Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Whom does the Rs. 2000/- tax credit help?

In this year's budget, the tax slabs are unchanged and Rs. 2000/- tax credit has been introduced. The tax slabs as such remain the same

For both Men and Women in India,

Income                       - Tax slab
upto 2 Lakhs              - Nil
2-5 Lakhs                  - 10%
5-10 Lakhs                - 20%
Above 10 Lakhs        - 30%

This Rs. 2000/- tax credit is not for all the tax-payers. It benefits 1.8 crore people in the income group of 2-5 lakhs. Essentially people who are getting less than 2 Lakhs (tax would anyway be NIL) and more than 5 Lakhs have their tax rates unchanged without any tax credit. For those who are under 2 Lakhs will not be credited Rs. 2000/-

The individuals less than 60 years of age will be paying Rs.2000/- lesser if their income is between 2.2 and 5 lakhs. If they are earning more than 2 lakhs and less than 2.2 lakhs, there will be no tax for them.
Similarly for the senior citizens, if their income is between 2.7 and 5 lakhs, they can reduce their tax liability by Rs. 2000/- before paying their tax. If their income is between 2.5 and 2.7 lakhs, they don't have to pay any tax.

Please note that, submitting Income tax return is mandatory for everyone. Even if you have completely paid the tax liable, it is necessary to submit your returns separately. Also, if you are not liable to pay any tax and have some income less than the taxable income, then also its necessary to submit the tax return.

Let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Top 5 things to look for when buying/renting a house

There are many things to look for when you are buying/renting a house. While buying a house, you may have some priorities and check-list. Also, while renting the house, you will have an eye on the rent and other agreement details.

In common, there are many things to look for when buying or renting a house and I have listed the top 5 things, I think, here.

(1) Good Locality
      It is important to see whether it is in good locality. It reminds different things for different sort of people. Good locality can mean one or many of the below
     (a) good residential place to live in
     (b) few good schools and hospitals around
     (c) friendly people nearby
     (d) Good roads, have office nearby
     (e) departmental stores and hotels nearby     
    The choice of above things depends on the sort of the people and the life-stage they are in.
(2) Ample ground water supply
     Water is a essential commodity and we require water for many things in our life. There should be a bore-well or well with ample ground water supply, which can be enhanced with 'Rain water harvesting' through rain water. If there is a way to get drinking water (Municipality water/ Metro Water) directly to our home, then it is well and good.
(3) Proper sewage disposal
      Another very important thing to consider. There should be a proper sewage disposal that can be done. If underground sewage connectivity is made, then it is better. That too, in this world of flats around, it is always to be safe than sorry. If there are more than 500 flats, there should certainly be a way for disposal.
(4) Good Connectivity
      There should be good roads around and good connectivity through nearby bus stand/railway station/airport. Based on your job/other needs, there is a possibility that you will have to travel at least infrequently in the future. Its always better to have good connectivity through all the means possible.
(5) Less Pollution
      It is another important thing to consider. Pollution is increasing day by day. The kind of noise pollution and air pollution that we experience, when we are traveling, itself is harmful. Its nice to have the house in a walkable distance (less than 1 km) to the nearby bus stops/railway station but not very near it.

Please provide your comments on what you think on the important things to consider while buying/renting a home. What are the things that you look for. Happy to hear.

Monday, March 18, 2013

What does customer experience mean?

Customer experience is the experience of the customer from the period they came to know about the existence of the product until they finish using the product. For a hotel like Saravana Bhavan, the customer experience is from the point they came to know about its existence (the day they started) until they are associated with that particular customer (probably, forever for Saravana Bhavan but it depends on each of the customer).

For a typical brokerage firm, it is all about how easy it is to open the account and the experience until the customer closes the account. For BSNL or Samsung, it is from when the customer gets to know about their products (the point when they want to buy it) until the time they stopped using it. Customer service is also part of it. Its all about the customer service, once the customer has become the owner of the product.

Most of the times, I have seen, the Customer Experience is great until one procure the product or service and after that, because of the customer service, it loses its ground and go nowhere. So, its very important to concentrate on the customer service if you want to give a good customer experience. This customer experience is really of great importance, as they would get more customers by 'word-of-mouth'. Once you provide a great customer experience over-all, you are heading towards that market leadership.

I have been a user of BSNL broadband for a long time. Recently, I surrendered the BSNL broadband connection as I had to move from that place. It was seamless to close the account and I received a call from BSNL folks asking the reason for my surrendering the connection. It was indeed a good customer experience. Usually, BSNL's customer service would be pathetic is what I have heard a lot till now. But, I think, they are trying to correct it. No doubt, they are nowhere near the market leaders yet.

I have an account with Kotak Securities, my brokerage firm for the last 4 years. I, usually, trade online and haven't visited their offices for a long time. Recently, I had to fill out the form for nomination and found that they are strict in finding fault in the forms that the customer built out and usually don't approve it easily. It doesn't really makes sense, at least, to me. As its our nominee, if we give some details wrong, we are the ones, who are finally getting affected. 

For opening an account, it takes more that 50+ signatures and the  people visiting us says "Don't fill the form and I will fill that completely". This gives us some pleasure as we know few others who have done this already and its a kind of routine. I am worried that they didn't even ask for the nominee details. I found that the nominee details are not entered because of the recent drive from the SEBI that mutual fund investments should have nominee details. I would like to advise Kotak Securities here , to remind of nominee details while opening new accounts to others. Are they market leaders? 

How was your customer experience in the services and products? Share your views.

Market Leader Samsung

Couple of years back, the word "Samsung" always reminded me of the beautiful Home Appliances (read TVs, Air Conditioners and Fridges). But, it has also become one of the market leaders in Mobiles, Accessories and also Laptops. This leadership in other avenues have always come along with their prime home appliances growth as well.

About three months back, I wanted to upgrade my 5 years old desktop. And I was in a shock to find most of the accessories had the option of Samsung in it (except the mother-board and processor, of course). When I tried to find the best option for internal hard disk, Samsung has created a good presence there.

After the Samsung Galaxy series came into existence, it has grown to market leadership in India. The recent S4 as per the release has many good features and is comparable to iPhone. Nokia, once a leader in India, has completely lost the battle against Samsung in recent times. 

One of the main reasons on why Samsung is preferred over other brands is because of its customer service. I bought a Micromax phone once about three years back. I used it for 6 months and its battery didn't charge after about 8 months. I struggled to find the service center for Micromax and lost faith in its brand.

Samsung is present in more places that it was seen couple of years back for sure. See the attached screenshot of Flipkart.com for the keyword "Samsung"

On a final note, I am happy to share that, I recently bought the Samsung flagship phone - Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos. I will experience it for say couple of months before pitching in to writing an review for it. Its great at the first looks.

Let me know about your experience with Samsung brands. How was it? Was it great or pathetic. Happy to hear.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Google Reader alternative Feedly

Google has always been the front runner on creating new and exciting products. Even though they come up with lot of good products, I believe they sometimes close down some of their good products unnecessarily.

When Google search came with a bang and captured most of the search market, it innovated many other new and better products not restricting itself to search engine alone. This gave way to them as a market leader in innovation (probably, Apple and Google fight here for the throne).
Google has a bad habit of forcing the change on customers. Gmail, one of the best mail available in the market today, has always changed itself according to the company's vision. It would have been better if Google had provided the 'customize' option on Gmail to have it configured according to what they like by giving some options. On a funny note, one should be happy that, at least, its alive.

Google announced its going to phase out Google Reader from July 1, 2013. Feedly is the perfect replacement for the Google Reader. It integrates seamlessly and there is complete assurance that it gets all the Google Reader data directly once you give the permission for it access your Google Reader. Also, it has a feature of auto-syncing the changes to you do in Google Reader and Feedly. Also, it has its mobile version, apps, dashboard look and the best of all, the classic look of Google Reader.

I am really disappointed with Google Reader being dumped by Google. As Google User(s), We should always be ready and willing to move away from any of the Google Products. It phased out iGoogle, the dashboard of widgets sometime back and its Reader this time.

Which Google Product(s) you love the most and wouldn't want google to dump it ever. Give it in your comments. Also, Share whether Feedly or any other RSS Feed Reader solved your Google Reader problem. Happy to hear.