The thrill of online shopping…

Online shopping has been growing every quarter 4 folds. Goods worth millions of Dollars are now sold online. Mind it. Indians are valuing everything in Dollars and in units like Millions or Billions. I have deep feeling of rupee getting devalued against other currencies partly because Indians have stopped doing Valuations in Rupee. We have also kept units like Lakhs and Crores only for Realty and Housing Industry. Maybe, some where we have devalued our own currency by adopting other’s practices in the process of globalisation.

We all shop a bit to almost everything from online shopping portals and marketplace with only one goal – savings. We save either money or time or a little of both by doing online shopping. Gone are the days when we asked for cash discounts over a new mobile phone with the salesman. The latest trend is to bargain with a lifeless person who is in the form of an application, mobile or web version! The way of bargain has shifted too, from asking for discount to checking how much is the cashback offered from one of those listed banks if we use their credit card or debit cards. Considering the savings via cashback as an achievement is one of the reason why we tend to shop online more and more.

In a bid to make most of the cashback offers, we had an amazing adventure. We? Me and one of my wife’s cousin. He was looking to switchover to a new mobile for quite some time. Getting a new mobile is just few clicks away but selecting that mobile\model from a long list like 33million gods is quite difficult. When we have a requirement to but new mobile phone, we become more watchful of which mobile is being talked about around us. We silently watch what model is in one’s palm versus his facial expressions or reactions that help determine whether he is happy or not. These days we even spend hours reading reviews on various shopping portals and online marketplaces. There is already one dreamfone set in our mind and we make that as a benchmark to compare with others. 99.99976931% people buy what is on their mind and the remaining one’s may change their mind based on other’s experiences.

I was immersed in my work on 22nd January of this year with mild excitement of a public holiday few days ahead. He called me in afternoon when I was recovering back from usual siestatic laziness. “Jayant bhai, yeh Asus ka phone kaisa hai?” was the question after we asked each other about our n our family’s well being.

“Theek hai. Mera wala model Zenfone4 kuch khaas nahi but abhi k sab log bolte hai achcha hai.”

“Aur MI?”

“Mujhe MI naam pasand nahi. Fir main shayad Asus hi le lun. Mere neighbour k paas Asus Zenphone 2 hai. Kaafi taarif karta hai and looks wise bhi achcha hi lagta hai.”

“Okay. Maine do options dekhe they, Asus Zenfone 2 Laser aur MI Note 4. Configuration mein zyaada fark nahi hai.”

“Asus lelo, matter khatam kardo”, was my reply after we went comparing these two models and discussing few other aspects.

That was a very popular sale day on the shopping portal where all products were carrying heavy discounts. That Asus fone too had a flat discount of 500 rupees. The real reason for we both lingering on the portal and comparing other portals comes now. An buyback offer for his old micromax fone that values the 3 year old at rs. 1500 and an additional 7.5% cash back via a popular bank’s credit card or debit card. That would save him another 600 rupees.

Who would not wanna miss this moment of saving almost 2600 rupees? He pointed at Asus phone with his finger on the touchscreen of the phone as the discounts were available only throught Mobile application. He also asked me if I had that bank’s debit card or credit card, so he can avail the cashback benefit also. I have an savings account and a debit card with balance sufficient enough to fulfill his purchase. But I was a little skeptical about online transactions with this bank. I haven’t used this account for any online payments but only for paying Insurance premiums by standing instructions or one-time-mandate. Trust me when I say that I like the Indian Banking System and way RBI regulates. Out of the story, I visit RBI website and their press release section to be aware of anything posted there for common man.

There have been many security updates as per RBI norms in this and other bank’s internet banking portals. But since I haven’t done any online payments from this bank account, I wasn’t sure it would work. I gave him my debit card details and all other surrounding information which is required to strengthen the execution of transaction as I was not physically present with him. He tried in every possible ways but somehow the transaction didn’t go through. It was asking for some sort of verification by MasterCard.

He lost hopes for the cash back and preferred to go by cash on delivery mode. But that way he would save only 2000 rupees. I too thought for a moment but realised that would be a loss of 600 bucks. Not to forget, bijness is bijness. Take as much discount as available. It was already 5 pm. I asked him till what time can you claim this benefit of 2600 rupees? Thankfully it was till 00:00 hours. Like we had another 7 hours and I was already on my way back home. I suggested him to save everything that he wished to buy in the cart and send me the login id n password for the shopping portal. When at home, I would do the checkout and see the issues at payment by debit card.

Unfortunately he didn’t remember the password to his account on that shopping portal. *time please* with the invention of “save the password for future” feature, we have become so forgetful about important credentials. Point to be noted dear readers. Please be careful to remember your accounts and passwords. Unused accounts are easily misused by those unfriendly community of hackers and other such people. *back* He said he was also coming early from work and would come straight to my place and would complete the transaction. That was the best plan chalked out.

I reached home and gave the news of her cousin coming to my wife. The dinner was a fun filled chinese bhel. But things never go as planned. I was playing with my kid and speaking to him about his lamboo mama coming today to meet him. *he is tall, heighted, biker and most importantly single* I got his call again and he said about getting a little late due to office work. “No worries. It is your house too, you can walk in anytime of your convinience but let us have a dinner together”, I mentioned. But he got a little more late and by that time I had already filled up my hungry tummy with the yummy home made chinese bhel. He reached at about 9:30 pm and mentioned about his break at home to drop his office backpack and have a quick dinner. Bikes these days make it more easier to commute within same city.

After exchanging greetings with other family members, we hooked back to our Project Asus. I had installed application on my phone, to buy the phone and asked him to login. He tried a couple of passwords and finally one of them worked. He made a note of that password in his mind. He selected the phone but thought to consider MI phone. He showed me the specs again and we compared to conclude Asus is better as there is a service centre in our city. Asus was finally locked for the time being as discounts were good and also the buyback deal. He filled in details of the old phone as per the terms and conditions of buyback process and we proceeded to check out. I spoke out the details of my debit card while he filled in. After he clicked submit, he handed over the phone to me. I saw there were 2 options from the bank’s portal to either have an OTP (One Time Password) sent to my mobile as a text or sign up for Mastercard Secure code.

I had no idea what was this security feature of secure cube by Master Card. I thought of going for OTP. By the time I could think more, the transaction had timed out. He went throught entire process of searching the product, selecting, filling the IMEI Code for the old phone, selecting the buyback model, clicking the payment mode, filling debit card details etc. and we came to same page with 2 options. This time I tried OTP to my mobile. As soon as I selected OTP and it displayed box to type OTP, all I could recollect was that my mobile number was not updated in the bank’s records. I was not using this account actively since 2009 may be and hence didn’t care much about contact details. I had few standing instructions to pay life insurance premium and a couple of other bills. So I only ensured the account had sufficient balance for these payments above the AQB. AQB is Average Quarterly Balance, which is 10,000 rupees.

It was already 10:00 pm. I thought to apply for the Secure Cube facility of Mastercard without considering the charges that may hit to my account. It prompted me to fill in more information around KYC, which I answered correctly. It went to next page after a minute or so and just to say in bold red font that my request had timed out. We went through entire process from very start to end and try the secure cube signup but I gave same results. It was already 10:30 pm now. I thought maybe mobile browsers are the problem for timeout, so I pulled out my laptop. Like a soldier pulls out an rifle after the pistol is not helpful in a combat. Powered it on and that gave problems connecting to the wireless network in my house. I could see my neighbour’s wifi address so I ringed their door to ask password. Uncle woke up his son only to ask password and provided me without a question. You become so grateful to such beings in times of stress who don’t ask you much about why-how-what-etc.

I connected to their wifi network and browsed to Google devi and asked about enabling the Master card security feature. Google devi routed me to another page which belonged to bank and master card, jointly may be. I filled in all the verification details required to sign up for the mastercard secure cube feature. But the hourglass went on toppling only to display the red font message “your request has timed out”. I couldn’t believe it and thought it is a common error regarding timeout of my request. So I went over the process again to see the same message repeat. I concluded may be all the online processes go to sleep mode in off business hours and this would not be fixed untill tomorrow morning. But the 600 rupees savings would not wait untill.

It was already 11:00 pm and I was feeling helpless in helping him save his 600 bucks. It was me who had emphasized on not leaving that cashback when he was opting for cash-on-delivery and now I had no way to take the piece of cake lying in front of my eyes. I gave a thought about who else is having an credit card or debit card of that bank. Closed my eyes to visualise if I had seen anyone with that ever or if anyone was found outside the ATM of that bank or something like that. All in vain. There was a deadline of availing those benefits in another 60 minutes. No silver lining was seen in the dark cloud. His fingers had pained going through the entire buying process for more than 6-7 times. I was going through whatsapp while thinking of who can help me out. It struck to me, why not broadcast to everyone that I need help?

I took my mobile from his hands while he said, “jayant bhai chodo. Cash on delivery le lete hai…” I had opened my broadcast group which has about 106 contacts. I typed the message and sent across. It read as…

“Do u have an XXXXXXX bank account and debit card? This is bit urgent….”

SENT….

My mobile started giving BLING BLING sounds… There were responses pouring in from all those who had got my message.

“NO.. I DON’T HAVE…”
“WHAT HAPPENED?”
“I DON’T HAVE ANY BALANCE..”
“I HAVE BUT I AM TRAVELLING..”
“YES. WHATS THE MATTER?”

were some of the responses I recollect.

I had a good time explaining the reason to all of those little-to-positive responses. There was no point in responding to those who said they don’t have an account but asked for what is the matter. The criticalness of time can be well understood by only few category of people. The one who are holding guns at border for their country, the IT engineers working on resolving a service disruption, the traders striking the deal on the bourse or the housewife who adds mustard seeds in oil at the right temperature for the perfect taste. No one else in my view. So I ignored to respond to few responses. I responded to those who asked me what happened in anticipation that they would disclose holding the unformation and can be of help to me. One cousin called me up to check what is the matter and could be a better help but I had no time explaining in detail. One uncle called up in worry after his first lap of sleep. I simply asked them to call up my wife for better answer as I cannot at the moment. She spoke to them explaining the matter.

I was back at my whatsapp to get a way out. One of them said yes and said would send details. He sent a pic of his card and I signalled him to start the buying process. After we filled debit card details and submitted, the card owner got OTP which he sent again. The transaction progressed as we fed in the OTP but again a message came in red fonts that there was insufficient funds to complete. I conveyed the message and he said he has 5k. I needed 7405 rupees. Not a penny more, not a penny less. He offered to transfer from his other bank’s account but that was of no help to me. The fund transfer would happen at 9 am tomorrow. So I thanked him for his help.

Another response said he had account. A friend that has been friend through facebook. He went on asking for how much I needed, how would I pay him back, that this was his salary account n blah blah blah. Looks like I was spending each second with no outcome. I had to thank him for no reason. Another of my friend in Dubai said his wife has account but not sure if it is still operational. But I could try. The problem we faced was each time we tried a debit card, the entire buying process was to be repeated – empty the cart, select the phone, fill details of buyback phone, select delivery address, select mode of payment and fill in card details etc. This was getting hectic each time. But there was a hope behind the frustration. He felt a bit embarrassed or awkward that I had broadcasted for help.

But this is how I do call for help when needed in time. My friend was in Dubai and his wife was in India for a vacation. So he bridged the co-ordination and provided me the details. We went ahead to the buying process but forgot to mention about OTP. One more attempt in vain by the time we communicated him about OTP in whatsapp. He suggested try again while he being careful to pass the OTP. One more attempt and OTP was communicated in time. But the red font  message came in telling us about insufficient funds. In the process I regretted to mention the amount as approx. 8k required. In a way that would have embarrassed those who have less than 10k in their accounts. But that would have eliminated my efforts in responding to some of them who had a card but insufficient funds. I had to also speak names of who had responded, what was their response etc. to my anxious family. Specially my mother who believed no one would provide me such details in this so-called-kalyug. I thanked my friend in Dubai and headed for the next opportunity.

Wow! A female friend whom I have known for almost 6 years now. Calling her was the best option as she answers very crisp and to the point, the quality which I expect in everyone… males or females.. anyone! I explained her in less than a minute however I couldn’t convinve her for card details. She had balance but was skeptical to share details. She offerred to buy from her account on same portal and suggested that I provide her details. I attempted to explain her that there are so many details that it would be sufficient to test anyone’s patience. Selecting the phone, selecting the buyback option of old phone, selecting the make, selecting model, punch in the IMEI of old phone, then the delivery address and finally the payment. But I was a little less skilled in explaining this to her. So while speaking to her I thought in my mind this is one of the last option.

I had one more option before that. He is a business partner of my wife’s real brother and a friend of ours too. He had responded in a YES-WHAT-IS-THE-MATTER way to my broadcast. I took this last chance of explaining the reason and asking for details of his debit card. He sent me details in his next message on whatsapp. They were in a clean manner as expected and in one text. Looks like he is habitual to helping people like me or my cousin. 😉 While he started the buying process, I intimated that friend to be careful of OTP and pass it quickly. In completing the buying process, I realized I had etched the IMEI of his old mobile after numerous attempts and now I don’t remember at all. The OTP came in time, was punched in at next moment and the transaction went successfully. By the time we got the order number from shopping portal, he sent us the bank’s sms alert intimating of the transaction.

Try to imagine what a moment of celebration it was at 11:41 pm. My 2 year old child woke up on our vocals. He gave that surprised look to all of us in turns, may be asking what is happening at this hour? My wife picked him up and held him so close in excitement. It was almost 11:50 pm. She gave me a suggestion of sending another broadcast notifying that the task was done and I don’t need bank account or card details. Good suggestion and it was acknowledged by our dear brother too. I had to quickly type the message and sent. It read as…

“Finally got my task done… now i dont need hdfc card details…”

There was another pour of responses to this one but we had kept the mobile aside at 11:53 pm. Mom exclaimed in excitement about few minutes left to wish her bahu n my wife a very happy birthday as she enters in the next year of life. My wife got til chikki as a sweet to celebrate the completion of Mission Asus and her birthday. We had bites and then he handed over the cash to me. It was quite late so we insisted him to take a sleep here. But he wanted to reach his home. I understand that sentiment very well as I always have that similar feeling within. Finally we exchanged goodbyes to end the day and the pandemonium.

I would thank to all those who read my story for this long before I thank to those who had the trust in me and  offered me the help on time. A broadcast group is a must and it is very helpful…

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