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Friday, October 30, 2015

Is State Bank of India adapting unfair trade practices?

I have already brought out an article quoting copy of the complaint sent to Reserve Bank of India to intervene in the matter of unfair banking practices by the commercial Banks in India on account of SMS alert charges. The title of the article posted on the blog on 07/10/2015 is:

Need for intervention of Reserve Bank of India to put a stop on the unfair business practices of the Commercial Banks on a/c of SMS Alert Fee amounting to estimated Rs. 5,000 crores in a year

I have been raising the matter through use of RTI Act also. Two series of RTI applications, CPO responses, First Appeal to First Appellate Authorities of SBI is brought out on my another blog. The link to the two articles is given below:

1. http://skvirmani-rtijago.blogspot.in/2015/10/is-state-bank-of-india-adapting-unfair.html

Is State Bank of India adapting unfair trade practices- RTI reveals more than 300 crores being earned unethically from consumers 

2. http://skvirmani-rtijago.blogspot.in/2015/10/part-2-is-state-bank-of-india-adapting.html

Part 2: Is State Bank of India adapting unfair trade practices- RTI reveals more than 300 crores being earned unethically from consumers

 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Need for intervention of Reserve Bank of India to put a stop on the unfair business practices of the Commercial Banks on a/c of SMS Alert Fee amounting to estimated Rs. 5,000 crores in a year


This is in continuation to my article titled "Unethical business revenue by banks on account of charging SMS Alert Services" was brought out on this blog on 5th April 2014 and 28th August 2014. The link to the article is:
http://skvirmani-jagograhak.blogspot.in/2014/08/unethical-business-revenue-by-banks-on.html 
Subsequent to the article, Reserve Bank of India has now been requested vide my letter dtd. 03/08/2015 to intervene in the matter and direct all Banks to refund amount to the account holders earned out of unethical business business in violation of RBI regulations. A copy of the letter requesting RBI and other Departments is quoted below:

" Date: 03/08/2015

Chief General Manager
Reserve Bank of India
Consumer Education and Protection Department,
Central Office, First Floor, Amar Building,
Perin Nariman Street,
Mumbai – 400 001

Sub: Charges levied by Banks for sending SMS Alerts

Dear Sir,

Please refer to RBI Circular No. RBI/2013-14/381 DBOD. No. Dir. BC. 67/13.10.00/2013-14 dated 26/11/2013 on the above subject.

While RBI stipulate banks to charge SMS Alert Fee on actual usage basis, the banks are charging fixed quarterly amount and deducting from the accounts irrespective of whether there has been any transaction or not. I have accounts with State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and UCO Bank all three PSUs. Since the accounts were being depleted by the first two banks without any transaction, I had initiated RTIs against both banks. 

I am attaching herewith responses of State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank which clearly substantiate adapting of unfair business practices being carried out by the banks. It can be seen that despite no transactions being carried out by me, the banks have been deducting amount from the accounts every quarter. Even for sending one or 2 messages, banks have deducted Rs. 16.85 per quarter. The undersigned has also an account with UCO Bank and UCO Bank seems to the exception as they are charging Rs. 0.12 per transactional SMS. RTI also reveals information that State Bank of India is making up on an average Rs. 70 crores per quarter alone towards charging of SMS alerts since November 2013, the figure of Punjab National Bank is yet to be revealed. Very rough estimates put such a figure of more than Rs. 5,000 crores a year across the banking industry.

It is also understood that Ministry of Finance has also issued directives to all the banks to follow RBI directions. A copy of Ministry of Finance order no. F.No. 7/72/2014-BOA dated 14/08/2014 as downloaded from the public domain (facebook) is attached for your ready reference. RBI is requested to kindly issue such directives to all the banks for refund of the amount unethically deducting from the consumers bank account including that of mine in PNB as well as SBI.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely

(S.K.Virmani)

Email Id: skvirmani@gmail.com

Copy to 1. Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, Jeevan Deep 
Building, 3rd Floor, Parliament Street, New Delhi-110 001
2. Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & 
Public Distribution, Govt. of India, Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi-110 001

"

I would request rather appeal to all members to make a request to their banks for refund of the amount deducted by them on a/c of SMS alert fee. The machinery has already been set into motion and your complaints/ emails shall expedite/ facilitate achieving objectivity.
 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Are Restaurant and Hotels adapting to unfair business practices?

I have brought an article titled 
जब रेस्टोरेन्ट वाला सर्विस चार्ज बिल में लगाता है तो फिर आप टिप क्यों दें । in my blog on 13th December 2012. The link to the article is http://skvirmani-jagograhak.blogspot.in/2012/12/blog-post.html

 An email was mailed to Hotel Association of India and Hospitality India to seek their views on 17/11/2014 followed by a reminder on 17/04/2015. Both have preferred not to respond with their views on the charges. Surprisingly the email ids stated on website of Hospitality India are wrong and was again mailed to email ids of other officials which again remained unresponsive. The content of the email is reproduced: "
The hotel and restaurants apparently are not following a standard procedure to levy VAT, Service Charges and Service Taxes and the eaters generally get confused. We shall be grateful if you could abreast us with the nature of such charges and the rates at which these gets added into the bills. Please also state whether the charges are compulsory or optional.  

We would appreciate if you could illustrate the same with some assumptions by return mail.")

I am now bringing out my analysis keeping in view the recent judgment of Uttarakhand High Court ruling that VAT is chargeable on 60% of the food bill as 40% of the food bill is already taxed with Service Tax. 

The Restaurant and Hotel industry in India is quite complex in nature. While it is quite complex in nature, the diners and guest to the restaurants and hotels are also facing various issues like charging of VAT, Service Tax, Service charges etc. 


As per media reports, National Restaurant Association of India in its report titled "India Food Service Report-2013" has estimated the current size of the Indian food industry to be at Rs 247,680 crore per annum and projected growth rate of 11 percent to touch a staggering Rs 408,040 crore by 2018. 

With such a size of the industry, he industry is also a  complex suffering with mushrooming of restaurants as unorganized sector. The industry varies from like in-door catering, out-door catering, fast food chains, small restaurants, AC and Non-AC restaurants and restaurants in the markets, restaurants on the highways, dhabas and are practically present in every nook and corner of the country.  Many restaurants cater only to the take away item prominently including free home delivery concept within certain distances with no dining space. There are number of issues involved like generating manual bills, generating bill in the form of a slip or through computer, applicability of certain taxes based on certain parameters like AC or non-Ac Restaurants etc. It also suffers with issues like sales tax evasion, inadequate enforcement, inadequate complaint handling system, duplicates/fake bills, under-billing, over-charging, cash transactions and poor prosecution, practically absence of awareness among consumers and absence of transparent system of tax evasions petitions etc.
 
1.    The dining in the restaurant is mostly through the menu card.  While most of the restaurant have menu card but there is a absence of menu card in restaurants in remote corners too. The menu contains the list of the items along with their prices with or without stating anything about VAT, Service Tax or Service Charge. These prices are at which the consumers are being billed as cost of food items and beverages. 

2.    The diners will not find any information about the quantity of the items as such it become difficult for them to order the items like Vegetables, Dal, Deserts or any other prepared dish. There is a vide variation in the prices from one restaurant to another depending upon combination of several factors. One of the factors among other is the quantity which cannot be judged based on the prices and is most difficult task due to prevalent of associated factors like air-conditioning, aesthetic, elegance, furniture, space utilization, size of the restaurant etc. In a restaurant, the item may be sufficient to serve for four persons and in other restaurant having the same price may be sufficient for two. Why the menu card should not have details like “Qty sufficient for normal serving”.
 
3.    The prices as indicated in the menu are the cost of the food items and beverages at which the diners make fair idea about the estimated bill that he/she is going to pay for at the end of dining. Based on these assumptions, the diners place orders depending upon affordability etc. However, on receiving the bill after dining it is noticed that the bill amount is more than the assumption at the time of placing orders. The extra amount could be in the range of 15% to 30 or even 40%. The  extra amount being charged in the restaurants as a practice consist on account of following

1. Service Charge: The service charge is charged towards providing service to the consumers. Whereas some restaurants do not charge service charges, the same differs from restaurant to restaurant. Usually service charges are in the range of 5% to 20% depending upon the level of restaurant. The service charges could also be termed as the compulsory tip which otherwise needs to be optional depending upon the wish the consumer desire to opt for to pay to the waiter or not. The term “service charge” is also misnomer as most of the diners are under the impression that it is another form of the tax and such amount goes to governments. While the service charge has already been charged, they  pay again some extra amount to the waiter as “tip”. This leads to double payment one as part of the bill and the other as extra payment as tip. In case the diner is smart enough not to pay extra tip where the service charge has been included in the bill, the behavior of the waiter at the time of payment make diner to feel awkward. The tip or service charge thus imposed compulsorily may not make improvement in the services. 

The optional tip is an incentive to the waiter to provide the customer the best of his services to please the customers. The compulsory service charges are irrespective of the quality of the service being offered by the waiters. The consumer does not have any option to deduct the service charge from the bill in case of poor service. However, it is also noticed that despite the restaurants charging the service charges, the waiters expect some additional tip or the customer himself pay thinking that the service charges are the taxes to the government. It also do not provide any incentive for betterment of the services to the customer as the same are being charged in the bill irrespective of whether the consumer has got the service or not. The charging of  service charge should be an optional charge and to be left to the consumer. 
                      
                     Ministry of Finance while fixing the rate of service tax has assumed that in the bill of the food and beverages, 60% is the cost of food and 40% is the value towards services in the case of indoor catering and the same assumption for the outdoor catering is 40% and 60% respectively. When such is the high incidence of services has been included in the value of the food and beverages, any compulsory addition of charges like service charge could be unfair to the consumers. Another point of argument could be that there is a wide range of the prices of the dishes from one restaurant to another. This difference could be even as high as three times the price of the same dish in some other restaurant. Now the cost of input of any dish could be nearby of the same order then such a vast difference in the selling price is due to other charges in the services and hence charging again service charges in the bill is unfair to the consumer.  Over and above the restaurants are also charging VAT on the service charge.  

      Therefore,    The service charge being charged by the restaurant should be made optional an the restaurant should also display prominently in the restaurant as well as on menu card  that                paying “Tip” or “Service Charge” is an optional.

2. Service Tax: Ministry of Finance notification introducing the Service Tax (Determination of Value) Rules, 2012, the restaurants are required to charge service tax on the 40% of the cost of food. It makes 4.94% of the sale bill of the food and beverages items. The service charges are charged as per Ministry of Finance notification No. 24/2012 dtd. 6th June 2012 which has divided the amount of the food bill in two parts as below:
a)      For indoor catering/dining: Cost of the food bill as 60% and the value of services as 40%.
b)      For outdoor catering: Cost of the food bill as 40% and value of services as 60%

However, there are number of issues involved in charging of service tax:-
The restaurants should be an air conditioned. The chances for charging service tax in the non-air conditioned restaurants could not be ruled out due to ignorance of the diners. There have been complaints in the print media of double billing system due to computerization i.e one for the diners showing service tax amount and the other for the authorities showing no charging of service tax. In this process even though the service tax has been charged which otherwise should not have been charged but is also evaded. In view of the above, the restaurants need to be mandated for display of service tax to be charged prominently in the restaurants. The same also need to be printed in the bill
3. VAT: In most of the restaurants rather every restaurant is charging VAT on 100% value of the food items as per menu. As brought out earlier when the service tax is to be charged on 40% value of the bill, the VAT also should be charged on balance i.e 60% of the bill. While the restaurants/caters are charging VAT on 100% value of the bill, it is chargeable only on 60% or 40% depending upon whether it is indoor or outdoor as there is a separate service tax on the value of the services has been charged as per point No. 2.2 and therefore charging VAT on 100% value means double charging of taxes for the value of the services. Hon’ble High Court of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh have already adjudicated that such double taxation cannot be charged.  High Court of Uttrakhand in an application under Section 57 of VAT Act 2005 has concluded that Value Added Tax can be imposed on sale of goods and not on the service. Service can be taxed by the Sales Tax Law. Therefore element of service has been so declared and brought under the Sales Tax vide Government of India notification dated 06/06/2012 i.e. 40% of the bill amount to customers having food are beverages in the restaurant was made liable to service tax, no value added tax can be imposed there on. It means Value Added Tax can be charged only on 60% of the cost of the food bill in the cost of indoor catering and 40% in case of outdoor catering. It has also come to noticed that some restaurants are charging VAT on the cost of the food bill plus Sales Tax which is an illegal practice. The decision of the High Court of Uttrakhand established hat two taxes i.e. Value Added Tax and Sales Tax cannot be imposed on the same value of the transaction. In view of the above the bill is recommended to be as below:-
(i)                 Cost of food items as per menu = x
(ii)               Sales Tax = y % of 0.4x or 0.6x
(iii)             VAT = y % of 0.6x or 0.4x
Total = (i) + (ii) + (iii)
 

  4. One can even observe that restaurants are also charging VAT and Service Tax on the packaged commodities like packaged beverages etc. which usually are carrying MRP. MRP is already defined as inclusive of all taxes and therefore charging of VAT and Service Tax on the beverages become illegal. While it is also illegal it may be getting evaded. Why not two bills are generated one bill for food items charging VAT and Service Tax and the 2nd bill for packaged beverages which are duly marked with MRP need to be charged without any additional VAT and Service Tax.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Is it possible to believe that MTNL, a PSU might have generated unethical business revenue of Rs. 74, 59,050/- from 1st April 2013 to 31st October 2014?

I have been a subscriber of MTNL Dolphin mobile connection. The choice of having MTNL connection was basically that the PSUs operator cannot adapt to unfair trade practices. However my belief shattered for the first time when it came to the notice that BSNL was charging migration fee for migrating from one plan to another. As per regulation of TRAI (an authority in India to protect the interest of telecom consumers) the migration fee is not allowed to be charged. BSNL was violating the same which made me to believe that when it comes to the talk of unfair trade practices, PSUs are not lagging behind. BSNL was charging the same till December 2011. Surprisingly BSNL withdrawn such unethical charges being charged from consumers only after intervention of TRAI. Failed to understand why intervention of TRAI was required. Had it been charged inadvertently, the same would have been withdrawn immediately when it was brought to their notice.

Coming back to the topic of MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd.), it was equally surprising when it came to the notice that MTNL also does not lag behind in unfair trade practice (UTP). The mobile connection popularly called "Dolphin" does not work for 22 hrs out of 24 hrs day. It works during 2 hrs when I am driving the vehicle and during which I does not use. This is well intimated several times but without any heed. I would bring out two examples compelling me to believe MTNL might also be adapting to unethical businesses.

1. MTNL is offering broadband services wherein they were offering modem. One can refer to the plan they had uploaded on their site with link http://mtnldelhi.in/broadband/triband_prepaid.htm
The registration charges as stated therein were:


Particulars
Amount
Registration & installation charges in case subs having landline connection
Rs. 300/-
Registration & installation charges in case subs is not having landline connection
Rs. 800/-
One time non refundable modem security for normal modem
Rs. 300/-
One time non refundable modem security for Wi-Fi modem
Rs. 800/-
 
As can be seen above in 3rd and 4th row, MTNL has stated charging of Rs. 300/- and Rs. 800/- as  "one time non-refundable security". The term or the head of charge itself is contradicting. As per definition the term like "Security" is used wherein certain terms being secured becomes refundable on exiting. The author sought for a clarification from MTNL as to what is the term "one time non-refundable security". MTNL official stated that the amount being charged is non-refundable. On further probing it was orally revealed that the term security is used to avoid tax payment. This shocked the author as to how a PSU can adapt such practices of tax evasion. However, this is the reality and this reality made me to believe that when chance comes, PSUs does not lag behind in breaking the rules and adapt unfair trade practices (UTP). 

2. Another example has been that the author being a consumer activist is in the habit of discharging the responsibilities before asserting the rights. One of the responsibility is to pay the bills in time.  As a matter of practice, the payment towards the mobile bill was being paid through a cheque and dropped in the cheque drop box well within "pay by date". Despite dropping a cheque in their cheque drop box well in time, many a times the next bill used to come with levy of surcharge fee towards late payment. I used to take up the issue with the concerned officials and the surcharge fee used to be waived off. However, I was told by some of the consumers facing similar problems. I being a consumer activist with reasonable awareness, am able to get credit of the surcharge fee. How many consumers would be able to get reversal and then most of the consumers does not bother on such small value disputes and hence might be paying without raising their voice. Indian consumer seems to be having patient and believing in "chalta hai" theory, do not take up such issues like charging of Rs. 10/- or so towards surcharge and may be their feeling that it would compel them to spend more money on taking up grievances.

Some of the content of the relevant mails written from time to time by me are pertinent to the issue raised herein:

1. A mail dtd. 20/11/2013 to MTNL

"I would like to request you please not to tax the consumers for inefficient system of payment collection. The cheques if collected after few days from the cheque drop boxes, the customer should not be penalised for that."

2. A mail dtd. 04/01/2014 as received from MTNL:

"Surcharge of Rs. 10 was levied in mobile Nos. 9868170286 & 9968079286 for bills dated 07.11.2013. Credit for surcharge has been given."

3. A mail dtd. 24/12/2013 to MTNL:    

"Please refer to my trailing mails. I am in receipt of SMS on 09868170286 about bill due on 30/12/2013 stating that Inv amount :Rs. 8/- and total balance : Rs. 28/-. I presume that Rs. 20/0 have been imposed as surcharge. My previous email clearly states that I do not want to be taxed for inefficient payment collection system of MTNL. If you have inefficient system of taking cheques from your drop boxes, under what way I should get penalised. Please do reverse the amount of Rs. 20/-. This holds true for Mob No. 09968079286 also"

There are many messages like this on the subject of charging surcharge fee for the so called delayed payment, the delay being attributed to only inefficient system of cheque collection from their cheque drop boxes. MTNL has outsourced cheque collection from cheque drop box to Standard Chartered Bank. It is not understood as to why the collection of the cheques from drop boxes has been outsourced when most of the cheque drop boxes are in MTNL premises itself.  However, while it is their inefficient system of cheque collection, the consumers are being taxed with surcharge fee. The question arises as to how to unearth such practices. 

This time I decided to drop a cheque well before time on 27/10/2014 and intimate the same to MTNL officials of having dropped a cheque in the cheque drop box without stating the location of the cheque drop box. I dropped the cheque on 27/10/2014 in their cheque drop box at their office at Friends Colony, Delhi and intimated the dropping of the cheque on 27/10/2014 itself. Some of the correspondances undertaken through email is reproduced here:

4. A mail dtd.19/10/2014 for the bill due for payment on 28/10/2014:

"Thanks for mailing the bill.
1. The said bill also contain Rs.10/- levied as surcharge. The surcharge is being charged to the consumer for the inefficiency of the MTNL. Its really great. The consumer pays the bill in time and the company takes the cheque out of cheque drop box after few days. This was brought out to the notice of MTNL several times in past and thinking that there will be improvement in the system. However, one cannot change system of PSU and specially realising PSUs economic condition, this time I will not request for the waiver. In fact I have decided to pay Rs.10/- as surcharge as I also have got some social responsibility to contribute to PSU financial status.
2. Almost more than 90% of the time of the day, there is no signal. Neither it can be used in my office nor at my home. 10% of the time I am on the move when there is some signal. Payment should be paid irrespective of whether us can use or not. Great. Based on such feedback I got my two connection disconnected but the PSU cannot look into basic service issues.
Nevertheless I have decided to pay the bill and contribute to PSU in whatever manner I can do."

5.  A mail dtd. 27/10/2014 after the cheque dropped in the cheque drop box on 27/10/2014:

"Dear Sir,
This is in continuation to my trailing mail dtd. 19/10/2014. I would like to inform you that I have dropped a cheque for an amount of Rs. 116/- dtd. 27/10/2014 in one of the cheque drop box in Delhi. Further (few):

1. The amount of Rs. 116/- also includes surcharge of Rs. 10/- towards inefficiency fee of MTNL officials. It is natural that the customer should pay for the inefficiency of the officials of the service provider like MTNL. However, I would feel proud to contribute towards the economic health of PSU.
2. I had two connections which were surrendered earlier with the reason stated therein. But I have failed to get the improvement in the system. I remain in office for 8 hrs. where I do not find any signal, hence the connection remain unutilised. Two hours or spent in the car driving where the mobile cannot be used while driving. Rest of the time I remain in house most of the time where again I does not find signal. So connection is used for downloading SMS during driving time. 
3. Even just a day before due date of payment, the hard copy bill has not been received.
4. Even the mail box of CMD of MTNL is over quota and mail gets bounced due to over quota. Least to be commented on such affairs.

A copy of this mail is being endorsed to TRAI. I am planning to bring out an article on MTNL so called efficient system for the persual of the public on public domain incl following urls sometime around 15th of November 2014. If any significance improvement is noticed by 15th November 2014, that would be suitably incorporated.
With kind and best regards."

6. Next mail dtd. 30/10/2014:

"Dear All,
First testimony to the in-efficient system of MTNL officials: The cheque dropped in the cheque drop box on 27th October at about 08.40 AM still not presented. I do hope that MTNL should again impose Rs. 10/- as surcharge for inefficiency of MTNL officials in the next month bill too. Planning to submit RTI application to seek details of how much money being collected under head "surcharge" for late fee. Before that .............

Lets keep watch when the cheque gets out of cheque drop box. 

With regards:

7. A mail dtd. 1/11/2014 as received from MTNL:
"

1503 MTNL <1503@bol.net.in> 


to me
Sir,
 Plz mention payment details like cheque number & Bank Name, also mention address/location where are you facing network problem."

8. My response on 01/11/2014 to their email dtd. 01/11/2014:

"Surprisingly. The cheque number was already given yesterday on telephone. Bank name is Punjab National Bank. As far as signal problem is concerned, my office address is IIPA, ITO Ring Road and residential address is given in my bill. 

This is where I tried to prove the inefficiency of MTNL officials. I feel I have established the same reasonably beyond any doubt. The only thing remain is to see how many days are taken by MTNL to take cheque out of the box. The cheque dropped on 27/10/2014 at 08.40 or so could not be taken out of cheque drop box till the close of 1st November 2014. I do not know why the consumers are burdened with surcharge due to inefficiency of MTNL system. Lets wait till 15th November 2014 the day I plan to write an article about MTNL on public domains including blog. In case you are planning to take up issue with Standard Chartered Bank, please consider a copy to be marked to me as the consumers are affected due to your agreement. Please consider a copy of the agreement for sharing with me. 

It could also be seen that my mail dtd. 19th October 2014 brought out a fact that 90% of 24 hrs day, there is no signal. It has taken 13 days by MTNL to find out the address. God knows when the team would inspect and when the signal would be improved. Lets watch till then. 

Another request to 1503 is not to remove any mail id from the communication as everyone is desired to be kept in loop.

With kind regards"

9. Finally a response dtd. 05/11/2014 from MTNL:

Sir,
The cheque is not appearing yet in the data.  Please intimate the cheque no, /amount and  location of the drop box to track the payment with agency services.  To avoid such situations, the cheque collection/clearance  services are entrusted to a reputed bank which furnishes data within 3 working days."

10. My final response to MTNL when I decided to inform them about cheque drop box:

"Dear Sir,
This is where I have been pointing out the delayed picking up cheque from cheque drop box and despite delayed picking up the customer getting penalised by way of surcharge. I am the testimony to such levies as many times I have requested for waiver and many such emails are in my email box. 

As you would kindly appreciate that the cheque dropped in the cheque drop box on 27th Oct. 2014 is still getting traced. Had the instructions issued to the concerned offices having cheque drop box, you would have realised and at the same time would have been a step towards system improvement. With this idea I did not inform you the location where the cheque was dropped expecting that senior management would issue circular to all offices so that all such connected offices gets sensitized. However this has discouraged me and feel that PSUs could not work for betterment. In fact a security guard sitting at that point of time was also callous in replying when I casuall asked "why nnot fix the drop box in such a location so that the cheque could be even dropped from outside even if the office is closed. His reaction was looking to be that I have committed a crime in suggesting. 

To add further agony, the cheque number is being asked again whereas the same was intimated to the caller. However , please note the same:
1. Cheque No. 921727 dtd. 27/10/2014
2. Bank: Punjab National Bank
3. Cheque Drop location: Telephone Exchange, Friends colony, Community Centre, Mathura Road
4. Time of dropping: 08.40 Hrs.
5. Date of dropping : 27/10/2014

I would appreciate receiving your feedback on the steps taken by MTNL in improving the system to avoid penalisation of customers for inefficiency of the MTNL. As you would also appreciate that the other points raised in my mail regarding non-operational of mobile for 22 hrs out of 24 hr. day is remaining to be even heard of. 

With best Regards"

11. A mail dtd. 11/11/2014 to MTNL:

"Dear Mr. Parwani,
Thanks for sending the current bill including an outstanding amount of Rs. 126.00. I shall be grateful if you could kindly confirm me the details of the outstanding as to how you have arrived on such figure. It will eb really interesting story fit for posting on public domain. In case you have any objection for writing about MTNL on public domain, please do so by 15/11/2014. Non-receipt of any communication to this effect will compel me to go ahead with posting on public domain.
2. I am also surprised to see levy of some Rs. 0.11 towards data usage. I have neither activated any data service on the mobile nor use it. Shall be grateful if you could explain this part also.
While responding , I would request you not to remove any email id from the mailing as the issue of Rs. 136.00 is quite pertinent to be known to all and feel that TRAI should also be kept in loop about such unethical operation of PSU like MTNL. I would be eagerly awaiting for your response so that malpractices prevailing in MTNL gets  surfaced out.
With regards"

12. A response of MTNL dtd. 11/11/2014 

" Payment of Rs. 116/- made on 05.11.2014 will only be reflected in the bill for the BC-07.12.2014.  Surcharge of Rs. 10/- charged in the current bill has now been waived due to late/non receipt of bill.  As per our record, nothing is outstanding as on bill issued upto 31.10.2014"
1. Now a cheque dropped in the box on 27/10/2014 at around 08.30 AM due for payment on 28/10/2014 was picked up from the cheque drop box on 05/11/2014 (that too after getting information about cheque drop box) and more shocking was next bill was levied for a surcharge of Rs. 20/-.

2. When I intimated about dropping of cheque on 27/10/2014, why the issue could not get sensitized among offices having cheque drop boxes despite stating in my emails.

3. The purpose was to get issue an order or formulate a system to take out cheques from the drop boxes in time. The officials preferred to maintain a silence.

4. Now when the cheque was taken out after getting the information about location of drop box on 05/11/2014, why no disciplinary action taken.

5. Why Standard Chartered Bank not pulled up?

It seems, such modus-operandii was suiting to MTNL carrying out such practices. This is what an unfair trade practices by MTNL. The information revealed under RTI Act 2005 is that such a business revenue on account of surcharge for late payment comes to Rs. 44,60,060/- during 2013-14 and Rs. 29,98,990/- from 01/04/2014 till 31st October 2014. Looking at the incident above, it could lead to believe that such revenue could have been unethical business revenue if not 100% but major portion of above.

Is it that MTNL has done unfair trade practice of Rs. 74,59,050/- from 1st April 2013 to 31st Oct. 2014? Since MTNL being PSU, no money would have been cornered by officials but it is definitely believeable such an income of the MTNL under unfair trade practices. May be Standard Chartered Bank got benefitted!! 

However, if PSU MTNL really care for ethical business practices, it should come forward to either refund the money to the consumers or else transfer the same to "Consumer Welfare Fund" of Department of Consumer Affairs, Govt. of India. 

A copy of the article is being mailed to MTNL as well as TRAI besides posting the same on various public domains. Their comments on the article shall be highly appreciated so as to reflect the stand of MTNL.

(Next Post as to how much amount of non-refundable security was evaded for tax payment)