Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vodafone India - Fine Print

Hardly any of us check the terms and conditions before we sign on the dotted line. Specially if it doesn't involve our bank account

Here is what I found when I took a peek into Vodafone India's T&C and Privacy Policy

Vodafone's contents are copyrighted and cannot be reused by you. But Vodafone reserves the right to use any of your contents that you provide through the website

2. Content (information, communications, images and sounds contained on or available through is provided by Vodafone, its affiliates, independent content providers and third parties. The contents of are copyright © Vodafone its affiliates, independent content providers or third parties. All rights reserved. The contents of cannot be reproduced, modified, transferred, distributed, republished, downloaded, posted or transmitted in any form or by any means including but not limited to electronic, mechanical photocopying or recording without the prior written permission of Vodafone Essar Limited.

8. By submitting any material to us via the website, via email or otherwise, you do so in the knowledge that Vodafone may copy, modify, distribute or create a derivative work from that content in any form. You warrant that the material is fit for publication and agree to indemnify us if any third party takes action against us in relation to the material that you submit. You warrant that you believe Vodafone may publish the material you submit and/or make use of it or any concepts described in it in our products or services without liability and you agree not to take action against us in relation to it.

You look at some offer on their website, decide to buy it and do so online through vodafone website. Subsequently Vodafone can decide that the price mentioned on the website is not correct and decide to retroactively change it

"You should not assume that or its content is error free or that it will be suitable for the particular purposes that you have in mind when using it. Vodafone reserves the right to make subsequent changes to it, and services may be modified, supplemented or withdrawn. "

If vodafone's website cannot guarantee accuracy, where do they expect us to find accurate info about vodafone's services? In Airtel's website?

"Vodafone Essar is not responsible for any errors, omissions or representations on any of our pages or on any links on any of their pages. The users are requested to verify the accuracy of all information on their own before undertaking any reliance"

Vodafone can disturb you but you should not disturb vodafone

"9. In a few areas of we may ask you to provide personal information that will enable us to use the information you provide us with to keep you informed of our latest products and services after your visit to"

"You agree not to cause, nor knowingly allow others to cause, any nuisance, annoyance, or inconvenience, whether to Vodafone or ...."

Last T&C is funny. Not only can Vodafone unilaterally change the T&C, its applicable to you immediately without notification or notice period

"15. Vodafone reserve the right to vary the terms of this contract from time to time, such variations becoming effective immediately upon posting of the varied Legal Statement on By continuing to use you will be deemed to accept such variation."

Vodafone can collect any and all personal information regarding you. They hold on to it indefinitely and share it with other firms for marketing purposes

"We may hold information relating to you that you have provided to us (such as on an application or registration form) or that we may have obtained from another source (such as our suppliers or from marketing organisations and credit agencies).

This information may include, amongst other things, your name, address, telephone numbers, information on how you use our products and services (such as the type, date, time, location and duration of calls or messages, the numbers you call and how much you spend, and information on your browsing activity when visiting one of our group companies' websites), the location of your mobile phone from time to time, lifestyle information and any other information collected in relation to your use of our products and services ("information")."

"2.7 carrying out market and product analysis and marketing our and our group companies’ products and services generally;

2.8 contacting you (including by post, email, fax, short text message (SMS), pager or telephone) about our and our group companies' products and services and the products and services of carefully selected third parties which we think may be of interest to you (unless you ask us in writing not to). For completeness we note that where such contact is via electronic means, our terms and conditions record our agreement with you that the electronic marketing messages we and our selected third parties send need not include an unsubscribe facility;"

If vodafone buys personal information of airtel's customers through third party companies, then vodafone reserves the right to sell your personal information to that third party.

"There may be times when we need to disclose your personal information to third parties. If we do this, we will only disclose your information to:

3.2 those who provide to us or our group companies products or services that support the services that we provide, such as our dealers and suppliers;"

If you accept (this can happen when you don't read the fine print) to receive marketing products/offers from vodafone, vodafone will reserve the right to share your personal information with third party companies. How exactly is the consent for latter implied by consent for the former?

"If you have opted in to receiving marketing material from us, we may also provide your personal information to carefully selected third parties "

Not only vodafone collects personal information, they strive their best to ensure that its accurate and have complete profile about you. It is not sufficient for vodafone to settle down to just the information that is really required to provide mobile services

"We will take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information we collect, use or disclose is accurate, complete, up-to-date "

By chance, you decide that the above privacy policy is reasonable ( possible if competing provider's policy is even worse ), then vodafone reserves the right to change their policy. So once they have a personal profile of million customers in India, they have the option to change the personal policy allowing them to sell this information to the highest bidder

"We may change this Privacy Policy from time to time."

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fine prints of Kotak Credit Card

Lets admit it. Most of us tend to skim over the terms and conditions of most products and services. Credit card is no exception

So here is a look into the Terms and Conditions of Kotak Credit Card

Before we go into the details, let me at the outset say that I am happy with the way Kotak explains the free revolving credit period and how the interest and charges are computed. The first half of the document is a layman's explanation of the legal statements in the second half. But read on to check as to how the bank blames everything on the customer and tries to get away with it

"No statement will be generated and sent to you for the period in which there has been outstanding due less than or equal to Rs.100 and no transaction on the Card Account"

Cost saving is understandable here

" Non-receipt of statement would not affect your obligations and liabilities under the Cardholder Agreement and you shall be liable to settle at least the Minimum Amount Due before the payment due date"

They absolve of all responsibility. Its the customer's headache if the company doesn't send the account statement

" The Bank also reserves the right to introduce any new fees or charges, as it may deem appropriate, with due intimation to you"

We can entice you to join with good teasing offers. And a few months later, tack on additional charges because customers usually bear with it rather than take the effort to switch to another credit card company

"The Bank may suspend or terminate the Credit Card facility immediately at any time at its discretion or may at any time restrict the use of the Credit Card facility without prior notice if the Bank reasonably believes it necessary for business or security reasons. In the event of Bank terminating the Credit Card facility, all amounts outstanding on the Card Account (including Charges or Cash advances not yet debited) will become due and payable immediately. In such case, the Bank has the Cardholder‟s express authority to debit the card accounts for all withdrawals / transfers affected by the use of Credit Card / PIN as per the Bank‟s records, which shall be conclusive and binding."

If customer needs to close the card, they should send a written letter to the bank requesting the same. But the company can decide to close the account without assigning any reason ( refer to the clause "for business" ) and they don't even need to give a notice for the same. And to top it all, they will ignore the usual credit period and debit immediately from the bank account. It's one more reason, not to give standing instructions with bank to pay credit card bills ( for that matter any bills )

"The Cardholder shall report the loss of the Card to the Bank by calling the 24 hour Customer Contact Centre immediately on such loss or theft or misplacement. The Bank at the request of the Cardholder will attempt to deactivate the card immediately to prevent misuse"

So if we lose our card and so call up the customer care no, they cannot guarantee that they can block it. They will only "attempt" to deactivate it. And if there is a problem in their system, till they can actually do so, all misuse will be borne by the customer

"No liability shall accrue upon the Cardholder for any unauthorized transactions done on the Card from the time such Card has been reported lost/stolen/damaged and upon the Bank having suspended the Card Account"

Note the responsibility is not just till we report the card loss but till the bank actually suspends it. Funny thing is that if the bank decides that we aren't getting them enough profit ( say we pay our bills on time ), they reserve the right to cancel it immediately. But if the card is lost and someone else is using it, they wont promise to block it immediately when reported !

The Cardholder shall then send the following documents to the Bank:
All other documents as required by the Bank and to the satisfaction
of the Bank

All open ended requirements which would allow the bank to wiggle away from their responsibility

" The Bank is not liable or responsible for any transactions incurred on the Card
Account prior to the time of reporting of the loss of card to the Bank and the
Cardholder shall be wholly liable for the same.
- The Cardholder will, however be liable for all losses when someone obtains
and misuses the Card or PIN with / without Cardholder‟s consent, or consent of
an Add-On Cardholder"

Nice contradictory statements. Initially they say that if we lose our card, the responsibility is till we report to the bank. Then they go on to say that if "someone obtains the card without cardholder's consent" ( which is nothing but another phrase for lost/stolen card ) then the cardholder is liable for "all losses" ( even after reporting )

"If the Cardholder has acted fraudulently or acts without reasonable care, the Cardholder will be liable for all losses"

Why isnt there a statement saying that if the "Bank acts without reasonable care, then the Bank will be liable for all losses? The sad reality is that, I can pick holes in the website of most major banks these days and I am not even a IT security expert

"The Cardholder hereby agrees that the information furnished by the Cardholder in the application or otherwise may be further used by the Bank for marketing purposes to sell Card related offers, including but not limited to balance transfer, EMI of fers, cashrelated offers, insurance products, etc. from time to time. Further, the Bank may use this information to market other products of the Bank from time to time in conformity with the disclosure norms as applicable."

So the bank can decide to use our personal information to send out spam emails/letters and we don't have the right to say no to it

"9.1 The Cardholder can use the Card to pay for charges incurred for transactions conducted by the Cardholder at PMEs / through Electronic Media in India and abroad accepting Visa Cards as the case may be. The Bank and PMEs reserve the right at anytime to refuse without any notice to permit the use of the card at the PME for any reason whatsoever. The Bank accepts no responsibility for any such refusal to honour the Card.
9.2 The Bank reserves the right to approve, refer and decline any transaction without assigning any reason whatsoever"

We go out with our friends for dinner and when the time comes to paying for it, the bank can decide to decline our transaction for any or no reason and they are not to be blamed for embarrassing us

"A Sales Slip with the bonafide signature of the Cardholder together with the Card number noted thereon shall be conclusive evidence as between the Bank and the Cardholder as to the extent of liability incurred by the Cardholder. Any Sales Slip not personally signed by the Cardholder shall be deemed to be an authorized Transaction and the Cardholder shall be liable for the same"

While the first statement is innocuous, notice the second statement. Even if the charge slip / sales slip is not signed, it is deemed as authorized transaction !! The lawyer and the financial guy who jointly came up with this, deserves a promotion

"The Cardholder acknowledges that the Bank shall be under no liability whatsoever to the
Cardholder, in respect of any loss or damage arising directly or indirectly out of:
(iii) Effecting Transaction instructions other than by a Cardholder, or misuse of Card due to the Cardholder‟s negligence, mistake, dishonesty, misconduct, fraud or handing over the Card to any person;
(ix) Any misstatement, misrepresentation, error or omission in any details disclosed by the Bank or its agents or representatives"

The bank can effect a transaction instruction from any third person?
They can lie about any offer, details of the scheme, they can do any fraudulent stuff and get away with it because of the clause (ix). At least thats what they are attempting to do. And notice that if we make an error in filling the application form ( say date of birth ), then we will be liable, marked as default and shared with all financial institutions as can be seen below:

"18.1 The occurrence of any of the under mentioned following events (herein referred to as “Events of Default”) shall be deemed and shall qualify as an Event of Default:
If any representation made by the Cardholder or given to the Bank in the Card
Application or otherwise proves to be incorrect, misleading, false, fraudulent or incomplete, including, but not limited to income and/or identification paper/documents
forwarded to the Bank;"


"The Bank reserves the right to revise policies, features and benefits offered on the Card and alter these Terms and Conditions from time to time and may notify the Cardholder of any such alterations in any manner it thinks appropriate."

Yeah. The effort you spent in carefully reading the terms and conditions may not matter too much when they reserve the right to toss this out and use a new T&C with/without notification in a manner they "think" is appropriate

" Electronic Banking is permitted only after authentication of the Cardholder by means of Password/ PIN/ User ID or other identifiers of the Cardholder as stipulated by the Bank. The Cardholder hereby grants express authority to the Bank for carrying out any Transaction received by the Bank through Alternate Channels (using his Password/ PIN/ User ID), post authentication and the same will be deemed to have emanated from such Cardholder. The Bank shall have no obligation to verify the authenticity of any Transaction request received through Alternate Channels or purporting to have been sent by the Cardholder other than by means of verification of the Password/PIN /User ID. The Bank will not be liable for acting in good faith on such instructions"

Since when did folks start using "user id" as sufficient for authentication and authorization? Let alone two factor authentication, this Bank don't guarantee even a single factor authentication

" Only the Bank's own record of Transactions over Alternate Channels maintained through computer systems or otherwise shall be accepted by the Bank as conclusive and shall be binding on the Bank and the Cardholder for all purposes and the Cardholder recognizes, undertakes and agrees to accept such record of the Bank without demur or protest. Due to inherent features of some of Alternate Channels, the Cardholder may be able to take out a print of the Transaction attempted to be effected by the Cardholder over Alternate Channels. However, only the record maintained by the Bank shall prevail. The Cardholder unconditionally acknowledges and agrees not to contest any Transaction carried out or not carried out by the Bank upon requesting for the same over Alternate Channel"

Even if you have proof to the contrary, you are forced to accept the "words" of the Bank

"The Cardholder represents and warrants that he has a complete working knowledge of computers/electronic machinery, e-mail and the Internet, which will enable Cardholder to avail the Internet Banking"

Even after 8 years in the field of software engineering, I still can't claim to have "complete working knowledge of computers/electronic machinery". Do they really expect doctors, lawyers, musicians to be aware of it?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

BCCI and broadcast rights

Why? Why? Why?

Why grant license to just one TV channel in India? This has led to broadcast quality deteriorating so much that we are encountering the following:

1) Channels switch to advertisement even before the final ball of the over is dead. Why can't they let us savor the roar of the audience of a nice shot or a wicket going down?

2) Advertisement are overlayed on the live cricket feed. Sometimes these are shown as panels which takes about 20% of the screen.

3) Overlaying ads sometimes include audio at the expense of cricket commentary

4) The full advertisements that come in between overs, have higher volume than the actual cricket feed. So after every over, one is forced to either reach for the remote or learn to tolerate it

Here is what is required from them

1) Conduct auction and grant distribution rights to four different categories ( two in each for a total of 8 licenses

a) paid tv channels
b) free tv channels
c) paid online video feeds
d) free online video feeds

The paid tv channels will have to compete aginst free tv channels by providing more value added services. They could be less ads or better video quality ( say 1080 HD ) or their own chosen expert commentators etc. This ensures that we have a good reach and do not relegate cricket to only those who subscribe to pay channels. Also healthy competition can be a win-win for everyone ( as long as we don't allow cartels )

2) Ensure that the distribution rights are re-auctioned after every year rather than 5 years.

3) Lay down clear mandatory terms and conditions for the distribution license

a) At any given instant, broadcasters can show ad or cricket but not both. Overlay kills the experience of watching a cricket match

b) Ensure that the average volume of the cricket feed and the advertisements should remain the same

c) No ads till the ball is dead

4) Grant permission to the broadcasters to replace the commentary stream with their own commentator's audio feed. This can help them differentiate, if they chose to. Same goes for pre and post match briefings and analysis

Today the broadcasters care only about the bottom line and to be fair, rightfully so. So it is in the best interest of BCCI as care takers and promoters of cricket in India, to balance revenue with quality and public benefit

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Open Source Cooks

Ever since I came to NY, I have been honing by culinary skills. Thanks to my room mate - Pravin - we have been experimenting successfully everyday for dinner.

Unlike ladies who are generally good at cooking, with guys it is a hit or a miss. Either they are very good at it or else they are hopeless.

Where do I fall in this? I think Pravin can answer this better :)

So we have decided to share some of our recipes for the benefit of bachelors (and for spinsters too). Dont worry these are tried and tested recipes from us. And feel free to update and revise the same - its under creative commons license with attribution ;)

Oops. Is that a burning smell, we left something on the stove while I am blogging............

Monday, June 05, 2006

Cool Cool

I and my colleague were chatting with the owner of a restaurant here in London which we haunt regularly for desi food. Today he remarked that his refigerator is giving troubles because weather is hot. We were pretty perplexed bcoz this so called "hot" summer was just 15 degrees. And that is what we would have called as cold winter in most parts of India.

Its another matter that I dont think refigerators are required here except for the freezers. Though to be fair, 90% of the food stuff is frozen.

And I have neither found a tube light (they use either incadescent or the fashionable dim lit ones) nor a fan (except for the electric chimneys in the kitchen).

Monday, May 15, 2006

I was in that bus - Part II

Accident at Hosur

On saturday, I got the sudden urge to goto chennai. On impulse, I took my black Pulsar and drove all the way to chennai. The 350km highway was beautiful - min 4 lane and it was different experience altogether. Though it took me 14 hours of rest to recupperate from the 7 hours of travel.

Taking my friends advice, I left the bike in chennai and decided to travel by bus since it was supposed to be safer. However as you can see from the snap - its not the case. We met with an accident at 5:30am. We escaped with minor injuries bcoz the driver was slow. In fact he was so slow that I wonder as to how he managed to cause an accident. He took 6 hours to travel just 300 kms in this smooth highway :(

They say that lightning never strikes twice but i guess they were wrong. Nearly a year back, I had a similar close shave on my way to Munnar.

I am still wondering whether I am lucky or lucky. I have met with two accidents in a span of a year or so. But I have managed to walk away from both of them with minor injuries.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


After having been tied down for the past 6.5 days, I finally managed to squeeze in some time to upload the pics from the blogger's meet - Blogout.

The gang roll call is available at Arnab's blog post And for write ups about the trip, check out sumans writeups and also the compilation of entire list inthis article by AnitaBora.

Meanwhile let me share some pics (rest are reserved for my photoblog) down here.

Flagged off:
Thats the railway station in the background.

Toy Train:
Slow but an enjoyable ride.

Touch me not:
Its a living creature...

Royal Welcome:
Sathish, Adel and Kavitha being welcomed by the King and his knight

Should we trust this king?
That is the expression of Ganesh, Anuja, Anjana, Satheesh, Senthil and Venkat.

So what if you are the king?
Venkat, Anita, Adel, Rupa and Tulsi

Trying to stand in a straight single line circle:
Kripa, Chander, Nithya, Suman and Vasu.

Base camp:

View from the Base camp:

Honnemardu Lake:





The Knight:
He was with me and Ganesh in the same Carocle.

Food Court:
Never knew that I would enjoy Sambar rice so much.


Can you guess the conversation based on the facial expression of the subjects?

Partin memories:
Left with heavy hearts (soaked to the bone)

While we were waiting for the connecting shuttle to Shimoga, I sneaked out for a breather. It was worth it.

The snap in this SudaSudaCoffee post was taken at Talagapa only.

Till I get some time to pen things down, let me sign off (literarily and literally)

- Dheepak Ra