[Audio] The Police Officer On Behalf Of Airtel – FIR, Threats etc

Last month I had tweeted that a senior High Court lawyer had called me from Delhi with regards to an unpaid Airtel broadband bill and demanded that I pay up in an hour else he would go ahead with proceedings in the Delhi High Court.

The call appeared dubious. The lawyer changed the amount I will have to pay as a ‘fine’ twice, ranging between 80,000 to 150,000 INR that too for a bill amount he claimed was approx Rs 5000. I told him that I don’t like this extortion attempt. The call ended with promises of going legal against me. (Wonder why Delhi when I am based in Mumbai and my Airtel connection was in Mumbai?).

I tweeted out from my account @annkur and Airtel promised to call me. And they did call me regarding the same, only to tell me that I should pay the amount they are asking (some 5,000) and the caller wasn’t ready to co-operate on the complaint I had raised with Airtel before disconnecting my connection. Airtel was in no mood to discuss the so called lawyer who called me and ignored my complaint about harassment / legal threats.

Back then I was travelling and couldn’t do much to record the call, however I got the opportunity today. So what happened today? 

I was in office and I got a call from one Mr Samir Saxena who claimed to be ‘thana incharge’ of a police station in Delhi. I made a excuse of driving the car and offered to call back. I called back from a colleagues cell and recorded the call.

He (Samir Saxena) told me that Airtel’s lawyer was present with him and they have some magistrate order to register a FIR against me and start proceedings in 1 hour if I don’t visit an Airtel gallery and pay up the requested amount.

The supposedly police office talks about a fine of some Rs 65000 this time (funny right?) if I fail to comply. The person calling narrated my airtel account no, due amount as per them, address (shop no) and my full name. I asked to speak to my lawyer and call them back.

My friend advised me to lookup the police station and call their landline to confirm. As suspected there was no ‘thana incharge’ named Samir Saxena there. 

During the second call from the same person, I informed them that the police station denied the said officers name and that infuriated the caller such that he went on to threaten me beyond limits with police action etc.

I have both the calls recorded. And sharing it with the community. There is lot of discussion there, my words would perhaps not convey the severeness of the situation, you should listen to both the recordings below.

Airtel has failed to responsibly assist my CS complaint. Failed to settle the bill even after agreeing last year. And are now harassing and threatening me such that we won’t even want criminals to be treated in a democracy like ours.

I am a graduate by education, have taken a course at Asian School of Cyber Law, have been a journalist / technology reporter / blogger since 5 years yet I was scared on both occasions. I still am. I can only imagine what would happen to a common man with such tactics by large cos.

I am happy to share both the phone numbers (last month and today) if required. I am also contemplating legal action against this caller and Airtel. Waiting for advice on that.

25 May, 2013 12:44AM – Note: I have posted an update here.

June 6, 2014 –  For the ones asking what to do about it? Sadly – this is a widespread – industry wide practice today. I get such calls even today and I choose to ignore it. At times I take it as humour, but I ignore it for my peace of mind. 

E-commerce In India. Hey Ram.

Let me start with a question, a bad experience shopping online… how many of you have been there? In early 2000 (guess around 2002) I was a confident online shopper. Bought a cool college bag (single strap was trendy) online for Rs 199 and paid COD. Bought a coke bottle and deodorant spray and paid Cheque-on-delivery. Awesome time that was. Fast forward, its been 10 years since I started shopping and selling online. Quite a journey. While I don’t sell anymore, I don’t buy either (exclude ticketing on Cleartrip). My fears of shopping online came out today, when a friend of my tweeted this out:

Ecommerce In India

Got cheated for the first time of shopping online. Not very difficult to guess who this Sequoia funded company is.

Explains why I am scared of shopping online. Not much because of such buyer experiences, more because I have been a seller! More on that in a bit.

India would have been a different e-commerce economy if since 2002 the awesomest safe shopping experience was preserved. But that din’t happen. We have far too many bad experiences around us. Lakhs of online shoppers cheated, left with poor service and no after sales. Don’t expect them to trust a new poster boy of e-commerce in India, no matter how good they are. For the Internet medium has failed them 🙁

Ecommerce Scams In India

8i Mobile with 3D Sensor. Free Watch. Rs 2,799. No points for guessing which what they are doing here

The poor experience may be with a iPhone shaped cheap Chinese mobile selling for Rs 2999 or a digital camera at a fraction cost. Or perhaps just late shipment. And by late I mean several weeks. Add to that non responsive customer support. I have been a vendor on the old biggies of India’s Internet story. They were (probably still are) a heaven for sellers selling cheap goods with no service. They knew the CS was seller oriented. And we are not even talking about their email service users getting spammed like crazy with ecommerce ads. Forget privacy and spamming, the basic goods and service weren’t delivered properly. And the reason was not poor logistics in our country.

For a short term gain, quick profit, they have ruined the internet buying experience for perhaps millions of Indians. And now the fire is being re-ignited with deals, loss making ventures, but wait. A fraud again? Poor service? Just do a google for a few popular sites selling stuff and you will see complaint boards still filled with sad tales. I admire the ones like Baazee (now eBay) who maintained a good CS, disputes would happen there, but dispute resolution was effective. I respect the newer ones who are on social media, talking to their customers, resolving issues and delivering on time. But how do you undo the damage that the dinosaurs of Internet in India have caused? How do you weed out the multi-million-funded-donkeys-dressed-as-horses?

Note: Some thoughts as I now remember, are recalled from my Quora answer on “What are the biggest challenges facing eCommerce sites in India?”

Human Beings, Newton’s Law Of Motion & Balance

For every action there is equal and opposite reaction. When Newton stated this law of motion, he probably was thinking less about Human behavior. But it still speaks a lot about humans.

Read it again, ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. Don’t we do the same as humans? Take the example of a kid who wants to play and his mother who wants him to study. The more the kid is notorious, the more the mother would get strict. Both striving for a balance.

As humans we tend to pull towards a point of balance. The point of balance though, isn’t defined. It is a gray area that resides somewhere in between. The more away the other person from your picture of what is right, the more you would pull towards the other side.

humans, tussle and more by annkur

Child and Mother duo is probably an easy but poor example in this case. I would let that be the first one for simplicity, but for the ones asking, here is another. How about a coach and player. The coach’s objective is to extract the best from the player, but the player may or may not be aware of what is missing in his game. The coach would obviously make the player work to get inside the gray area. Similarly the tussle for balance is very much existent in organizations as well.

Aren’t there specific people in your contacts whom you would call a number of times to remind for a very small thing? Why would you need to give them so many reminders? It is the same tussle that I described between the child /mother or a coach /player.

Let’s talk a bit more about the tussle.  Read More

The 1-10-50 Rule

Over the past few months a very important side of startup life has been discovered by me. For me and a number of folks around me the journey gets a boost from an Inspirational talk, either in person or YouTube. Yes, the billionaires speaking (or say any large entrepreneur) does give us a push, but the rule I want to put forward for a startup is: 1-10-50 (One Ten Fifty…)

If you are a 1 person company, the best advice and help you will get is from a person running a 10 person company. If you are a 10 person company, your best advice would come from a 50 people company. Go talk to them.

Welcome Junglee, You Got Work To Do

Junglee - Amazon India

This morning I wake up with yet another ecommerce launch and this is the much hyped entry of Amazon in India. People may like, hate or justify the current model that Junglee (Amazon) has adopted and we can all speculate on what would the future be. But as a consumer, a retailer and a user of these same ecommerce sites since over 10 years, I am saddened to see that Amazon makes a mistake that the Indian ecommerce scene has long forgotten.

The very first mobile listed on Junglee.com, a Samsung Galaxy SII is priced at Rs 28,400 on the homepage. A quote lower than what Pricebaba shows for Mumbai and given that most reputed sites are listing the SII for over Rs 30,000, this is a fantastic offer. But wait, click on the thumbnail, and then click again on the seller information page of the lowest bidder and you shall see this

Junglee Transaction

… and if you clicked Visit Seller Store instead, you will notice this only on the checkout page of a site that is at best, Web 1.0.

Charging shipping extra is fine. Charging extra for credit card transaction is ok. But after several clicks quoting me Rs 1998 as Tax is not. Lucrative advertising with hidden charges is a practice most e-retail players gave up sometime back. Amazon has work in hand to curate the experience I get on Junglee. The ‘we are a platform’ wordings hasn’t worked for eBay as an excuse to compete with the ones who are really delivering a good experience, there is no reason Junglee would be an exception!

Welcome Junglee, You Have Work To Do! 

Disclaimer: Pricebaba is my venture.

Why This Halla #iFeelUp

A few weeks back I received an email from TheViewsPaper inviting me to be a panelist for a Tweet-a-thon (hashtagged #IFeelup). The formatting of the email and less than 5 secs of reading was enough to tell me that this isn’t for me. It was at best a mass emailer sent to hundreds of people and I was clear that I wouldn’t get involved.

For me, there might be plenty of fundamental reasons for not getting involved, but probably my friends on twitter put it right – a name that I haven’t heard about invites me, I am wary by default (honestly I have probably heard the name Theviewspaper once before). But fast forward a few days after the tweet-a-thon is over, I see hate is in the air. The same folks probably who went about trending #ifeelup are offended. The Tweet-a-thon was a 7up promotion.

The best part: the first email inviting to be a participant didn’t mention 7UP, the second one which was unread till date mentioned 7UP. But people actually fell for this? Trended the hashtag and now crying foul? Are the ones who suffered the overdose of 6600 tweets really bothered? For the real consumers, this is probably just another disturbance in their timeline. Markeeters fighting Markeeters!

Ifeelup Tweet-a-thon by Theviewspaper

That Reality Distortion Field

The Reality Distortion Field

What does it take for an entrepreneur to succeed? That’s a tough question to answer and there sure isn’t any one factor. But off late I am introduced to the reality distortion field and I believe it is an important bit for any ambitious person (say an entrepreneur or a leader).

Walter Issacson in his Steve Jobs biography talked about the reality distortion field of one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our era and that has left me thinking often about this factor living inside every leader / entrepreneur and perhaps every individual. Walter quotes Andy Hertzfeld from the original Macintosh team (1981):

“The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand”

Steve Jobs had unrealistic expectations (his reality distortion field making him believe that it can happen) and he failed many a times. But in retrospect his reality distortion field worked. We cannot take away from him the successes he has had. But is that reality distortion field only restricted to Mr Jobs? Over the past few days, two separate incidents have shaped my belief that a reality distortion field works within every ambitious person.

In one email a friend (& co-worker) emails me “your admiration for xyz over-weighs so much that you are blinded…” He points that I am not seeing the reality, while I kept arguing that I am devoted to the end goal we are here to achieve, it is working. Somewhere in between both our versions, the distortion field breathed its last… we found a common ground, of course that took a few months to happen.

My learning’s from this incident is that the distortion field gives a pace to things, acts as a shot in the arm for actions. Many continued to be blinded with me and still continue, but in this case my friend managed to bring me closer to reality and I spent a few hours fixing a people issue at hand that I otherwise wouldn’t have done.

The second incident is again a Read More

How Do You Find The Work You Love?

When Steve Jobs passed away earlier this month, something inside me broke. I am the same person who finds it difficult adjusting to a serious environment during conferences or funerals. Yet I was affected by SJ’s departure. Yes, I had a bet that I would some day sit across the table and do business with him, Arpit motivated me to shoot for it and the man himself inspires the entrepreneur in me. That day won’t come in this lifetime and that bet didn’t even cross my mind, it was a distant dream. More like an illusion to keep me hungry.

I am not even a longtime Apple user, I bought my Mac last year and never used an iPod other than the clip shaped shuffle in recent times. Unlike many, my connection to Jobs wasn’t because of the products he sold. During the end of my retail days, I made lots of cash on iPhones and iPods as they picked pace in India. I made a iPhone site (just as a hobby) for a friend and that became serious and somehow made money as well, but my attachment to SJ isn’t for the money I made trading products or news about his inventions.

The one time when Jobs made a real impact to me (and he still continues to) was when I first came across his Stanford commencement speech. It shook me, it touched that 15 yr old kid hungry for business on the streets of Crawford market. It gave me the courage to do so much more, break out of the shell and see the world. I have a long long way to go, but the journey is so much more powerful. Every time I listen to his words, it comes out even stronger. Be it not being burdened by others thinking or doing what you love to do. In a short speech he left behind a world of wisdom. Read More

The Day I Took An Auto Driver To Police Station

Auto Drivers In Mumbai

A few weeks back, on a fine Sunday afternoon I was seen tweeting about help required around Goregaon / Malad (Mumbai) to take a fraudulent Auto-rickshaw driver to a nearby Police Station. I had promised to share more details on my blog and here we go!

Yesterday Mumbai saw a flash strike by auto rickshaw drivers which apparently wasn’t called by their union. Newspapers are reporting hundreds of rigged auto meters lying at workshops as auto-walas panic to get them ‘un-tampered’ given the recent RTO drive against them. As my friend Sandeep RTs above … Only in India you can dare to go on a strike, justifying an act of cheating.

What happened that Sunday was a simple story. I took an auto from Andheri highway to Goregaon Oberoi Mall. The auto driver wasn’t in uniform and while that was least of my concern, as we reached the destination (Oberoi Mall, Goregaon) I realised he was trying to overcharge me. The meter reading was 4.80 and the auto-driver asked me for Rs 64.

I happened to knew the formula for calculating the auto-fare after the recent change in tariffs (Thanks M4Mum/Raxit). So when the auto rickshaw driver asked mr for Rs 64, I got a little suspicious and casually hit the calculator on my mobile. For the ones who want to note, the formula is x132 (multiply the meter reading by 13 and subract 2 from the total.)

The calculation in my case came to 60.4 and not 64. A small difference. I confronted the auto wala and he showed me a fare card. It was certainly a fake one, for fares above Rs 80 his tariff card showed amounts higher by Rs 10 or more. I told him that he is cheating & he suggested me to forget the 4 rupee difference as a loan and asked me to go. Yes, WTF.

I took the fare card and told him to take me towards the mall on the opposite side, where there were quite a few police vans given it was near about independence day. The auto-wala realized that I am not going to relent and Read More

Tower Of London, History, Guns, Knights, Canons and Kohinoor Diamond

You already know that I didn’t have much to do during my London stay, but hey, I did go around the museums in town including the Tower Of London. TOL is a historic castle that houses a good number of ancient artifacts, war time stuff and some weird stuff like the ‘accounts book’ pictured below.

I also went hands-on (well almost, just a glass separating us) with the Kohinoor Diamond. Given the hype that diamond is, I spent a few mins trying to get a good view of it, walking wrong way on the moving belt that gives you a glimpse and moves you out of sight. But looking back at the Tower of London visit, the Kohinoor Diamond is not the thing that runs on my mind, it is the Lance pictured below. May be I am not a jewelry person…

Its been a few months and I am almost losing track of what is what, so here is the Tower of London in pictures:

Tower OF London - Annkur UK 1

Remember seeing these in Age of empires series, only here in real life 🙂

Guard at Tower Of London

Real and Serious Guard At The Tower Of London

 One of the buildings at Tower of London

I don’t even remember which building this is, but there are many there. The hot chocolate coffee at the cafeteria inside the Tower Of London is Yummy! Read More