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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    July 23, 2008

    BESCOM - Bangalore Electricity Stoppage Company

    Totally frustrated with a 8 hour power shutdown for the second consecutive Sunday, and possibly the 5th Sunday in the last 2 months, I wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission since the BESCOM website, true to the nature of its service, says "Service Unavailable".

    My main grouse against BESCOM is the frequency of maintenance and load-shedding. But since it is now common knowledge that Karnataka is facing a huge power supply crisis, there's little to be gained in questioning the frequency. But at the very least, BESCOM can be a lot more better at communication, politeness, restoration of service and customer responsive. These are the four main aspects I pointed out in my letter reproduced below.


    The Chairman

    I have complaints to make regarding BESCOM's frequent load shedding and maintenance. The BESCOM site is not working. So I am unable to use it to file the complaint.

    While I totally understand that the power supply situation is dicey and customers must expect load-shedding, I have a few aspects to point out regarding load-shedding & maintenance:

    1. Advance notification - Notification to the public through major newspapers (including national newspapers & those with a circulation in excess of 10,000 readers regardless of language of publication) about the load-shedding or planned maintenance at least 24 hours in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements. Currently the notification is published (95% of the time) in the newspaper on the same day as the service downtime, which means that customers are unprepared. Alternately, does BESCOM suggest that we consumers be prepared for shutdowns every weekend?

    2. Politeness in the notification - The fact is that we are customers & consumers and BESCOM is the service provider. Service downtime communication must be in such a manner that it is polite and conveys the reason for the downtime. Instead we get terse 2-3 line notices in the newspaper which (most of the time) does not even tell the consumers why they will have intermittent electricity supply that day, or indeed the fact that BESCOM is sorry for the inconvenience! For e.g. see the notifications published for today's (20 July 2008) power shutdown in the Deccan Herald and The Hindu. Since the content is the same, it is unlikely that there's actually any editorial contribution from the newspaper staff. Hence what is published is what is provided by BESCOM.

    3. Punctuality - Typically, the maintenance or load-shedding starts around 9 am and goes on till the evening. BESCOM is very prompt at stopping the electricity supply but not at resuming supply. The published completion time is almost never adhered to. I totally understand that sometimes it may not be possible to adhere to the timelines, especially in maintenance situations. But if there was planned & scheduled load-shedding, the supply must be resumed at the time that was published in the notification.

    4. Responsiveness - Typically, calling up the sub-station or the call center number (1917) for information results in no response. Either no-one answers the phone (automated voice messages and pleasing music aren't exactly what consumers want to hear at such times) or those who do not give any meaningful information or are downright impolite. In fact, I have had instances where the responder was adamant that he would speak to me ONLY in Kannada since that was the language of the state. (This when he had initially answered the phone with "Tell me, Sir"). The sub-station phones and the call center numbers must be answered by personnel who can give consumers right answers, and politely. I totally understand if the person cannot talk to me in a language that I can understand. I'd prefer being told so politely.

    Is it too much to ask BESCOM to provide 24 hours advance notification, make the notification polite, bring the electricity supply back promptly and be more customer responsive.

    If this is not the right way of filing the complaint, please let me know the right mechanism of bringing this to your notice.

    Anticipating your reply.


    Update: The email bounced. The account was over quota. What this tells you is that mails have been accumulating for a while. I guess this implies they're not being read, since you'd expect that the office has figured out a way to download mail through POP3 and delete messages from the server.

    So it seems like a pretty pointless exercise after all. I did manage to file a complaint using the BESCOM site though. But I did not receive back any sort of ticket or reference number. It has been directed to /dev/null.

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