Recently, we got conned into 'buying' a time-share holiday scheme from a company called "Mountain Club Resorts PL, New Delhi", Club Group of Hotels.
Their game was pretty simple -- and beguiling. First they dangled a "free holiday" at the end of an hour-long marketing pitch. When you decline to take up their offers, the smooth-talking gets smoother, and the prices keep going down until you take the bait on the basis of "zero interest" payments of multiple installments spread across a couple of years.
Then they take your credit cards and charge you the full amount saying that the CC company would be converting them to 'easy installments'. You are hurriedly made to sign at the bottom of some legal papers. It is only later that you kick yourself for being so gullible -- especially when you notice that the legal doc has blanks spaces that have not been filled, and the bill from the credit-card company is for full, upfront payments!
A rather belated internet search reveals that RBI had banned "zero interest" many months ago.
You desperately contact the company. The smooth-talkers are Mountain Club Resorts now feign ignorance. "Is there a new RBI rule? They must've introduced that after you signed up". When that line fails to convince, a new offer comes up - "We'll pay up the interest charged by the CC companies". When you ask them to send confirmatory emails, they just dissappear. Phone calls go unanswered; emails are ignored.
Is it too late? What do you do?
First, inform the credit card companies. In our case, the process with Citibank was a lot easier than HDFC bank. Citi just blocked the credit card, issued a new one and then initiated a "dispute" inquiry. The very next day, there was a follow-up call to assure us that no payment was required for this transaction. HDFC was a lot more cumbersome. They wanted to have a written application, signed and submitted to a local branch. Customer-care service was tardy and a test of patience.
Next, inform the Reserve Bank of India. The RBI Ombudsman page had officers listed city-wise to take up the complaints . Our case has now been forwarded to the Department of Non-Banking Supervision (DNBS).
What happens next? Watch this space.
* RBI bans zero-interest payment schems (26 Sep., 2013) -- http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/RBI-bans-zero-interest-loans-on-EMI-to-credit-card-holders/articleshow/23065529.cms
* Fraud membership offered by Club Group of Hotels -- http://www.icomplaints.in/fraud-membership-scheme-offered-by-club-group-of-025237.html
* Complaints registered online -- http://www.complaintsaboutbusiness.in/tag/club-group-of-hotels/
and http://www.consumercourt.in/product-services/110075-cheated-club-group-hotels-gold-star-hospitality.html (Club Group of Hotels / Gold Star Hospitality)
* ...and more! -- http://www.complaintbox.in/cheating-by-club-group-of-hotelsdestination-resorts-india-pvt-ltd/ (Club Group of Hotels / Destination Resorts PL)
* RBI -- http://www.rbi.org.in/commonman/english/scripts/departments.aspx#DNBS
* Banking Obudsmen - RBI - http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/AboutUsDisplay.aspx?pg=BankingOmbudsmen.htm