The big LPG loot
Believe it or not, LPG consumers in Telangana are losing more than Rs 150 crore per year in the form of tips to delivery boys for supplying cylinders to their doorstep.
Consumers losing Rs 150 cr every year on tips
There are nearly 79 lakh LPG consumers in the State who are registered with three major oil companies – Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation. Whenever a consumer books an LPG refill, the dealers of these oil companies supply the cylinder to his doorstep by charging him the cost of the refill and also delivery charges.
However, the consumers are virtually left at the mercy of the delivery boys, who are demanding extra “service charge” of Rs 20 to Rs 30 on each cylinder and more often than not, the consumers have no choice but to cough up this extra amount. As per the estimates the annual burden on the customers is around over Rs 150 crore.
Ch Ramya, a housewife, said every time she booked a cylinder, she was paying an amount of Rs 30 to the delivery boy over and above the billed amount. “Call it tip or a service charge, we have to pay this amount to the boy. He demands the amount saying it was for his service to unload the cylinder from the vehicle and carry it on his shoulder to the doorstep. We are forced to pay this extra amount because if we don’t give the money, they will not bring the cylinder on time next time,” said Ramya.
“When contacted in the agency office, they asked us not to pay the amount and wanted us to lodge a complaint with them,” she added. According to the oil company official, the dealership agreement with the oil companies specifies that the dealer shall at his own cost and without charging any extra amount from the consumers, arrange for delivery of full cylinders from his own storage premises to the customer premises and for the return of empty cylinders from the consumer’s premises to his own approved storage premises.
As per the rule, the delivery boys are paid service charge and the amount is included in the bill. The consumers need not give any amount if the house is less than six kilometers away from the agency godown. “The service charge ranges from Rs 10 to Rs 15 per cylinder, depending on the distance, but that amount is included in the bill. The delivery boys cannot demand extra money,” said Greater Hyderabad Gas dealers Association secretary M Rajender Reddy.
G Vikram, a private employee at Seetarambagh said that the delivery boys have become greedy. “We used to pay Rs 10 to 20 extra earlier but now they say that it is not sufficient. When I pointed out that their charge was included in the bill amount, the delivery boy said that they would not get that amount hence they want money,” said Vikram. The delivery boy has 30 to 40 cylinders in his trolley and by the day on an average they can get Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200, he added.
Rajender Reddy blamed it on consumers themselves for the “tip” menace. He pointed out that when there was cylinder scarcity, the consumers offered tips to the delivery boys and the process still continued. “If the delivery boys demand more the consumers can either complain at agency office or at the oil company website,” said Reddy.