Only three districts have the facility now

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is all set to expand its SMS/IVRS-based automated cooking gas cylinder refill booking system across the State by this month end.

At present, the system is restricted to Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, and Kozhikode districts.

Announcing this at a press conference here on Friday, Murali Srinivasan, general manager, IOC, Kerala, said the oil company’s LPG brand, Indane, has the biggest customer base in the State.

It has 40.88 lakh customers with 26.53 lakh having double cylinder connection, he said.

Mr. Srinivasan said that at 244, IOC had the largest number of distributors. IOC registered a growth of 2.52 per cent in domestic LPG in the State during 2013-14 and 2.02 lakh new connections were issued.

The move to roll out the automated booking system across the State has been welcomed by the stakeholders. It was introduced in Kochi about two years ago.

Sharada Joby, a housewife, said the system had proved very effective except for some hiccups in the initial stages. “The earlier system of booking refill directly with distributors was a nightmare as they often did not pick up the phone and booking was restricted to the working hours of distributors. Under the automated system, booking can be made round-the-clock,” she said.

Aadhaar row

Roy Thekkan, convener, LPG Consumers Grievance Redressal Cell, said the system worked smoothly except during times when the accepted practice was tampered with.

“For instance, the system was affected when the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG consumer was introduced and then withdrawn recently,” he said.

George Mathew, an IOC distributor, said the distributor-customer relation had improved substantially ever since the system was introduced. “Earlier, customers used to constantly come to us with complaints over refill booking. With direct contact with distributors eliminated for refill, such complaints are now minimal,” he said.

But at least some customers complain that the service is not without shortcomings with the IVRS system sometimes coming up with the details of the previously booked and delivered cylinder instead of accepting a new booking.

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