Random

Recently someone of Digital Point Forums was selling the code for a video blog. I thought I’d give it a shot. I sent him the money via Paypal and he sent me a link to download the code.

Unfortunately, the code was incomplete and didn’t work at all. I sent him several emails asking him to fix the code. At his request, I even set him up with an FTP username-password so he could copy the code over himself. Apparently I’m not bright enough to unzip a file and upload it to my own server!

He never uploaded any code and he stopped responding to my emails.

Anyway, after more than a week I got tired and contacted Paypal. I opened a dispute and they sent the seller an email which he ignored. After 2 days I escalated the dispute to a claim.

But Paypal denied the claim! Here’s their canned response:

You have chosen to escalate your dispute to a PayPal claim. By ending communication with the seller, you are asking PayPal to investigate the case and decide the outcome. As part of our investigation, PayPal reviewed any communication you may have had in the Resolution Center.

Our investigation into your claim is complete. As stated in our User Agreement, the claims process only applies to the shipment of goods. It does not apply to complaints about the attributes or quality of goods received. Therefore, we are unable to reverse this transaction or issue a refund.

———————————–
Transaction Details
———————————–

Transaction Date: Feb 14, 2008
Transaction Amount: -$11.00 USD
Your Transaction ID: XXXXXXXXXXXXX
Seller’s Transaction ID: XXXXXXXXXXXXX
Case Number: XXXXXXXXXXXXX
Seller’s Name: syed sinofer
Seller’s Email: [email protected]

Luckily it wasn’t a large amount, but it still left me pretty pissed. I suspect that the seller had bought a piece of software that generates a video blog and was just zipping up the resultant code and illegally reselling it. By its inaction, Paypal is condoning these fraudulent sales. Basically you can sell anyone complete crap and Paypal won’t do a damn thing! So long as you actually send the buyer something, you’re safe to continue scamming people!

Until today I was under the impression that Paypal would protect me against fraudulent sellers. Doesn’t seem like this is the case.

India is a land of many contradictions. And I don’t mean in a good way. One of the most prominent examples is the government-sponsored discrimination. India proudly assets itself as a secular state. Wikipedia defines secularity (adjective form secular) as the state of being separate from religion. However, this isn’t borne out in principle.   If you belong to any specific ethnic or religious minority, then regardless of your economic status, you’re given preferential admission in colleges and government jobs.

Imagine giving admission to a D student in a Medical College, graduating him with a D grade and then giving him a secure, life-time-guaranteed government bank job, solely because he was from a minority group! Poor students from ethnic backgrounds aren’t the ones who take advantage of this. Its usually the educated and economically well-off people that even knows about these “reservation quotas”. In some southern states its so bad that less than 25% of college seats are based on merit.

Another strange law is the fact that while polygamy is illegal amongst the Hindus in India, Muslims are allowed up to 4 wives. I don’t know if any other ‘secular’ country that allows this. As if that weren’t enough, even the taxes are different.

Under the Hindu United Family Act, a Hindu family can set up a separate tax entity called the HUF account. Since it’s common (or was common) for families to live jointly together along with grandparents, sons, the sons families and unmarried daughters could pool money into a separate HUF account.

As an example, suppose I live and work in India. I would of course have to pay tax on my earned income. However, I can transfer my savings/investments to either my HUF or my Dad’s HUF. (Even if my father is deceased, his HUF still continues in his name with me as the beneficiary and as the account holder). Essentially, this creates 2 extra tax entities for me to split my income into.

Its very easy to hit the highest tax brackets in India as the tax brackets are very low (I’m not 100% certain, but I think you hit 33% at $7,500). The standard deductions are also different for men and women. (They’re higher for women, I think to incentivise them to work). So being able to split income this way definitely helps reduce your taxes.

So I guess the question is, would you change your religion if it meant you could have multiple wives, or if it meant you would pay less tax?
I know Hindus with multiple wives and Muslims who evade their taxes, so this isn’t any sort of issue in India, but if it was really enforced, what would you do?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

It also happens to be my birthday and since I haven’t been in India on my birthday for over a decade, I thought I’d celebrate in style this year. Accordingly, I’m throwing a “small” party for 75 people. Luckily, India is a lot cheaper than the US, so a catered party for this many people on the terrace of a smallish, but exclusive, country club runs under $400!

Anyway, gotta rush – hope everyone has a great day!

[Valentine’s Day: Because love isn’t…]
source:XKCD

[Edison Universal Stock Ticker Machine]If you’re thinking of robbing a bank, you’ll probably get less than $50,000 and more than likely get shot in the process. The more well-read crooks among you might instead try the Museum of American Finance, located at the site of the original Bank of New York building dating to 1797. And its only a block away from the New York Stock Exchange, home of some of the biggest crooks on earth! Okay, maybe I’m being slightly facetious here (or maybe I’m not!).

Apart from containing a host of educational financial stuff like original stock certificates, an Edison ticker tape machine, and jars of various commodities, it also contains a 60lb bar (or maybe slab is a better word) of gold. If my math is correct, 60lb comes about to 846.395 Oz of gold. Not sure what the purity is, but if its 99.999% then at todays price $890/Oz, it’s worth $753,291. Much better takings than at a bank![60lb gold bar]

The Museum of American Finance recently reopened after a $9 million makeover. The next time I’m in New York, I’ll try to visit it.

Sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.
Donald Trump

I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.
Warren Buffett

There’s nothing wrong with getting fired.
Ted Turner

The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.
David Ogilvy

My son is now an “entrepreneur.” That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.
Ted Turner