TV viewers from Mumbai are complaining about severe disturbances in cable TV relayed by Hathway as well as disappearance of channels since the past few months
Several television (TV) viewers from across Mumbai are complaining about dwindling quality of Hathway cable TV services. Several customers of Hathway Cable are witnessing regular disruption, pixelation and disappearance of channels on the cable networks from Colaba to Andheri and other suburbs.
“I have been noticing pixelation and disturbances in Hathway connections in my house and also in Colaba area in houses of my friends and relatives. This is happening very often nowadays,” said one agitated customer of Hathway, who unsuccessfully tried to raise the issue may times, with the service provider.
Pixelation or the fuzzy picture with all sorts of vertical and horizontal (wire mesh) disturbances running across the screen is a most common phenomenon with analog TV services. With the upcoming digitisation, it is expected to be a thing of past and people can watch TV with clean and clear image similar to direct-to-home (DTH) service. On the digital platform, pixelation may occur due to momentary delay in signal and the display unit (like TV) may not be able to decode the frames fast enough to render or show them properly.
Viewers from four metros—Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai—will have to install a set top box (STB) to continue to view TV through the cable network from next month onwards. The ministry of information and broadcasting has set a deadline of 31st October for complete switch over of cable TV to the digital platform in the four metros in the first phase.
Apart from offering more channels in digital quality, the advantages of digital cable services include weather-proof services that are not interrupted by rain. Besides, this service is provided through the local cable operator.
Coming back to Hathway Cable TV services, several customers have been complaining about the disappearance of their regular channels. One such customer from Bengaluru said, since September 2012, he is not been able to watch ETV Kannada (Channel No 642), while other ETV channels are being relayed by Hathway. He said this has happened for the second time.
According to sources, the disappearance of a particular channel or set of channels is related with non-payment of user fees to the broadcaster from the cable TV operator. However, many times, cable operators manage to access the blocked channel/s and relay it on some different set. For example, Hathway may use its “Local Cable 1”, “Local Cable 2” or “Local Cable 3” to relay the otherwise blocked channel. While some customers know about this practice, the same cannot be confirmed by the cable operators.
Hathway, on its part has made it clear that quality of its signal varies across locations. Here are the general parameters used by Hathway for cable TV relay service across its network...
Hathway says these parameters are achieved on its trunk and distribution network. “Performance of these parameters can vary from each STB location so much so that it can be different at two locations within the same household due to the nature of the internal cabling within the household. In such instances a Hathway technician or its local cable operator (LCO) will demonstrate the same at the tap off/splitter level that feeds the particular household that the parameters are met and the subscriber will then have to replace the internal cabling at his/her cost,” Hathway said on its site.
Interestingly Hathway used the same excuse and asked one of its customers to change internal cables. But the end result is the same. “This (the issues with Hathway cable TV) has been going on for very long. They first pointed out incorrect cable (in my home). I got it changed to the recommended cable on all my TVs, but of late this pixelation problem keeps on coming up from time to time,” the customer said.
The question is why Hathway cannot look in customer complaints and resolve it at the earliest. The answer is simple. Hathway have lesser seats or customer care executives compared with DTH service providers as most of the time it is their LCO who interacts or resolves customer complaints. The LCO may or may not be able to resolve technical issues without help and in the process, the customers suffer.
Here is an officials reply sent by Hathway on isses raised in this article. Moneylife received the reply on 20th October.
You shop for the highest savings account interest with low minimum balance requirement as your existing savings account is paying only 4%. What are your options? Beware of banks that offer high savings interest rate for a limited time and those having account closing fees
YES Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and IndusInd Bank have been attracting customers with the lure of higher savings account interest. These banks have reported huge increase in savings bank deposits as well as customer base. Bigger private banks like HDFC, ICICI, Axis and nationalised banks are still offering only 4% interest even after the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) deregulated savings interest rates since October 2011.
Moneylife decided to visit some banks as a prospective customer to find out about savings account, fixed deposits (FDs), Flexi FD, recurring deposit (RD), debit cards and also Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements, lockers, online access, transfer, etc. The purpose of the visits was to check out the basic facilities for the smart saver. Many customers want best interest rates, low minimum balance requirement, no-fee debit card, etc without getting overwhelmed with add-on product benefits that they may never use. We will have series of articles for helping the smart saver.
It does make sense to get high interest rate on a savings account especially with the government allowing Rs10,000 savings account interest to be tax-free from the current financial year. Till the last fiscal, the entire saving account interest was taxable even though there is no TDS (tax deductible at source).
Here is an important finding. The ability to waive the minimum balance requirement of Rs10,000 is possible with smaller private banks like YES, Kotak Mahindra and IndusInd by opening FDs of certain amount. Ensure that you see the waiver of minimum balance requirement in writing and not orally promised by a relationship manager (RM). Violation of the minimum balance requirement can lead to heavy penalty of up to Rs350 per month. Ironically, the IndusInd RM did not accept the waiver of minimum balance requirement even though the bank’s own website clearly mentions about it.
IndusInd Classic Savings account is supposed to waive off the minimum balance requirement by opening an FD of Rs50,000. The RM’s reasoning for not offering the Rs10,000 savings balance waiver was that a Classic Savings account is not offered by their Prabhadevi branch in Mumbai, as it is A+ category branch (no such category specified on the IndusInd website). Unconvinced with the answer, we asked him FOR MORE details. The final offer made by the RM over the phone was that they will waive the minimum balance requirement for two years and after that waiver can be done only by having an FD of Rs10 lakh. Clearly, they were not as interested in getting business at higher saving bank interest rate like YES and Kotak Mahindra Bank.
The waiver of the minimum balance of Rs10,000 is not possible with bigger private players like HDFC, ICICI and Axis Bank even if you open FDs. HDFC Bank’s current and savings account (CASA) is 45% of its total deposits, which means there is less incentive to offer higher interest rates or waiver of saving account minimum balance requirement.
Moneylife’s visit to YES, Kotak Mahindra and IndusInd bank revealed following:
Savings account interest rates can drop based on the trend of reducing rates for FDs. So far, these banks have held on to the rates. YES Bank is a good option, but it has a closing fee for savings account. Ratnakar Bank offers 5.5% savings interest, but specifies a minimum balance of Rs5,000. FirstRand Bank offers 7.25% interest for Platinum savings account, but needs a high minimum balance (Rs1 lakh).
Beware that some banks that may offer higher interest rate for only one quarter just to attract customers. Cosmos Bank offered a higher savings interest rate of 6% only for one quarter (January-March 2012). The big displays at the bank branch advertising increased savings rate were followed by reducing the savings interest back to 4% without the same zeal to convey the message to customers. The notice was put at the branch and ATM, which many failed to read. The result was customers were caught off-guard with the savings rate falling from 6% back to 4%. Some customers kept high balance in savings account only to find that interest for April-June 2012 was only 4% p.a. The bank profits while the customer is unaware of the rate reduction. Even if they are aware, customers may be reluctant to move funds to another bank or FD account.
Read this space regularly for more articles on short and long-term FD, Flexi FD, RD, debit cards, Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements, lockers, RTGS, NEFT, online access and transfers, etc.
The common person has been left far behind as complexities of financial products increase. Financial counselling is the need of the hour in our country
The financial landscape has changed. It is not simple anymore. The common person who has difficulties in understanding the complexities of financial products but, at the same time, cannot help availing them for the sake of survival has, no doubt, been left far behind the pace of development. The rapid advancement in information and communication technology, the advent and range of complex hi-tech asset-liability products, innumerable number of insurance and mutual funds schemes have changed the traditional face of the financial sector. There has been a tremendous increase in the speed and quality of banking services. Financial transactions, or for that matter, practice of banking has existed in some form or the other from time immemorial and will continue to remain as long as the human race exists However, the digital divide is so wide that every household is caught in this vortex and many of them simply carry on helplessly. Therefore, it is imperative to address the concerns of the common man. In such a scenario, financial counselling can play a major role in bridging the gap.
The concept of inclusive growth for a country as a whole has now become a global phenomenon. On the supply side, we have put in place a sound financial system that has the capability to cater to all segments of society. However, inclusive growth is not possible without financial inclusion i.e. provision of banking services at affordable costs to the unbanked segment of population, which has so far been excluded from such services. Unless we are able to create a demand for it, the financial system so established over the years will, sooner or later, collapse. On the demand side, financial inclusion through the provision of financial literacy, financial education and qualitative customer service is the only way to supplement the supply side. Although the Indian economy has grown steadily over the last two decades, its growth has been uneven among different geographic regions, rural and urban areas, social groups and economic classes. A third of the global poor reside in India. The benefits of economic growth have not been equitably shared among the various classes of population. The standards of living among various segments of population show glaring disparities. Given the present context, financial counselling becomes crucial for creating necessary demand for financial products and services among the people left behind, creating awareness among them about their rights as consumers and instilling in them trust and confidence in the system with a view to ultimately improving the quality of their lives. Financial Counselling is one of the means to the end.
The term counselling is much misunderstood. Some people think that counselling is needed for those who are weak or crazy. Particularly in our country, it is commonly associated with psychiatric treatment or those whose performance in the school, college or workplace is not found to be satisfactory. Such people are living in a denial mode. Showing openness to change and willingness to look forward is nothing but a sign of strength. The clients learn new skills and learn to help themselves. When you fall sick you go to a physician who diagnoses and prescribes the treatment for prevention or cure. Similarly when you are confused before availing a product or facing financial crisis after availing a product or in debt trap, you are said to undergo financial ill-health. You, then, need diagnostic financial counselling. Like healthcare, financial counselling process comprises both preventive and curative counselling.
Financial counselling means providing financial literacy, financial education, credit counselling and debt management for those in financial distress i.e. guidance on personal financial management—budgeting, saving and credit issues/debt management and managing money for a secure future. It is important to know that saving leads to investment and asset creation. Appropriate asset allocation leads to wealth creation. By savings alone one cannot meet all current and future needs, which also depends upon the given lifestyle. Thus, counselling is essentially for livelihood and mitigating financial distress is part of the process.
The counselling process enables customers to take informed decisions before availing a product or service. Hence, there is less scope for grievances. Lenders can then gainfully utilise the resources earmarked for the grievance redressal mechanism. As a customer resorts to responsible borrowing, it results in viability of credit for the lender. Similarly, customers would be more comfortable in dealing with non-partisan counsellors rather than lenders themselves for the purpose. If lenders tend to accept the suggestions made by the counsellors, then the customer’s debt burden is mitigated and at the same time the lender can avoid the burden of handling a possible bad asset or dispute. Thus, counselling is advantageous to both the customers and the service providers.
Meanwhile, the counsellor’s objective should be customer-centric because the relationship between the customer and bank is based on an unequal contract. The counsellor is expected to listen to the customer and show signs of understanding of his problems with a view to winning over his trust, so that he comes forward to share all the facts and circumstances of any underlying issue. Otherwise, the whole exercise would become futile. This is all the more important because the counsellor would get only the customer’s version of the story. The counsellor has to constantly remember that his mission is only to guide the customer, and not attempt to directly or indirectly resolve any dispute between the bank and the customer as the line of demarcation—between where the process of counselling stops and that of grievance redressal starts—is very thin. Promoting a product or showing bias towards any service provider is not within the framework of the scheme of things. He is unbiased. A counsellor should not indulge in full-scale investment counselling since it is limited or incidental to budgeting and saving for a secure future in regard to the targeted segment. Further, it is distinct from investment counselling which is prohibited under the present regulations. A counsellor is just a facilitator.
Overall, the counselling process would contribute immensely in building customer confidence as well as improving the efficiency of the delivery channel which are supplementary to each other. Financial counselling is at its nascent stage. We have to create awareness about the concept among the common people. And its wide acceptance depends upon how it is offered, sought and delivered. Further, the beneficiaries should be able to appreciate the benefits derived. Thus, financial counselling may perhaps become the key-differentiator in the realm of possibilities.
About DISHA: As part of corporate social responsibility ICICI Bank has set up DISHA Trust under the aegis of ICICI Trusteeship Services Ltd. The Trust has established as many as nine DISHA Financial Counselling Centres across the country. They are manned by ex-bankers who have rich banking experience for over 20-25 years. The thrust area of counselling would be on medium and low-income individual customers who do not have the ordinary means to know or wants to know the details of a product or those who are having budgeting problems and worried about their financial future or when they are facing problem of repayment of a loan or any other debt. The customer will really benefit only if he is willing to share with the counsellor all the facts leading to his financial crisis. The DISHA counselling process is unbiased, personalized, non-judgemental, confidential and free of cost and it is done with the involvement of the customer. ICICI Bank’s initiative is for serving all customers across banks.
DISHA Financial Counselling has a tie-up arrangement with Moneylife Foundation (both non-profit entities) to spread financial literacy and to provide free counselling for those who are in need of financial education and credit counselling. Those who want to avail free financial counselling may contact the following centres for appointment.