Perhaps the first time, the election authorities have taken action and filed a formal complaint against companies like Tech Mahindra, HCL, Sodexho, Wipro and Voltas for working on poll day
Election authorities from Chennai lodged a police complaint against five companies at an IT park for functioning on the day of Lok Sabha polling in Tamil Nadu on Thursday. The Election Commision says these companies were working in violation of rules and sent back around 2,000 employees home to enable them to vote.
Officials said they received complaints from employees of companies like Wipro in an IT park that they had been asked to report for duty despite the provision in law that employers and commercial establishments must grant holiday with wages for their employees on polling day.
“When we visited ELCOT IT Park at Sholinganallur, we found that Tech Mahindra, HCL, Sodexho, Wipro and Voltas were working as usual,” Sholinganallur Revenue Inspector R Jayanthi Mala told PTI, adding this was a violation of election rules.
As per orders of District Election Officials, Chennai Corporation Commissioner Lakshmi and other executives sealed the buildings, an official release said.
Well in advance, the Government declared holiday for polls and requested IT companies to comply. A complaint has been filed with the police seeking action against the companies for flouting government poll norms, Jayanthi Mala said.
About 2,000 employees were sent out of the ELCOT premises by officials.
“We have told the companies that there should be no more shifts and have locked the campus gate,” she said.
This is perhaps the first time, the election authorities have taken action and filed a formal complaint against companies for working on polling day.
State Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar had yesterday warned of penal action against those violating the statutory provision giving workers paid leave on poll day.
Meanwhile, shops of leading textile retailer — Chennai Silks and jewellery firm Sri Kumaran Thanga Maligai — found operating in Tirunelveli district were sealed by officials, for violation of EC norms.
The shops were doing business today as usual despite the EC directive to declare holiday for its employees with pay.
Our RTI aplication reveals that while IRDA was about to launch a customer awareness campaign, Life Insurance Council, the mouthpiece of insurers was opposed to the move, even while admitting that fraudulent selling affected 3%-5% of the customers
In February 2014, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) embarked on a public campaign cautioning people about insurance mis-selling and unfair business practices. Among the malpractices were spurious calls in the name of officials of IRDA, to gain confidence of customers. Besides, there were promises of giving unclaimed bonus or making good for the losses in existing insurance policies, if the customers bough new ones. There has also been a steep rise in fraudulent calls to surrender the existing policy and buy a new one with numerous reasons like product is discontinued or fund performance not doing well, etc.
Fraudulent selling of life insurance– What are IRDA and insurers doing?
A Moneylife Foundation memorandum to IRDA contained many examples of fraudulent selling of life insurance products along with complaints of various categories of mis-selling or unfair business practices.
Life insurance fraud continues with impunity
It is in this context that IRDA issued a public campaign through print, electronic and mass media. However, our RTI application filed with IRDA reveals that shows that the Life Insurance Council, an industry body representing life insurers raised several objection with IRDA’s campaign of cautioning the public. Here are the different issues raised by Life Insurance Council about the proposed IRDA campaign:
1. There is a low likelihood of the message being understood
2. The campaign may end up creating fear amongst consumers. This may be detrimental to the consumer interest at large when communicated through mass media.
3. Message for particular brand (of insurer) combined with messaging from IRDA in the same piece of communication may end confusing the consumer
4. Cost implication of addition of slide with voice over leading to increase in 10-15 seconds time. This would result in scaling down of activities, stoppage in running TV commercials which in turn could result in decline in business for the insurance industry and lesser awareness of insurance products.
5. The severe reduction in advertising in critical high selling months of Feb-Mar 2014 where advertising is at its peak, severe reduction in advertising due to budget impact will directly impact sales of all life insurance companies, which may disadvantage consumers who buy insurance to save tax.
6. Fraudulent selling affects 3%-5% of customers which is not small. However, communication of message in mass media to all customers is likely to raise unnecessary doubts amongst remaining customers, who are not affected by such fraudulent messages.
The Life Insurance Council sought relief from the IRDA circular which was to be effective 1st February. The council requested IRDA to postpone the implementation of the circular till 1st April after the critical selling months till March are over.
But the IRDA did implement the circular effective 1st February. One of IRDA’s important comments to the Life Insurance Council suggestion was as follows – “With the rampancy with which such spurious calls are taking place, a media campaign was a must since even otherwise the confidence on the insurers in proper selling was getting affected.”
Insurers are highlighting spurious calling and false promises through television, radio and cinema to educate public at large. But, it seems to be done more to comply with IRDA order rather than being genuinely interested in customer interests. To save TV time and costs, the IRDA cautionary message is playing in a superfast mode which makes it impossible to deciper. IRDA’s effort to educate public is probably falling short of its genuine intentions.
Reliance Life’s murky business alliances and practices
The telecom regulator has been receiving a number of complaints from consumers regarding poor download speed for mobile internet being experienced by them
Soon, mobile and telephone users will have clarity and assurance on the minimum download speed they would get from their telecom operator, be it 2G or 3G services. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is gearing up to mandate mobile services companies to ensure details in this regard under quality of service rules.
Consumers are being wooed by telecom companies in advertisements regarding high speed wireless data services and product packs in which they are promised speeds of up to 7.2 megabit a second or 21 megabit a second. In general, even at 7.1 mbps speed, a mobile or dongle user should be able to download a full-length movie in around 12-14 minutes.
TRAI said it has been monitoring the ‘minimum download speed’ reported by the TSPs for each data plan since last three quarters. It has been seen that the minimum download speed is not uniform across all licensed service areas (LSAs). The minimum download speed varies amongst the telecom services providers (TSPs) even for the same technology and the variation is also quite large eg:- in 2G technology, the speed varies from 21.42 kbps to 97.06 kbps between the operators, the regulator said.
"Moreover," TRAI said, "the telecom consumers availing wireless data services are not aware of the minimum download speed being offered to them by the TSPs. Generally, the tariff plans offered by the TSPs are based on the volume of data usage for various technologies, without any clarity about the speed being offered to consumers. Also, there is no commitment of minimum download speed while offering a tariff plan."
In order to provide clarity to the consumers opting for data plans using a certain technology and based on the data on minimum download speed reported by the TSPs in the last three quarters, TRAI is seeking to prescribe a minimum download speed for wireless data services on technology basis, as below:
TRAI said, "Another alternative could be that the service providers, along with the tariff and the details of data services offered, also specify a minimum download speed that will be applicable for each plan or scheme. Accordingly, along with each tariff plan whenever they are advertised, through website, telephone bills, sale vouchers, complaint centres, and sales office, the minimum download speed is also necessarily mentioned. Moreover, whenever there is a change in the plan or speed, subscriber should be properly informed and the same should also be published through suitable advertisement. The service provider shall inform the minimum download speed along with the tariff plan while filing tariff to TRAI."
The consultation paper issued by TRAI on "Amendment to the Standards of Quality of Service for Wireless Data Services Regulations, 2012" also mandates TSPs to publish on their website, the details of all data services offered, along with their tariff, clearly indicating the cities and towns where such data services and tariff plans are applicable.
Telecom operators have reported to TRAI that the minimum download speed delivered on their most high speed 3G service is in the range of 399 kbps (less than minimum broadband speed of 512 kbps) to 2.48 mbps.
As per the regulation on “Quality of Service standards for Broadband Services” issued by TRAI on 6 May 2006, a subscriber should get minimum 80% of the subscribed broadband connection speed from the ISP node (service provider) to user. As per the directive, service providers were required to ensure that the speed of broadband connection is not reduced below the minimum specified limit and to provide alert to consumers, via SMS as well as email, when their data usage reaches 80% and 100% of the data usage limit bundled with the plan.
However, most of the times, mobile subscribers never get the data speed as promised by their service provider. Subscribers are not informed about the drop in data speed as well.
TRAI has asked all stakeholders to send their comments, preferably in electronic form, on the consultation paper by 5 May 2014 and counter comments by 12th May on e-mail ID [email protected]