Fine print

It is increasingly annoying to visit any place and be assured that you will get good service at the right price or as advertised.

Scenario 1 (Major MNC Bank) – A bank approached me saying that if I hold a salary account with them then I get preferential treatment which means lower interest rates, locker facilities, no pre-closure charges on loans etc. It was on their website, I ended up converting it to the salary account. Surprise 1 – I wanted to pre-close my loan and they said I need to pay a fine of 5% of outstanding (it is flat rate, much more than I will pay interest for remaining instalments). I called up the relationship manager assigned to me and he cooly said, in the fine print it is written that you have to pay a fine, we can waive you for any new loans you take from now. Surprise 2 – I wanted to get a locker, I was slapped with a requirement of taking a useless insurance product with them with a lock in of 5 years. When I pointed them the ad, they said “it is for RBI compliance; we can add you to the waiting list if you wanted as per RBI guidelines”. I got the waiting list number after threatening them about an ombudsman complaint.

Scenario 2 (Multi national car brand) – I took my car to a reputed brand’s service center. The service engineer asked me about the complaints which I did not have any. He proceeded to fill a lot of details in the complaints section like A/C, Air filter etc. I pulled out the user manual to cross verify and it was recommended to be done only after a year not the current service cycle. When I pointed out, he sheepishly smiled and removed the line items saying all customers want their cars in pristine condition so they go for it. I thought he removed all additional items but when I went to collect the car I was billed an additional 1500 rupees. To my shock, he had written A/C cleaning twice and struck off only once; he mentioned that I had signed after reading through all of them. I then threatened them that A/C cleaning is not a complaint in legal terms and it is a customer request which has not been put up in appropriate column so I can take this up with consumer court. Immediately these guys relented and reduced the bill.

The list goes on I was denied insurance claim saying it is a fraudulent claim and then I approached the ombudsman who awarded the case in favour of me. The restaurants waiting for you to open the bottle on the table and then slapping 200 rupees for mineral water which was not told you anywhere. The medical shop switching generics for branded ones which are sometimes 3-4 times expensive.

My advise is to know your surroundings and your rights. It is not possible to read all the fine print but do not allow people to take you for a ride.

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