Why you should not use IRCTC eWallet to book train tickets

IRCTC has always been on the path of innovation, and is known for constantly rolling out exciting new features for the consumers. One such novel feature is the eWallet feature on IRCTC and i just wanted to share some information around the same. It is good to see IRCTC atop of technology and stay trending, unmindful of the sarcasm and criticism thrown against them which is available all around the internet.

Generally, eWallet is an online wallet system that could be used for using services on a specific sites, either for purchasing or processing refunds. It is a common feature on several shopping portals such as Yebhi, Jabong etc.,. Just like you are required to have some cash in your physical wallet should you need to purchase anything, similarly you also need to keep funds in your eWallet. There are several payment options such as credit card, debit card, net banking and so on, using which you could credit funds to your eWallet.

why shoul d you not use ewallet

What are the disadvantage that stop you from using IRCTC’s eWallet Service?

While eWallet speeds up time that is otherwise wasted on entering card details on the payment gateway or navigating to your netbanking – so that you could complete a transaction, it has some glaring disadvantages which I would like to highlight and leave it your decision whether to use eWallet or not:

  • eWallet could NOT be used to book tickets during Tatkaal hours i.e., 1000 hrs to 1200 hrs. It is during this crucial time that speed matters the most and every second of the booking time is of significant importance. But if eWallet does not work for me when people need it most, why would someone even sign up for it in the first place.
  • Usually eWallet services offered by shopping sites are free of charge, and you even get some kind of incentives to fund the wallet. However, IRCTC has taken another route, they burden the user with a fee of Rs. 250.00 (non-refundable) just to register an eWallet account. At a time where even banks offer zero-balance accounts (with free debit card, internet banking accounts etc.,), why would someone even go ahead and spend Rs.250 just for an eWallet.
  • Towards the end of the transaction, in addition to the IRCTC’s online booking service charge of Rs. 35.00 (maximum), you are required to shell out an additional Rs. 5.00 as eWallet transaction charge. I’m thoroughly confused and have no idea as why this charge is in the first place. We do understand if  IRCTC has to pay gateway charges to banks who process payments, but here in the eWallet it is an entirely different case, as the wallet by itself is maintained by IRCTC!
  • Refunds or Cancellations are usually made through mode of payment used for the original transaction. So in the case of eWallet it is same too. You get your refunds into your eWallet, presuming that you would do your next booking via eWallet mode.

Who should used eWallet?

With several disadvantages to its credit, we still believe eWallet holds good for following type of consumers:

  • Users who are frequent travellers and need to book their tickets often
  • Users of large organizations where a single IRCTC userid is used to multiple book tickets across the organization. So here eWallet payment mode comes handy as it would usually be recharged/topped-up by a single user.
  • Users who think Rs. 250 for the registration and Rs. 5.00 for every transaction is a negligible, when compared to the exorbitant prices of other transportation modes.
  • Travel Agents/Net Cafe Operators

How to register for the IRCTC eWallet service?

To book tickets via IRCTC eWallet, first of all you need to be registered for this service. Just having an IRCTC username and password does not automatically register you for eWallet, this service has to be registered for separately. A detailed guide on how to register for an eWallet account, depositing funds and booking a train ticket could be found at this IRCTC website link.

2013 – My Pristine Reflections!

My reflections

My reflections

Today is the last day of 2013, while looking back, it seems I have had a very fruitful year with several events – blockades checking my progress and accolades bestowed on me for my hard work. The year 2013, for me, had especially been a year of changes, be it official or personal as I was lucky enough to go through changes at both the extremes.

While everyone is busy partying (I’ve no qualms!!) and framing resolutions (usually created to be broken!!) – I chose to be different by penning my thoughts on how 2013 has been to me. By doing this, not only am I introspecting the entire year but also setting up expectations for the year ahead – the magnificent 2014! My introspection may be philosophical at some places, so do not mind those!

Just like the wise saying ‘God gives problems to only those who are capable enough to face them’ – I am a proud to share that I have been a rich beneficiary of the same. God had been kind to me in 2013, just like he has been with me with all these years. He would never give me a lock to open, without placing its key elsewhere well within my reach and sight – grateful to you Bhagwan for you to do so. On my personal observation, I recommend all others to search for the key instead of breaking the whole door. The key would definitely be within your reach, all you need to do is to search at the right places.

While I am introspecting 2013, I could not but stop thinking about 2012. The reason being, life was never same after 2012. I used to be lethargic, and sported a carefree attitude, and was literally enjoying my bachelorhood – I loved it and feel nostalgic about it, just like old school days. But after the mid-2012, I started to understand the nuances of life that continued on till the end of 2013 and on. It took me sometime to understand life and what it had in store for me. It would be blatant lie if I say that I have accomplished everything in life in these 2 years, however I would like to declare that my actions/inactions during these years have made me aware of things I need to accomplish in life. I now know what I want in life and what do pursue to achieve my goals. That said, for pursuing a goal – you need to identify what is your goal – without which it is like being seated in a car with no steering wheel or driver. The car takes you wherever it wants, not where you want to go!

On a personal note, relationships in general had given me enough trouble in 2013. I was able to deduce faint traces or feelers in 2012, but little did I know that those will get deeply rooted in 2013. I have tried my best to wriggle out of family issues, keeping my mouth shut at the right times and being aloof to emotional blackmailing, with similar instances so on and so forth. By doing such, I have made my life a far better place to live, rather than rattling my thoughts and emotions over factors which I know I don’t have influence over. At the end of the day, if you are not happy with the life you are leading, then you are not living your life but just existing!

I do believe in astrology to an extent – the science of stars and planetary motions, but have never got carried away by its predictions. I see astrology as a tool, and recommend you to compare it to something like a daily weather forecast – stay wary of the circumstances/scenarios around you and plan well in advance. To illustrate better, wear warm clothes if rough weather is anticipated, or carry an umbrella if you expect Surya Bhagwan to gleam throughout the day.

In the new dawn of 2014, I expect life to give me more challenges and opportunities that would shape me into a much better person than I am today. I would also like to request it to make me a person who dreams creatively, loves unconditionally, aspires indefinitely, and on top of everything help me achieve my personal and career goals. Aspirations are just fine, but without hard work – you are no different from a day-dreamer. I pray to god to give me the strength to take up challenges and astuteness to grasp opportunities in 2014!

Wishing you everyone a Happy & Prosperous New Year 2014!! May god bless with you with all goodness of life to aspire, achieve and succeed in life!!

God bless.

Why paying via Sodexo Coupons and Cash is not the same!

So, do you pay via Sodexo?

sodexo

If you are part of an MNC and have opted for tax savings in the form of food coupons, then you are indeed part of sodexo’s network.  Paying at retail store’s cash counter may look cool, but little do we understand what exactly takes place behind the scenes. I’ve tried my best to explore and present my version of my limited findings.

Just like you, I too had this question lingering in my mind for quite sometime, not long before I found out the roots for this tax haven we are currently being subjected to.

Who is Sodexo?
Sodexo is a French multinational corporation and is one of the largest food services and facilities management companies and have their presence in over 80 countries. They make money by making you opt for Sodexo coupons (part of your company’s flexible compensation package). In turn, you could use these coupons to pay in lieu of cash for food items at any retail chain (wherever they’re accepted).

Sodexo Business Model Vs. Government Model
Before you can understand the business model, you should first understand our own government model.

As per the govt. rules, an employer cannot pay more than Rs. 50/- per meal during employee’s working hours.  Let’s do a quick math here, presuming that we have 22 working days in a month and 2 meals is the max you can have at your office, our total expense works up to Rs. 2200/- p.m (remember this limit that most of us get on a monthly basis) However, the maximum anyone is eligible to get is Rs. 3000/- (30 days X 2 meals/day X Rs. 50 = 3000/-).  This also explains why the voucher value is never above Rs. 50/-

maximum-value-of-sodexo-coupon

Maximum value of Sodexo is always Rs. 50/-

So, to adhere with govt. rules and to make disbursal of this amount much easier to employees, large Organizations gradually started moving from the conventional system to the Sodexo model. This turned out to be far less cumbersome as the entire process was taken care by Sodexo.

The process goes as below, which also explains their business model:

  1. Your organization pays Sodexo in hard cash according to the value of coupons based on whatever you had declared in your compensation Flexi package
  2. Sodexo, in turn provides you either with paper-based or card-based coupons – note that the coupons come with an expiry date
  3. You can use your coupons for food item purchase anywhere within India (wherever they are accepted – probably in retail chains and supermarkets).  However when you are provided with the card-based Sodexo coupon, you are left with no option but to use them only at outlets specifically earmarked by Sodexo (which would obviously be your Organization’s cafeteria or food court)
  4. On a monthly basis, the merchant submit their vouchers, and it  might take upto 24-34 and sometimes 45 days for Sodexo to reimburse the merchant. However, the only flipside during reimbursement is the 4-7% service/commission charge levied by Sodexo (now you know how Sodexo generates its revenue from).
  5. In addition to charging service/commission charge, Sodexo also earns from the Interest during  window period while it reimburses merchants. Note that your organization had already paid Sodexo in lump-sum during the beginning of the financial year.
sodexo-model

The Sodexo Business Model

All said and done – you might ask, their model is fine and I get my much desired tax exemption – so what’s the big deal? Wait, the ordeal is not still over. As consumers, little do we know that we are at the receiving end or in literal sense ‘face the music’ while we pay via Sodexo coupons.

As explained in the model earlier, we know that Sodexo charges upto 7% as commission charges – but where do you think merchants are transferring this to, at a time where they are already reeling under pressure from competitors and lagged payments? Just like we pay VAT or service charges or service taxes at merchant outlets, these charges are conveniently cascaded to us without even we knowing that we are being taken for a ride.

In simple words, merchants who accept Sodexo coupons automatically mark up their prices by 7% so that they could make profits. On a comparative note, you would be purchasing products or services at a higher price when you are offering to pay via Sodexo or when the merchant is ready to accept coupons.

Paying via coupons is fine, but when what happens you are paying via cash? Merchants can’t  have double standards those who pay via Sodexo and those who pay via cash – so they simply adopt an unified approach – charge EVERYONE alike irrespective of whether they pay via Cash or Coupons.

Merchants Markup Prices   when you pay via Coupons!

Merchants Markup Prices when you pay via Coupons!

So what that means for you is, when you pay via Cash to a merchant who accepts payments via coupons, you are using ‘real cash’ to buy a product/service at a comparatively higher price than other merchants. This may sound shocking, but sadly this is the reality and frankly speaking doing roaring business.

The next time, you go to a store or restaurant that accepts Sodexo – make sure you have the coupons (paper cash) handy, and don’t end up paying ‘real cash’ for marked up prices. Rather, you can get the same product at a far better price elsewhere for your hard-earned ‘real money’.

Your Shower makes me Shiver

Weekends are not just for the common working man, but for the rain as well. It has been two weeks since I’d started noticing that showers have become the order of the day during weekend, esp. during Friday. Good.

Thank you mother nature. But your showers are making things more worse, especially when I happen to travel on your day of giving it back to earth.

I expect you to be fair! Please give me some time to put my raincoat on, will you? Time and again this happens. I don’t know if I’m the only one to face the wrath, or is anyone out there wants to join me?

I wear the raincoat of mine, a rexin-based latex raincoat which is impermissible to water either way. But when the Sun smiles at its best, this outfit of mine takes the heat in, not allowing it to escape – as if it happens to a valuable asset.

The real action unfolds here. Just like any other day while i was driving to office on a  sunny morning with clear skies. And as expected and as usual, the flyover was jam packed with vehicles battling for their own territory and moving at snail’s pace.

I was informed that it wouldn’t rain – No, it was not the met dept, but my conscience said these after evaluating the then environment. Out of nowhere and all of a sudden, I felt that the skies above me were getting together to perform a rain-dance… I begged it to give me some time to run for a cover.

However, even before I could reach out to my backpack for my jerkin I got drenched all over. It just took 15 seconds for the entire rain-dance, and i was standing there just like a drenched chicken.Pathetic me!

Do you expect me to drive all the way to office now? I would have, had i been an Ice Man – but having born in a tropical country like India, putting up with something cold is just not my cup of tea.

Not seeing any other alternative on hand, merrily took a U-turn and drove back to home. On reaching home, tried to pull off my shoes  – my shoes were happy as they got to bath at least today and for the fact that I can’t put them on for at least 2 days. I hoped there was some pair of trousers and shirt for me – I expect them to rise up to the occasion. Bad luck! Nothing ready, pressed new set of shirt and trousers. Lucky enough to get on hands on a pair of shoes. Ready to go!

Now, once again bright and clear skies. Not again, no taking chances this time, I’ve my Jerkin on 🙂