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.

"The system is the brainchild of these companies and not of distributors. In fact, we were not taken into confidence while devising IVRS. But we have to face the ire of consumers because we are at the front of LPG distribution system. We, at our level, had introduced smart-care system for consumers, which enabled LPG booking simply through a missed call. However, IVRS superseded this system," he said. Tapase said LPG distributors do take booking of cylinders without IVRS but only in exceptional cases.

Mahesh Jangam, deputy manager, LPG sales for BPCL, among other senior officials from leading oil and gas companies, were not available for comment.

'Many awaiting zer0 balance accounts'

Social activists have highlighted complaints of slumdwellers and others from the lower strata of population who still do not have zero-balance accounts for Aadhaar linkage. "Many applications for opening zero-balance accounts for LPG-Aadhaar linkage are pending with nationalised banks. We know of poor families who are waiting for the accounts for depositing LPG subsidy," said activist Kiran Moghe.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.