Beware of FLIPKART promotional schemes.


I have been using Flipkart for years now, have always appreciated their prompt and fast delivery and have always been very happy with the user experience.

But, I had this nasty experience with flipkart and I don’t know what to make of it!

In December, Flipkart ran a promotion scheme, which claimed to have a 10% cashback on any order of above Rs.10,000 that is placed as one transaction and paid through HDFC credit/debit cards. The cash back was promised “before” 5th of March 2014 (not “on  or before” or “by” 5th of March).

I went through the terms and conditions carefully, took a screen capture of it, saved the T&C page. And then proceeded to purchase 4 items of cumulative worth Rs. 11,421. This entitled me to a cash back of Rs. 1,142, to be received ‘before’ 5th march. I set an event for 4th of March to check my account to verify the refund has been completed and forgot about this.

Sure enough, I got an alert yesterday to check the cash back refund status. And surely enough it wasn’t done.

So, I contacted Flipkart customer support and reminded them of this. And to my surprise I got a reply that said

“We would like to inform you that, 10% cash back offer was applicable only if the order value of Rs 10,000/- or more, but we see that, above mentioned order value is of Rs 9,825/-, so you are not eligible for the 10% cash back.”

Being puzzled I went and checked my order accounts. Surely enough my single order was split in to two ORDER-ID by Flipkart! One order was of Rs. 9,825/-  and another one of Rs. 1,596/- and in their book it rendered me ‘ineligible’ for the cashback!

I rechecked my HDFC CC statements. And it was clear that the order was charged as a single transaction of Rs. 11,421/-

So, I wrote back to Flipkart stating this, and reminding them that how they treated their orders internally is no concern of mine. I received following reply –

“Please be informed that the products in the mentioned orders were placed via different sellers.Hence, a multiple order IDs were generated. As per the terms we are sorry to inform you the cashback cannot be availed. Any inconvenience is regretted.”

So, Flipkart split up the order internally for different vendors ‘they use’ to sell through their site. I have enclosed the ‘terms & condition’ below, and it very clearly states that there was no requirement for me to place the order of over Rs.10,000/- on a single vendor(seller) within Flipkart. So, I wrote back stating the same, and also made a copy of the capture I had kept.

I received the following reply:

“I have went through the payment records once again and feel like i owe you an apology. As per the terms and condition a single transaction was made towards the above mentioned orders of Rs. 11421/-. Hence, i would like to inform you the orders are eligible for the cashback.”

What the above meant – If you have meticulously kept the proof of purchase, and the copy of terms & conditions, and follow up diligently without forgetting the monies owed back to you – Then Flipkart will pay. Otherwise, Flipkart will be happy to keep your money – unjustly. And it will even try to talk you out of it with some crazy explanation.

Sorry to say, I will be very sceptical in future of any promotion schemes of Flipkart. And I’ll also be very hesitant to buy from flipkart, if the same item is available from other sellers.

Hope Flipkart will refund this amount without any further follow up being needed from my side. But, I am posting this detail so other buyers can be beware of such ‘practices’.

I am very sad to see that my favourite shopping site has come to this. 

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HDFC Offer Terms & Conditions

  • Get Extra 10% Cashback on purchases of Rs. 10,000 or more on domestic HDFC Credit Cards or Debit Cards.
  • This offer is valid starting from 24th December 2013 and ending on 1st January 2014, both days included.
  • This offer is valid on purchases from all sellers on flipkart.com
  • For an order to be eligible for the cashback, it should be paid for in-full by HDFC Debit or Credit card only. Partial payment by Wallet or eGiftVoucher would not be applicable.
  • The maximum cashback that can be redeemed per card (including all add-on cards) on the HDFC cashback offer (from 24th Dec. 2013 to 1st Jan. 2014) is Rs. 5,000. All add on cards along with the primary card put together can avail Rs. 5,000 cashback only during the promotion period.
  • Debit cards and Credit cards held by the same customer would be eligible for separate cashbacks. Add-on cards would not have separate cashback eligibility.
  • EMI transactions would be eligible for the cashback offer. However, interest would be charged on the original pre-cashback principal amount. Cashback posted by the bank will not affect the EMI schedule. Example: if the customer has shopped worth Rs. 20,000, then the cashback he/she would get would be Rs. 2000. However, the interest would be charged on Rs. 20,000 for the outstanding period.
  • This offer will not be applicable for Card-On-Delivery transactions.
  • The cashback will be credited to your credit card/debit card before 5th March, 2014
  • All government Levies like Sales Tax, TDS, any Local Tax, Octroi etc., shall be payable by the Cardholder as applicable at the time the respective Programs were offered.
  • In case of any dispute, decision of Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd will be final and binding.
  • Orders that have been cancelled by the customer will not qualify for cashback.
Questions?
  • Will I get cashback if I place more than one purchase transaction on a card?
    Yes, as long as each individual purchase transaction is Rs. 10,000 or more. However, the maximum cashback amount that can be redeemed per card across transactions offer during the offer period is Rs. 5,000.
  • Will I get cashback if my purchase transaction of over Rs. 10,000 is across multiple sellers?
    Yes. As long as the total value is Rs. 10,000 or more, the purchase transaction can be across products from any sellers on flipkart.com

Perjury and punishment.


We are a strange country. We have laws that are never applied or followed even by courts!

Consider our perjury laws. The law provides a punishment for giving false evidence or a statement/declaration made which is received by law as evidence.

Affidavit is one such declaration. It is sworn by a person and is notarized by a Notary Public, who is a public officer. The notary is required to verify the documents for correctness before signing it. However, he can’t and doesn’t have to check the truthfulness of the declaration made.

People file affidavits in India without any implications. There have been cases where govt. officials have filed affidavits which were patently false. In 1990s, in the famous corruption case against  Jayalalitha, A secretary personnel of Govt. of India gave an affidavit to the court stating that an IAS officer (who was Director at Revenue department at the time) investigating Jayalalitha’s disproportionate assets was transferred because he was from Union territory and delhi govt. asked for his return from Madras, and thus GOI had to oblige. However, it turned out Delhi govt. never made such request, and the transfer was to take the heat off Jayalalitha! Court ruled that the officer be reverted to the post at revenue intelligence. However, it didn’t punish the Secretary who perjured himself.

There are many such examples in many cases. Famous one is the Jessica Lal case, where Shyan Munshi apparently (allegedly?) perjured himself and is roaming free.

The only case I know of where a court punished someone for perjury was the Zaheera Sheik, who flip-flopped on witness stand thus was sent to prison for a year. She, a victim who lost her family, perhaps perjured herself for lure of some money and justifiably punished.

But, how about punishing the rich and powerful?

What about our Chief Minister, Yediyurappa’s son? He allegedly gave an affidavit stating he doesn’t own any house in Bangalore to get another site allotted on a discretion quota of his father. When there were charges of nepotism, he surrendered the site. Apparently this is supposed to be the end of matter.  But, what about the perjury? He is a Member of Parliament, and if he gives a false affidavit and isn’t punished, why should anyone respect it?

What are we doing about folks who give patently wrong testimony? Our judicial system is close to a collapse because rarely the witnesses say the same thing all thru. Why are our national parties not fixing that, instead of bickering over political one-upmanship, calling the other parties ‘black’??

Afterall, If they really cared to fix corruption, best thing to do is strengthen judiciary and make police, CBI and other law enforcement arms (perhaps Lokpal) independent of the very govt. that gets accused of corruption. bring in a separate agency whose only job is to investigate and punish the rogue police (like Internal Affairs in USA). Provide for budgets to bring in best lawyers as prosecutors on tough cases. Provide witness and whistle blower protection funds. Create an independent body (again perhaps Lokpal/Lokayukta), who will decide if a allegation/complain against a civil servant or politician is substantive or  frivolous and thus grant prosecution within weeks (not months). Have all cases of corruption fast tracked so people can’t hope to die of age without facing jail terms.

It is such a specious argument that the politicians get frivoulous cases against them, so they need protection against frivolous prosecution. Our celebrities face such cases all the time. There are obscenity charges or fake marriage cases, and they don’t have the protection. Neither do our famous and monied businessmen, who too can attract frivolous complaints/charges/cases. Clearly such privileges need to be removed or moderated.

If we hope to become a developed nation, first thing we need to note is – No nation ever became developed without it being a country ruled by Rule of Law (not people).

All other talks and TV debates are so much humbug.

Corruption would automatically reduce, when there is fear of punishment.

Why costly oil is good news?


World oil prices are soaring and pushing up inflation, especially in oil dependent countries with export deficit.

Instead of it being a bad news, in my opinion it is a very good trend. Most probably the rate of Oil is going up in speculative trade. People betting on worldwide (specially US) recovery, and are pushing up the prices.

If economics is indeed the science of incentives and dis-incentives to elicit a desired human reaction, then high price oil will elicit a response from consumers of looking for alternatives. One alternative people will look for is Public transportation instead of private, which is a good thing.

But, another trend that’ll catch on is alternative energy. As cost of fossil fuel levels with newer energies, world will invent to adopt these new forms of energy more aggressively. High priced oil will be good enough incentive for govts and large corporations to plug large sums of money in to research that’s right now decades away.

Third reason why high oil price is good is because …. Our environment may finally get a respite!!

Menace of counterfeit Notes


Went to the nearby Nilgiris Super Store. Bought a bunch of stuff and paid with the money, I had just drawn from an AXIS bank ATM.

The guy at the counter goes through each 500 rupee note and compares with a list he has, out of 4 notes I gave, he gives me back one note and says he can’t take it because it is of a series (6AC) that is on a list that’s been given to him by the store management to reject!!

I go through the security features of the note, and its all there. I asked him to tell me why is he rejecting the note, other than some arbitrary list, and he didn’t have a convincing explanation.

This is becoming more and more of a Menace. If people loose faith in the currency they carry will buy them goods, it turns into just a piece of paper.

How can Govt. Of India be blind to this? Why doesn’t govt. simply change all currency in circulation with new notes? Does it have the interest of the Black money hoarding politicians in mind?

How can a citizen guard against this, when he has no control over what currency is spewed out of an ATM? What does he do if he indeed has a dud note? Banks refuse to take it back, and Rs.500 or Rs.1000 can be substantial money for a lot of folks in this country.

Some estimates put the fake currency at over 100,000 crore rupee. And what is worse – There is no plan yet announced that will stop more inflow of fake currency and repose the faith of people in these notes.

In 1969, US Govt. halted the use of larger currencies than $100, for the fears of Counterfeit and the use of large cash in organized crime. Since then US has largely moved to Electronic Money, which is impossible to counterfeit.

US per capita GDP is $40,000 and its highest denomination is 100. US$100 still buys quite a bit, so higher denominations are not missed.

Indian per capita is about 150,000, which makes it very difficult to get rid of Rs.500 notes (if not Rs.1000).

So, govt. should immediately shift to a new Rs.500 (and Rs.1000) currency note, that too to a plastic-Paper-Cotton mix note, as mooted by RBI in 2007. This is far more difficult to counterfeit.

This is the only way we can have peace of mind about cash we get from our ATMs.

"Terror in Mumbai"


Dan Reed’s Documentary on last year’s Mumbai Terror attack was broadcast yesterday. It is a very gripping documentary, well researched and contains footage and audio that was never publicly aired before.

Troubling question: How is it that Dan got hold of these footage, and none of Indian TV channels did? Or were they told not to broadcast it in view of the case that is running against sole surviving terrorist??

Either way, something worthwhile watching. If only to remind ourselves, how helpless we all felt last year around this time.

Entry tax? For what?


I had pointed out the sad state of affairs within Indian Union in this earlier post: State of Mind

here is more: I had transferred a vehicle i owned in Hyderabad to bangalore this January. It cost me almost 13% of the vehicle cost as I had to pay the Life Time Tax etc. all over again in Bangalore. I was told at the time that I can apply for a new number after 9 months.

And when I did, here is what I am told. I need to pay Entry tax seperately. They also have some other registration related costs like address change etc. It is likely to cost me another 2-3% of vehicle cost!

Of course I need to also pay ‘speed money’ to facilitate this tax payment and re-registration! Ironic – in this country an honest tax payer has to pay bribe to pay tax!

All this for a vehicle for which I have already paid all taxes in Hyderabad and have Andhra registration, but Karnataka wanting its pound of flesh as well! Why can’t they just work out a mechanism to transfer the rest of the LTT from AP to Karnataka?

Afterall I bought a good that is mobile, and India is one country? Why not tax me once, instead of taxing me every step of the way?

I refuse to pay the entry tax. I’ll retain the AP registration. That’s not exactly illegal, though RTO demands so. Their regulations state  that within a month of entry we need to pay Life Time Tax, and within a year of Entry  of vehicle it needs to get a Karnataka registration number as well. Atleast couple of High courts have already ruled against such a rule, Mumbai High court being the first one.

It is quite possible for a person to live in two places. Bangalore is border town to two states (Tamilnadu and Andhra). Go some 80km from Bangalore and you are In AP and just about 50km is Tamilnadu!!

So, it is impractical for a citizen to keep changing the Numbers as he moves between these areas for living or work! Law simply can’t insist that one must do so, even if it asks for a tax to be paid for the utilization of roads on a regular basis within the states (Which I have already paid).
So, I’ll stick to my guns and the AP registration!

State of Mind.


Union of India is divided into 28 states and 7 Union territories.

I deliberately omitted the word ‘administratively’, in describing this division!! If it is an administrative division, then there shouldn’t be so much tensions  between the states, and so much confusion in the way our taxation and governance works.

Couple of weeks back Karnataka High Court ruled it Un-constitutional to impose an Entry Tax on Vehicles bought outside of Karnataka, and ordered a refund of taxes collected. The High court observed that “The object of our Constitution makers was free movement and exchange of goods throughout India…”

Is it indeed the case that we have Free movement and exchange within India?

1. Free movement of people.

On July 28th, I landed up in Delhi Airport needing to go to Ghaziabad. When I came to the Pre-Paid counter, a board saying taxi’s won’t go to Ghaziabad and Noida. I enquired with the ITDC counter there and they didn’t have any taxi’s. The helpful lady at the counter told me I won’t get a direct taxi to Ghaziabad, and adviced me to take a taxi till Anand-Vihar and then cross over to the ‘other side’ of the road and take another taxi or Auto rikshaw.

I told her I am just trying to get to a place about 40km from the Delhi Airport, not to Pakistan, she smiled and said, there aren’t any alternative way, unless I have done prior transport arrangement!!  In Bangalore, I regularly commute 40km from my House to airport, without any impediment. I know of people who do 60km from Airport with the regular airport taxi. The only reason why the taxi’s can’t go to Delhi-NCR destinations, is becuase they are in another state. You see Delhi state only has about 30km radius, locations beyond that belongs to various other states.

So there I was, within India, getting down at Anand Vihar, crossing over the road as directed by the helpful cab driver – carrying my two bags and then getting on to an Auto on the otherside of the highway to get to my destination!!!!  Luckily I didn’t need a passport to get to the other side of the road in to Uttar Pradesh – Perhaps that’s what our governments mean by being “FREE”.

Most of the states have Motor vehicle acts, that permit the use of a out of station vehicle within a state for up to a month, beyond which you are expected to pay taxes (road tax, entry tax etc.) Beyond one year you are expected to register the vehicle locally!  Did you say number portability in Mobile phones, how about portability in a technology that is a century old? How about being able to move location without bothering about Police Harassment? If I haven’t stolen a car, and have paid tax in one state, I shouldn’t be harassed for the lack of co-ordination between the govt’s of respective states in Sharing that tax revenue.

Neither does it make any sense for cities, that have state borders in close proximity (say within 50km) , not to have an arrangement with neighboring states to facilitate free movement of goods and people between those destination. But, that’s how it is between Bangalore and Hosur for example.  Not many taxi’s will be able to take you to Hosur from Bangalore, unless you made a prior arrangement! This is plain ridiculous.

2. Free Movement of Goods.

Most goods carriers and public transports have to pay multi-state taxes, instead of any one state.  They have to bribe their way at checkposts as those are ‘harassment posts’, even if you are entirely legit. There are innumerable checkposts that dot our highways all over the place, which are  a major ‘revenue source’ for most of our ministers and bureaucrats. They not only cause a nuisance on the highways by narrowing our highways for non-goods vehicles, while waiting for a stamp and a signature by the overlord of that check post, they also slowdown the movement of goods within the country.

Getting goods bought in one state to another is another major story. Have you ever tried to transfer a laptop, legally bought in a city to your branch office in another city through a courier service? If not – here is a clue. It isn’t a straight forward process. Your transporter will need a way bill for taking it, and you’ll need to provide the ST registration for the office with proof of it being a branch office to do that. In case you don’t have it, it is tough luck – Your transporter will be harassed for carrying a laptop for which a state tax isn’t paid!! So, only shady operators will accept laptops, not the reputed courriers.

Again – Did anyone say we are a FREE COUNTRY???

3. Idea of ONE INDIA

There is currently a huge ruckus going on about the unveiling of a statue in Bangalore of Saint Poet Thiruvalluvar. He happened to be  a Tamil poet, and for more than a decade now people have been objecting that statue – the reason – He is a Tamilian (Though he was an Great Indian).

The bargain reached – Tamilnadu will have to unveil a statue of Sarvajna (A Kannada saint poet). How is that for a reciprocal, confidence building measure. I thought we needed such meaningless maneuvers only with Pakistan. Why can’t a bunch of Indians have the liberty to unveil a statue in a place of their choice, assuming they aren’t violating any law??

Same goes for the  Anti South Indian or Anti North Indian violence in Mumbai. some very prominent citizens support the notion of job reservation for localites. But, that whole premise is agaisnt the notion of Free India, and is unconstitutional. Who is to say who is a mumbaikar? Only a person speaking Marati?

This country is truly divided into some 2 dozen states, that aren’t  United at all.  Perhaps, having understood this, our constitution makers justly didn’t call it the “United States of India”.

Am I a Hindu?


A question I have asked myself a few times – am I a Hindu? In other words – What constitutes a Hindu?

I do not believe in the existence of various ‘devas’ of hindu puranic tradition. I do not believe in rebirth. I do not believe that there is afterlife. And I do not believe that there is metaphysical entity called god.

AND YET – I FIND MYSELF PERFECTLY FITTING INTO HINDU PHILOSPHY….

WHY?

The reason is simple… Hindu isn’t a monolithic faith. It isn’t really a religion. It is very fluid, with differrent meaning to different people. It is the only ‘tradition’ (I hate to call it religion) that can’t be defined or fathomed easily.

Most sacred texts of Hinduism are effectively propositions. I.e. a non binding, non-definitive, philosophical hypothesises that one may or may not accept. Just like the modern scientific hypothesises on so many subjects.

Which is why it was possible for Hinduism to have so many different systems within the same tradition. The idea of classifying Hindu as a single religion was that of the Europeans, because they couldn’t fathom a system that didn’t have a single text (like bible/quran), or a single belief system or even a single god!

My thoughts align more with the Charvaka (nastika / humanist) school of thought, that was propounded in Brahaspataya Sutra (by Charvaka Rishi, also sometimes called Lokayata). So, the Hindu system has had many like me before and has assimilated these thoughts in to its tradition.

Charvaka origins are traced to rigveda. Buddhist & jain systems have elements & principles of Charvaka system (except they believed in atma and rebirth while brahaspatya didnt)… Brahaspataya sutra says that the universe is made up of active physical forces, that react when stimulated. These phisical forces are active, but not alive.
It rejects
– the Varnashrama system,
– the existence of super-spirit (god),
– existence of soul/Rebirth
– liberation(Moksha)/heaven/hell

It says “Happiness is the highest end in life. There is no soul and no life after death. There is no world other than this world. Heaven and liberation from the so-called cycle of birth and death are imaginary ideals. Everyone will inevitably die. No one will be reborn. Therefore, one should make the best of one’s life and live happily as long as one lives. It is irrational to suggest that one should give up pleasures of life because they are mixed with pain. It is just like saying that we should throw away our finest grains because they are covered with husk and dust.”

Buddha, who most probably was contemporary of Charvaka – took this idea of happiness to another level and created a religion without god! His philosophy revolves around what constitutes Dukkha (Sadness) Origins, existence, cessation & path to handle that.

In otherwords, how to be happy. No wonder, he is called the world’s first psychologist!!

The truth is what we perceive, because what we can’t perceive is beyond us anyway. Since each person’s perception may be differrent, there can be different truths.

But, Buddha focused on one truth that pervades all – Sadness/suffering. No one escapes this.

Is it any wonder Buddha was included in to 10 major incarnations of Vishnu (Dashavatara)??

That is the nature of Hinduism – a tradition that assimilates all thoughts and philosophies and lets people live with their ‘truth’.

THAT IS WHY I AM A HINDU.