Citizens' Issues
Mumbai is the world’s second-most honest city; Helsinki tops the survey

Mumbai, the financial capital of India, has reason to be proud of its record in a survey conducted by Reader’s Digest which tested honesty of citizens in 16 cities across the world

Mumbai, India's financial capital has been named the world’s second-most honest city in a survey conducted by Reader’s Digest.


According to the survey of 16 cities worldwide, Finnish capital Helsinki emerged as topper for the world’s most honest city in the survey, while Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, proved to be the least honest.


The survey put hundreds of people to test in four continents to find out just how honest they were by dropping wallets and seeing how many would be returned.


In the study, 192 wallets were dropped in cities in Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Each wallet contained a cell phone number, a family photo, coupons, business cards and the equivalent of $50 in cash.


The wallets were left in parks, near shopping malls and on sidewalks, and researchers watched to see what would happen.


Of the 192 wallets dropped, 90% or 47% — were returned, according to the survey by Reader’s Digest magazine. In Helsinki, 11 out of 12 wallets were returned.


“Finns are naturally honest, it’s typical for us,” said 27-year-old business student Lasse Luomakoski, who found the dropped wallet in the pedestrian street of Mikonkatu in downtown Helsinki.


In Mumbai, nine out of 12 wallets were returned. Vaishali Mhaskar, a mother of two, and a stamp vendor, returned a wallet that was left in Mumbai’s General Post Office. “I teach my children to be honest, just like my parents taught me,” she said.


Another person who returned a lost wallet was Rahul Rai, a 27-year-old video editor. “My conscience wouldn’t let me do anything wrong. A wallet is a big thing with many important documents [in it],” he said.


Later that same day, three young adults found lost wallets and returned them, the magazine said.


For the world’s third-most honest city, there was a tie between New York and Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Eight out of 12 wallets were returned in both cities.


Russian capital Moscow, and Amsterdam, the capital of Netherlands, both tied for the fifth place, with seven out of 12 wallets being returned in the cities.


German capital Berlin and Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, tied for seventh place on the list, with six out of 12 wallets being returned.


London, and Warsaw, the capital of Poland, where five out of 12 wallets were returned, were jointly ranked in the ninth position.


The eleventh place on the list of the world’s most honest cities went to Bucharest, the capital of Romania, Rio de Janeiro and Zurich, where four out of 12 wallets were returned.


The least honest cities in the world were Prague, the capital of Czech Republic (three out of 12 wallets returned), Spanish capital Madrid (two out of 12 wallets returned) and Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, where only one out of 12 wallets was returned.


The survey also found that age is not likely to predict whether a person is going to be honest or dishonest.


Across all 16 cities in which wallets were lost, young and old both kept the wallet or returned it.


Male and female, too, were unpredictable, although in two cities females stood out for two very different reasons. In Warsaw, all the wallets lost were taken by women; in Ljubljana, of the six wallets returned, five were handed back by women.


Comparative wealth was also no guarantee of honesty.


People in Moscow returned seven out of the 12 wallets whereas, in the more prosperous city of Zurich, only four wallets were returned.




3 years ago

what kind of statistical surveys use the sample size of 12???

E-cigarettes: Is the new cool a smokeless smoke?

E-cigarette companies are avoiding health claims and smoking-secession claims, either of which would invite an FDA crackdown. The television ads produced by e-cig makers Blu and Fin only promote the lack of smoke-smell and ash

Is “take back your freedom” a misleading slogan for an addictive product? Same question for an ad that hammers home the words “free,” “independence,” and “freedom of choice” while selling a nicotine delivery system. How can companies responsibly advertise a product that hooks its users, may be dangerous, and is supposed to mimic another product we’ve spent the last half-century deglamorizing?

What’s the deal with e-cigarettes ads? And, more importantly, what is an “asstray,” as Stephen Dorff says in the above commercial?

What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are a delivery system for nicotine-laced water vapor. Unlike traditional cigarettes, there is no tobacco, no burning, no smoke, and no ash. Instead, a battery-powered vaporizer heats up a small container of nicotine-laced water, creating a vapor the user inhales. The experience is supposed to recreate the act of smoking, and many of the more popular brands of e-cigarettes are shaped to look like a cigarette, complete with a LED light on the end that glows when a user inhales.

Are they safe?

No one knows. It seems likely that e-cigarettes are in some ways less harmful than regular cigarettes. Breathing in any kind of smoke is bad for your health, and cigarettes, which eventually kill half of smokers, are particularly harmful because of all the cancer-causing agents in tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes swap out the actual smoke for nicotine-rich water vapor. And while nicotine is the highly addictive component that keeps cigarette smokers hooked and inhaling all the bad stuff, nicotine itself may be less harmful on its own.

Health advocates, though, have expressed worries that e-cigarettes may be harmful in other ways. Most e-cigarettes are made in China and many are not rigorously tested for quality. So some e-cigarette users are heating up nicotine water with lower quality metal and then putting into their bodies the resulting vapor, which may be loaded with harmful vaporized metals and chemicals. This may not be the best idea, particularly as there are no long-term studies whether this sort of thing is harmful.

How are they marketed?

Very, very carefully. E-cigarette companies are avoiding health claims and smoking-secession claims, either of which would invite an FDA crackdown. The television ads produced by e-cig makers Blu and Fin only promote the lack of smoke-smell and ash — see this ad starring Jenny McCarthy — while making no mention of any potential health benefits.

E-cig companies are also being careful to avoid targeting children. The ads note the products are not for sale to minors, and NJOY’s website sussed out our attempts to order free e-cigs under a false identity.

But, and it’s a big but, a self-imposed ban on marketing to kids hasn’t stopped some companies from developing e-cig cartridge flavors like gummy bear and cookies and cream. E-cigarette use, in fact, has doubled among children between 2011 and 2012 and health officials are concerned e-cigs could be a gateway to traditional cigarettes.

Avoiding health claims and kids, e-cig ads instead play up the “cool” and “freedom” aspects of the product. Slow motion shots of celebrities exhaling vapor are supposed to make nicotine fog and LED lights seem as cool as the smoke and flame of real cigarettes, sans the smell and ash. A New York Magazine article noted that e-cig makers couldn’t get anyone to buy their products until, aided by heavy market research, they figured out how to make them seem cool. (A lot of vapor, apparently, was what made e-cigs look cool.)

How about those “freedom” claims?

Freedom in the sense of being able to vaporize nicotine water indoors? Sure. The freedom to stop smoking e-cigarettes whenever you want? Maybe not so much. Nicotine is one of the easiest drugs to become addicted to, with about a third of people who try it becoming addicted, and it’s one of the toughest addictions to kick, with 85 percent of smokers who try to quit on their own relapsing. E-cigarettes may be less harmful than their tobacco cousins, but that doesn’t mean they’re free of risks.

Should I believe the ads?

E-cigs are unregulated and mostly untested and contain perhaps the most addictive substance on the planet. Consumers should think very carefully before picking up an e-cigarette.

What about the asstray thing in that video? It sounds like Stephen Dorff says he’s sick of being a “walking asstray.”

We think he meant to say ashtray, though we have so many unanswered questions about what an asstray might be.





3 years ago

Several points:

1. "a self-imposed ban on marketing to kids hasn’t stopped some companies from developing e-cig cartridge flavors like gummy bear and cookies and cream" - why do flavor automatically mean marketing to children? I, and many others, prefer the candy, fruit, dessert flavors, The tobacco flavors simply remind me of a cigarette, and make me crave one. I currently use peach, butterscotch, and raspberry, and try new flavors every month.

2. "The freedom to stop smoking e-cigarettes whenever you want? Maybe not so much. Nicotine is one of the easiest drugs to become addicted to" - I think you are confusing quitting smoking with quitting nicotine. I have quit smoking, and have not quit nicotine. With this new technology finally separating the two, and nicotine not being any more harmful than caffeine, there is really no need to me to quit e-cigarettes, and I do not intend to.

3. "E-cigarettes may be less harmful than their tobacco cousins, but that doesn’t mean they’re free of risks." - true, but I will take the lesser of two evils for now, and will re-evaluate my decision if/when e-cigs are ever shown to have any 'risks' at all.

4. To answer your initial question, "How can companies responsibly advertise a product that hooks its users, may be dangerous, and is supposed to mimic another product we’ve spent the last half-century deglamorizing?" - because it may just save my life.

FYI :)
se·ces·sion [si-sesh-uhn] noun act or instance of seceding.
2.( often initial capital letter ) U.S. History . the withdrawal from the Union of 11 Southern states in the period 1860–61, which brought on the Civil War.
3.( usually initial capital letter ) Fine Arts. a style of art in Germany and Austria concurrent with and related to Art Nouveau.

Banking Service Charges: Our online survey results

A Moneylife online survey on banking service charges shows a growing sense of frustration among customers about the constant and stealthy increase in charges. But many respondents don’t even know about these charges!

Bank customers are frustrated at the ever increasing charges being passed on to them, sometimes with the knowledge, or sometimes keeping them in the dark. In addition to high inflation, escalating costs of health and education, the friendly neighbourhood bank, which promised ease, convenience and efficiency, is quietly springing ever-increasing charges on discerning bank customers. The findings of Moneylife’s survey on banking service charges explained exactly why banks get away with it.


We received 1,579 responses to the survey. About 93% of the respondents have more than one bank account; 40% have more than three bank accounts. A significant majority (67%) have an account in private banks and 57% in nationalised banks. This means that the respondents are educated, tech- and social-media-savvy persons, in the higher income brackets. About 8% have a foreign bank account and 8.5% have an account in a co-operative bank. Around 69% have regular savings accounts, while 31% are high-end, priority customers. Only 25% of the respondents have salary accounts with banks. Surprisingly, 1.2% said they have a no-frills account as well, while 14.6% operate a current account.

The demography of the survey is heavily skewed against the female customers, with 92.6% of the respondents being male. Also, most of the respondents who avail the banking facility are between twenty and sixty years of age.

A third of our respondents (32%) are in the 20 to 35 age group; 26.6% are between 36-45 years, another 26.3% are between 46 to 60 years. Senior citizens, aged between 61-70 years and 71 years and above, constitute 11.5% and 3.6% of the respondents, respectively.


While a large discerning group is aware and angry about the slew of new charges, a shocking 60% of respondents were unaware of various charges and have never checked if their bank announces them transparently. Over 71% of account-holders do not want to change their bank for various reasons—and this is the answer to why banks are able to hike bank charges with such impunity.


We found that customers of private banks and nationalised banks were more aware of costs and charges, while a majority of customers in the two extremes—foreign banks and cooperative banks—responded with a ‘don’t know’ on most cost-related queries. Clearly, account-holders in foreign banks do not bother to check, while those of co-operative banks probably don’t avail of many of these services. Our own research shows that all three categories of banks (foreign, nationalised and private banks) are not very forthcoming about the entire spectrum of bank service charges such as the annual debit card fee, automatic teller machine (ATM) transaction charges, national electronic fund transfer (NEFT), real time gross settlement (RTGS) charges, SMS alert fees, minimum balance requirement and penalties.

Banks levy a slew of service charges on the customers like annual fee for debit card or ATM card, and for a duplicate pin number for the debit card or ATM card number, or for a new card in case of loss or damage. About 43.6% of the customers in nationalised banks reportedly pay between Rs100 to Rs500 annually for the debit card and ATM card. The figure is 17.55% and 14.56% in case of the foreign banks and co-operative banks respectively. Our survey has revealed that often people do overlook, or ignore certain charges, which are slyly introduced by the banks: for example, charges levied after the sixth transaction at ATMs. More than 50% of the respondents were simply unaware of the amount charged in these cases.


There are a plethora of charges that banks levy on various issues. But the most startling insight of the survey is the fact that in spite of not being fully satisfied with the services of their individual banks, majority of our respondents refused to change the bank. Our survey shows that about 36% of our respondents do not consider changing their banks because they have their salary linked with the bank and a whooping majority of 49% consider it as too much trouble to change the bank account.


In the cases of returned cheques, 48.8% of the customers in foreign banks and 46.5% of the customers in cooperative banks do not know that they are charged. Anywhere between Rs50 to Rs500, with the exception of IDBI Bank. The story is the same with the Electronic Clearance Service (ECS) and National Electronic Money Transfer, where the customers are unaware of the amount charged from them. Taking a cue from the strong campaign by Moneylife magazine, along with bank unions, the RBI assured us that it would facilitate electronic transfers as prescribed by the Damodaran Committee. An astounding majority of 65% of the respondents in our survey never knew the banks have account closing charges, especially if the account is deactivated within a year.


In the recent past, Moneylife has written about various charges levied on the customers by the banks.




Yash Verma

3 years ago

You have done yeoman's service by conducting this survey but am afraid it is not going to help the common man because he is too lazy to change the bank fearing hassles. It is not a big deal to change the bank, believe me. Yash Verma, Pune

kaushik shukla

3 years ago

the outcome of survey is an eye opener for common man , however this will not change the mindset of people, they still will continue with same bank.

pawan agrawal

3 years ago

we must take up this issues in the criminal court

Vaibhav Dhoka

3 years ago

Most of banks levy one or other charges silently.In case of Bank of Maharashtra Bhawani peth,Pune branch where I have savings account ,bank charges me Rs 6 on two occasion one while applying for United India's bank assurance on 27/6/2013 and another by paying Rs 10000=00 by payslip to other savings account 24/9/2013.No where these charges are listed on banks website.As amount is small customer overlooks same.

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