Categories
Review

Hotel review – UG Grand – Travelguru

Among all the hotels that I’ve ever booked, this is the worst service that I’ve ever had to endure. I have booked the hotel through Travelguru.com and am angry that they could enlist such a hotel in their service. Read on to learn about my experience.

Access

Hotel UG Grand is just a brisk 10 minute walk from the Majestic (Kempe Gowda) bus terminus. Having found the location on my smartphone’s Google Maps, I decided to take a walk instead of hiring an auto in an unknown city and succumbing to their exploitation. After a few intersections, you can see the sign which points to the UG Grand Hotel.

Parking

It doesn’t have any sheds for parking. There’s a small open area parking that can accommodate around 10 cars at most.

Location

As mentioned, it is close to the hub of Bangalore city, the Majestic bus stand and the Bangalore City railway station. Hence it is easy to visit anywhere in Bangalore, since the Majestic bus stand has buses to everywhere.

Reception

The staff were unhelpful even to the point of being distinctly hostile. When I reached the front desk, they were sending away another guest who had reached there after being shunted from another of their hotels nearby, and had pre-booked his reservation from ‘Makemytrip.com’. Apparently they had no idea about the number of rooms already paid for via online bookings, and had already filled the rooms to other people who had no bookings.

I had to argue with them for 15 minutes to make them understand that I had already paid for the rooms online, and that they already had my money with me. Finally they had to acquiesce. I had to wait for 45 minutes in the lobby for their manager, before I was accommodated.

The Room

I have stayed at this hotel in the past and the previous stay was in a cosy room. However this time, they accommodated me in a room with tattered walls, unkempt sheets and to add fuel to the fire, one whose electrical wiring was shoddy so much so that the socket where you insert your key to power on electicity was hanging loose from the wall. It took half an hour for an electrician to fix it, before I could switch on the fans in the place.

The bed sheets I was provided were torn (See photo).

The pillow covers were dirty.

The mirror was stained and useless (See photo),

and the paint on the walls was falling apart in places (See photo).

The room itself was in corner of the building, and had no view. If you open the windows, you can peer into another room through its windows. However you’d be advised to close the windows shut since there are a lot of pigeons rollicking about in the spaces between the rooms.

Even though the hotel is close to the roads, it is very quiet within the rooms, and you can hear the bustle and noise of the city only if you listen intently. It is a good choice if you need to take a good nap.

General cleanliness and facilities

There is nothing much to praise about this hotel. When I was shown into my room, the pillows were missing covers and there weren’t any blankets. They took around an hour to bring fresh pillow covers and even these were stained. They provided just one blanket. They did not provide towels or soaps, which are provided by almost every budget hotel.

Dining facilities

Since the hotel did not have a restaurant, I didn’t order from room service, and instead took a walk to a nearby diner and ordered tasty South Indian dosai and curry. Mind you, there are NO good restaurants nearby. The diner I used resembled a fast food joint, and may not be for everyone’s taste.

Overall

I cannot recommend this hotel for families. If you’re staying for just a couple of days and absolutely need an economical hotel, this one is fine if you can put up with the unkempt rooms, and aren’t claustrophobic. I’d still advise you to keep phoning up the hotel reception at least a couple of times to make sure they hold your reserved room. On the overall, a very pitiable service. The only advantage is the closeness to Majestic.

I have never received such a poor and shoddy service in a hotel booked through Travelguru.com. I have complained to the online booking service and asked them to refund my booking at least partially. When one uses an online service of good repute like Travelguru.com, they have a responsibility to ensure that hotels they’ve enlisted provide a minimum standard of service to their guests. When the hotel has no clue that an online booking exists for the date, something stinks somwhere, and maybe it’s time to switch the online provider and use another service like Yatra.com or Makemytrip.com.

I’ll keep this post updated with details of any feedback from Travelguru. As of now, their only response was that they will talk to the hotel’s management and ask them to improve their facilities, which seems a pretty dismal response. What about the consumer who had to endure the shoddy service due to their lapse?

Other Photos

Update:

I’d complained to Travelguru.com today morning and also contacted them through their social media portals. I just received a reply from them (after around 5 hours), so that’s pretty fast for customer service.

Response from Travelguru.com:

Dear Mr.Mathew.

Greetings from Travelguru.

With reference to your e-mail, we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to you and would like to express our deepest regret for the disappointment caused to you during your recent booking with Travelguru.

We would be closely monitoring the hotel and would upload your feedback on our website which shall also lead to a decline in the hotel rating. We would also like to inform you that in future if we continue to receive any more complaints we shall blacklist the hotel on our website.

You deserved better – a lot better – from us with each transaction you do with Travelguru, and this time we have let you down. Nothing is more important than regaining your trust and as a goodwill gesture we are providing you Rs 500/- gift voucher which you can use for your future reservation.

So that seems pretty decent of them. It doesnt take away the difficulties I faced, but mitigates it.

Categories
Uncategorized

ESI Dispensary, Mynagapally

Work at an ESI dispensary is far more relaxing than that in a similiar hospital of the Health service department. Our clientele comprises cashew workers employed in shelling, segregating, and weighing cashewnuts in a host of factories located in and around Karunagapally and Sasthankotta. Most of their chief complaints are similiar. The main ailments include Low backache, shoulder stiffness, allergic wheezing, which can be crudely classified as Occupational diseases.

We rarely have emergency cases. There are two shifts from 8am-1pm and 1pm-6pm, with poor turnout for the afternoon shift.

Getting to the hospital by train is easy. If one needs to reach the hospital before 8am, one can board the Nagercoil-Mangalore Parasuram express (alias “Day express”) which starts from Trivandrum Central railway station at 6am. If one needs to go just a little bit later, one can board the Sabari express which runs from Trivandrum central to Hyderabad, which starts out from Trivandrum at 07:15. Then there is the 08:05 Kanyakumari-Mumbai CST (Jayanthi express) which starts departs Trivandrum at 08:05. The latter two do not have a stop at Sasthancotta, and I make do by alighting at Kollam junction and then boarding either the 08:45 or 10:05 MEMU (Mainline Electrical Multiple Units) train which run from Kollam to Ernakulam (Cochin), via Alappey  and Kottayam.

Categories
Workplace

How to process salary for a Self drawing gazetted officer via SPARK

I submitted my first salary bill to the treasury today. The procedure to be followed is this:

First, I had to give an RTC form along with a copy of the posting order to the treasury. They then provided a Specimen signature card, in which I had to make three different signatures in front of another gazetted officer drawing salary from the same treaury (Karunagapally treasury in my case)-I got it attested from the Tahsildar. Once I submitted the Specimen signature card, they opened a Saving Bank (SB) account for me and provided the Account number. They also provided the SDO code (Self drawing officer code), which I then entered into the Service and Payroll Repository of Kerala (SPARK). Once I did that, my Spark account and AG payslip were linked to the Treasury.

Today, I submitted a request in paper, asking for cheque book and passbook, and had to fill another specimen signature card, this time for the Savings Bank account. Within 15 minutes, I received my cheque book and passbook. For submitting the Bill, I had to login to Spark.

The Spark procedure to generate and print a Salary bill is detailed below:

Generating a Salary Bill

If this is not the first salary, you have to first “Update encashment details” of last month’s salary before you can process the current month’s salary.

Salary>SDO Salary>Update encashment details

You can see the processed last month’s salary. Select it, then enter the date when you got the money transferred to your Treasury account or got it as cash. And select proceed.

Note that it won’t give a prompt for confirmation. However the data will be logged in system. Now, y0u can proceed to process the current month’s salary.

Salary>SDO Salary>Salary processing.

Choose the month and year.

Choose Pay among ‘Pay’ and ‘Leave Salary’.

Choose ‘Proceed’.

 

 

and submit the job for processing after verifying amount and deductions. Then, one can see the job completion status. Once the estimated time is over, login again to print the bills.

Printing Salary Bill and Schedules

Then, Salary>SDO Salary>Salary Bill and Schedules>Choose the month.

Click on the “Select” link next to the month. The site pops up a box saying “This may take some time”. Ignore the warning. You’re just going to view the generated bill and not process it again.

You’re now able to view a set of new links, like “Outer Bill”, “PF Schedule”, “LIC Schedule”, “Group Insurance Scheme”. Each of this links lead to downloading of the respective bills (Salary statement) as a PDF file. The outer bill is the main salary bill. I had to print both Salary bill and Group insurance scheme schedule.

Once everything was generated, I had to take a print of the salary slip and schedule for GIS (which I had to subscribe to in September), stick a Re 1 Court fee stamp on the printout of salary slip, near the first signature coloumn, sign on the stamp and the paper and also adjacent to the stamp in a signature coloumn, sign on the reverse near the HRA statement. I had to attach the AG’s slip in original, the salary bill and the schedule for GIS, along with a maroon coloured Challan, tie all three with a twine and submit it to one of the officers. It was immediately taken up for processing and I could then leave. The entire process took an hour.

Scanned Salary Bills:

Below, I have scanned and annotated a typical salary bill and the Treasury challan. These have to be tagged together and submitted to the treasury.

Challan
Challan

Outer1

Outer2

After these were done, I had to return to the Treasury after the second working day to collect my cash via Treasury cheque.

Categories
Review Shopping

A critical review of the best Indian Shopping sites

As an early adopter of the Internet, I’ve been “in the loop” on the dawn and metamorphosis of e-shopping in India. From being portals hazarded only by technophiles, e-shopping has rapidly undergone a major evolution in terms of adoption by shopaholics and deal hunters. One of the major benefits, especially for citizens of the non metropolitan cities of India is the proximity of availability of fashion wear and gadgets, which previously used to be within the realm of their more privileged cousins in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and to a possibly lesser extent, Chennai.

However this post isn’t about the philosophy and review of e-shopping in India, it is a critical review of the best Indian shopping sites. So I’ll jump to my review.

Review of Yebhi.com

Yebhi is one of the most popular shopping sites renowned for good deals on Footwear and Clothing. Yebhi and Myntra have become a household name in India owing to the convenience offered to customers by providing Cash-on-delivery service, and impeccable after-sales service and a transparent Returns policy.

Ease of Shopping on Yebhi.com:

Shopping on Yebhi is a breeze. I’d go so far as to call it the haven of shoppers in terms of ease of use. The site has recently undergone a makeover for the better, and though the new site is rather graphic heavy, it does load rather quickly. Searching for items is very accurate though it does not offer any Advanced Search facility. However if you’re a casual shopper, you may find it better to find what Yebhi has to offer by browsing through the sidebar and may find a nice surprise. Yebhi offers a very good categorization of items and you can swiftly find your dream product.

Payments on Yebhi.com

Yebhi is one of the best in terms of offering a variety of payment options. In fact you’re  in for a huge surprise when you discover that Yebhi offers Cash on Delivery for everything! You can order anything (no minimum value required), and Yebhi will deliver it free to your doorstep. You can then pay the courier guy. The characteristic feature of Yebhi is that they offer COD even on already discounted items and items on which a coupon has been applied.

If you wish to pay in advance, Yebhi also offers a variety of payment options, and support all major credit and debit cards. The payment process is worry-free, and failed transactions auto-refund to the same mode of payment. Yebhi offers free shipping on all items even on COD. So it’s a great shopping experience.

Yebhi also claims to offer a “phone shopping” option.

Shipping time and reliability of order completion on Yebhi.com:

Yebhi like Myntra is renowned for its lightning quick shipment delivery. They ship on the same day of placement of order, and the items reach the destination usually within 3 days. Blue Dart is the shipping partner, and in association with them Yebhi offers free COD. They also claim to offer a “Try and Buy” in metros, however I’ve never had experience with this.

I have never faced an issue of not receiving an item ordered on Tradus.

Ease of Availing Returns on Yebhi.com

:

Yebhi has a transparent returns policy, and claim to offer returns on a “No questions asked basis” for unused items. Yebhi offers a 100 day “No questions” asked returns on all unused products. In this regard, Yebhi offers a unique deal to customers, and seems to be the key to the huge popularity Yebhi has enjoyed in recent months. Yebhi has a transparent returns policy.

After sales support and Enquiry at Yebhi.com

After sales support and returns on Yebhi is a breeze. The customer care techs are extremely supportive.

Promotions and Coupons at Yebhi.com

Yebhi used to be renowned for their amazing discount offers via coupons. However in recent years, Yebhi has cut down on coupon offers and has restricted coupons to certain categories of goods.

Additional Features/Comments

Yebhi is one of the best shopping portals in India.

[easyreview title=”Feedback score for Yebhi” cat1title=”Shopping” cat1detail=”Ease with which you can search for products” cat1rating=”8″ cat2title=”Payments” cat2detail=”Variety of payment options offered and reliability of payment gateway” cat2rating=”10″ cat3title=”Returns” cat3detail=”Ease of Availing Returns and customer satisfaction after sales” cat3rating=”10″ cat4title=”Shipping” cat4detail=”Shipping time and reliability of order completion:” cat4rating=”9″ summary=”Yebhi is highly recommended for hassle free e-shopping and offers a great shopping experience. Cash on Delivery is an amazing highlight”]

 

Review of Myntra.com

Myntra, like Yebhi is one of the most popular shopping sites in India. It has carved a niche among these sites for Clothing, and offers a huge variety of Clothing. It also offers footwear and accessories.

Ease of Shopping:

Shopping on Myntra is a no-brainer. The site is well designed, and offers a simple search for items. The results and item browser is very simple to use, with quick previews of listings, along with accurate close-up photos of the actual item. Fabric details are presented very well, and I’d go as far as to say that Myntra offers a truly comfortable shopping experience similiar to actual shopping in a real shop. Results can be sorted according to price, and is very easy to compare and contrast.

Payments

As with Yebhi, Myntra too offers a huge variety of payment options. In fact you may be in for a huge surprise when you discover that Myntra like Yebhi offers Cash on Delivery for everything! You can order anything (no minimum value required), and Myntra too will deliver it free to your doorstep. You can then pay the courier guy.

If you wish to pay in advance, Myntra also offers a variety of payment options, and support all major credit and debit cards. The payment process is worry-free, and failed transactions auto-refund to the same mode of payment. Yebhi offers free shipping on all items even on COD. So it’s a great shopping experience.

Shipping time and reliability of order completion:

Myntra is famous for its lightning quick shipment delivery. In fact, Myntra ships items within a few hours of order placement! You may be shocked to receive courier tracking number for your items within a couple of hours of placing the orders! They ship on the same day of placement of order, and the items reach the destination usually within 2-3 days. Myntra has a transparent 24 hour shipping policy.

Ease of Availing Returns:

Myntra has a transparent returns policy, and claim to offer returns on a “No questions asked basis” for unused items. Myntra offers a 30 day returns on all unused products except innerwear, cosmetics, socks, deodorants, perfumes and free items. In this regard, Myntra like Yebhi offers a great deal to customers, and seems to be the key to the huge popularity Myntra too has enjoyed in recent months.

After sales support and Enquiry

After sales support and returns on Myntra is a breeze. The customer care techs are extremely supportive. Myntra does not have a Toll free number for support. But they advertise their telephone number, email and address prominently, in addition to having a Web contact form.

Promotions and Coupons

Recent shift in policy has made Myntra stop offering promotions for discounted items. Since most items on Myntra appear to be discounted, shopping on Myntra does not provide the satisfaction that it used to in terms of happiness in getting a steal deal.

Additional Features/Comments

Myntra is one of the best shopping portals in India.

[easyreview title=”Feedback score for Myntra” cat1title=”Shopping” cat1detail=”Ease with which you can search for products” cat1rating=”8″ cat2title=”Payments” cat2detail=”Variety of payment options offered and reliability of payment gateway” cat2rating=”10″ cat3title=”Returns” cat3detail=”Ease of Availing Returns and customer satisfaction after sales” cat3rating=”8″ cat4title=”Shipping” cat4detail=”Shipping time and reliability of order completion:” cat4rating=”10″ summary=”Myntra is highly recommended for hassle free e-shopping and offers a great shopping experience. Lightning fast shipping and transparent product along with universal Cash on Delivery are highlights”]

 

 

Review of Ebay.in

Originally, the only e-shopping known to the majority of people, Ebay.in is most famous for the sheer variety of goods available on the portal. From the latest gadgets to clothes to currencies and stamps for the *philes, Ebay has everything. Ebay in itself doesnt stock anything, it relies on deriving profits from listings and sales by thousands of sellers from Kashmir to Chennai.

Ease of Shopping:

The site is well designed. You can search keywords, put in price restrictions, sort by price (even inclusive of shipping cost), use Boolean (Or and And) searches using the Advanced Search option.

Payments:

Ebay.in offers a variety os payment options, and support all major credit and debit cards, and Netbanking options of major banks. They claim to offer Cash on Delivery too, but you’d be hard pressed to find sellers who offer COD for their products. The payment process is worry-free, and failed transactions auto-refund to the same mode of payment.

Shipping time and reliability of order completion:

Ebay.in has fixed shipping deadlines. As of this review, the shipping deadlines on Ebay are as follows:

  • Entering shipping details: Within 1-5 days of buyer’s payment confirmation
  • Delivering item to buyer: Within 1-7 days of entering shipping details in My PaisaPay Dashboard
Most good (high volume) sellers deliver on time and most adhere to shipping deadlines. Because of being a pool of different sellers, the courier companies vary from seller to seller. In many cases you can phone up sellers (you get their contact details immediately after payment) and request shipping through a particular courier service.

Ease of Availing Returns:

Ebay.in ‘claims’ to offer their trademark “Paisapay” option for your payment process. In truth, it is not really an option. All transactions are “Paisa pay”. What they describe is trouble free returns of your product of you’re not fully satisfied of your purchase with regard to Item Description. In simple words, they claim to return your money or offer a replacement product if  the item you receive is “significantly different” from what the seller listed, or if the goods you recieve are defective.

Does it work? More often than not, Paisapay is a load of crap. Ebay has stopped giving money entailed in shipping the defective goods back to the seller. Many sellers resist allegations of defective goods. Ebay’s handling of Paisapay claims is via “Claims adjusters” who are just Call centre employees who are intermediaries between sellers and buyers, and try to settle the claims. The Claims adjusters mostly rule in favor of the sellers, and are difficult to contact. Even if a favorable resolution is passed, it takes around a month to get your money back, since claims take more than three weeks to process, and most of this time is spent by Ebay in waiting it out. On more than one occasion, I have had occasion to file Consumer complaints against Ebay.

After sales support and Enquiry

Ebay provides a Toll free number for contact along with Web contact forms. The web contact forms are never replied to. Calling them up is a chore, mostly due to odd and paranoid security checks that they’ve implemented to verify your identity. Through the Toll free number, you can contact them  for enquiries and complaints.

Promotions and Coupons

Ebay irregularly provides shopping coupons for shoppers, mostly for people who have never shopped on Ebay before. The coupon quantities are of low amount of money like Rs 200 off on Rs 205, but at times you can get good deals with these coupons. However a notable feature is that Ebay does not offer most coupons to frequent buyers, which is a rather incredulous and frankly stupid move on their part.

Additional Features/Comments

Ebay has a feedback and review system whereby consumers and sellers can leave feedback after sales, letting others know of the service from a particular seller. It has its merits, whereby you can confirm that sales and after sales of a particular seller are good, before placing the order. It also functions to some extent in keeping fraudulent sellers at bay.

[easyreview title=”Feedback score for Ebay.in” cat1title=”Shopping” cat1detail=”Ease with which you can search for products” cat1rating=”9″ cat2title=”Payments” cat2detail=”Variety of payment options offered and reliability of payment gateway” cat2rating=”9″ cat3title=”Returns” cat3detail=”Ease of Availing Returns and customer satisfaction after sales” cat3rating=”2″ cat4title=”Shipping” cat4detail=”Shipping time and reliability of order completion:” cat4rating=”8″ summary=”Even though returns on Ebay and after sales support suck, the sheer volume and variety of goods beckon.”]

 

Review of Homeshop18.com

Homeshop18.com is one of the well known shopping sites in India. They have made a name for themselves in having close associations with various importers of goods in India, and offering gadgets at amazing discounts to customers in India. In many occasions, these prices rival prices offered across the world.

Ease of Shopping:

The site is well designed. Though it lacks an Advanced Search option, Homeshop18 offers a “Shop in ” category wise search. Items are easy to find. However Homeshop18 suffers from a befuddling issue of deleting entries of withdrawn or “out-of-stock” items.

Payments:

Homeshop18 offers a variety os payment options, and support all major credit and debit cards. Netbanking options of major banks is also an option. They claim to offer Cash on Delivery too, but rather like in the case of Ebay, most sellers dont offer COD for their products. The payment process is worry-free, and failed transactions auto-refund to the same mode of payment.

Shipping time and reliability of order completion:

Shipping time on Homeshop18 varies. In case of gadgets sourced internationally, shipping time occasionally may take upto a month. Resolving shipping delays is a major issue, and customer care often fails to provide adequate information about the shipping details, and there numerous cases of Homeshop18 customer care techs providing invalid tracking information for shipments in a bid to falsely provide reassurance to anxious customers. However unlike in case of Pepperfry.com which is infamous for failing to complete orders, Homeshop18 is known for always delivering the goods even if it takes a long time to do so.

I have never faced an issue of not receiving an item ordered on Homeshop18 .

Ease of Availing Returns:

Homeshop18 has a transparent returns policy, and claim to offer returns if informed within 48 hours. Further details are available on their site. Since I have never had a reason to ask for a refund/returns I am not sure of the actual difficulties involved.

After sales support and Enquiry

Customer Care on Homeshop18 is one of the worst, rivalled only by sites like Pepperfry.com. In many cases if contacted for clarifications regarding items listed on their site, Homeshop18 customer care techs are often clueless, and read from the site. As if you’re illiterate yourself and cant do it on your own.

Promotions and Coupons

Homeshop18 has recently enjoyed a lot of popularity for offering amazing deals on gadgets through their “Super deal” offer. Periodically, Homeshop18 provides a collection of gadgets at an insanely low price in limited numbers for the first N respondents. After the numbers have been sold, the deal expires. A rather shrewd way to get customers to revisit their  site frequently. It is not unusual for items to appear on Homeshop18 superdeals at a ‘not-so-low’ price. They occasionally offer coupons too.

Additional Features/Comments

Homeshop18 suffers from poor customer care and long shipping time. However a promise of delivering and insanely low prices on some items makes it one of the favorite shopping sites for gadget lovers all over India.

[easyreview title=”Feedback score for Homeshop18″ cat1title=”Shopping” cat1detail=”Ease with which you can search for products” cat1rating=”8″ cat2title=”Payments” cat2detail=”Variety of payment options offered and reliability of payment gateway” cat2rating=”8″ cat3title=”Returns” cat3detail=”Ease of Availing Returns and customer satisfaction after sales” cat3rating=”5″ cat4title=”Shipping” cat4detail=”Shipping time and reliability of order completion:” cat4rating=”5″ summary=”Homeshop18 offers good value for money and delivers, though at a slow pace”]

 

Review of Flipkart.com

Flipkart.com is one of the well known shopping sites in India. They have carved a niche for themselves as popular online sellers of Books and offer a huge collection of popular books and even some uncommon books too. They also offer a variety of gadgets and other items, however the prices of these are nothing to write home about.

Ease of Shopping:

The site is well designed. Though it lacks an Advanced Search option, they have a good categorization of items which are easy to find. Books can be searched by Title and Author.

Payments:

Flipkart offers a variety os payment options, and support all major credit and debit cards. Netbanking options of major banks is also an option. They claim to offer Cash on Delivery too. The payment process is worry-free, and failed transactions auto-refund to the same mode of payment.

Shipping time and reliability of order completion:

Shipping time on Flipkart is good, and most items ship within a week. Orders are honored and completed in time. Customer care is exceptionally good, and professional. Most complaints are resolved in a time bound manner.

I have never faced an issue of not receiving an item ordered on Flipkart.

Ease of Availing Returns:

Homeshop18 has a transparent returns policy, and claim to offer a 30 day returns. Furthermore orders can be cancelled before being shipped, and a full refund is offered in such cases. Since I have never had a reason to ask for a refund/returns I am not sure of the actual difficulties involved.

After sales support and Enquiry

Customer Care on Flipkart  is one of the best. Customer care techs are professional and supportive. Problems are resolved without a furore.

Promotions and Coupons

Flipkart does not believe in offering shopping coupons. Books often have good discounts in comparison with rival sites. However the same cannot be said of other categories of items like gadgets. In this respect, Flipkart seems to have lost their edge over the years. In fact, 3 years ago I had bought my first Android phone, the HTC Desire from Flipkart.com at a great price. Now I wouldnt even bother to look at the price of gadgets on Flpkart as the prices are not competitve.

Additional Features/Comments

A treasure trove of books. Gadget and other items do not have competitive pricing. Excellent customer care and good shipping times.

[easyreview title=”Feedback score for Flipkart” cat1title=”Shopping” cat1detail=”Ease with which you can search for products” cat1rating=”8″ cat2title=”Payments” cat2detail=”Variety of payment options offered and reliability of payment gateway” cat2rating=”8″ cat3title=”Returns” cat3detail=”Ease of Availing Returns and customer satisfaction after sales” cat3rating=”8″ cat4title=”Shipping” cat4detail=”Shipping time and reliability of order completion:” cat4rating=”8″ summary=”Flipkart offers good value for money for book shopping in India”]

Review of Pepperfry.com

Pepperfry is a recent entrant into the world of e-shopping. Founded by a retired Ebay Country manager, Pepperfry.com cuts across categories like Gadgets, Home applicances, Health care appliances, Clothing and Sports goods. Pepperfry offers limited number of items in each category though, and is no way comparable to heavy weight shopping portals of the likes like Yebhi and Myntra, or even Ebay. However, Pepperfry has created a niche for itself by regularly offering discount coupons among the items it sells, albeit selling items at a much higher price than competitor sites. Pepperfry’s shipping time is the worst among most online shopping sites, and all items are shipped after 7 working days, which in effect may extend to about a month after full payment is made.

Ease of Shopping:

Search is limited to a Simple search, though in most cases you dont need the Search as the Product Category menu at the top suffices in taking you to the items you wish to buy. Item description on Pepperfry suffers from limitations in adequate description of item in terms of features, and in many cases you’re required to do an additional Google search for getting more information. This is a bad approach, as in many cases, customers become aware that the same item available elsewhere is overpriced on Pepperfry.com.

Payments:

Pepperfry offers a variety of payment options, and support all major credit and debit cards. However, Netbanking options of some major banks are notable by their absence. They claim to offer Cash on Delivery, however COD is not offered for items bought after availing of a coupon. Free shipping is offered. The payment process is rather irksome as in more often than not, the payment gateway communication with the site is terminated, and your money disappears into a black hole at least temporarily. In many cases they dont have an adequate response to your query about failed payments and it takes more than is customary to refund back to your bank account. If payment was being tried with a coupon, failed transactions lead to cancellation of coupons, and coupon can be activated only after calling up Customer Care and waiting an hour after they cancel the order manually. If you’ve been placing this order near coupon expiry deadline, you may be unable to order thereafter.

Shipping time and reliability of order completion:

Among the sites compared, Pepperfry offers the worst in terms of Time to ship following Order completion. The Shipping Time advertised on Pepperfry in most cases is “Within 7 ‘working days’ “. In contrast to all other sites, what this means is that in most cases, Pepperfry.com waits for around 15 days or more to ship an item. If you become impatient after a week of item placement and call up Pepperfry’s customer care, they have the nerve to remind you rather ingratiatingly that they had many holidays in the time interval, and that your item will be shipped within the deadlines. Having placed numerous orders on Pepperfry over the year, I’ve never found a single occasion where they’ve actually dispatched the goods within a week.

Pepperfry is also unique in failing to obey their own shipping deadlines, and failing to honour contract agreements. In many cases, they’ve faced numerous criticisms from customers where they’ve cancelled the orders because they’ve felt that they’ve underpriced items. Pepperfry is one of the unreliable shopping portals out there. If you need a quick delivery of an item, say to gift someone on time, stay away from Pepperfry. You may receive the item after a month or not at all.

Pepperfry also does not allow order cancellation. In case you require order cancellation, they will announce that they do not offer refund of your money, and will only provide you a coupon for future purchases. To add fuel to the fire, they have the nerve to tell you that this coupon expires in a week! In short, the Shipping and Returns on Pepperfry is the worst among E-commerce sites.

Ease of Availing Returns:

As mentioned above, Pepperfry does not allow order cancellation. In case you require order cancellation, they will announce that they do not offer refund of your money, and will only provide you a coupon for future purchases. To add fuel to the fire, they have the nerve to tell you that this coupon expires in a week! In short, the Shipping and Returns on Pepperfry is the worst among E-commerce sites. Shopping forums are rife with criticisms that Pepperfry does not even offer returns or refunds on items delivered in a damaged state. Even in cases where the mistake is on their part, Pepperfry customer care techs will try to sell off coupons for the hard earned money you’ve spent on their site.

After sales support and Enquiry

Pepperfry offers a Toll free number and Live Chat for enquiry and support. Ease of connecting to their support hotline is good. After sales handling of refund requests suffers from a bad Returns policy.

Promotions and Coupons

Pepperfry is one of the sites who actively promote marketing of their site through Periodic advertisements of coupons and deals. However beware of buying items on Pepperfry without a proper research of competitor sites, as Pepperfry.com is very well known for over-pricing items over and above all competitor sites. Items selling for around a thousand rupees are often sold for around many hundreds of rupees more than the competition. They probably do this to adjust the offers on coupons. They do regularly provide a variety of coupon discounts via email. If you’re a shrewd customer, you can often cut a good deal.

Additional Features/Comments

Poor after-sales support, unreliability of honoring agreements and extremely poor shipping time makes Pepperfry one of the worst E-commerce portals. However a shrewd shopper can avail of some discounts if he’s careful enough.

[easyreview title=”Feedback score for Pepperfry” cat1title=”Shopping” cat1detail=”Ease with which you can search for products” cat1rating=”8″ cat2title=”Payments” cat2detail=”Variety of payment options offered and reliability of payment gateway” cat2rating=”5″ cat3title=”Returns” cat3detail=”Ease of Availing Returns and customer satisfaction after sales” cat3rating=”1″ cat4title=”Shipping” cat4detail=”Shipping time and reliability of order completion:” cat4rating=”1″ summary=”Pepperfry is one of the worst shopping sites in India. A bad Returns policy and snail like shipping time spoil the shopping experience”]

 

Review of Tradus.com

Though a relatively new and probably a bit unfamiliar to most except seasoned shoppers, Tradus has rapidly made inroads into the world of Indian e-shopping, and has made quite a name for itself among gadget shoppers

Ease of Shopping at Tradus.com:

The site is well designed. Tradus lacks an Advanced Search option, unlike Ebay. However you can easily find the items you’re looking for using simple keyword search. Tradus like most well designed sites features a “Sort-by-Price” and you can easily compare same items between sellers

Payments at Tradus.com:

Tradus offers a variety os payment options, and support all major credit and debit cards. However, Netbanking options of some major banks are notable by their absence. They claim to offer Cash on Delivery too, but rather like in the case of Ebay, most sellers dont offer COD for their products. The payment process is worry-free, and failed transactions auto-refund to the same mode of payment. Combining shipping for various items, you can easily save on shipping costs for multiple items.

Shipping time and reliability of order completion at Tradus.com:

Tradus has made a name for itself with its quick dispatch and delivery time. Most sellers offer renowned couriers like Blue Dart, First Flight or Quantium.

I have never faced an issue of not receiving an item ordered on Tradus.

Ease of Availing Returns at Tradus.com:

Tradus has a transparent returns policy, and claim to offer returns on a “No questions asked basis” for unopened items. However it seems that the Returns policy is an eyewash and not adhered to in most instances.

For returning items, one has to call their Customer support phone number, which is non-toll free. Then follows a long wait time as most customer care execs are “always busy attending to other customers”. Finally, they ask you the reason for returning the product and if the reason is acceptable to them, they email you a Return Invoice for returning the item. They dont have a Courier pickup service for Returned Items, and one has to go through the hassle of packing the items and sending it to them via a courier service. They promise to provide refund of shipping charges, however they failed to deliver on that when I returned the product. My courier charges were non refunded even a month after shipping it back to them. The actual price paid for the goods were returned to the Bank account within a week however.

After sales support and Enquiry  at Tradus.com

Tradus does not provide a Toll free number for contact. They do have a web form for enquiry and customer complaints, however the answers take time in coming. When I had reason to contact them, they did not respond to even half a dozen mails sent over a period of two weeks. This is in stark contrast to Customer Care a few months ago, and hence I have to say that Tradus is slowly becoming one of the unreliable shopping sites out there. I have had to downgrade the rating I gave to Tradus since this review was first published. It’s still better than certain cheating sites out there like Timtara.com. Lack of a Toll free number is a glaring deficiency.  Customer care officials are aloof and non-professional.

My recent legal notice to the company was answered by a curt one-line response by some lower rung employee. Overall, Tradus.com has now become thoroughly irresponsible and unprofessional.

Promotions and Coupons

Tradus is one of the sites who actively promote marketing of their site through Periodic advertisements of “deals”, and also has associations with cellphone and DTH recharging sites for offering “Flat Off” coupons for products on their sites. This is a very good approach to consumer satisfaction. In fact, if you decide to buy from Tradus, you may find it worthwhile to search for coupons from Tradus.

Additional Features/Comments

When I first wrote this review, Tradus was recommended as a reliable e-shopping portal. However in light of recent dealings with Customer Care, I should say that Tradus is slipping, and is now one of those Commercial portals who consider Business over Customer Satisfaction. I would recommend that buyers be 100% certain of their purchases before using Tradus.com, since their returns policy is a big failure.

[easyreview title=”Feedback score for Tradus” cat1title=”Shopping” cat1detail=”Ease with which you can search for products” cat1rating=”8″ cat2title=”Payments” cat2detail=”Variety of payment options offered and reliability of payment gateway” cat2rating=”7″ cat3title=”Returns” cat3detail=”Ease of Availing Returns and customer satisfaction after sales” cat3rating=”3″ cat4title=”Shipping” cat4detail=”Shipping time and reliability of order completion:” cat4rating=”7″ summary=”A poor after-sales support and irresponsible and aloof customer care spoil the shopping experience”]

 

Comparison between popular online shopping sites in India

[easyreview title=”Top Indian shopping sites” cat1title=”Myntra.com” cat1detail=”A pleasure to use. COD option on all goods, great variety, excellent shipping time” cat1rating=”9″ cat2title=”Yebhi.com” cat2detail=”Stunningly easy to use, COD on all items, quick delivery, great customer support” cat2rating=”9″ cat3title=”Tradus.com” cat3detail=”A poor after-sales support and irresponsible and aloof customer care spoil the shopping experience” cat3rating=”6″ cat4title=”Flipkart.com” cat4detail=”Treasure trove for Book lovers” cat4rating=”8″ cat5title=”Ebay.in” cat5detail=”Huge variety of items and easy transaction, good site usability” cat5rating=”7″ cat6title=”Pepperfry.com” cat6detail=”One of the worst shopping sites in India” cat6rating=”3.5″ summary=””]

Categories
Workplace

ESI Dispensary, Mynagapally

Mynagapally is an idyllic location, far from the bustle of the city. It’s on the way from Karunagapally to Sasthankotta, and nearer to the latter. The institution is hardly 2 km from the Sasthankotta railway station. My schedule has been regularized more or less. In the morning, I board the Cape-Mumbai express (Commonly known as ‘Jayanti’), and after work, the Parasuram Express (Mangalore-Nagercoil). Very few trains stop at Sasthankotta though, and I have to board a bus from Karunagapally after alighting there in the morning.

I’ve acquainted myself with a ‘shortcut’ to the Sasthankotta railway station, and I walk to the station located 2 km away, after work. Around 4:30, I board the train and I’m back in Trivandrum at around 6:30. Travelling is a bit of a bother, but at least I get to get back home every day. It beats having to stay in a different district like some of my colleagues had to.

The ESI Dispensary at Mynagapally is located at a place called Theepettimukku, also known as Udaya junction.

Categories
Workplace

Joined Health Service

Mynagapally. 1 September, 2012

Today I joined service in Kerala State Insurance Medical Services department as Asst Insurance Medical Officer. After visiting the Regional Deputy Director’s office in Kollam (Polayathode), I visited the institution where I will be working for the better part of possibly the next three years. It’s an idyllic location. One might be going too far if one dubs it a village, as there are no true villages in Kerala. The journey by bus was strenuous. It took an hour from Kollam to Karunagapally, and half an hour from Karunagapally to Mynagapally.

The ESI dispensary itself is located near the bus stop at Mynagapally. The stop was named for the junction, though the name of the junction escaped my memory.

To my relief, I found that the return journey by train was much more comfortable. The Sasthankotta railway station is just a brisk twenty minute walk from the hospital, and I’m condering keeping a motor cycle there for easy conveyance. There are numerous houses near the station where the owners have built sheds to store motor cycles of daily commuters. I have to arrange something of this sort. Next up is getting a “Season ticket” for Indian Railways. It’s a boon for daily commuters, as the cost of the ticket is barely that of the sum of four tickets to and fro.

I didnt get to meet the Insurance Medical Officer, Dr Devarajan, though I got to see the accolades that he and the institution had got this year, when my hospital was adjudged the Best ESI Dispensary, 2012, and Dr Devarajan was given an award of Best Doctor. It seems that I have to fill big shoes, but of course Dr Devarajan is going to continue in the institution too. There are two other doctors in the institution, and I have not met them yet.

Categories
Medical

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation – A brief summary

In a witnessed cardiac arrest, the most important determinant of a person’s survival is prompt Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

— For unresponsive victims of all ages with likely asphyxial arrest (eg, drowning) the lone healthcare provider should deliver about 5 cycles (about 2 minutes) of CPR before leaving the victim to telephone the emergency response number and get the AED. The rescuer should then return to the victim, begin the steps of CPR, and use the AED.
● After delivery of 2 rescue breaths, healthcare providers should attempt to feel a pulse in the unresponsive, nonbreathing
victim for no more than 10 seconds. If the provider does not definitely feel a pulse within 10 seconds, the provider should begin cycles of chest compressions and
ventilations.
● Healthcare providers will be taught to deliver rescue breaths without chest compressions for the victim with respiratory arrest and a perfusing rhythm (ie, pulses). Rescue breaths without chest compressions should be delivered at a rate of about 10 to 12 breaths per minute for the adult and a rate of about 12 to 20 breaths per minute for
the infant and child.

● Healthcare providers should deliver cycles of compressions and ventilations during CPR when there is no advanced airway (eg, endotracheal tube, laryngeal mask
airway [LMA], or esophageal-tracheal combitube [Combitube]) in place. Once an advanced airway is in place for infant, child, or adult victims, 2 rescuers no longer deliver
“cycles” of compressions interrupted with pauses for ventilation. Instead, the compressing rescuer should deliver 100 compressions per minute continuously, without pauses
for ventilation. The rescuer delivering the ventilations should give 8 to 10 breaths per minute and should be careful to avoid delivering an excessive number of ventilations.
The 2 rescuers should change compressor and ventilator roles approximately every 2 minutes to prevent compressor fatigue and deterioration in quality and rate of
chest compressions. When multiple rescuers are present, they should rotate the compressor role about every 2 minutes. The switch should be accomplished as quickly as
possible (ideally in less than 5 seconds) to minimize interruptions in chest compressions.

 

References:

Categories
Medical

Essential medicine kit for the Indian Traveller

Travelling to some remote village in India? Or just travelling and wish to be careful than sorry? Here’s some of the essential medicines that I stock up on, and usually carry in my personal medicine kit. Most of these are available over the counter without a prescription.

  • Paracetamol 650mg 30 Nos
  • Cetirizine 15 Nos
  • Rantac 150mg 20Nos OR
  • Pantocid 40mg 10 Nos
  • Imodium 2mg 6 Nos
  • Zedott 100mg 20 Nos
  • Nutrolin B plus 30 Nos
  • Ultracet 20 Nos
  • Ketorol 10mg 20 Nos
  • Domstal 10mg 20 Nos OR
  • Emeset 4mg 20 Nos
  • Avomine 25 mg 10 Nos
  • Volini gel
  • Axe brand oil

Fever with Minor Cough, Cold, and Minor Throatache

a. Tab Paracetamol 650 mg (Dolo-650/Calpol 650) three times a day, or 500 mg four times a day

b. Tab Cetirizine 10mg once a day at bedtime OR Tab Allegra 120 mg once a day at bedtime

c. Tab Rantac 150mg twice a day

 

Diarrhoea

Severe diarrhoea with urgency, and you need to terminate the attack while travelling:

Tab Imodium 2 mg 2 Tablets together initially, and then 1 Tablet after each loose stool. Never take more than 8 tabs per day

It’s better to start the treatment with Imodium, and then switch to:

Tab Zedott/Enuff 100mg three times a Day

PLUS

Cap Nutrolin B plus three times a Day

 

Headache

Minor:

Paracetamol (See dose and brand as per advice for Fever, above)

More severe headache:

Tab Ultracet two to three times a day

OR

Tab Ketorol three times a day

 

Injuries

Take care to pack a small bottle of Betadine solution or Spirit, and Neosporine powder/Betadine ointment, Bandages, Cotton gauze pieces

 

Vomiting

Tab Domstal 10mg three times a day

OR

Tab Perinorm 10mg three times a day (Not advised for those aged >55 yrs or taking other medicines)

OR

Tab Emeset 4mg two to three times a day

 

Preventing Vomiting while travelling

  • Avoid heavy meals
  • Tab Avomine or Avomine MD 25 mg an hour to two hours before starting the journey
  • Tab Pantocid 40mg once a day
  • Smelling a lemon may cause the sensation to pass

Other Tips 

  1. Always carry plenty of water. If you have to buy bottled water, inspect the cap thoroughly to verify that it is not a refilled bottle.
  2. If it’s hot outside, hydrate yourself with plenty of fluids
  3. Fresh fruits may not be as healthy as you think. They may be often highly concentrated with pesticides and chemicals used for artificial ripening, all of which are harmful to your gut. If you buy fruits like grapes, keep them immersed in a solution of salt water to wash off the bulk of chemicals.
  4. Never accept water from hotels unless it’s an untampered sealed bottle.

Vaccinations

India is endemic to many major transmissible illnesses. Some of which have effective vaccinations. The following are some of the diseases you ought to be immunized against:

  1. Hepatitis A – An effective vaccine is available.
  2. Hepatitis B-Transmitted through blood, body fluids and sexual activity
  3. Typhoid
  4. Cholera

Did you notice advice for any common illness missing? Let me know.

Categories
Thoughts

>Hassles of Owning a car in Kerala

>We were to get a new Tata Nano which we’d booked right after the launch ceremony. Since we weren’t included in the first list of ‘allotees’, we had to wait for more than a year to get our car. Having initially booked a ‘Champagne Gold BSIII’ model, we later changed it to Yellow color after my brother said he preferred that color. There were hassles in getting the color changed, but after a couple of complaints with the Corporate Head of Tata Motors and the Head of Tata Nano, we got the color reallocated. Then followed problems with getting the car delivered from Kulathunkal Motors after registration.
tata-nano-yellow
For registration, we had to submit a proof of address and identity. I’d initially submitted my mother’s passport, since the car was supposed to be for her. The application for registration was rejected on the basis that the passport had expired a year ago. Logic doesn’t work with the Motor Vehicles Department. Does expiry of a passport mean change of address? A passport’s validity is for a period of 10 years. What if we’d moved right after renewal of a passport?
I phoned up the Motor Vehicles Department (hereafter known as MVD). They told me that they could accept only the Electoral Card, Passport or the address proof issued by the Village Officer. The electoral card was issued more than 10 years ago when our house was still in a ‘village’ (technically a village. Come on, if the heart of Trivandrum city is a village, what do you call a real village?), and hence the address read as “Vettathu, 351, Ulloor” while our ‘real’ address should also include our lane’s name and locality (Pongummood). Anticipating problems with the MVD, I set out to the village office to get a certificate from them. They wanted the tax receipt issued by the Corporation before they issued the certificate.
My father had last paid tax for the house three years ago. He didn’t pay after that because when he approached the Village Office for payment of tax, they told him to get the new revenue number from another office, Government Offices which employ staff who either sleep throughout the day at their desks or are vacant from their desks (for tea, lunch, games, or picking up their wards from schools amongst other family matters) seem to fail to understand the fact that the general public are also busy with their own personal affairs. Since I didn’t have the tax receipt, I told the Village Officer that I hadn’t brought it with me. He told me to come with the receipt on another day. I told him that I was a Doctor working in Health Services and that I’d have to waste another day of leave if I had to come again. That seemed to do the trick.
Note: If you want to have something done at a government office, you need to do one of the following:

  1. Try to do it in the normal way-waiting long queues
  2. Approach a clerk or officer, and explain your official title and position (if you’re employed in one of the State or Central Government departments). As for myself I failed to mention a subtle nuance that though I’m employed (temporarily) as a State Medical Officer, I’m working on Compulsory Rural Service. Why should I? He doesn’t need to know what he doesn’t have to know! 🙂
  3. Make one of your top government contacts call up the officer at the desk. These contacts may range from a retired officer of the same department to a senior officer at the Secretariat, to a Minister.
  4. Discreetly talk to one of the guards or peons at the department and ask them who to bribe. Note: I have never and refuse to ever try this method.
  5. If you have time to spare (30 plus days), submit your application, get the file number, and file a Right to Information application the same day asking for information on the status of the file. Technically they may still refuse the file, in which case you may have to resubmit the application with the information sought for. But in case you’re sure that your application is correct in all details, this will work.

I got the required certificate and visited the Tata Motors dealership at Kulathunkal Motors. There, I talked to Azad Harry Pothen, one of the Managing Partners (owners), who called up the RTO (big private firms often are on first name basis with big government officials. The reason must be obvious to you). The RTO told him that the certificate I’d submitted was not enough. Following Mr Pothen’s persistence, he agreed to accept the certificate.
Next day, the application was again rejected! They were now asking for the Election ID or Passport. The Passport had expired and the Election ID technically did not have the address recorded as we’d submitted in the form. 90% of the Indian population doesn’t have a passport. Does that mean they can’t buy a car if their Election ID details have issues? There are other identification documents accepted by the Government for other purposes, like Ration card, Driving License, PAN Card. Apparently the MVD does not accept any of these. Maybe they think the departments which issued these are as corrupt as them!
As of now, the car registration is still pending before the MVD. Since I’ve paid the registration fees to Tata Motors, I refused to pursue the matter personally and told Kulathunkal they had to do it. Even after Sixty three years of Independence, government departments are still as corrupt and inept as ever. The situation demands a radical solution. But forums like the Right to Information Act, and the Consumer Protection Forum are shod in legal technicalities. The State Information Commission recently posted a politician Sony.B.Thengamam as State Information Commissioner in blatant violation of the RTI Act. If there is no constitutional provision to see that even a Ministry violates the law, the fact that the situation at the MVD isn’t different isn’t strange.

Categories
Thoughts

>To cast away prosperity for silent honor?

>

When we finish school, there are a lot of career options. Many would have decided on a career choice in lower classes itself. There is the ubiquitous choice of trying to be a doctor or engineer, there are lesser trodden paths of lawyers, journalists, and various others. But what is the thought that runs through our minds when we choose a career. Needless to say, for most of us, it is a desire to earn money, a good social standing and have social security, a.k.a get ‘settled’ in life. But who chooses one of the finest professions, and decides to change lives and save the lives of people  hitherto uncared for, even at the cost of social isolation and no monetary remuneration? Some people do. We know people do because we know them by revered names or call them saints.

The story of the doctor couple Regi George and Lalitha has been acclaimed in many newspapers and magazines in India. I came to read of the story in a recent edition of the India Today and was moved. The story is that the couple sought out one of the poorest and backward tribal areas of Tamil Nadu searching for the place with the worst health statistics and transformed the population and healthcare over the years. They looked after the isolated and forsaken tribal people who had no access to modern healthcare and were at the mercy of ritualism, black magic and quacks, and cared for them by practicing Modern Medicine there.

They had to establish a hospital, and live with minimal resources. Initially they had to deal with the mistrust the tribal people had towards outsiders too. But as they saved lives, word spread and now their hospital has a heavy OP and attends to most of the labor cases. Infant mortality scales have been radically changed, and today Healthcare in the tribal village of Sittilingi, in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu is on par with the rest of the developed world.

It is not often that one can take such a big decision in life, forego a prosperous life in favor of a life wrought with hardships just for the sake of caring for people. What makes them different? What makes them decide to sacrifice their lives for others? What makes these normal people from ordinary circumstances godly? One decision to live a life of humility and service? How many have the courage and nobility to take that decision?

You can read about some of the stories reported about Regi and Lalitha here (Courtesy: Ashok’s Blog) :