Being controlled by big brother

Three incidents over the last 6 months have driven home to me the fact that I am living the dystopic reality predicted in George Orwell's Nineteen eighty four. Someone, somewhere is controlling me for their gain and I am helpless. I don't like it one bit.

I list here the three different models of control I have experienced in the recent past.

Control Model 1. Not giving the right information at the right time. 
#HFDCLife: We took this pension scheme 10 years back, and have been paying a certain amount of money every year. It was a tax-saving scheme, and we diligently paid the amounts agreed to, every year.

After maturity, we were told that from next year, we would receive the same amount that we had paid every year for the rest of our lives. When I looked at the amount we were getting, I felt that if I took back the lumpsum that I had paid over 10 years (with the interest), I would get better interest even from an FD, than what they were giving me. I told them I wanted to take back the whole amount.

I was told that I could have taken back the whole amount before the scheme matured, that is, a week back. I said, "But no one told me". They had nothing to say. They assumed that I was okay with locking the entire amount with them for the rest of my life. I asked them what options I had before me to get the money back. They said none. The money could only be claimed by my children after my death. Or, they said (wow!), I could get it in case of critical illness, which of course, has to be one of the ailments from their list.

I protested and argued. What if I had been bankrupt and absolutely need the money now to invest somewhere?


I then wrote an email to HDFC Life, Mumbai. I got back an encouraging mail saying I have the option to take back the amount. I went back to the local office and spent a good 2 hours. They told me that the info in the email was not correct, and that they would investigate. A day later I got an email from the Mumbai office apologising to me for the incorrect information given to me, and telling me that I could not get the money. There was nothing I could do any more.

While I do understand that this is how pension schemes work, I feel they had the moral responsibility to give me a choice to take back the whole amount before maturity of the scheme. Of course, I am foolish to assume this. Of course, I am being idealistic.

"Sar uthake jiyo" is HDFC's slogan for this scheme. But "sar jhukake dedo" is what they actually mean.

What I intend to do: I can't think of anything I can do about this. I just would like to warn anyone else taking HDFC Life or any other such scheme to be aware of their choices and to make the right decisions. I welcome advice from anyone who might have a solution to this.

Control Model 2. Take away money and don't be available to explain when customer asks for explanation.
#AIRTEL - THE MONEY-SUCKING GHOST: All these service providers - they are ghosts. No face, no ears, no voice, no shape, no form. You can't see them or expect your problems to be solved.

Among other problems, money suddenly starts draining from my phone. The internet recharge dies out within days and Airtel starts charging from my main account. In 3-4 days after recharge, my balance is zero and I am frustrated and angry. I call Airtel helpline....and after being redirected 45 times, I hear a human voice. I start complaining. He sounds call-centerish, stupid and un-knowledgeable. I am angry now and start shouting. He calmly tells me that he will put me on to his supervisor, and then I am put on hold. He ain't coming back, and I can't get call him back ...yes, I am the ulloo here. What I intend to do: Nothing. At least I can chuck Airtel any time and go to another service provider until I have a problem with them!

Control Model 3. Have one person at the helm who doesn't read mails and who only picks up phone calls, doesn't listen to reason, and simply shouts at you. 
This is the model followed by a client I wrote about in an earlier post. The people you work with and who see your painstaking efforts are different from the person who pays you. All of them read mails and respond when you are working with them on the job, but when you send your invoice telling them why they must pay more than the tentative estimate, none of them respond. The only thing you can do is to meet or call the boss who shouts. If you are a sensitive sort who cannot raise your voice and yell back, you quickly realise the futility of meeting such a person. And you learn your more working without a formal contract!
What I intend to do: We are not working for this client any more. And they are the losers.


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