Consumer Issues
eBay sellers, beware of insurance fine print

Consumer Affairs, a US-based consumer news and advocacy site says a coin seller on eBay found that the shipping insurance he purchased for numerous sales he did was worthless. Of course, he found this only after filing the insurance claim when there was an issue with shipping

 
Sellers on e-commerce websites like eBay buy shipping insurance for the items they sell. Here is the reason given by eBay India website: In most circumstances, buyers do not expect to pay for the cost of shipping insurance. This change also reflects the industry— and eBay—standard practice that sellers are responsible for their items until they are safely in their customers’ hands.” 
 
The eBay India website also has following FAQ about coin shipping insurance : “I sell rare, antique, or one-of-a-kind items that I must insure. How can I insure these items? There are several ways to the insure items you sell. Check with your shipping carrier for insurance options, or contact a third-party shipping insurance provider for insurance coverage.” eBay India is clearly putting the onus on the seller to do the due diligence on the insurance cover fine prints. 
 
eBay (US) is facing a lawsuit from one disgruntled seller. A lawsuit alleges that eBay insurance doesn't cover commonly-shipped items. A coin seller insured his coins only to learn the policy doesn't cover coins. The revelation came only after a claim was filed when there was shipping problem.
 
According to ConsumerAffairs.com – 
 
In a US federal class action, lead plaintiff Luke Knowles claims eBay knows its ShipCover insurance excludes entire categories of products from coverage, but doesn’'t disclose that to sellers when they buy the shipping insurance. 
 
Knowles said he regularly sells coins on eBay and buys ShipCover insurance to cover them. When a buyer notified him that a package he sent arrived open, with the coin missing, Knowles says, he refunded the buyer the purchase price and then filed a claim under the ShipCover insurance, but the claim was denied by eBay’s insurer, which claimed that the item insured is on the list of items that are ineligible for coverage.
 
Knowles says he selected the proper category—“Coins & Paper Money”—when he bought the insurance. If the company was not going to cover coins, it should not have taken his premium. The ShipCover policy excludes from coverage coins, bullions, loose diamonds or stones, stocks, bonds, currency, deeds, evidences of debt, travelers checks, money orders, gift certificates, calling cards, lottery tickets, admission tickets, or any other negotiable documents. These exclusions are not evident on the checkout page, even though that page offers the insurance sets the insured value, and that determines the price of insurance. 
 
Knowles said he would not have bought insurance to protect coins if he had known that it did not, in fact, cover coins and asserts that no one else would buy such insurance either.
 
His suit names eBay, eBay Insurances Services, Brown & Brown of Missouri, and Fireman's Fund Insurance Co.
 

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LIC says ready to pick SUUTI's stake in Axis Bank, L&T and ITC if asked

SUUTI, created in 2002 after the then UTI was wound up, owns stakes in ITC, Axis Bank and L&T, which the government is planning to en-cash as its effort to meet the fiscal deficit target

 
Mumbai: State-run Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC) on Friday said it has not been approached by the government to pick up stakes in Axis Bank, L&T and ITC, currently held by the Special Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), but added if it is so asked, it will definitely look at it, reports PTI.
 
"As far as LIC is concerned, we have not been approached (to buy the government's stakes in Axis Bank, L&T and ITC). In case they approach us, we will definitely have a look at it," DK Mehrotra, chairman of LIC told reporters on the sidelines of a capital markets summit organised by industry body FICCI.
 
SUUTI, created in 2002 after the then UTI was wound up, owns strategic stakes in three listed blue-chip entities: ITC (11.54%), Axis Bank (23.6%) and L&T (8.3%).
 
Besides, SUUTI also owns significant stakes in unlisted companies such as the Stock Holding Corporation of India (SHCIL), in which it owns 16.96% that is valued at about Rs300 crore.
 
The government is planning to en-cash these holdings which are worth over Rs40,000 crore, as part of its efforts at meeting the fiscal deficit target by divestment.
 
The plan is to sell the SUUTI stakes to an special purpose vehicle (SPV). The SPV holding will not pledge shares but will borrow funds by way of negative liens, under which it cannot sell the shares without the permission of lenders and the government.
 
When asked about the 10% equity exposure cap, Mehrotra said: "The corporation has been approaching the regulators and the finance ministry on this issue for quite some time. I think, both of them have taken it very positively. Hopefully, something should come and we will get some headroom".
 
LIC, which had bailed the government last March when the follow-on option of ONGC was bombed by picking up almost the entire stake worth over Rs12,000 crore, plans to invest Rs2.4 lakh crore this fiscal.
 
"We propose to invest Rs2.4 lakh crore this fiscal and have invested Rs65-70,000 crore so far," Mehrotra said, adding of the total investment, 10-15% constitute pure equity investments out of which it has invested Rs7,000-Rs8,000 crore as of now.
 

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Excessive judicialisation will deprive flexibility in CIC under RTI: Mishra

According to CIC Mishra, excessive judicialisation of information commissions will deprive the commission of this flexibility and the society must decide if this is the right path

 
New Delhi: Excessive 'judicialisation' of Information Commissions across the country would deprive them of a flexible style of functioning, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra said on Friday, reports PTI.
 
Speaking at the Central Information Commission's annual convention, Mishra said the approach of the Commissions, including the state and centre, in all these years has been to act like an umpire standing right on the field along with the players and not sitting on a pedestal and pronounce oracles.
 
"Openness of approach, informality in style and simplicity of systems have characterised the functioning of all the commissions....Excessive judicialisation of information commissions will deprive the commission of this flexibility. The society must decide if this is the right path," he said.
 
The Supreme Court had recently termed the Commissions as quasi-judicial bodies and directed the government that Chief Information Commissioner at the Centre or State level should only be a person who is or has been a Chief Justice of the High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
 
Asking the government to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a bench of of justices AK Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar had said that people from judicial background be also appointed as members of the Central and State Commissions which is to be done after consulting with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and Chief Justice of the respective High Courts. 
 
Mishra said the efforts of the Commission to ensure complete mandatory disclosure by public authorities have not succeeded.
 
"All our efforts to ensure proactive disclosure as mandated under the RTI Act have been ineffective. Seven years after the enactment of the law, public authorities both at the state and the Centre, have not made complete disclosures which they were mandated to do in 120 days," the CIC said.
 
He said the efforts to ensure organised record keeping as mandated in the law have not been met with much success.
 
"We have been exhorting government authorities both at the Centre and the states to appoint responsible information officers, train them regularly and most importantly to organise record keeping at all levels. We have not met with much success," Mishra said.
 
The CIC said in the last seven years since the RTI Act came into being, the civil society attention has moved to new issues areas of concerns, consequently there is palpable decline in their engagement with issues related to right to information which was true for media as well.
 
He said media and civil society must not lose sight of the RTI Act in the process.
 
"Bulk of information received from public authorities is used for personal grievances. Many a times, information is also sought without any ostensible purpose. This is not a happy sign. Each time we seek any information from any public authority, we deprive someone else of the opportunity to make use of corresponding resources," he said.
 
Mishra said there are several instances of people making absolutely frivolous request or seeking information as a hobby or just to harass and blackmail others.
 
"It should be avoided not only it gives bad name to RTI Act but also because it increases wasteful expenditure of public authorities. Civil society should play an important role in this by training the RTI applicants," he said. 
 

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