Posted: April 15, 2017 Filed under: Banking
National Payments Corp of India (NPCI), which is set up as a Section 25 company under the Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013), and is seen promoting its Unified Payments Interface (UPI)- based Bharat Interface for Money application (BHIM) app, says it should not held responsible for any loss, claim or damage suffered by the user. What is more shocking are the terms and conditions (T&C)
for the UPI BHIM app from NPCI, which are one sided and affords no protection whatsoever to the end user or consumer.
In its terms and conditions for use of the BHIM UPI app, the company, promoted by 10 banks, says, “NPCI does not hold out any warranty and makes no representation about the quality of the UPI services or BHIM application. The user agrees and acknowledges that NPCI shall not be liable and shall in no way be held responsible for any damages whatsoever whether such damages are direct, indirect, incidental or consequential and irrespective of whether any claim is based on loss of revenue, interruption of business, transaction carried out by the user, information provided or disclosed by issuer bank regarding user’s account(s) or any loss of any character or nature whatsoever and whether sustained by the User or by any other person. While NPCI shall endeavour to promptly execute and process the transactions as instructed to be made by the user, NPCI shall not be responsible for any interruptions, non-response or delay in responding due to any reason whatsoever, including due to failure of operational systems or any requirement of law.”
The T&C of NPCI are not easily available and one needs to search for it. But whatever is stated in the T&C documents, appears completely one-sided. Take for example point 6.2 in the T&C documents, which emphasises that only the user is responsible for any failed transaction or any loss and neither NPCI nor the bank can be held responsible. It says, “NPCI shall not be liable for any loss, claim or damage suffered by the User and/or any other third party arising out of or resulting from failure of any transaction initiated via BHIM App on account of time out transaction i.e. where no response is received from NPCI or the beneficiary bank to the transaction request. NPCI or the beneficiary Bank shall also not be liable for any loss, damage and/or claim arising out of or resulting from wrong beneficiary details, mobile number and/or account details being provided by the User.”
This means, even if NPCI or the bank fails to send the necessary response, it is the user who is liable for the loss. Therefore, NPCI, the developer and promoter of this UPI BHIM app, and banks on its platform, are under no obligation to send responses to these transactions within time. “NPCI shall not be responsible for any electronic or mechanical defect, data failure or corruption, viruses and bugs or related problems that may be attributable to User telecommunication equipment and/ or the Services provided by any Service Provider,” NPCI says.
Remember the Bank of Maharashtra case, where fraudsters siphoned off Rs25 crore from the lender, using a bug in its UPI app? For such kind of misuse, too, NPCI says the payer is responsible. It states, “The Payer is solely responsible for the accuracy and authenticity of the payment instructions issued via BHIM App. Once a payment instruction is issued, the same cannot be subsequently revoked by the Payer. NPCI accepts no liability for any consequences arising from erroneous information provided by Payer in payment instructions.”
Now, let us see what happened in the Bank of Maharashtra case (Read: UPI bug costs Bank of Maharashtra about Rs25 crore
). P Hota, Managing Director and Chief Executive of NPCI, told the Economic Times that the Pune-based bank had procured an UPI solution from a vendor (reported to be city-based InfrasoftTech), which had a bug that resulted in the fund moving out of the accounts without the sender’s account having the necessary funds.
As per the procedure, when the UPI app receives such a request, it sends a query to the other party (customer) and, after obtaining acceptance, it checks fund availability in the UPI-linked bank account. However, the UPI app used by Bank of Maharashtra sent two messages to NPCI, one as ‘success’ and other as ‘error:insufficient funds’. In these fraudulent transactions, NPCI only read the first message and cleared the payment.
This is an interesting situation because the money was taken from accounts which did not have necessary funds. So, who will bear the loss? As per NPCI’s T&C, it cannot be the company or the bank, but the user. However, in this case, the user was not even aware about this fund transfer. In addition, NPCI is not under any obligation to keep a record of instructions, making the job of the investigation agencies difficult.
In its T&C documents, NPCI states that it has no liability or obligation to keep a record of the instructions to provide information to the user or for verifying the instructions. “All instructions, requests, directives, orders, directions, carried out by the User via BHIM App, are based upon the User’s decisions and are the sole responsibility of the User,” it says.
After making claims that over one crore users have downloaded the BHIM app from Google Play Store, the government is now trying to boost its actual use. The government has come out with a customer referral scheme
, which promises to pay Rs10 per reference to the referrer and Rs25 for the new user for downloading and transacting from BHIM app. But this will happen only on completion of three unique transactions of Rs50 in total to any three unique customers or merchants.
Posted: April 7, 2017 Filed under: Banking
Should citizens be expected to read the fine print every time the prime minister makes a public promise?
The Indian government’s top legal officer told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promises made in an address to the nation don’t matter if his government doesn’t stick to them in the legal notification that follows. The court was questioning the government’s decision to close the window allowing all people to swap older Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in the aftermath of Modi’s demonetisation announcement on November 8, 2016.
“If the PM has made the announcement in television that deposit can be done till March-end next year  but subsequent law says one can’t do so, the law will prevail but not PM’s statement,” said attorney general Mukul Rohatgi in court, according to LiveLaw.in.
Modi, in his November 8 announcement, said that everyone would be free to deposit their old notes in local banks until December 30, 2016. Following this, those who are not able to deposit their old notes for whatever reason “can go to specified offices of the Reserve Bank of India up to 31st March 2017”.
When the government issued an ordinance, however, it prohibited most Indians from being able to deposit their older notes after December 30. The only people permitted to still do so until March 31 are Non-Resident Indians and citizens who were abroad between November 8 and December 30, 2016.
This left a number of people in the lurch, prompting the filing of several Public Interest Litigation suits asking how the government could go back on its decision after the prime minister promised the window would remain open. The Supreme Court has now given the government until April 11 to submit a detailed explanation of why it decided to shut the note-swap window ahead of time.
Click Here for the full story from Scroll.in
Posted: April 5, 2017 Filed under: Telecom
I have for the first time in my life yesterday evening got calls from Reliance Anil Ambani group, three calls to be precise in one hour after posting Complaints on Social Media with a request that your problem will be solved just visit reliance store. I have also been informed disciplinary action will be taken against the concerned franchise for the inconvenience caused to me.
I have told them to confirm in writing and have told them that till my mobile is started again I will continue claiming Rs. 2,000/- per day compensation. I challenge them to provide documentary evidence how porting request is treated as termination request.
Anil Ambani, you may be a big man. But don’t forget you are not above law. I understand that some of your senior team members are behind bars for some wrongful acts of some company of yours. I challenge you to specify in public to clarify what u r achieving by haressing customers who wish to port their number? I understand hundreds if not thousands of customers are complaining of portability issues.
I am reserving my right to purchase one share of your company and question the management in the Annual General Body Meeting of your company in front of all shareholders of the company the haressment caused to mobile users with statistical details of portability requests.
Friends my personal view is whenever we face a problem irrespective of the high and mighty person he may be ( this suggestion is not just against Anil Ambanis Reliance group but all products purchased as consumers from different industrialist, manufacturers) we should post it on social media which is a very powerful tool. You may be haressed but at least you will get satisfaction of warning others of the malpractice / deficiency of service provided by company. I will for the next one month guide free of charge consumers in person who have suffered at the hands of mobile company.
Gone are the days when consumers were considered weak. I feel some corporates commit wrongful acts with the help of battalion of persons. Be it tax evasion etc. Tax evasion of shell companies, vodaphone tax demands etc are just a tip of the ice berg. So much is spoken about 3G, 4G, but nothing is spoken of earlier years when in my view mobile companies have literally looted government of its resources. Similarly in my view oil (from sea )as of date is commercially looted of the government by powerful industrialists.
As far as mobile companies are concerned I thave a strong feeling that they evade stamp duty on franchise agreement. As a soldier of consumer movement I will take up this fight to the best of my ability with authorities to levy stamp duty on franchise agreements. Best of luck Anil Ambani and one free advice to you to recheck if you have paid proper stamp duty on all your franchise agreements since formation of Reliance group. The penalty for evasion of stamp duty in Maharashtra is 2% per month for the period of default. Maximum penalty is 400%. I appeal to government authorities particularly stamp authorities all over India to recheck if proper stamp duty is levied on franchise agreements executed by all persons all over India.
Friends I will appreciate if u share your views as regards haressment by mobile companies, other manufacturers, service providers. It may be a service for some unknown friend, sitting somewhere cutting across continents but reading such posts.
Wish me goodluck friends in my fight against the high and mighty.
Posted: April 4, 2017 Filed under: Co-operative Societies
Mumbai, 3rd April, 2017:
Unknown to most Mumbaikars, BMC issued a circular last month giving notice that the Capital Valuation for the forthcoming years has been completed for fixing up property tax applicable to property owners and that “they will be available for inspection at the office of the Asstt. Assessor and Collector in the respective wards… between 23rd March 2017 to 13th April 2017.” It added that “complaints against the Capital Values… must be made in writing by the property owners themselves or by the persons duly authorized by them under a power of attorney.”
BMC’s notice may be downloaded from this link: http://bit.ly/MCGM-Notice-23-3-2017
Sometimes, the assessment department makes mistakes in fixing the capital value, which results in huge disputed dues. If the window of opportunity given under the circular is not promptly availed, then property owners such as housing societies are left with the costly option of going to small causes court against excessive billing.
It is quite easy to verify the capital valuation from BMC’s website (https://prcvs.mcgm.gov.in/ ), by entering the Property Tax Account Number and other details. However, it is difficult to draft a proper complaint in case of mistakes in capital valuation are discovered. To assist Cooperative Housing Societies in exercising this right, Andheri-based NGO Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MSWA) has created a downloadable format with the help of Property Tax Department insiders.
Download the complaint format from:
In case, the capital valuation of their property is excessive, office-bearers of housing societies may download this useful format, fill it up and submit it before 13th April 2017.
CA Ramesh Prabhu, chairman of MSWA, remarked, “It is unfair that only three weeks time is given to citizens for verifying the new capital valuations, on the basis of which lakhs of rupees are charged to more than 30,000 cooperative housing societies and other property owners. Butwe will do whatever we can to facilitate citizens of Mumbai to respond to this circular,” he said. Mr Prabhu appealed to office-bearers of housing societies to take the circular seriously, as the impact of wrong valuation be lakhs of rupees.
Housing societies may contact MSWA’s helpline number 022-42551414 and also Whatsapp no. 70455 99702. MSWA Members will receive free-of-charge assistance in assessment of valuation, submission of this complaint and follow-up.
Posted: March 26, 2017 Filed under: Banking
Karthik Srinivasan, a Digital Marketer from Bangalore was going through his email when he discovered that HDFC Bank had been charging him Rs 100 per quarter for a program he never signed up for.
On delving deeper, he discovered that the service was an opt-out program that had been activate for his account without his express consent. Worse still, the opting out requires a member to actually read their spam-like banking emails, from top to bottom, discover the fine print that states that the offer is an opt-out one and then click on a link to opt-out of the service.
But what’s Rs 400, right? That still doesn’t equate to hundreds of crores of rupees.
Rashmi R. Padhy took to Medium to break down why the money is real and why this is indeed a scam.
Pointing to VAS (Value-Added-Service) fraud that was prevalent some years ago, Padhy notes that telcos used to offer VAS as “free” trials. After the trial was over, these telcos would charge you for the service and keep doing so until you opted out.
The value of the transactions was small, but scaled up, the telcos likely earned in hundreds, if not thousands of crores. The rising number of complaints caught the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) attention and the practice was halted.
HDFC Bank appears to be doing the same thing. The bank essentially upgrades you to a free Classic / Preferred Banking trial program without your consent and then charges you Rs 100 — plus service tax — per quarter till you opt out.
Since most people would not read the mailer that explains all this and since the price isn’t placed up front, most people will not opt-out because they simply don’t know.
Padhy breaks down the calculations as follows. Charging 1.2 Cr customers a fee of Rs 400 a year, HDFC is set to earn upwards of Rs 400 Cr a year. For free, without the explicit consent of its members.
The calculation may not be as cut and dried as Padhy puts it and the numbers might be much lower. This doesn’t, however, change the fact that the program is inherently fraudulent. And other banks might soon follow suit, if they haven’t already.
As heinous as the practice might seem, it is currently perfectly legal for it to do what it’s doing.
Most people may not even be aware of the service or the charge. A charge of Rs 400 a year can easily get lost in the tens of thousands of transactions that we perform every year. And how many of us actually peruse through our monthly bank statements in that much detail anyway? Many more of us probably delete bank mails the moment they arrive in the first place.
Srinivasan did not take this charge laying down. On discovering the charge, an average person might simply have opted out, vented a bit on social media and left it at that. Srinivasan is, however made of more Gandhian stuff. As Office Chai puts it, Srinivasan is now on an online ‘satyagraha’ to get HDFC Bank to apologise for trying to scam its customers in such a way.
Click Here for the detailed full story
Posted: March 26, 2017 Filed under: Health
“Tuberculosis is Ebola with wings. It does not differentiate between the driver in the front of the Mercedes to the CEO in the back or between the maid in the kitchen and the memsahib in the living room. It kills an Indian every minute.”
As a lead up to World Tuberculosis Day, TED has released India’s first Ted Talk on TB by Zarir F Udwadia, a leading chest physician from Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.
He highlights India’s TB problem, which persists in epidemic proportions, terming it the country’s biggest public health issue.
One indian dies of this disease every minute. Dr. Zarir Udwadia shares the story of the suffering of one patient diagnosed with Totally Drug Resistant -Tuberculosis (TDR-TB). And unfortunately,succumbing to it.
Posted: March 23, 2017 Filed under: Banking
Overturning an order of the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) last week termed the refusal of HDFC Bank to hand over cash to a bearer of a cheque, after verifying his credentials through the account holder, as “a clear case of deficiency in service”.
The order from NCDRC, issued on 15 March 2017, states, “No doubt the complainant had not furnished his ID, but the fact remains that admittedly not only the cashier but also the Bank Manager separately rang up the account holder on his mobile number, who verified having issued the subject cheque and gave clearance for encashment. The bank officials, however, declined to encash the cheque. This, in our view, is a clear deficiency in service.”
The order relates to a consumer complaint filed by Mumbai resident Prakash Sheth against HDFC Bank. Sheth required Rs3 lakh to be deposited in the hospital for treatment of his ailing mother, in 2010. He requested his nephew, Chirag, for the money. Chirag gave a bearer cheque to Sheth, who then presented the bearer cheque on 7 May 2010 at HDFC Bank. The cashier in the bank asked him to come back at 4pm because of insufficiency of funds. When he returned at 4pm, the cashier asked for his photo ID, which Sheth was not carrying. The cashier then called up Chirag to seek verification of issuance of the bearer cheque. Chirag confirmed it, but the cashier refused to honour the cheque and Sheth was asked to meet the branch manager. The branch manager too checked with Chirag to confirm that he indeed had issued the cheque. Despite that, the manger insisted that Chirag should personally come to the bank, which the latter was unable to. The branch manager then refused to honour the cheque.
Claiming this to be deficiency in customer service, Sheth filed a complaint in the Consumer Forum at South Mumbai District, seeking compensation to the tune of Rs1 lakh towards mental agony and physical harassment. Sheth also appealed for a directive to the bank to stop this practice. The bank was served a notice, but it claimed that it had rightly not honoured the cheque as per guidelines from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The District Forum therefore dismissed the complaint. Subsequently, the Maharashtra State Commission too dismissed Sheth’s petition, stating that the bank had rightfully adhered to RBI guidelines.
As per RBI guidelines, banks have been advised that “in case of transactions carried out by a non-account based customer, that is a walk-in customer, where the amount of transaction is equal to or exceeds Rs50,000, whether conducted as a single transaction or several transactions that appear to be connected, the customer’s identity and address should be verified”.
However, Sheth’s contention was that two officials of HDFC Bank had personally cross-checked with the account holder, which proved that it was a clear case of harassment.
In this case, while the State Commission dismissed Sheth’s petition, it upheld that although Sheth was not an account holder of HDFC Bank, he still was a consumer. The Commission observed “…the consumer is not only the person who hires or avails the services of the service provider but the beneficiary also. It is argued that once the account holder had issued a cheque in favour of someone, he automatically becomes the beneficiary and therefore he is a consumer”.
Sheth then approached the National Commission. In its order on 15 March 2017, the Commission stated “…from the affidavits of Chirag Natvarlal Sheth and Prakash Sheth (the complainant), it is amply proved that the bank telephonically contacted Chirag Sheth twice to verify whether or not he has given bearer cheque to the complainant and the account holder Chirag Sheth confirmed the said fact. From the above, it is clear that the bank officials were categorically informed by the account holder that he had issued the cheque and given it to Prakash Sheth. Therefore, he, in our view, was the beneficiary of the cheque and as such he is covered under the definition of consumer, which includes the beneficiary of the service hired or availed. Thus, the complaint is maintained.”
The NCDRC also pointed out that in response to an application under Right to Information (RTI) filed by the bank, a part of the response clearly states that, “the bank should not ordinarily insist on the presence of account holder for making cash withdrawals in case of ‘self’ or ‘bearer’ cheques unless the circumstances so warrant. The banks should pay self or bearer cheques taking usual precautions.”
“From this it is evident that Reserve Bank has cautioned banks in the country to be careful while encashing the bearer cheques if the amount exceeds Rs50,000 and insist on the verification of ID, as also the address. No doubt, the complainant had not furnished his ID, but the fact remains that admittedly not only the cashier but also the bank manager separately rang up the account holder on his mobile number, who verified having issued the subject cheque and gave clearance for encashment. The bank officials, however, declined to encash the cheque. This, in our view, is a clear deficiency in service.”
Another rule from RBI states, “In the event the individual tendering the instrument is not carrying the identity, and there is urgency to pay, the transaction to be referred to the branch manager. The branch manager shall make appropriate enquiries as deemed fit and shall use his discretion to allow the transaction. Such discretion to be used judiciously as strict one- off cases, only upon satisfactory confirmation of the bonafides of the transactions.”
The National Commission declared HDFC Bank’s stance in not honouring Sheth’s cheque as ‘deficiency of service’ and asked it to pay compensation of Rs10,000 to him for harassment and humiliation.
Prakash Sheth says, “Most banks harass such non-account holders who come with bearer cheques. Mine was perhaps the first challenge before a legal forum. This case will spread literacy amongst consumers or bearer cheque holders, and will hopefully be a lesson to similar banks who adopt this malpractice.”