As my house is under renovation, it was necessary to remove the gas meter temporarily to prevent any damage to it. I had already turned off the supply and filed a request on 16 December on the Mahanagar Gas website under the given head, for someone to come and do the job. (Screenshot attached).
I immediately received an email in which the web admin promised me a docket number within 48 hours. None came. I filed a follow-up complaint. This time, not even the promise came.
Finally, on 3rd January, I decided to use the phone. This was a massive rigmarole. At first, nobody picked up the phone even after several attempts. I dialled the emergency number. I was told very unambiguously to go back to the original number and have patience with the lock-down-hit company, with its sparse employees. Finally, a voice came on, to tell me that I must approach them only if I have a complaint. Then started the ritual of ‘Dial one for English, dial two for Hindi.’ I thanked the Brits for having come to India or else we would be holding the phone till Mahanagar Gas reached ‘dial 23 for Urdu.’
As I punch in my 1 and wait, the voice tells me, ‘Response not received’. I punch in another 1 and, getting the same response, yet another. Finally, I am asked to punch in my BP number.
Ooooops! What I had scribbled on a slip of paper was the CA number, which was irrelevant. I disconnect the phone and go back to my gas bill and carefully scribble the BP number, ready to be punched in.
Once again, they cannot see/hear my 1 punched in for my foreign language preference, and I go on punching it in till they move on to ask me for the BP number. Ah, I won, I thought. But hold on!
The over-abundance of the digit 1 prevents the full BP number from being accommodated in the given space. The unseen voice reads out my number WRONG – digits that I never did press – and then asks me to ‘Press 1 if correct, press 2 if incorrect.’
I give the honest answer by pressing 2. It repeats the directive to punch in the BP number, with all the preceding 1s lined up tall and willowy in the window to the left of my correctly punched in BP number. No, the gods at the other end are not appeased.
Once again, I doggedly punch in my BP number. ‘Sorry, this is an invalid BP number’ says the nameless voice. After many attempts lasting a good part of an hour, I finally succeed in being blessed with a voice that says, in Hindi (making me wonder if I had pressed 2 by mistake instead of 1), what I wanted.
Never mind, one must respect the national language too, I reason, and try to recall what my problem was in the first place. I manage to state it and ask whether a man would be sent to do the job. And surprise! The voice asks me for my BP number!
Well, I stop myself from asking what happened to all my attempts at punching in the number, and, if I punch, then why should I have to say it and, if I say it, why do I need to punch it, and many other related academic queries.
I realise suddenly that the man said NO! No man would be sent, without due ceremonies.
Apparently one is not entitled to get a serviceman so easily. One must have patience. The voice told me I would receive an SMS, which would give me further instructions. And, yes, it would take about five or six days for the man to reach my doorstep.
Now, after two days, there is no SMS, nor do I have any evidence of my telephonic conversation actually having taken place.
I have, once again, taken recourse to the email route and filed two complaints. And am staring at the automated response, that promises me, with stubbornly innocent amnesia, once again, a docket number!