Personal finance Wednesday

SHCIL is new PoPs for pension system for all citizens

Finance services company Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd (SHCIL) has been appointed as Points of Presence (PoP) for collecting pension contributions from all citizens. PoPs are contact and collection points for customers wanting to be part of the New Pension System thrown open to all Indians last year. Initially, the government launched the New Pension System for central government employees joining service from 1 January 2004, but it was extended to all citizens from 1 May 2009. Currently, there are 33 PoPs, including SBI, ICICI Bank, Postal Department, with over 3,500 branches accepting contributions of subscribers.

IDFC MF revises exit load for two schemes

IDFC Mutual Fund has revised the exit load structure under its two schemes-IDFC Super Saver Income Fund-Short Term and IDFC Ultra Short Term Fund. As per the revision, IDFC Super Saver Income Fund-Short Term and IDFC Ultra Short Term Fund will charge an exit load of 0.50% and 1% respectively, if the investments are redeemed within three months from the date of allotment. The revision will be in effect from 5 August. IDFC Super Saver Income Fund-Short Term and IDFC Ultra Short Term Fund are benchmarked against by CRISIL Short-Term Bond Fund Index and CRISIL Liquid Fund Index respectively.

ICICI Prudential MF announces dividend under ICICI Prudential Quarterly Interval Plan B

ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund has approved the declaration of dividend under the dividend option of ICICI Prudential Quarterly Interval Plan B. The quantum of declaration is 1.034%. The record date is 9 August 2010. The scheme is an open end debt scheme. The net asset value (NAV) of the scheme stood at 10.1156 on 3 August 2010.

HDFC MF announces dividend under HDFC Quarterly Interval Plan C

HDFC Mutual Fund has approved the declaration of dividend under the dividend option of HDFC Quarterly Interval Plan C (Retail and Wholesale Plan). The quantum of declaration will be 100% of distributable surplus as available under the plans on the record date. The record date is 9 August 2010. HDFC Quarterly Interval Plan C (Retail and Wholesale Plan) is an open end debt scheme. The net asset value (NAV) of the HDFC Quarterly Interval Plan C Retail stood at 10.2485 on 3 August 2010. The NAV of HDFC Quarterly Interval Plan C Wholesale was at 10.1101 on 3 August.

CRISIL assigns 'AA-' and 'P1+' for Cholamandalam Investment And Finance Company's debt instruments

CRISIL has assigned its 'AA-/Stable/P1+' ratings to Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company Ltd's (CIFCO's) debt instruments. These rating strengths are partially offset by CIFCO's modest earnings profile and its moderate size of operations compared to its peers. CIFCO, financial services arm of the Murugappa Group, is a moderately sized entity in the retail finance segment in India. While finance of commercial vehicles (CV) is its core business, the company is also focusing on the loan against property segment. CRISIL's believes that the Murugappa group will continue to provide support to CIFCO, which will ensure an adequate capital position, and partly offset the challenges of modest earnings profile and its moderate size of operations in the financing business. The outlook may be revised to 'Positive' in case of an upward change in CRISIL's view on Murugappa group's credit profile, or in case of a significant and sustainable improvement in CIFCO's market position and earnings profile.

Conversely, the outlook may be revised to 'Negative' in case of a downward movement in CRISIL's view on Murugappa group's credit profile, or diminution in support from the group to CIFCO.

User Nothing clear about it

Shoddy service, lost mileage points and booking glitches galore. Why should you ever visit aggregator sites for airline tickets?

Greed does not pay. Sadly, I found this to be true while attempting to book an airline ticket through an online portal called ''.

I had used this service in the past, but once had an experience of the money having been debited and then the ticket not coming through and since then I had discontinued their services.

Alas, I was lured by an offer of one free ticket for each ticket booked and had a go.

Late evening on 29th July, at around 7:15pm or so, I filled out all the details for a Chennai to Pune flight by Kingfisher Airlines. It showed a fare of around Rs3,857. No sooner had I pressed 'submit' (or the equivalent of wanting to conclude the transaction) that I got an SMS saying that my bank account had been debited (I had used the net-banking facility of my banker) with the said amount. I started to smile on having successfully navigated yet another net-based transaction (you see, the BSNL Internet connectivity is such that it keeps going off, so to complete an online transaction, it is an achievement for me).

Alas, my smile froze. A message flashed online that the transaction had 'failed'. I had no clue of what happened. I checked my bank account. Yes, the amount had been debited.

So, I presumed that there was some glitch and called a customer support number of Cleartrip. I was a bit disturbed since I did not have any reference number. The lady who attended my call resolved that by checking with my email ID. Luckily, I was a 'registered' user and hence I had logged in with that ID. So, it was easy to trace and she gave me a Cleartrip ID number. She said that the ticket was not issued due to some 'link' not working! I tried to probe further, but got no farther.
She told me that my money would be 'reversed' immediately and that I could call in half an hour to check about the fate of my ticket, etc.

Alas, after an hour I could not get through in spite of several tries and so I kept it for the next morning.

Next morning, I checked my Cleartrip account to see if any ticket had been issued. No luck. I checked my bank account to see if the amount was credited. No. Cleartrip was still holding on to the money for a 'failed' transaction!
I called them up and once again was given a spin as to why the bloody thing did not work out.

Now, I got on to the website of Kingfisher directly and booked the ticket. Surprise! The fare was lower though they did not give any 'buy one get one free' offer.

Is Cleartrip justified in doing what it did to me? It is very clear that they did not give me the service that they had promised. And the fact that in spite of taking my money, they could not deliver is proof that they did not have any valid arrangement with the airline.

Cleartrip is clearly not my cup of tea. Henceforth, it is the airline website or a physical travel agent. Online travel brokers/agents are high risk and we have no control over the transaction. Take care, folks. Cleartrip is out. I have no clue about other such brokers and I have no intention of finding out either.
After Mr Balakrishnan's ordeal, Moneylife contacted Cleartrip for its response. Here's what the portal had to say:

Vishal Gupta, VP (operations) of Cleartrip attempted to explain the situation.

First, he claimed that Mr Balakrishnan's negative experience occurs in just 1% or 2% of the millions of transactions that are put through by Cleartrip. While this point is well taken, what did not elicit a satisfactory response from Mr Gupta is the chain of events after the booking failed.

1. Mr Gupta said that the refunds are made only after reconciliation to check that the money is credited to Cleartrip by the bank. He could not explain why Cleartrip wasn't able to get information about the debit at the same time as the customer.

2. He promised to check and say why the customer was told that the money would be 'reversed' immediately instead of saying that it would take at least 24 hours.

3. There is no explanation for why Cleartrip, which clearly had the customer's money, could not help complete the transaction, even though the first booking had failed.

4. Cleartrip claims to offer the best rate, but our columnist found otherwise. Mr Gupta said, "We still stand by the claim"; he went on to explain Mr Balakrishnan's case by saying that airlines have "dynamic fare systems" and prices change rapidly. This, however, means that aggregator sites cannot claim to offer the best rate.
5. Finally, as Mr Balakrishnan points out, booking through aggregator sites may actually cause customers to lose out on mileage points. It is also clear that you must risk booking, only if you have the funds to buy another ticket if you are unlucky enough to be part of the 2% failed bookings.




7 years ago

I wished I had never used Cleartrip and I wished I have heard of the bad experience others experience before I paid Cleartrip.
I purchased about 40kAED worth of Emirates tickets on Cleartrip on 18 Oct, the web experience was great, and the payment department and the risk control department were very 'efficient' on making sure that I provided all my documents for them to process the payments immediately. when it comes to taking money from the customers, i would rate Cleartrip an excellence.

However, my nightmare started when I called them the next day to arrange stopovers on my itinerary which my tickets fare do allow stopovers arrangement. I attempted many times of calls, easily 30 calls and only 4 calls went through and at one point waited for 1 hr to be connected. The call centre representative was clueless, didnt understand the fare condition and refused to do the arrangement for me, until I had to educate them and tried my very best to rationalize and help them to understand how stopover should work. Even then, they could not act on it and PROMISED they would call me back within 4 hrs. I did not receive any calls, and I went through the same pain to call them again, and the second representative told me the same thing, and PROMISED they will definitely call me back on the change after they have to check with airline on the fee. (In which it is already on the web and on black and white, not sure what is left to check). Today I tried to call them again, and was put on hold for more than 1 hr, and I literally have spent half of my day trying to get hold of someone through the 800 number. Finally a representation named Sumit picked the call up and told me the SAME STORY, all the keywords 'promise', 'waiting for Emirates airline to revert', 'supervisor has left for the day'. I refused to naively believe on the promise this time as the trust has been bleached, I hold on to the call and told Sumit that I needed him to act on it, he reverted after a few minutes and quoted me a penalty amount of more expensive than my whole ticket, which is definitely not legitimate! Based on that, I told Sumit I would need to cancel these tickets, and he went on telling me all the charges which could have been well kept in the fine print. At this moment, I just think that this is just a con business Cleartrip is running and i decided Cleartrip is going to bear the consequence of the bad service.

I have no access to whom I can speak to in Cleartrip other than the inexperienced call centre staff, and I am left stranded. I have started some conversation with Emirates Airline and I know what my rights are very clearly and I want to make sure Cleartrip honors that. I hope someone in Cleartrip will read this and act on this immediately otherwise this will definitely be escalated tomorrow.


7 years ago

Cleartrip is amongst the better ones in this space.


7 years ago

Uncle, wake up and smell the coffee. It is because of antiquated specimens like you that India still lags behind in the internet revolution in spite of some really bright startups that have made daily chores a breeze. If you can't do it, get someone else to do it - but crying out loud against one of the finest internet companies that India has ever produced is just plain wrong.

k a prasanna

7 years ago

One thing is clear - theft of data.


7 years ago

I think the author is being a bit unfair to Cleartrip. Compare them with their peers and not by the standards you want them to adhere to.

I have been a regular user of Cleartrip for last couple of years and am very happy and satisfed with their service. Their call center support staff is also very helpful.

I would also like to add that while chasing a cashback offer, I used ezeego and had a tough time getting my money back after a failed transaction.

Jose Augustin

7 years ago

I have used Cleartrip more than 30 times since they first started service. In all my booking experiences, I have never had a bad experience. Infact, I kept going back to them because of the clean, neat interface and the prompt service that they offered.

I still regularly use Cleartrip for my Air and Rail bookings. Their air tickets might have a minor difference (Rs. 10-50 extra) than the airline websites directly. But that is a premium that I think most of the air travellers are ready to pay for good service.


7 years ago

I have mostly noticed that air tickets on these travel websites are invariably more expensive (even if by few hundred rupees to sometimes more) than the direct airlines website. I have a habit of checking on both before I do my booking. In the past, I have always benefited by booking directly through airline website. But the last time I booked for Mumbai-Bagdogra-Mumbai for 4 people, to my surprise I found that air fare of Jet Airways was much cheaper on than the airline's own website. And lucky me, I successfully completed full transaction without a glitch, almost. I got a wrong PNR for one one-way ticket, which when I complained to customer care, they gave me the right PNR. Though earlier for the same sector I got cheaper rates on Kingfisher's own website.


Frequent Flier

In Reply to Prakash 7 years ago

You can do this on sites like or

Abhishek Agrawal

7 years ago

In my personal experience, I have always used and have found it very reliable and never had any issue.


Vivek Chaturvedi

In Reply to Abhishek Agrawal 7 years ago

I agree with Abhishek! We are who are more aware of these internet transactions and have a stable broadband connection have never faced such issues with Cleartrip and any other site...


7 years ago

I have had a similar experience with in the month of May 2010. My account got debited and due to some technical problem, the tickets could not be issued to me. However, cleartrip team was very quick and called me to inform that due to some glitch, the ticket could not be issued and assured me to resolve the issue within a short span of time. I must tell you that cleartrip team did exactly what they informed me on phone. Tickets were duly issued to me and I performed my journey as planned.

I am willing to buy the argument and reasoning of cleartrip.


7 years ago

What Mr.Balakrishnan has faced is by no means unique.I had faced similar problems while booking tickets with "" and "".In case of ezeego1,I was booking the ticket through phone and in spite of that,after the amount was debited from my Bank A/c I was informed by ezeego1 that the transaction did not go thro' due to "technical failure" and the amount will be refunded to me after 7 days.They also informed me that in case I do not get the refund after 7 days,I must write to them giving them a whole lot of information including when I booked the ticket!!! I had to waste a lot of time following up thro' mails and phone before I managed to get my refund.The experience with Kyazoonga was worse and I thought I would never get my money back.The fact remains that booking thro' these sites involves risks and one must be ready to fight it out and spend time to get the refunds.


7 years ago

Most certainly it makes sense to use the comparative function of these websites and then buy directly from the airline. Additional miles for internet booking, additional miles for web check in and most of all a document provided by the airline. Very often you can also benefit from a few tricks:-

a) Book late at night or on holidays. Perception is that fares are lower then.

b) Keep the websites of other airlines open while transacting - in fact, use the search for fares function there too.

c) Play for maximum benefit on miles, these are really worth it if you do 5-6 flights a year or more.

d) Give rational feedback to the airline - the benefits are sometimes brilliant.

Good luck.


Rupin Dang

In Reply to malQ 7 years ago

It's not just Cleartrip! Even the likes of Yatra, well funded by the big boys, are inefficient and slothful, lumbering and inept!

We booked an air ticket to the US for one of our employees. It was confirmed and our credit card was charged.

He reached the airport only to be told that there was no reservation in his name. He showed them the print-out from Yatra, but to no avail. He had to buy an air ticket on the spot for Rs. 18, 000 more.

Later, when we took it up with Yatra, we were told that the credit card charge had not gone through. Hence, the ticket was not issued.

On showing them the proof that not only had the credit charge card gone through, but even the AmEx invoice for the same had long since been paid, they refunded us the credit card amount in 45 days, but remained silent in regard to their major slip-up!

No amount of email to them sorted out the problem. Needless to say, we have altogether stopped dealing with them now, putting to an end over 75 lakhs of business that we had sent their way.

Promod Haque, ADA and Raghav Bahl need to take note of this, as does Dhruv Shringi!

Rupin Dang
Wilderness Films India Ltd.
New Delhi

The Commonwealth Games learns that the truth is always in the numbers

If you thought that the current controversies plaguing the upcoming Commonwealth Games are shameful, here are some episodes from our sorry sporting past

It is an old rule in politics - if you are caught out in activities which are fairly par for the course, often involving the misuse of funds or assets belonging to the public exchequer, then you have to be able to defend yourself without letting any muck escape upwards. If you try to point fingers at those who are above your horizon, then you will simply not be allowed to go off into the sunset in peace, as all upward trails will be obscured. Anything you say is suspect anyways.
The only alternative left then is to stand alone in a corner and fight it out. Brazenly. Use every trick at your disposal. Maybe you will succeed, in which case you live to fight for another day. Or you have to exit gracefully, and be content with the fact that for the rest of your life you will be allowed to exist, without much ado. But. You. Do. Not. Pass. The. Blame. Upwards.
Suresh Kalmadi appears to be in a jam of this sort. After finessing the art-form of running games which nobody else considered to be anything more than a great party with fireworks, during the eminently forgotten 'Commonwealth Youth Games' held in Pune a few years ago, he obviously set his sights far too high in the killing fields of Delhi. Such is the state of the media in India today, that for better or for worse, if one media-house "breaks" a report of the sort that the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and Indian Olympics Association are facing nowadays, then the rest will also have to tag along. And it must be said, the centre of action for all this CWG chaos is in and around South and New Delhi - which is where our national electronic and print media seems to find its frontlines.
But would all this have been possible without credible access to the one thing that matters in the first case - the numbers? And therein lies a tale, which is a Moneylife exclusive.
Way back in 2005, the Right to Information (RTI) Act of India was in its first flush of action, and ably supported by Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu, yours truly filed a very simple RTI application with the Indian Olympics Association (IOA) - operating those days out of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) premises at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. IOA and its subordinate as well as related entities, which control every game and sport in India plus a lot more, were for all practical purposes acting like extensions of the government of India, through SAI and the ministry of sports. In short, a great time was had by all.
Except the athletes and sportspersons who went to Melbourne for the previous Commonwealth Games in 2006. There were reports on how they performed in close to miserable conditions - again, nothing new. Indian sports team goes abroad, local Indian population provides training facilities, equipment, local transport, shoes and food - otherwise there is always the gracefulness of the gurudwaras. This has been the reality for ages, and in a pre-liberalisation, pre-Internet, pre-RTI India, it just went on that way. In exchange, you gave them bottles of Indian pickles, or similar.
Except that this time there were reports on the Internet, picked up in small little columns by the mainstream media, which spoke also about the vast amounts of money paid to stars and starlets to come and dance on stage in Melbourne. One famous actress I knew, however, told me she went all the way there for national honour, and didn't know what these payments were about.
So, in a moment of inspired madness, your correspondent filed a very simple RTI application with the Indian Olympics Association, asking it to please provide details of these dancing expenses in Melbourne. To be fully aware of the truth on such things, if they had done so, and given any story as an answer, the matter would have probably died there and then.
But no. Authority questioned is authority defied, and so the questioner has to be put in his place. Publicly. The whole establishment, which was the IOA, SAI, ministry of sports and the rest of them, chose to at one stage or the other defend the right of the IOA not to provide these numbers. Or IOA's adherence to the RTI Act. The arguments were various, from outright denial to some innovative ones quoting declarations and speeches which nobody else had heard of - but they all said the same thing - we won't tell you how much we spent on what. We are not liable to the Indian people. That's it. Go away. And the weight by way of legal pressure was amazing.
But the office of the Chief Information Commissioner provided a judgement in the applicant's favour
In addition, it was the clear and outright support from good friends who are lawyers in Delhi, that they would support me all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, totally pro bono, which gave strength for the next episode. Plus the simple fact that MS Gill came into the sports ministry.



KB Patil

7 years ago

Some months ago, Rahul Gandhi was always in the news, saying the right things. However, nowadays, when some issues have reached crisis point - for instance, the Maoist attacks, high inflation, violence in Kashmir and this blatant corruption in the Games, he is totally mum. A leader is one who is always prepared to face the music, not one who surfaces only when the weather is favorable.

In fact, yesterday, the PM's body language during the Parliament debate, left me very disturbed. It seems that PM is least perturbed by the blatant acts of profiteering by the OC. Crooked people are adept at manufacturing a crisis so that they can have their way. It is in India's interest to have a clean record during the games. As the saying goes: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. The people of India are watching, dear PM. If you dont act now, this could very well be a millstone around your neck.

jamna varadhachary

7 years ago

What is new. Everyone in Pune knows who pocketing millions after the games. I would have been surprised if this time too, he is not in murky deals. Only he has aimed higher this time.It is a given, the venality of politicians and the games administrators who have a stranglehold on their fiefdoms.


V Malik

In Reply to jamna varadhachary 7 years ago

Thank you for writing in, Jamna ji.

The big picture is like that of a large supertanker plodding its way across the ocean relentlessly. Any change will be done slowly carefully and with a lot of homework. Our role is to do what we can, every little bit helps and adds up.

K Narayanan

7 years ago

Corruption has been commoditised in India.It is mainly monopolysied by the politicians in power with some biscuits thrown to the officials.Kalmadi is raping CWG but congress politicians and some others are telling that we shd enjoy witnessing the rape and allow CWG to be concluded before questioning him.We are unable to do anything in the case of a High court judge agaist whom serious allegations are there.In Karnataka the CM is telling that Reddy brothers are innocent and no proof is there agaist them.Our pride is apparently CWG for some with vested interest who are closely connected with the game but according to me "our pride is shameless exhibition of corruption"


V Malik

In Reply to K Narayanan 7 years ago

Thank you K. Narayanan ji. The point of this article is and was to try and get across that the strength of paper and pen eventually does achieve something. It may take time, it may be convoluted, but it does so. Agreed that the exhibition of corruption has now become naked loot, but have faith in the fact that you and I are still able to do something to try and cure matters. One small aspect at a time.

Thanks for writing in.

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