LPG booking: Elderly not happy with IVRS

While the interactive voice response system (IVRS) — which was introduced by oil and gas companies for booking LPG cylinders a few months ago — has been welcomed, several consumers are still facing difficulties in using it. The consumers, especially senior citizens, are demanding an effective alternative system.

Madan Talathi of the Federation of Senior Citizens Organisation of Maharashtra said the elderly are finding it difficult to book gas cylinders using IVRS for many reasons. "Most of the senior citizens suffer from hearing problems and also have poor reflexes. These physical constraints make it difficult for them to use the IVRS for LPG booking. In today's times, a large number of senior citizens have to live alone or with their spouses due to reasons like nuclear family structure or children moving out to pursue careers. So, they have to manage essential work, like booking LPG cylinders, on their own," he said.

The IVRS system, which varies from company to company, generally gives multiple language options for interaction. Consumers have to choose options by pressing 1 , 2 or 3 through registered mobile or landline phones. After selecting the language option, IVRS asks the consumers to enter the telephone number of their distributor with the STD code. After distributor and customer numbers are identified, the IVRS demands the option of refill booking and other services.

Asha Rashingkar, a senior citizen from Kothrud area, narrated her agonising experience of using IVRS. "I tried booking an LPG cylinder thrice, but could not complete the process each time. It was very difficult for me to follow the instructions," she said, demanding modifications in IVRS keeping in mind people like her.

The spokesperson of All-India LPG Distributors Federation of Maharashtra, Mahesh Tapase, said IVRS has been introduced and promoted by oil and gas companies more like a mandatory measure with the aim to curb illegal circulation of cylinders.

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