Allegations surface about agencies overcharging on LPG cylinders

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Allegations surface about agencies overcharging on LPG cylinders

Rahul Chanda | November 28, 2017 21:43 hrs

•  Some agencies are overcharging for LPG cylinders, allege customers 
•  The truck drivers who bring the cylinders overcharge on the retail price
•  They flout norms and do not even deliver cylinders at the doorstep 
•  IOCL claims they resolve such issues immediately whenever a complaint is lodged 
•  Agencies ask customers to complain if such incidents occur 
•  Meanwhile sources said government is quietly reducing cooking gas subsidy 
•  Source said that since last year subsidy is being reduced by Rs 2 every month and consumers are unaware of this


 Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders are being sold by some agencies in the city at a price which is more than the prescribed rate, some customers have alleged.  
A resident of Lal Ganesh, Manoj Dey said, “I was asked to pay Rs 820 for a cylinder refill. Later, I received a digital cash memo which said the price of the refilled LPG was Rs 779.50.”

He had booked the cylinder through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) number and a booking number was provided and later he exchanged the empty cylinder from the cylinder carrying truck which visits the area twice a week. 

Dey had purchased the cylinder from Mahalaxmi Indane Gas Agency located in Rupnagar. Another customer of Cycle Factory area was faced with a similar problem after purchasing from Bharat Gas Agency located in Dhirenpara.

Many customers in the city have alleged that the truck drivers bringing the cylinders to their areas charge more than the prescribed price of a new cylinder.  

 An employee of Mahalaxmi Indane Gas Agency said that customers pay more for delivery of the cylinders to their houses which are located in hilly areas and remote lanes.

According to a 2013 order issued by the Kamrup Metro Deputy Commissioner, it is mandatory for the agencies to deliver cylinders at the residence of the consumers unless the house is located on a hilly terrain or in a lane beyond the reach of vehicles.

But consumers were of the view that the agencies often flout the order and cylinders have to be regularly purchased from the outlets. 
 
Marketing companies examining consumer complaints

Marketing companies are alert over the complaints by consumers against the agencies that over-charge LPG cylinders.   

A source in Indian Oil Corporation limited (IOCL) state office located at Noonmati said, “In 2017 till mid-November we had received around 100 complaints of overcharging from Guwahati and all the complaints were resolved immediately.”

The official informed that customers could register a complaint either on a toll free number (18002333555), or on an IOCL online portal. 

The source said that the Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, personally looks into the complaints which are posted on his Twitter account.  

The source explained in most of the cases it is the driver/conductor who overcharges and not the agencies.

The Mahalaxmi Gas Agency clarified that prompt action is initiated after receiving complaints.  “On several occasions, the extra amount charged by the driver from the consumers had been refunded.  But there are not very many complaints from consumers.”

The price of the LPG cylinder keeps changing every month depending on the market scenario. So the customers should know the price and pay accordingly, said the agency official.  

Govt quietly reducing cooking gas subsidy

A source in the gas and petroleum product industry revealed that the central government has embarked upon a policy of reducing the subsidy in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) since the last few months.

The source said, “The government is reducing the LPG subsidy by Rs 2 every month since last one year and customers are unaware about it.”

The source explained that according to Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG (DBTL), the LPG cylinders are sold to consumers at market determined prices excluding subsidy and the subsidy is later transferred to the bank account.

The customers are usually not aware about what the quantum of the subsidy should be because the rate of the LPG changes every month depending on the market and so does the subsidy.  

When the price of LPG is less the subsidy given to the customers is also less and vice versa.   Whatever subsidy the customers are receiving, there is a difference of Rs 2 but the consumers cannot understand it with the complex subsidy calculation set up by the government. 

The source added that in November the subsidy for a domestic cylinder in Guwahati is Rs 292.50 and the non-subsidised rate is Rs 779.50. If the rate remains the same till the next month, the subsidy will be Rs 290.50. “The customers, in all probability, will not remember the current subsidy till the next month and the government will reduce the subsidy,” he claimed.

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