Do not use CCAvenue for international payments. It does not work!

I wasn’t completely happy with PayPal and was always on the lookout for a real payment gateway.

I don’t remember how but on the fateful day of 23 May 2014 I ended up at CCAvenue and signed up under their Privilege Scheme. They have two schemes one where you do not pay any setup fees but pay higher in card processing charges, second is where you pay one time setup fee and pay less in charges. And the stupid fuck that I am I chose the other one. I paid the setup fees on 27 May. Rs. 37,415.88.

I wanted USD processing. I asked for it specifically before paying the setup fees. I confirmed it with one of their reps from marketing department.

And the fun began. I had to provide them a list of documents, 13 to be precise. Even the Indian government doesn’t ask these many docs to issue a Passport!

Any way I provided the documents and my account was activated, I came to know I can not process USD!

Then I was told USD has a higher charge than what was promised to me earlier. I agreed. USD was enabled.

But it did not have MasterCard only Visa and American Express!

I contacted compliance team and I was informed on that it would take 15-20 working days to activate MasterCard.

After a long wait, some tweets, few phone calls and emails later MasterCard was enabled.

During the integration I realised the USD wasn’t actually enabled, again after a few emails and phone calls that too was enabled eventually.

And finally I went live with CCAvenue.

And first transaction failed! Card bin stop listed was the error I got. I asked one of my US based friends to test a payment and again the transaction ailed with same message.

When I asked CCAvenue about that I was told they are blocking certain international banks for fraud prevention. Perfectly valid cards are being denied just like that! Blanket ban all in the name of fraud prevention!

Fortunately the customer whose transaction failed later made another transaction using PayPal and it went through.

I asked CCAvenue to disable the BIN check for my account at first they just told me to ask my customers to pay using some other card!

Anyway after some haggling over phones and emails and after I demanded a refund of my setup fees, they switched the acquirer for my account. Previous it was ICICI then they switched it to something else Electra or Citi may be. I asked my friend in the US to try paying again and this time the payment went through. I thought finally things have been sorted out so I put CCAvenue live again.

And in last 2 days 7 transactions have failed! Only 2 went through, one paid on the third attempt, the second one paid using AmEx after his first attempt to pay using Visa failed. Rest all paid successfully after I routed them to PayPal. So 2 months and 37000 in setup fees later I am still sending my customers to PayPal.

I really don’t know what to do at this stage. All I wanted was ability to accept payments from my genuine customers who happen to be based outside India. I was using PayPal and I thought India’s oldest and largest payment gateway will make things easier and cheaper for me. But all I have faced is troubles. And my money that I paid as setup fees is stuck.

I don’t know who is at fault here, is it RBI and it’s stupid rules? Is it the paranoid acquiring banks or is it CCAvenue?

Paulo Coelho said when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it, but it seems in India if you just wish to accept payments from international customers the Indian financial system conspires in stalling you!

Where is “she”?

Yaashi has started playschool from this Monday. On Saturday we had a parents induction meeting at the school. They gave a nice presentation covering wide range of things but one thing stood out. In the presentation and conversation whenever a child was referred, it was referred as “he”. He will learn this, you should not say this to him, he will observe… and both me and Bijal were wondering where is “she”?

Now that the classes have started, out of 14 kids in the class 10 are girls. In the nursery out of 27 kids 14 are girls. If we stop killing our girls we’ll have a feminine population as we see in most of the developed countries. And yet we continue to assume the person in question will be a male.

I have seen similar thing happening when writing software requirements or documentation. The user is assumed to be a male. And when he clicks the button a new window will open where he can select blah blah…

We need a gender neutral pronoun to address people in the English language. I have seen Facebook using they and them when a gender is not known. They liked it instead of he liked it sounds better.

Any ideas?

India needs Congress

Elections over, Modi won and how! Congress is reduced to its lowest tally of seats in history. And that’s a sad news. Although I am an AAP supporter, I think India needs Congress.

The dangers of a one party state are real and for everyone to see in the form of China. Modi’s idea of Congressmukt Bharat is frightening. As of now apart from Indian National Congress there is no other national political party that can balance out the force of BJP. Every other political party be it regional or National stands for something, Congress doesn’t stand for anything! Which makes them unique. It is nobody’s party and hence it is everybody’s party. Everyone can relate to it. And it can take up any issue and make its own. AAP is another party that has in its character to be everyone’s party but it will take a long time for them to mature and matter at national level. In the meanwhile we need Congress.

We also need BJP to keep Congress in check. Being a Congress only state for a good part of history hasn’t been good either. What I am trying to say is we need two major political parties at the national level. In the long run I would love to see AAP replace either of the two. Chances are it will replace Congress because BJP has its core fan base which will not be swayed by another party.

The time has not yet come for a Congressmukt Bharat.

Idiot

Hey you, yes you! If you really think some ball of gas or rock somewhere in the space affects your life in any way or you being born on a certain day after a certain number of days of some random point in human history and the assumed position of objects in space at that particular moment has any bearing on how your life will turn out to be or that you can somehow change all that by wearing some ornaments made of specific kind of material or doing silly things like throwing random stuff into fire and chanting loudly cryptic sounding nonsense, not a single word of which you understand…. then let me tell you, you are an idiot! Yes I D I O T, idiot.

Thank you.

New laptop Lenovo Y510P

My old Dell finally gave up a couple of weeks back. I used it for almost 4 years. Pretty good considering that my previous Compaqs barely lasted two. So I needed a new laptop. Unlike a mobile or tablet there’s not much variety in laptops. The new one was going to be pretty much the same as my last one. However I had only one thing on my wishlist for the new laptop – full HD (1920 x 1080p) display. It’s amazing that my phone which has a 5 inch screen has a full HD display, while laptops with 15.6” screen were mostly limited to 1366 x 768. So I thought maybe I can get a laptop with a better resolution this time.

My Dell experience had been good but I wanted to try out another brand this time. HP was strictly out of question due to the bad memories of Compaq. Lenovo and Asus were consistently rated as sturdy laptops online and I had heard some good things about Lenovo too. My wife had a Lenovo in her old job and that looked like a solid machine.

Z510Searching online I came across Lenovo Z series laptops. Z510 looked like a stellar machine with i7, 8GB RAM, 2GB graphics and full HD display. It was for around 60K (INR) and I got a 3000 off coupon from ebay so I purchased it, and my transaction failed! For the first time in my 50+ transactions on ebay a transaction failed. Money was debited from my card but ebay did not receive it because of a technical fault at the gateway level. After a few phone calls and emails to both ebay and my bank I was able to get my money back, but that meant I now had to place a new order.

Now since I had time on my hands I decided to check out the model personally at a store. A few reviews on FlipKart had mentioned that Z510 did not have a full HD display after all, so I went to a store and checked the machine and yes it was not full HD! That was an i5 model. I called up an authorised Lenovo shop and asked them if i7 model of Z510 had full HD and they confirmed to me that Z series did not have full HD, but Y series had. So even though it says so on Lenovo India’s website as you can see on the screenshot Z510 actually does not have full HD resolution.
So I looked at Y510P. The i7 model was very expensive at 84K+. I did not want to spend more than 60K on the laptop, next best was the i5 model, and searching online I found a great deal on FlipKart for 59,750. So I bought that one.

Important specs –

Lenovo Ideapad Y510p (59-389687)
Intel I5-4200M
15.6 FHD LED GLARE
8G RAM
1TB 5400 RPM HDD
N14P-GT1 Graphics with 2G RAM
2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0
Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit LAN, WiFi, DVD writer – standard stuff
JBL speakers

Looks
The laptop looks damn sexy with the red backlit keyboard and trendy looking speakers. I haven’t put speakers to much use yet, but they are way better than my Dell. USB 3.0 is really fast. I can tell the difference when I copy files over on to my WD backup drive.

Y510P
With the new laptop comes the usual pain of installing all your software and setting up things as they were on your old laptop. But this time I have decided to install the software only as and when I require them. After 4 years of use my last laptop had so much of stuff just lying around…. It’s good to start from scratch.

Now this laptop has some kick ass graphics power with 2GB dedicated graphics RAM. I haven’t played games on my computer in a long time. Actually I have never been a big gamer. The only genre of computer games I ever enjoyed playing was RTS games and Age of Empires series of games and its offshoots is all I have played. Now I am looking for some games to play on this new laptop though.

Okay Full HD resolution. This one does have full HD, AND now I know why laptops mostly don’t have higher resolution – the 15 inches screen is just too small for full HD. Things are super tiny, I set the display to 125% and that makes fonts blurry (Mac like) in many applications and images in browsers look funny. Only if I am watching a 1080p movie will the resolution be of any use, but I’d rather watch that movie on my TV rather than laptop! So full HD on laptop is not really worth it.

The only problem that I have faced with this laptop is that on the touchpad instead of having buttons for left and right mouse click, it has clickable surface. And it is hard. You have to press is hard as opposed to a gentle press on the buttons of Dell. I mostly use a mouse so it doesn’t affect much but without mouse things get a bit difficult. The touch pad also has gestures and other such gimmickry which I did not find very useful. Come Lenovo on it’s not a Macbook.

Macbook, did I consider Macbook? I did. Macbook Air. But then most of my productive money making work happens on Windows. For a couple of weeks when I did not have my laptop I was using the Mac mini, I liked a few things and I did not like some other things. But my productivity took a real hit. I am so used to Windows and there are software on Windows which I have customised according to my needs, I have even created a bunch of apps that help me manage my business. I felt handicapped without them. Now I can make a dual boot system on Mac but then why should I pay the exorbitant price of a Mac if I am going to install Windows on it! So no Mac.

I am hoping this one lasts for another 4-5 years.

In conversation with Arvind Kejriwal

You have seen Modi’s fixed Adalat, you have seen farcical interview of Rahul by Arnab. Now here’s an interview or rather interrogation by an openly hostile anchor and frequently asked questions asked directly by the people.

He’s not running away, he’s not blabbering unrelated things. He answers every allegation and clarifies every doubt. Do spend an hour and watch this. You may or may not vote for him but at least watch it.

A song dedicated to feku

Sun lo sari duniya walo

Kitna bhi tum zor laga lo
Karenge fekugiri hum
Jhadu mein dum hai to band karva lo

Feku all night, fekna all right
Fekna our right, fekampatti all night

Aaj trishul khulne do
Chaku talvaar chalne do
Tharre ki bottle pa ke
Dange shange karne do

Bajate raho pungi
Bajate raho pungi
Bajate raho pungi
Bajate raho

Danga all night, murder all night
Rapes all night, we do riots all night

Jisne bhi encounter karna
Aa jao mere state ke bheetar
Police lekar, sabki dhoko bindaas hokar

Jab media bajega loud, to sarkaar CBI bula legi
CBI se keh denge ye police walo ki chaal thi

Encounter all night, goli all right
Kadak image ke liye bhaiya everything is right

Bijli peena, road khana
Development ka gana gaanaa
Daddy ko tu kar de message
Vibrant Gujarat mein aana

Vikas ho raha bot bhayankar
Vikas ke gajab nazare
Dikkat hai bas ek baat ki
Debt mein doobe Gujarati bechare
Nikkar wale sangh ne yu lathiya utha rakhi hain
Aur kuchh to aata nahi hai narebazi laga rakhi hai
Nache dekh re kaise Modi Modi laga rakhi hai
Contribution to ghanta hai, aafat macha rakhi hai

Joothe daave all night, galat history all night
Radio, TV pe kehte we’ll set everything right

Feku all night, fekna all right
Fekna our right, fekampatti all night

ShopClues return policy is a sham!

My friend wanted to buy a new mobile and I convinced him to buy it online. I have been buying electronics online for many years now. So we bought the phone through ShopClues and received the phone. A Nokia Lumia. In a couple of days my friend complained to me that the proximity sensor of the phone wasn’t working properly. The phone wouldn’t lock while talking and it would disconnect if it accidentally touched his face when the call was in progress. ShopClues promises 10 days return policy in case you have a problem with your purchase. So I wrote them and asked for the phone to be replaced.

ShopClues said since it’s a manufacturing defect we have to take it to the service center and get it repaired. No returns or replacements. If we want replacement we need to a get a letter from the service center saying the device was dead on arrival. Which it obviously wasn’t. So essentially we were told to fuck off. The replacement is provided only if a wrong item has been delivered or the item was broken. They have a dropdown box on their return form which asks reason for return and manufacturing defect is one of the reasons. If I can not return an item having manufacturing defect why are you asking for it in the form? Oh and the letter from manufacturer – that has to be procured within 7 days from the date of purchase. And I was informed of that exactly on the seventh day!

Some years back another of my friends had purchased a pen drive from Croma. After about a month the drive stopped working. We went to Croma. They checked it in their computer, checked the invoice and immediately gave him a new pen drive. No fuss. My mother in law purchased a TV from the same Croma store. When we tried to set it up, we found it was dead. Brand new TV, out of the box was dead. We called Croma, initially they asked us to contact the service center, but after we insisted, they gave us another TV.

Some recent bad experiences of other people with online shopping, especially while returning goods bought online has shaken my confidence in online shopping. It looks like the sunny days are over and we are going back to the Indian way of selling. Sell and forget. Customer service, what is that?

We need to give Arvind Kejriwal a chance

Expect the unexpected from Arvind Kejriwal. When he was taunted by the politicians to enter the politics and contest the elections, nobody expected him to actually do it but he did. Nobody expected him to win, but he won. People didn’t expect and some like me didn’t want him to form the government with Congress’ support but he did. You don’t expect a Chief Minister to sit on a dharna, but trust Mr Kejriwal to defy the convention! And now he resigned unexpectedly because his Janlokpal wasn’t passed – it wasn’t even allowed to be tabled.

What Arvind Kejriwal is doing is he is defying the norms. He is challenging the conventional procedures. We are all so used to seeing the politics of a certain kind that we didn’t imagine that there could be another type of politics as well. We all used to think you can not win elections without money power or muscle power. No politician of any hue will dare to utter a word against arguably the most powerful businessman in India – Mukesh Ambani. And here is this guy fighting and wining elections without money, without goons and goes on to file an actual FIR against the mighty Ambani.

Whether what Kejriwal is doing right or wrong doesn’t not matter. At least not now. He needs to be given another chance at power with full majority just because the kind of change he has forced in established political parties. For the first time the established parties have been forced to sit up and take notice and even follow some of the methods of this new outfit with the topics and the mohalla sabhas and the need to cater to common man etc.

Now everyone is quick to jump the gun and deride Kejriwal for resigning and calling it showman martyrdom. But we need to understand what is Kejriwal’s goal. He did not enter into politics to provide good governance, or free water and electricity. He has a single point agenda of ridding India of corruption. He is a crusader against corruption. Janlokpal bill is one way to tackle the menace of corruption. And Kejriwal entered politics, won the elections and formed the government with that one goal in mind – to pass the Janlokpal bill, so if he can’t make the very law for which he became CM, it is really pointless for him to continue to be in power. What use is the power if you can’t exercise it.

We may argue that Janlokpal is not a magic pill that will end all corruption in India overnight. No it won’t. But it is a start. And Kejriwal wants India to make that start. He fought for many years – along with many others of course – for the Right To Information Act. Nobody thought RTI would be of any value. Certainly not the government so they passed it and see what a dangerous weapon it has come out to be. Corrupt are so terrified that they go all the way to murder the RTI activists. A lot of scams have been unearthed, and lot of powerful people have been tried because of the RTI. The corrupt are afraid. It does not stop corruption but it makes easier to find and punish the culprits. Same goes with lokpal. Today we don’t know what it might turn out to be. If with the help of Lokpal even if we manage to nab one powerful politician, it will be worth the effort.

Corruption is one of the biggest hurdles that this country faces. And here is one guy who says he has a possible solution. The least we can do is get our ass off the couch, go out and vote for him. For over 65 years we have voted all sorts of people into power. Let’s give this man one chance. If the Janlokpal bill fails to live up to its promise, we don’t have to vote for Kejriwal again. We can go back to our good old Congress and BJP and let them continue the way they have done.

Samsung NX30 – camera of the future?

Samsung NX30 is some camera! The hardware is definitely stellar but the software with touchscreen and WiFi and NFC and what not is equally 2014! Is Samsung trying to repeat its success in the mobile market with the cameras? Then it is a step in the right direction.

Compact point and shoot cameras are dying because of the smart phones and the category will be wiped out soon. Camera manufacturers were hoping that DSLRs will save them but now even they have started declining. There’s a prediction that other than Canon, Nikon and Sony all other camera manufacturers will disappear and there’s a reason why. Cameras on the phones are good enough to take photos of your party or a display in a mall and post it on Instagram or Facebook. But when it comes to taking real photos – photos that you will preserve and will look at when you are old – you still need a proper camera to do that. Things like low light performance, optical image stabilization, optical zoom, larger better quality sensors, fast shooting mode and some amount of control over how the shot will be taken are important features.

The problem is that the camera manufacturers so far have only concentrated on the camera hardware. More megapixels, more optical zoom, better lens and have completely neglected the software part which is becoming more and more important. Look at any top of the line camera today and the UI is still stuck in 1990s. Hardware is important but so is Software and it seems Samsung is the only manufacturer who is realizing it, may be because of their success in the mobile market – great hardware combined with great software makes a killer product. Apple knew it long back, Samsung understood it in time and now may be they are trying to bring it to the camera world. Other than the NX30 Samsung is coming up with Galaxy Camera 2 – the Android based camera, which means the Galaxy Camera 1 was a success. Interesting days are ahead in the camera world.