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Can makemytrip.com make its customer’s day?

Travel website makemytrip.com has come out with an ad that states that it is the ‘fastest’ in booking tatkal tickets. How can the portal make such a claim?

Makemytrip.com is actively advertising on the Web that it will be able to provide its customers with tatkal tickets at a much ‘faster’ rate than other online travel agents. ”Beat the tatkal queues with the fastest tatkal booking at MakeMyTrip!,” the ad states. But how can a travel agent proclaim this, when tatkal bookings can happen only two days before the train departs? Second, any customer can go to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) website and book his ticket two days before a train’s departure. Many other travel websites also let you book tatkal tickets in advance (as per the stipulated period). So what’s behind makemytrip.com’s ‘fastest tatkal‘ claim?

According to the current scheme, tatkal booking opens at 8 am two days in advance from the actual date of the journey. For example, if you were to leave for Delhi on the 30th of this month, then you can book your tickets only on the 28th, from 8 am onwards.

The tatkal system accepts both manual bookings and Internet bookings. One would presume that Internet bookings would have more takers; however, according to a railway official and a few travel agents, most tatkal tickets are booked manually at railway counters. Travel agents have their representatives at booking counters queuing up before 8 am to manually purchase tickets.

With regard to makemytrip.com’s claim, SS Gupta, chief public relation officer (Mumbai division), Western Railways, said: “They are putting up false advertisements.”

According to Abhishek Agarwal, makemytrip.com’s deputy manager, the system provided for their customers on the website is more user-friendly and easy to operate, helping consumers to easily get their tickets. “Our website is more easily operational for a traveller to get his ticket much faster, than other websites,” he claimed.

“The idea is to save on time (while booking your tickets); everything is within the purview of the rules and regulations of the Indian Railways,” another employee from makemytrip.com said, preferring anonymity.

“We have done a good job at optimising the code at makemytrip.com’s website and we have written the code such that the dependency on network latency is less. That is why our speed is much faster,” he claimed.

However, this isn’t the case. We checked the IRCTC website, which provides a different system, but is as easily accessible as makemytrip.com. The only disadvantage may be the fact that the consumer may have to know the train number or train name while booking. However, when a traveller is preparing for his journey, he would always have these details.

Regarding the travel portal’s claim at being the ‘fastest’, we have also sent a query to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). However, the entity still has to reply.
 

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COMMENTS

Ann

8 years ago

Makemytrip allows tatkal booking only from9 am, wheras booking actually opens at 8. Maybe irctc has put a clause, and they are not able to do it,but makemytrip should have let us know it instead of just displaying a message "Tatkal bookings will open only at 9". Pretty indecent of them. I have used makemytrip a lot of times, and this has really stumped me.

vivek

9 years ago

while your outrage at the claim is justified as a layman, as a reporter one would expect you to do some research, check how much time the sight actually takes and then publish. why are you misusing this website to push ahead your impulsive (and rather childish) predilections ?

sushil

9 years ago

To start of i think if an online tour operator is offering such a service, lets try it before passing judgment. I am of an opinion that the jurno has done a good job of getting the relevant information out to the common man that Online Tour Operators are striving hard to make a difference in services they offer in such a competitive market, lets look at it as a positive step in making thing much easier and simpler for the last minute traveler. I cant understand why my fellow netzens are being so critical in expressing their views.

Aarif

9 years ago

If the claims of an Ad is not substantiated by demonstration of the claim, then every consumer has the right to complain and be redressed. I think we're arguing needlessly. Why don't we try it out and then complain. Or, if we're sure of our complaint, just go ahead and complain to the ASCI on [email protected], 022-23513982 or 1800-22-2724 (toll free).
Complaints upheld by ASCI's Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) has 98% compliance by advertisers. Which means that a faulty Ad will be either modified or pulled off.
Go ahead and complain. ASCI is meant for this.

Prakash

9 years ago

After I posted my comment I noticed that I am not the only one facing identical problem. Naturally this does not seem to be a system failure conveniently happening between 8 - 8.15 am. Also, this cannot happen without the authorities being involved. I request Ms. Sucheta Dalal and her investigative team to go to the root of this problem and unearth any malafide intentions in this. You will be helping people at large.

Prakash

9 years ago

In the past whenever I tried booking tatkal ticket through IRCTC site exactly at 8 am two days prior, I have faced access problem which does not let me book the tickets for first few minutes say 10-15 min. By the time the most of confirmed tickets of the quota are gone and only waitlist are remaining. I strongly suspect that this could be due to some handiwork of interested parties/companies.

SUBIR JHA

9 years ago

I completely agree with the above comments. I am a regular reader of Moneylife and this article is a big let down.Like the previous posts mention the tatkal services at irctc website suck and there is obviously an opportunity waiting to be tapped.I dont know how credible are the claims made my M M T are and they must definitely be taken to task if they fail to deliver on the promise.
The artcile just shows you ( the journalist) dont travel much out of town ( atleast not by train ).

Debashish

9 years ago

please do a bit of research before publishing such article . Try booking a Tatkal ticket on irctc.com and cleartrip.com any day at morning 8 o'clock , you will know the difference . It takes almost 30 mins 30 mins to login and open the search page . By that time all tatkal tickets get sold.

So please make some effort before publishing a story

Rakesh Shah

9 years ago

IRCTC tatkal can never be acessed before 8.15 am. Maybe, the access to the counter clerks(read agents) is thus 15 minutes earlier than the internet booker. Within 15 minutes almost all Tatkal seats are gone. Makemytrip may take advantage of this to the benefit of the net booker!!!!.

abhishek

9 years ago

To Author Aaron Rodrigues,
Premature article, seems you have never tried online tatkal booking.
Try it first then write the article. I have tried atleast 10 times, irctc stops working for tatkal ticket from 8AM to 8:15 or so, until all tatkal seats are full. Even if you are lucky you might get WL 1/2. (If you are booking tatkal on 28 for journey on 30th as per your article).
Same is the case with cleartrip and yatra. Haven't tried mmt yet!
One request to you and editor, Kindly confirm the fact if you r writing for moneylife

Crack-proof Passwords

Your passwords may not be very secure, even if you think they are. Find out how you can create robust passwords

Everyone has to keep track of dozens of passwords: for network accounts, online services, premium websites, ATMs or credit cards. It’s difficult to remember all of them, so some write their passwords on a piece of paper, leaving their accounts vulnerable to thieves or in-house snoops. Others choose the same password for different applications which makes life easy for intruders of all kinds. According to a recent survey, nearly 50% of users have the same password for all the sites they visit on the Internet. Moreover, almost 90% of them don’t change their password periodically. Imagine what would happen if any of your accounts were to be hacked; the hacker would gain access to all your email, bank and social networking accounts and may even wipe out your presence from the Internet!
Just for a scare, try this: search your email for some of your own passwords. Most probably, you will find a lot of your own passwords, either because you have emailed them to yourself or because some websites email your password when you register or when you click on the ‘I forgot my password’ link. So, if a hacker manages to access your email, he can easily break into your other accounts.

You can prevent this from happening by creating passwords that are difficult to crack. Unfortunately, increasingly sophisticated technology, coupled with our own carelessness, may render even supposedly ‘robust’ passwords vulnerable to attack by an experienced hacker.

So, how can you create a truly secure password? Although no password can be 100% secure, you should use a combination of words, digits and special characters to create a password that will be difficult to crack. It’s also important to be aware of the methods used by hackers to crack a password.

According to Eric Thompson, founder of AccessData (a technology forensics company that helps detect and investigate cases of fraudulent data access), most passwords follow a pattern. (In fact, AccessData has developed a ‘password-guessing’ software). He says that people, typically, choose a readable word as the base for a password—it may be a word that is pronounceable in English but not included in a dictionary. When pressed to add a numeral or symbol to make the password more secure, most people add ‘1’ or ‘!’ to the end of that word.

AccessData’s software, which uses a ‘brute force’ technique that tries thousands of passwords until it guesses yours correctly, can easily figure out such common passwords. When it incorporates your computer’s web history into its algorithm—including all your information on Twitter, Facebook and other such sites—AccessData’s software can come up with a list of passwords that is highly likely to include yours as well.

AccessData’s research found that a typical password consists of a root word plus an appendage. The appendage is a suffix to the root word in 90% of the cases.
The first operation of the AccessData software is to test a dictionary of about 1,000 common passwords, like ‘letmein’, ‘password1’, ‘123456’ and so on. Then, it tests each of these words with about 100 common suffix appendages, like ‘1’, ‘4u’, ‘69’, ‘abc’, ‘!’ and so on. Believe it or not, the software recovers about 24% of all passwords with these 100,000 combinations.

Then, the software scans a series of increasingly complex ‘root dictionaries’ and ‘appendage dictionaries’. The ‘root dictionaries’ include a common word dictionary (5,000 entries); names dictionary (10,000 entries); comprehensive dictionary (100,000 entries); and phonetic pattern dictionary (1/10,000 of an exhaustive character search).{break}

The software runs an exhaustive four-character-string search of each dictionary—the most common lowercase, the second most common initial uppercase, all uppercase and final uppercase. It also runs the dictionaries with common substitutions: ‘$’ for ‘s’, ‘@’ for ‘a’, ‘1’ for ‘l’ and so on. The appendage dictionaries include all two-digit combinations, all dates from 1900 to 2009, all three-digit combinations, all single symbols, all single-digit plus single-symbol and all two-symbol combinations.

This exhaustive process succeeds in cracking even the most ‘foolproof’ passwords. The company’s research indicates that the ‘sweet spot’ of a typical password is a seven- to nine-character root plus a common appendage and that it’s much more likely for someone to choose a hard-to-guess root than an uncommon appendage.

The good news is that you can use certain techniques to create robust passwords that cannot be cracked even by using such sophisticated software programs. Choose a password that doesn’t contain a readable word. Mix upper- and lower–case letters. Use a number or symbol in the middle of the word, not at the end. Don’t just use ‘1’ or ‘!’, and don’t use symbols as replacements for letters, such as ‘@’ for a lowercase ‘a’. And, of course, create unique passwords for different sites.

Confused? Think it will take too much time? It needn’t be that difficult to create a robust password if you follow some simple rules. Rule No. 1 is to start with an original but memorable phrase—for example, ‘Moneylife says know what’s coming’ or ‘My first Maruti was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota’. The phrase can be anything, but make sure it’s something you can remember easily without writing it down.

Next, convert the simple phrase into an acronym. Be sure to use some numbers, symbols and capital letters, too. Thus, ‘Moneylife says know what’s coming’ can become ‘MLskwc’ or [email protected]; and ‘My first Maruti was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota’ can become ‘M1stMwarlsIbaT!’

That’s it! These mnemonic passwords are hard to forget, but they contain no guessable English words. Using the same method, you can also create site-specific passwords; for example, ‘It’s 45 degrees in May, so I use Gmail’ can become ‘i50dgiMsIuG’ (50 is not the real temperature; it’s for the month number multiplied by 10). Based on the phrase, you can change your password almost every month; for November, it becomes ‘i110dgiNsIuG’ and for March, it’s ‘i30dgiMsIuG’ and so on.

However, there is no need to use robust passwords for every site you visit. For general sites which don’t affect you personally or financially, use simple phrases to create passwords. Reserve your strongest, most distinct passwords for critical services—like your bank account, your computer and your personal e-mail.
You should also avoid using a public computer because the Windows operating system’s memory management feature retains any data that you input in the normal course of operations. When you type your password into a program, it gets stored in the system memory. When Windows swaps the page out to disk, it becomes the tail-end of some file on your hard drive, and it will sit there forever. Linux and Mac OS are no better in this regard.

There is one more password you will always need to remember—your ATM personal identification number (PIN). Although your bank provides the PIN, it is advisable to change it. Many banks offer the facility to change your PIN by using the ATM. The PIN consists of just four numbers, making it difficult to create another secure PIN; but you can do so by using your imagination. For example, you can use your mobile handset to create a robust and yet easy-to-remember password: your root phrase ‘Moneylife says know what’s coming’ becomes 6592 (using the digits corresponding to the first letter of each word—6 for ‘Moneylife’, 5 for ‘know’, 9 for ‘what’s’ and 2 for ‘coming’); and ‘My first Maruti was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota’ becomes 6758.

So, what are you waiting for? Can you create a robust and safe password using something like “Mahabharat mein Ghatotkach, jo ki Bhima ka putra tha, mara gaya” or “Yudhishthir ne kaha naro wa kunjaro”!

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