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Opinion

At Yahoo: The Ministry of Mis-selling

I write on Yahoo: The Ministry of Mis-selling

Have you missold your ULIP today?

Dear Insurance Agent,

After the forced rejigging of ULIPs, you must be in dire straits in trying to sell insurance without gauging your customers’ eyes out in the form of commissions. But do not despair. It is possible to make money in any situation, and this one is no different. All you need is appropriate verbiage. You will tell people about the current plans offering so much more – upto 30 times their annual premium! Omit of course that for someone who can afford Rs. 50,000 per year, the 15 lakh cover offered is woefully inadequate – if they don’t know that, why should you educate them?

And say that the costs have dramatically reduced. From losing 75% to 100% of their first year’s premium, they now lose ONLY 6% in the first year, and at least 3% in subsequent years. Don’t bother to tell them that they will not pay such heavy charges in any other long term financial instrument, like Mutual funds, NPS or other harebrained low-commission schemes. Since you have to, you can mention that Policy Administration Charge of 0.4% per month as something they don’t need to bother about – of course, in reality it’s another 5% per year that they lose. If a sucker is born every day, take him for everything he has. Hey, it’s lesser than we used to earlier, if that’s a consolation.

Selling ULIPs was easy, and now it has gotten only marginally more difficult. But that does not mean you should stop your mis-selling and cross over to the side of actually telling customers the truth. Told selectively and appropriately, you need not ever utter a lie, and still make your annual “best mis-selling agent” trip to Bangkok a reality. Do not forget, of course, to pay your membership fees at the Ministry.

Best Regards,

The Ministry of Mis-selling.

Dear Real Estate Broker,

How many plots have you mis-sold recently? It is imperative that you continue the system of telling sheeple how fast the city of Delhi will expand towards Bhopal and thus sell those tiny plots of land in the Chambal valley. Sure, once in a while some dacoits come along, and there are no roads for at least 50 more kilometres, but the India story will not stop. In fact, we all know very well that certain key politicians, whose name may or may not be “Rahul”, are very close to signing a deal for a large property right there. You must continue the noble habit of showing customers empty grasslands and telling them about the fancy new project that will emerge, sometime in the next decade. Not that the customers expect to hold that long; they are “investors”, a classic breed, who will first buy and then flip the property, giving you the ability to get repeated commissions from the same piece of real estate, over and over again. All they need is the imperceptible nod of your head when you say a project by will happen, and they’ll fork out the 500,000 rupee advance to ensure you sucker them first.

And when you sell them apartments, be sure to mention the 1,800 square foot “super built-up area” which includes every piece of square footage in the complex and sometimes, square feet invented from pure imagination. After all, 1000 sq. ft. carpet area ought to be enough for anyone; people will pay anything if it’s “super-built-up”, even if it’s not built, or in no way super.

You are not obligated to tell them about charges that will eventually come later – like the Rs. 3 per square foot maintenance cost that hurts their pocket even after they own the property, charges that the developer will invent to squeeze buyers like transfer charges, additional deficit charges, and we-just-want-some-money charges. If the developer vanishes with the money, or real estate prices fall [note: this part has been snipped by the department censor board because let’s face it, this can never happen.] As a conscientious real estate mis-seller, you should continue to highlight how India has a shortage of space, regardless of your knowledge of vast empty countrysides and horrendously expensive urban real estate. Keep those opinions to yourself; just a few deals more and you will be able to afford an expensive piece of the pie yourself. But you’ll still have to pay the maintenance charges.

Yours sincerely,

The Department of Overpriced Real Estate

The Ministry of Mis-selling.

Dear Job aspirant,

Have you embellished your resume recently? If not, it is now time to consider doing so. Companies place so many undesirable demands on recruits, such as actual experience in doing some of the things which you are obviously capable of but have never had the opportunity. Do not let this come in your way – invent such projects, or copy them from your friends’ resumes. We know that companies have fallen so low as to actually ask questions about specific projects that you were not aware were even on your resume, but you can always answer them by saying that was not in your specific area of operation. So if you have written “Java” on your resume, and the interviewer asks you to declare an integer variable, you must immediately state that in your company, someone else declares variables and you only perform complex tasks such as the ISO-9001 documentation of who declared the variable and why.

You may feel squeamish every once in a while with a conscience attack, but let us assure you that you are in no way different from the companies that you intend to work for. They, as you are well aware, tell customers they have ready staff who are extremely knowledgeable in, say, low level chipsets when the only person on the project is you, whose deep experience with the subject ends with Lay’s Cheese and Onion. Or they tell you to bill eight hours to one client and then six hours to another, when most of your four working hours were spent in meetings debating the colour of the excel sheet in which you record these hours. What goes around must come around; a few white lies will not destroy the world, especially when it’s the difference between a good salary and the lack of one.

Your comrade-in-arms,

The Department of Job application,

The Ministry of Mis-selling.

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