Monday, April 22, 2013

The very needed attitude of verifying

In today's fast paced and ruthless world, people usually tend to agree with the stated without any questioning of the fact. When the sales guy in the saree shop shows a 9 yards saree and says it is 9 yards, you trust his word and choose the design and colour to buy. When the investment deposit form says Rs.25000 invested at 13.32% p.a. gets you Rs. 41650 in 5 years, you trust the calculation. When shop sales guy says the table I am interested in is 4 by 3 feet, one tends to strike a match with our requirements in mind and move to other factors.
But, in days of ignorance, marketing and plain lies, you should not trust what you hear on the face of it. In the first instance, when my mom came home and tried the saree, it was 8 yards, not the nine the shopkeeper confirmed it was. His defence on returning, everything we sell is 8 yards as 9 yards. Do look at the below picture: a part of the deposit form from Shriram Transport Finance Company Ltd.: 
Turns out the actual rate of interest in the cumulative option of 5 years is 10.75% p.a.compounded annually, not the high 13.34% p.a. by which I was actually attracted to the scheme (13.34% is simple interest and why would any sane person look for simple interest in a cumulative scheme?). In the third case, the table shown to be was actually 4 by 2.5ft and not 4 by 3 ft. It looked suspicious measuring it by my eye and I asked for a tape to measure it. It was only 2.5 ft by width. The sales guy only had a sheepish smile to respond with.
Such are the various cases of buying in today's world. It usually was in finance, a phrase called "Buyers beware", but in today's case, almost every single fellow is up to tricks fooling customers.
The concept of trust cannot be blindly held. A more sane logic of he is the expert of things and we should trust him also does not find meaning nowadays. The shopkeeper knows that the worst case for him is that he will have to reverse the sale or better, exchange it when they complain. There is a perverse upside to the seller at the cost of the buyer. There are not many ways to get over it as of now, except to be aware and verify things, however untrustworthy you may seem to be.
A mandatory pain in their arse sanity check is necessary before buying to prevent a pain in your arse at a later point in time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Government's lack of application of mind

The government of India does not seem to apply its mind thoroughly these days. It makes half baked implementation policies. Not many months ago, in the middle of the financial year when the government decided to reduce the subsidies on lpg, it said 6 subsidized cylinders per household, without mentioning whether it was calender year or financial year and whether the subsidy would be provided on a pro rata basis or fresh starting from that month. 
This lack of clarity caused a lot of confusion and harassment to the customers and the sellers of the lpgs (the big 3 Oil Marketing companies). Now, the government has yet again gone the same in another place. Applicability of Service tax on air conditioned high end restaurants from April 1, 2013.
the tax is actually to be levied on service, but where is the service element in take aways/canteens/mess, etc.? In the absence of this, many chains including McDonalds have started applying service tax on the bills on the safer side. If the government later clarifies that they are out of the ambit of the service tax and refunds the service tax collected to the companies, as there is no way to return the money back to the customer, the companies would end up making a good profit as they sieze on it.
On another angle, most restaurant business run a scam/sham of getting the customer's money by charging service charges and a service tax on the whole bill which is itself a fraud (by design or ignorance). More on this here:
The lack of government's application of mind is helping the people give away more of their money to the already crooked restaurants.