Selecting Direct-to-Home (DTH) service provider among Airtel DTH, Tata Sky DTH and Dish DTH in India

Among all other problems I faced in India, selecting DTH provider in India is also a tremendous headache. My requirements were straightforward; I needed HD set-top box with DVR functionalities and wanted to subscribe all the available channels including HD channels.

Local cable provider does not even provide set-top box for digital channels yet so only choice I had was to select from airtel DTH, Tata Sky DTH and Dish DTH service providers. There are other DTH service providers, but I wanted to select only from most common DTH service providers in Indore.

DISH DTH does not offer DVR yet, so DISH DTH was not an option. Also, be aware that DISH advertises to have 30 HD channels but in reality, most of them are standard definition channels up converted to HD.

Upcoming Tata Sky HD DVR is very promising but it will not available till a couple of months in Indore, so only choice I had was to get the airtel DTH service.

But when the airtel installer brought the DVR I noticed that it was not HD DVR. According to the airtel DTH customer service terms, since the set-top box has a HDMI output, it is a HD set-top box. Later I found out they do not have HD DVR either. They either have HD set-top box without DVR or standard definition DVR. Anyway instead of explaining HD technology to them, I cancelled airtel DTH installation and ordered the Tata Sky DTH service.
So in the end, I did not get HD DVR. But I got the channels I wanted, because only the Tata Sky DTH mega-lite-pack package made sense to me among all three DTH service providers. Now I cannot wait for their HD DVR. If you do not care for DTH service provider, I think the Videocon DTH service provider has HD DVR.

Update 6/18:

I recently found out that DISH and Videocon set-top boxes have 60hz output. This means HDTV from USA will work without any NTSC to PAL scan converter. Also DISH DTH set-top box does not support latest mpeg-4 format.

I am seriously thinking of the Videocon DTH now, but I recently spent around 15,000 Rs. on the Tata Sky DTH. If you have Videocon DTH, I will appreciate if you can comment on Videocon DTH service.

 

 

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Final Step: Customs Duty for Transfer of Residence to India and more …

The problem (or “fun”) starts when your container reaches India. Your shipper will notify you when your shipment has arrived at the port. Usually clearing customs will take place after a couple of days. While you do not need to be present for customs clearance (the local agent can take care of that for you), I would not suggest this to anybody after what I went through.

When LAC Relocations (the local agent for the worldwide shipper) called me about my shipment’s arrival, I followed my friends’ advice and asked them to clear customs on my behalf but told them I would be personally present for loading. I also asked how much customs duty I should expect to pay based on his experience. The person I spoke to from LAC Relocations was Minesh Shah. When he asked me what was in the container, I told him honestly, “I have $15,000 worth of new furniture and electronics,” etc. He started negotiating customs duty right then and told me that he would be able to negotiate customs duty for around $5,000 with the customs office. I realized right then by his tone that I had made a mistake by telling him the truth, and that what he wanted was to make money in customs duty. I told him that I would not pay customs duty on the furniture, since I had already removed the labels from the furniture, and that I was not expecting to pay more than $750 for customs duty on the electronics items. I also told him later that I would be there for customs clearance myself with him. He gave me a ride to the Nhava Sheva port, since it is far from Mumbai, and on the way he was still trying to negotiate the customs duty down to $2,500, but I said no.

When we reached the port, the container was lying on the ground in open. The customs office had my packing list with the number of boxes on it, so when a lady customs officer approached, she asked the port workers to take out specific boxes and left. Most probably the customs officer will ask for the electronics boxes with the electronics to be taken out. My container had been tightly packed, so when they took out all the boxes I was sure there was no way they could fit them back in the container. After a couple of hours went by with my boxes out in the open, the lady officer came back and asked me to open the boxes so she could check them against the list she had.  After she checked it, she left again. I had not lied about the electronics, but I had about the $15,000 worth of new furniture.

Another couple of hours went by before Minesh Shah came and told me that the officer was asking for $1,600 in customs duty. He said that otherwise they would open every box and the lady officer would ask the commissioner to come inspect the goods. He also told me that it might take a couple of days to finish clearing customs. This is where Minesh Shah got me, and I agreed immediately. I could have called his bluff, but I could not see it. All I wanted was my boxes to be back inside the container since I was already very upset for my electronics boxes, including HDTV, having already been out in the open in the scorching heat for hours. After I agreed on the customs duty, 6-7 workers came for repacking. I watched as they stepped on my electronics boxes and packed them as if the boxes were just some junk they were putting back in the container. This was happening right before my eyes; I could only imagine what they would do if I was not there! Anyway, as they packed, I was trying not to think about it.

Usually a moving truck comes the day after the customs clearance since there is not enough time to do it the same day the shipment clears customs.  That day, Minesh Shah brought the truck, which was small, filthy and, as I found out later, also used to transport spices, the smell of which caused me to sneeze. Here again the same stupid workers were standing and walking on my boxes and loading them without any respect for my things. All of my wife’s and my effort to mark the boxes with labels like “glass,” “fragile,” etc. had been in vain. They finished packing the truck, and the truck left for Indore, and my task was done in Mumbai.

Finally after two days the truck arrived in Indore, and the workers were a little better than those I found in Mumbai. They unloaded our boxes and furniture properly in a couple of hours. In the end my leather sofa was scratched, my brand new king size mattress was completely stained, and I lost two old night lamps. But considering the way everything had been handled, we were surprised and happy with the results of our packing effort. Also, I had had insurance, so I filed a claim for the sofa and mattress.

So the moral of the story is:

1. Pack you boxes/furniture as well as you can, because the loaders will stand and walk on them, even if you clearly mark them as being fragile .

2. Go personally for customs clearance.

3. Do not tell your local agent the truth. Only disclose that information which you are obligated to share with the customs office.

4. Do not withhold declaring your electronics, since the custom duty is only 15% and they will reduce the value if the electronics are used, and since if you get caught, you will be in more trouble.

5. Carry all the receipts for your electronics just in case you need them, and do your homework in advance about the expected customs duty.6. Insure your shipment.

Happy Shipping!

Previous Posts:

1. Step One in the Process of Returning to India

2. Step Two: Is a Shipping Container Worth It for Moving back to India?

3. Step Three: How to Select a Shipping Company for Moving back to India

 

 

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Step Three: How to Select a Shipping Company for Moving back to India

Many of us start by looking at forums like http://www.r2iclubforums.com/ for a shipping company. I have had a few friends who moved back to India from the U.S., and I asked them what their experiences were and what shipping companies they chose.

I personally feel it is very unlikely everyone would have a good experience with the same shipper. Everybody’s story is a little different, which makes it difficult to predict what the results will be.

I received three estimates from the following shipping companies:

1. Timothy Whybrew Allison Shipping International, Inc. Tel: 562-435-7200. Fax: 562-435-7201. www.allisonshipping.com

2. Universal Relocations. Toll free: 1-888-323-7356. Toll free fax: 1-866-624-9165. www.universalrelocations.com

3. Worldwide Ocean & Air Shipping Lines. Tel: 1-800-327-5252. www.worldwide4shipping.com

Allison Shipping gave me the lowest quote, but they did not offer door-to-door delivery and would ship the container via MSC shipping line. According to Worldwide Ocean, MSC is the worst shipping company because they take a long time and use risky routes.

My friend hired Universal Relocation,  and overall his experience was not bad but got messed up in customs duty. I did not hire them because they were asking $500 more than what Worldwide Shipping had quoted me.

I hired Worldwide Shipping, and their customer service was decent, but with a lot of but’s. Rakesh Kumar from Worldwide Shipping told me that MSC is the worst shipping company.  He stated:

MSC has the longest transit time. The vessel can take up to 90 days to reach India. No wonder you are getting such a low quote from the other shipping company. Ask them if they can give you the quote but use Hanjin/NYK/Hapag Loyds/OOCL/Yang Ming. Hope to have informed you in your order. Rakesh KumarSent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

And guess what? They sent my container through MSC. They hired LAC Relocations in India for customs duty and delivery to Indore. Minesh Shah from LAC is the biggest crook. I will write another post regarding  my experience with LAC Relocations and customs duty. Therefore if you go with Worldwide Shipping, request them not to use LAC Relocations.

In the end, do not worry about the shipping company. Your goods will go fine in any shipping company. They are all large companies, and these people are just like travel agents. You go with the lowest quote and ask about how they will deliver your goods to India. You can ask what kind of truck they will use, how many and type (professional) of people they will send for unloading, etc., but in the end it is all the same.If I have to do all over again, I might go with Allison Company and hire someone locally in India to save money.

By the way, if anything goes wrong in your shipment, it will more than likely  be  in India. Also pack you items very well, because people will stand and walk on your items as if they were nothing.

Previous Posts:

1. Step One in the Process of Returning to India

2. Step Two: Is a Shipping Container Worth It for Moving back to India?

 

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Step Two: Is a Shipping Container Worth It for Moving back to India?

It will cost around $5,000-$7,000 for a shipping container from the U.S. to India. This includes loading, unloading, insurance and around $1,000 for customs duty.

What I concluded is that unless you can make up that cost in saving, it is not worth it to ship a container. We have purchased a lot of new furniture, two big HDTVs (including a 55″ 3D HDTV), a music systems (including 7.1 speakers), and many other items. We thought a lot about not  shipping a container, but once we decided that it would be worth it, we made a list of what we would need to take versus what we would buy once back in India. By doing this, we were able to save $3,000-$4,000 in electronics alone when compared to the cost of buying them in India.

We had been in the U.S. for 12 years so instead of taking our old furniture from U.S.,  we bought almost all new furniture including 4 Italian leather sofas, queen and king size bed, mattresses, dresser, night stands, center tables, computer table, entertainment center etc.  We are going to live in Indore, and it would have been possible to have gotten the furniture we wanted in the big cities, but it would have been a lot of hassle. We would have had to see in which big city we could buy our furniture, then where in that city to buy our furniture, and then we probably would not have been able to find what we wanted. I am pretty sure that the deal we got from Macy’s in the U.S. was better than any deal we could have found in India. In addition, already having the furniture would save us a lot of time and hassle, not to mention that we had gotten what we wanted and had grown accustomed to it too.

Here are the main item we shipped in our container:

 

 

1. 55″ Samsung 3D HDTV

2. 40″ Samsung HDTV

3. Onkyo TX-NR808 Home Theater Receiver

4. 7.1 Speakers ( 2 Polk II Monitor70, 1 Polk CS 2, 1 BIC 12″ subwoofer and 4 BOSE 161 speakers)

5. 1 New Lenovo laptop and 2 Dell netbooks

6. 4 2000 watts transformers and 1 3000 watts step up/down transformer

7. Toys and cloths for our 2 year-old son

8. PS3 and Xbox 360 with lots of games

9. Dinnerware (for formal and daily use)

10. Wireless security systems

11. HP wireless printer

12. 4-5 beds in a bag

13. Picture frames from michaels

14. Sony hi-fi shelf system

15. Exercise/boot camp DVDS

16. Speaker cables, ethernet cables, bannana plugs, etc from monoprice.com

17 Shark steam pocket mop

18. Rice Cooker, Cusinart griddle, KitchenAid oven

19. 2-3 digital picture frames

20. Bathroom and cleaning supplies for a few months

21. Professional fabric steamer from costco

22. 2 Area rugs from Costco

23.  Above-mentioned furniture

24. 2 wireless N routers, one to be used as a wireless bridge

25. 2 Spike protectors

26. PAL HDMI-NTSC converter ( depends on if you need it)

I hope this post and list of items will help you in deciding whether it is worth shipping a container.

Previous Post:

1. Step One in the Process of Returning to India

 

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Step One in the Process of Returning to India

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!!!!!!!!!!!

The first step I found to be useful was to make a list of reasons why I wanted to go back. For me this list included items that I did not have in US and I could not live without. They were ones I continued to need even after spending  a large amount of my life  in U.S.

Here are some tips I found useful once I had made the decision to go back:

1. Set a date for when you want come back, because without it you cannot be sure that are ever coming back. I had a family problem, but I still came close to meeting my deadline date.

2. Do you want to bring the shipping container? If the answer is yes, then start making a list of what you want. Also make a list items which you want to buy new.  I will share my list with you in a later post.

3. Regarding money, set a target as to how much you need in the bank regardless of whether in India or abroad. This is a must.  Along with this, you should ask whether you want to take a job or if you have enough to retire. I will write more in detail in a later post about what I will be doing with my retirement fund and how much of a percentage I will convert to Indian Rupees.

4. Take a job or take few months off and look for job in India.

5. Regarding school, this I have found to be the hardest part. Shortlist the schools you like and try to find the admission procedures. Also it will very helpful if you know someone in the school.  While we did get our son admitted to a decent school, we could not get him into the school we had wanted, even though we followed all the rules of the school admission.

6. Regarding a house/home, decide where you want to live. If you will rent you are in good shape, because buying is really very expensive here. My home is 2,000 sq.ft. and in a decent area of the city.  If I were to sell my home here, I could easily buy a very good single family home in Miami.  However, I cannot imagine buying a property in India now. One small bedroom condo/flat costs around $40,000-$50,000 in Indore.  Also if our home were newly constructed, it would take lot of time and even more money to renovate.

Again make a list of why you want to come back and plan, plan, plan!

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First Post: Are You Thinking of Returning to India?

I first started talking about going back to India to my friends and family many years ago. I had never entertained the thought of settling in the U.S. since I came here, but I also found that the more time I spent in the U.S., the harder it became to go back to my homeland (Bhumi). It’s true regardless wherever we live because we are well settled. It became more difficult because we were in US and were accustomed to quality life style compare to India.  I have also heard stories of people  being discouraged by their friends and extended families, reason being simple — more money, quality lift style and craze of US.  But  my wife  was with me, and we were determined to go back. We had always put our families first and had never once imagined  living without them. We are U.S. citizens, but our parents who are in India do not want to come live with us. Even if our parents were in agreed to come live with us, there is long wait time for siblings who are also in India to get green cards. Another good decision we took was not to buy home in the U.S. This helped us avoid the hassle of having to sell a home.

Now we are back in Indore, India. I have not quit my job yet, but my wife has. My wife and child are here for good.  We will see how it goes for them here over the next few months, and, if all goes well, I will quit my job then too and also return for good. If for any reason it does not work out, then at least we will have the option with my job to go back. We have come back many times to India, but we can already see that coming back for good is not going to be so easy. Even though we were mentally prepared, it has been much more difficult than we expected –the hot weather, pollution, service problem everywhere etc. However,  we are determined and will do whatever it takes to settle here.

I will write my blog especially for people who are thinking of coming back to India for good. However, because I live in Indore, some of the situations I have encountered may not true in your city.

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