Shipra Philip, a lawyer who recently finished her studies at a Pune college, decided to send her seven-year-old scooty back to her hometown, Patna. Philip, who had landed a job in Delhi, used the Railway Parcel Service to send the vehicle.
While the dispatch should have reached Patna within a week, even after two weeks had passed, Philip didn’t get any message from the Patna Parcel Office about it. When she called up the office of the chief parcel supervisor, Pune, to enquire about the reason for the delay, she was told that her scooty had been sent to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh instead.
When Philip finally managed to convince the officials that she had booked the scooty for Patna, not Jabalpur, they agreed to send it to the intended destination. But when she sent her brother to collect it from the Patna station, the officials asked him to pay a ‘penalty’ for turning up late to collect it. The penalty, for a scooty worth about Rs 25,000, was Rs 2 lakh.
Apparently, the parcel booking clerk at Pune Office, who had erroneously booked the scooty to Jabalpur, had also mistakenly put the date as July 19, 2016, instead of May 19, 2017.
So, officials at Patna railway station assumed that Philip’s brother had reached almost 11 months late to collect the scooty, and hence charged the exorbitant amount, as per the ‘Rs 10 per hour of delay’ rule. “Obviously, there was a mistake on part of the booking clerk who had noted the details. Although I had filled the details correctly in the form, I should have double-checked when the clerk handed over the receipt to me. But I still don’t understand how someone could confuse Patna with Jabalpur. After I got to know about this, I called up the Pune parcel office and they said that they will send a communication to the Patna office, which will resolve both the problems. We are yet to receive it,’ said Philip.
Senior Divisional Commercial Manager of Pune Division, Krishnath Patil, said the issue could be an “inadvertent mistake” on part of the booking clerk. He assured that Pune parcel officials will act fast so that the customer is not inconvenienced any further. However, this is far from an one-off incident. Those who book parcels, especially motorcycles, often complain about delays or the consignment being sent to a wrong location.
Pune Division’s ‘Twitter helpline’ has also received complaints about touts and Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel allegedly extorting money from passengers, by asking them to produce documents such as a ‘No-Objection Certificate from RTO’ . On May 19, one Gaurav Sharma had tweeted the Union Rail Ministry, and stated in his tweet “policemen asking NOC or Rs 300. Without paying cut to agent no one is cooperating.”