Saturday, June 10, 2023

Unfair Practices of Amazon, Swiggy, Zomato. What about Banks?

I went to More Supermarket to buy Dabur honey. Dabur honey was put above the topmost rack and I could not take it myself, eventhough, I was not a short person. I called an employee of More to get the Dabur honey, and she took it by using a ladder. I could find the honey of More Brand in the lower racks and I could take it without asking anyone for help. 

Few days later, I went again to More. Now, I don't find Dabur honey, even in the top most rack. But, I could see More honey in the lower racks. When I asked them, they said, Dabur honey was not available and it would take a week or so to get it. 

If the Indian Government holds a grudge on Aditya Birla Group (The parent company of More Supermarket), then I can take this case to the Competition Commission of India on two issues. First one is, More deliberately gave more preference to its brand product than its competitors' products. Second one is, its competitors' products were not available at times, but its own products were available all the time. 

In this specific case, eventhough, there won't be any penalty/action against More, if the Government wants to irritate them, it can do so easily. But, if the target is big (instead of a single More Supermarket), then it can easily impose a significant penalty or take action. 

It is a hypothetical example and I have twisted the facts in my own way. 

I could take anything from the top most racks myself and there was no need for me to call any staff to get anything. Dabur Honey is in a glass bottle, whereas More brand honey and a few other brands are made of plastic. If a plastic bottle falls, then it may not break, whereas if the glass bottle falls, most probably it would break. For that reason, they might have put it in the top most rack, so that people would intentionally take it and it won't fall by mistake. 

During the first wave of corona, I used to fast a lot. For the fast, I was buying honey a lot. My first preference was Dabur Honey. My consumption of Honey was more than what More was procuring. As soon as I found a kg or half kg Dabur Honey, I used to buy it. So, for almost 1.5 months, other customers of More could not have found Dabur Honey of Kg or Half kg bottles (all because of me).

The Indian Government through different arms is accusing Amazon, Swiggy, Zomato and other marketplace sites for its unfair practices just like this example. 

Their rule is, the companies should not bring their related businesses and influence the customer. 

Every business tries to sell more products that give better margin to them and gives less importance to the products that give less margin. It is unethical to interfere in one's business. 

There is no one stopping in setting up another business like Amazon, Swiggy or Zomato. 

But, there is one sector, where not only a common man, even a big industrialist or a very rich person also cannot start a business easily. In those sectors, the Government should make sure that the business is operating fairly and giving importance to one and not to other. That sector is the Banking sector. 

You go to any bank and ask for a locker. Most of the time, they would ask you to take some insurance policy from them to open the locker. Without insurance, they won't give you the locker. In many cases, the insurance is not provided by the bank, but its sister organization. 

A Bank's business is to manage my money and provide additional services like lockers etc. Most of the banks are not in the business of Insurance. Why are they forcing the consumers to take insurance (from their sister organization) to give locker. Is it not unfair practice? 

I had a very bad experience with ICICI on this when I went for a locker. They did not say anything about taking insurance. They took all the forms, deducted money for the locker deposit, opened an FD against the locker, and then I was told that I need to take insurance to open the locker. Without insurance, they were not ready to give me the locker. If they had told me before deducting the money for the locker, I would have simply walked away saying, I did not need the locker. Finally, I settled with investing in ICICI Mutual Funds for the locker. 

When a person who is not aware of anything except FD/RD goes to any bank, there are very high chances that they would be misled.

When the consumer asks to open FD/RD, they would recommend them to invest in Insurance or Mutual Funds, and say that those would give better returns. 

Insurance is the biggest fraud that most of the banks are doing. When a not so financially literate person hears about the insurance, they would be seriously misled. The consumer would not be told about the insurance charges, the risk of the stock market etc. Many of them would be thinking that the bank is guaranteeing 12% interest in addition to the insurance. When they check the balance a year or two years later, they would realize that they are not getting even the amount they have invested. Especially when old people take the insurance, they would lose significant money from their principal. 

For someone who has never heard of Mutual Funds, it is highly possible that they might be thinking that the returns they are telling (verbally) is guaranteed. In the long run, Mutual Funds may catch up with all other types of investments. But, in the short run, it is possible that they may go down significantly. At that time, those who invested in the Mutual Funds would lose.

Government should go behind the businesses which cannot be started by anyone, like the Banking Sector, Financial Sector etc., rather than going behind online food and grocery stores.