Customers turned away at many agencies; IOC, which supplies sheets, denies shortage

A shortage of official stationery, used for generating vital customer documents such as subscriptions and transfer vouchers, is proving to be an irritant for many Indane consumers in the city.

“For 10 days I have been trying to get my connection transferred from Medavakkam to a distributor in Adyar, where I have shifted. Besides both the old and new distributor, a few other Indane gas agencies I enquired with say they are unable to carry out such a simple task as they have run out of stationery,” says Shivshankar Pandit, an IT professional.

What this means for customers like him, is that they cannot book a refill. “Unless stationery is available the connection cannot be transferred and so long as that does not happen I will not get a new consumer number. Only after the new distributor enrols me can I book a refill at the new address,” he says, adding that for his five-member household a refill lasts around 40 days and the one they had now could get over anytime soon.

Indane distributors say the stationery, supplied by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), is a must for documentation such as enrolling customers, effecting requests pertaining to name/address change, transfers, pressure regulators, and when consumers surrender their connections.

Many distributors, says consumer activist T. Sadagopan, are sending customers away with an assurance that they would be called and informed once the stationery arrives.

Mr. Pandit said he had met a senior citizen who said he’d been waiting for hours, since eight in the morning, at the agency to get a similar document. “It is very difficult for senior citizens and employed persons especially, to frequently visit these agencies and wait for documents,” he added.

A few distributors, however, say they manage by borrowing 20-30 sheets from Indane agencies in other cities. While these help them manage “emergencies”, especially when customers, on transfer to another city, rush hours before their train or flights to complete the transfer formalities, even these are not enough to meet the growing requirements.

“Typically, the demand for such documentation peaks between March and June, as that is when the maximum flow of incoming and outgoing customers happens. But this year, it is the KYC (know your customer) form submission and the consequent need for changes, including those related to name and address or surrender, that has pushed up the demand for stationery now,” says a distributor.

This is something that seems to have also taken IOC by surprise. Denying that there was a shortage of stationery, company officials say in the past, one box of stationery, comprising 500 sheets, used to last a distributor four months. But with the KYC formalities, things have changed, making it difficult to predict the demand.

Orders have been placed for additional stationery and they would be rushed to the distributors in a day or two, officials say.

More In: Chennai