Forced to buy Basmati rice, fancy lighters

Any home maker's heart would flutter at the sight of modern gas stoves with various options that are flooding the market.

But if you are looking forward to set up your kitchen with a stove of your choice, you will be in for a rude shock. To get a new gas connection, the LPG distribution agencies in the city insist that you buy a company provided two-burner, basic gas stove.

High-handedness

The high-handed nature with which a customer is dealt with at these agencies usually means that you will end up buying the stove for about Rs. 2000, irrespective of whether you need it or not.

But this is not all; many agencies also force a gullible customer to buy items such as Basmati rice, fancy lighters and even pressure cookers.

Final say

“I have an imported, four-burner gas stove and there was no need for me to buy the basic stove that was offered by the agency. There is only one gas agency in the vicinity and I had to take a connection there, so I had no choice. My new stove just ended up in my attic,” an irate customer said.

“The agency has the final say and we are forced to accept all their terms,” he complained.

A new gas connection costs between Rs. 1750 to Rs. 2200, of which the major portion consists of the refundable deposit and the rest covers regulator, blue book and administration charges along with the cost of gas.

But in reality a customer is forced to shell out anywhere between Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 7,000, depending upon the package that an agency offers.

Distributors' take

“While buying a stove at a distributer is only optional, possessing a functional stove is a must,” said Greater Hyderabad LPG Dealer Association President, D. Anand Kumar.

“Most people think that they can manage with an old or cheap, unsafe gas stove but that is dangerous. To discourage this practice, oil companies are providing an option of buying a standardised gas stove at an affordable price,” he said.

Inspection charges

“To ensure that the new connection is properly used, it is mandatory for an agency to conduct inspection of the gas stove. A customer will have to pay Rs. 250 towards inspection charges if he chooses not to buy a stove at the agency. If a customer produces a bill that is on his name and if the gas stove is still under warranty, an agency should not have a problem in providing new connection,” Mr. Kumar said.

While some customers will be benefitted by this practice of clubbing the stove with new connection, the ones who want to buy a stove of their choice face severe inconvenience and distributors should be sensitive to this aspect, he said.

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