to its association with Google, which has been marketing such devices under the nexus brand name for some time now. Nexus phones are known to flaunt the latest hardware and coupled with Google’s own android, nexus turns into a device to race against. Nexus phones have been highly popular in the united states and elsewhere as they were guaranteed to latest updates as soon as Google released them.
But Google has strangely avoided Indian market all this while. Anyone with a desire to own a nexus phone has to get it imported, which would be deterrent due to warranty and customs issues.
Not anymore.As per the latest new, Nexus 7 tablets will be available in India from today. The tablets will be available in croma across the country. With this move expectations are high that the last Nexus 4 mobile will also be launched very soon in India.But all’s not merry from here on. Read on.

Upside :

  • G.O.O.G.L.E. N.E.X.U.S……wow!!
  • Extraordinarily and ridiculously(are we there yet to utilise its full powers)powerful hardware configuration.
  • Assurance of update to the future upgrades to the operating system.
  • "Project Butter" jelly bean out of the box.

Downside:

  • As compared to US market, ridiculously costly. In US it costs 199$. I expected it to be priced around 15000 in India.But the cost is19990, ie. 20000. It’s better to buy imported piece from ebay which is priced at 24000 for 32 GB.
  • Not available online. Only in CROMA stores as of now.
  • Older model, which is not sold anymore in US(they still think India is not ready)
  • No android 4.2 out of the box.
  • No 3g connectivity.
  • Compared to other tablets, no expandable memory.

Setting aside these drawbacks and the discrimination in pricing, this will be one device to look out for, while we hope that Google releases the 3g version in India soon and follow it up with Nexus 4.
Sadly, I didn’t wait for it. I ordered my new phone yesterday.

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