I am the one who believes that awareness does not come by reading books or adding higher qualifications alone. It comes by our observation and our own experiences of life as well as those of others. Such experiences good or bad becomes a part of awareness and remain at the back of our mind for ever. Those who put such experiences into practice grow and mature while the others suffer. Awareness does not mean ‘preaching’, it means keeping one selves abreast of the happenings around, far & near.
Nowadays every one talks of consumer rights and RTI (Right to Information) but have we ever bothered to use them at some point of time, at least once? Shopping establishments, Banks, Post offices, Government offices and all public utility service offices come under the preview of Consumer court or the RTI Scanner. The consumer/ customer availing above services fall in two categories- active and passive. The passive one takes everything for granted. For them ‘Where is the time and who will take all the trouble’ is normal mantra. But one should be sensitive enough to raise a voice against wrong even if the attempt fails. If you are not aware, how the people can be taken for a ride can be judged by some of my own experiences which I would like to share in public interest.
BBMP is popularizing its website through which one can pay the property tax on line. This year I tried to pay the taxes using the website but due to some technical flaw, my debit card payment was not accepted. As the tax form number was already generated with all the requisite columns filled up automatically, I took out a printout and went to BBMP office to pay through cheque. The concerned clerk flatly refused to accept the computer generated form and asked me to get another form available with them to be filled up by them (needless to say, they were charging Rs.50/- for filling the forms). He did not budge from his stand so I had no choice but to meet the officer in charge. The officer, a lady reluctantly told me that the website facility is only for those who want to pay through credit card and not for those who pay by cheque or cash. My plea to her that the website has columns for cheque or cash payment broke no ice! I requested her to go through the website or to get the clarification from their higher ups which eventually she did. She was asked to accept my tax form (even after the clarification, the clerk did not sign the tax paid receipt probably thinking it to be risky. He asked me to take the signature of the lady officer in charge!)
In another incidence, I went to a recently opened Mall. Inside a hyper market I wanted to buy Jockey brand briefs. On a saver pack of two, it was printed save Rs.10/-costing Rs. 149/-after discount as per the sticker. After coming home and just out of curiosity, when I removed the sticker, to my surprise there was another sticker beneath in which the cost was mentioned as Rs. 139/-.It was clear now that the ‘Save Rs.10/-‘ offer was a hoax. They had jacked up the cost. Immediately I sent a mail to the company’s customer care center who promptly gave a reply on 25th March stating-
“We are in receipt of your mail. We thank very much for the effort taken by you to bring this issue to our notice. We will look into this matter very seriously and solve this issue at the earliest.”
As no “serious action” was taken, again on 20th April I sent a reminder to them and still as on the date of writing this blog (4th May), waiting for an appropriate response from them.
You all must have come across several advertisements, hoardings and banners in front of textile shops like “Buy one, take three free” sales. After going through all such shops, I have found that under the scheme a shirt costs in the range of Rs.1500-2000/-and you get 3 free shirts. But in reality, have you ever come across a sale where you get 3 shirts free on a single shirt costing say Rs. 400/-? NEVER. If you try to buy the same shirt singly without free offer, you can get it for Rs. 300-400/- so, think before you leap on a buying spree.
Point here is not fighting for a savings of few rupees but its all about exercising your right in demanding what is legitimately yours. Fight with those who are here to fleece you, take you for granted thinking that you know nothing. Several NGOs and even Government departments are coming out with tools like Consumer act/RTI act and slogans like ‘Jaago Re’ for the benefit of public and to make them Aware & proactive.