Moneylife Digital Team 20 March 2014

Pricing a product at Rs99, Rs199, Rs299, or Rs1,999 is called psychological pricing, in marketing. Some telemarketing companies have now started the sale of spiritual products. These are being sold by a company called GTM networks. They have prominent ads on specific news channels. Common in all these advertisements is:

(a) All of them have out-of-work and long-forgotten actors/actresses as brand ambassadors (have-beens, like Manoj Kumar, Jackie Shroff and Govinda, are also not spared).

(b) The products are herbal and ayurvedic made from raw materials sourced from forests in Nepal and Bhutan (which you and I have no access to).

(c) Invariably, the price of most of these products hovers around Rs2,999.

So, if you buy ayurvedic massage oil, or a Hanuman Chalisa yantra, the price is always Rs2,999. Yes, there is also a money-back policy; you can return the product, if you are not satisfied.

The advertising claims of these marketers are ludicrous. Buy a Kubera yantra and you will have gold coins falling from your roof! Apply herbal oil on your knees and your knee-pain will vanish in 10 days. Consume a powder, touted to be an aphrodisiac, and you will be blessed with a child in the next nine months. Keep a Sankat Mochan yantra in your room and MNCs will come knocking at your door with plum job offers. Apply a unique herbal powder to your plants and you can soon have an orchard full of fruits like mangoes, guavas, apples, grapes and chikoos.

Are you suffering from constipation? Please partake of this petsaaf shuddhi karan herbal powder priced only at Rs2,999 and there is no need to visit any doctor —but regular visits to the toilet are guaranteed! Not getting enough sleep? Buy anidramoksha churan—a powder that drives away fatigue and insomnia. After consuming this powder in milk for 12 days, from the 13th day onwards, you can be assured of peaceful sleep. Yes, there is also a free offer. If you buy this churan for Rs2,999 (you guessed it right!), you get a free booklet on “Healthy living in modern world”. Even without taking the powder, reading this book will guarantee you peaceful sleep. This is a bonus.

This industry also needs to be commended for innovative and breakthrough thinking. Have you lost a precious object? Have you lost something that you desperately need? Buy the yantra called Vyastu Wapasi yantra. Keeping this yantra near your entrance will ensure recovery of the lost product in seven days. Price of the yantra? Rs2,999. There is also a discount if you buy two yantras—buy two, get one free. You can actually keep this yantra everywhere including the bathroom.

Then there is the Vastu Shakti yantra. This yantra is a metal plate on which Sage Valmiki’s inscriptions are carved; the same Sage Valmiki who wrote the Ramayana! Vastu Shakti yantra is priced only at Rs2,999 and can be kept anywhere and everywhere. It will absorb all the negative energy in your home and also burn a big hole in your pocket.

Honestly, one wonders how many gullible consumers have fallen prey to such unsubstantiated claims. Who is the mastermind behind all these products and claims? It is perplexing.

Valliyoor Satya, Bengaluru, by email


To err is human. Mistakes do, or can, occur when returns are filed by taxpayers (or while filling up data by data-entry operators). No one ever admits to having made mistakes. In fact, many aggressively defend whatever action/stand they have taken. The I-T (income-tax) department puts the onus on rectifying the mistake on the assessee. Without undertaking to accept the information as per the certificate from TRACES, one cannot even access the Form 26AS.

Can the I-T department not ameliorate the tension and hassles faced by assesees, particularly senior citizens, in filing of I-T returns and also in getting the assessments completed? The I-T department should also make it simpler to rectify mistakes (for which they are not responsible).

I have faced this problem every year and I am sure many others too would have faced similar difficulties. If there is a difference between Form 26AS and the return is filed, can the I-T department not ask both the parties concerned to provide proof and fine heavily the one responsible for the mistake? This may make the tax deductee more cautious or more responsive to making corrections, wherever necessary.
Venu Nallur, by email


The Letter to the Editor titled “Delay in making payment by SHCIL” by RM Ramanathan, Chennai, in Moneylife (20 February 2014) got two replies from SHCIL: one from Rohini Henriques and the other from Karpagam S. Both are reproduced below. — Editor

Rohini Henriques, DP-customer care wrote:
Our concerned Branch has spoken to the client,
Mr Ramanathan. He confirms that he has received the cheque and it has long since been cleared. We trust you will treat this matter as resolved.

Karpagam S, area manager, Chennai wrote:
We, at SHCIL are always committed to maintaining the highest service standards. In this instance, the delay was due to a technical reason. We had already apologised to the client for the delay in refund of credit balances. Due care has been taken to avoid such stray instances in future.


With Facebook raking in billions by promoting fashion houses and retail outlets selling goods on the worldwide web, here is one more story of a shopping experience gone awry.
Based on a ‘Suggested Post’ featuring Yepme Shopping, I gave it a go. During the Google Online Shopping Festival, on 14 December 2013, I bought two products under order reference

# 4499050 on The payment was made via a nationalised bank’s netbanking payment gateway.

When the product was not delivered by 23 December 2013, I called up their customer-care staff who notified me that the payment had not gone through. They asked me to check with my bank and ask them to refund the money instead. I produced my bank statement which stated otherwise and forwarded it to the Yepme’s customer-care team to highlight the fact that the money had been transferred to the ‘emvantage payment gateway’ and the onus of refund was on Yepme. Well, that was just the beginning of the awful experience I was to undergo.

After about 20-odd phone calls to their customer-care team, and a dozen e-mail exchanges, the refund has not been processed till date. Each time I call them (customer care), I am assured that the refund would be processed within the next three days which, so far, have not arrived as per their calendar. Though it is a matter of a few hundred rupees, I think it goes a long way in showcasing how small businesses, like Yepme, are lacking in customer-care.

Even after notifying their customer-care team—that I would complain against them using the customer appellate forum—they are hardly moved into action. It is high time their services are reviewed. I thought of bringing this to the attention of your readers, to prevent others from being duped by such business houses. Hope this opens the eyes of the Yepme management.
Munish Sharma, by email

This is with regard to “Has the scope of CSR been too narrowly defined?” Any initiative to bring transparency in spending from CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds and to curb use of black money for fighting elections should be welcomed. Even the long list of ‘eligible’ activities that can be funded with CSR allocations has not satisfied the corporates which crave for more flexibility.

In the matter of social responsibility and avoidance of unethical practices in election expenditure, there are bound to be constraints for any regulatory approach to succeed. The final ‘judge’ will be the society and the aam aadmi who exercises his right to vote. The media and the educated population should play their role in creating awareness about the guidelines among the masses, who, in turn, should press for self-regulation by corporates and politicians.
MG Warrier

This is with regard to “Why healthcare costs are shooting up?—Part I” by Prof BM Hegde. A great revelation! Governments do not budget adequately for safe drinking water and good drainage and sewerage systems but go after budgeting for expenditure on health administration. If the former two are taken care of, the budgets of all families—rural and urban—will go into more and good food and better health. But doctors, consultants, educationists and executives in governments and insurance companies survive on poor systems and lack of basic amenities. Coming to Harvardians, after all, they (do not exclude IIMA) are hired intellectuals. When I told somebody that there is intellectual prostitution, he asked me ‘why do we want to insult prostitutes?’ I feel he is right.
Yerram Raju Behara

This is with regard to “What Really Happened at United Bank of India?” by Sucheta Dalal. Sure, PSU banks are in a bad shape, thanks to political interference. I want to pose two questions: (a) What is the need to re-capitalise these losing banks again and again? Instead, it would be better to let them die a natural death. (b) Why is Dr Raghuram Rajan not taking stronger measures to rein in errant banks and their chairmen? Remember Mr Seshan? As election commissioner, he cleaned up the whole system, the benefits of which are evident even now. Why can’t Mr Rajan also be a crusader in the same way?
BV Krishnan

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