There is some good news for homemakers. Oil marketing companies have introduced a new 'star rating' system for cooking gas dealers, which will ensure that LPG cylinders are refilled within a stipulated period of time. A dealer failing to provide refills on time risks losing his rating and even his licence if the delivery is not made in eight days.
In the most-privileged category are the dealers with five-star rating who are expected to be most prompt. They would have to compulsorily deliver cylinders within 48 hours of booking. In case of not delivering within the stipulated period warranted by their rating, they get downgraded to the lower level (see chart for ratings).
Apart from the time-bound delivery for subscribers, the new system also puts pressure on dealers of the three oil marketing companies - IOC, BPCL and HPCL - to compete for more business among themselves as the government has introduced cylinder portability similar to that for mobile numbers. The best-rated dealer among the three OMCs stands to get additional subscribers from competitors who don't serve their customers well.
Portability is currently available in the top 15 cities and is expected to be introduced countrywide by next year. A few months back, under a new policy, the government had forced households to surrender multiple cooking gas connections that they used to keep as a buffer for delayed deliveries.
Confirming the move, BPCL director (marketing) K K Gupta told TOI, "We have started the star ratings scheme to ensure competition among LPG dealers. If we find dealers are delivering cylinders beyond 8 days and get the least rating, we would take action against them and it may lead to cancellation of dealership."
Indian Oil has already introduced the new system for its dealerships in Goa. It found that more than 85% of its dealers there managed to achieve 5-star ratings in the last two quarters, which means most of the cylinders in Goa were delivered within 48 hours since April. Similarly, BPCL dealers achieved 100% efficiency in the north-eastern states of Meghalaya, Arunanchal Pradesh and Nagaland and the Union territory of Daman & Diu, where most cylinders were delivered within 48 hours in the first quarter. However, HPCL dealers are yet to get 100% ratings in the five-star category in any of the states. They got 100% 4-star ratings in the Union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nager Halevi - most of the cylinders in the two UTs were delivered within four days of booking.
IOC didn't perform that well in Kerala, where 81% of the cylinders were delivered after eight days of booking. Pondicherry is the worst performing region for BPCL, where 50% of the LPG cylinders were delivered after eight days in the first quarter. This was worse in the January-March period, when most cylinders were delivered in more than eight days.