Gas connections: further pitfalls for consumers

A few months ago, all cooking gas agencies made their customers submit documents asking for the RR no. (the consumer no for the electricity connection). This was a bid to weed out the bogus customers.

Recently, consumers were asked to check the status of our cooking gas connections online. Presumably, if the online status was “OK”, there would be no problem in ordering a gas cylinder.

But this is not always so. Unless a person from the gas agency had come over home and verified the consumer’s gas connection physically after s/he submitted the documents, her/his consumer no. will be blocked and s/he cannot order the cylinder, even if the online status is OK.

So consumers, please ensure that the verification was done, or arrange for it to be done at the earliest.

One consumer went to the US after submitting the RR no. proof. When she returned, she was not able to book cylinder online.

Also, in a new development in the booking system, there is now only online and mobile booking or telephone booking on a central no, no more calls to the gas agency are possible.

I personally feel this is rather a consumer-unfriendly step. Why not retain the facility to call the gas agency, instead of reducing it to a single number for all of Karnataka to call? Not everyone may have an internet connection to order online.

Another issue that many consumers have is that if any consumer does not order a cylinder for six months, the account is also blocked. This particularly affects consumers who, in the course of their jobs, travel abroad for a few months. There are also elders who visit their children abroad, and do not book cylinders often. Instead of rewarding lower consumption, the gas company is actually penalizing and harassing such consumers. An elderly couple who returned after six months in the US, found that they could not book a gas cylinder.

This rule also breeds corruption; consumers who are desperate for a gas cylinder say that often, upon paying Rs.300 at the gas agency, they can get an “unofficial” cylinder. Surely the gas agency should not have rules that give rise to such malpractices.

In all, the gas agencies’ practices are still very consumer-unfriendly, and often hold honest consumers hostage. While the dishonest consumer gets away with bribery and corruption, and gets a gas cylinder at will, while the honest consumer is subjected to inconvenience and delay.

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