Bills are inflated, the helpline is not of much use. However, Bescom claims to address complaints at the earliest.
Bescom consumers have numerous grievances against the company. Primary among them are frequent power outages, delays in updating payment status, termination of connection despite paying the bill, and inability to pay bills due to a Bescom server error.
Some of them take to Twitter to make their grievances known. They claim Bescom is slow in resolving complaints. Most of the time, the helpline number 1912 is unreachable.
Rafiki, an aggrieved consumer, informed The Observer: “Bills paid through the KarnatakaOne mobile app takes 5 to 10 working days to reflect in the Bescom system. So they come and remove the fuse without verifying if the bill has been paid.”
K. Balamurugan faced a similar problem on the Bescom website: “I don’t know what happened to Bescom’s online payment. Nowadays, the webpage hardly opens.”
Hariharan B. tweeted that although he has a hard copy of the bill, he is unable to pay online as the amount is not showing up on the Bescom website.
For a few, Bescom has rude surprises. Avishek Biswas informed The Observer: “My bill usually comes around Rs 500. But this time it is 64 times more. I have not got the paper receipt as well. I have checked the bill on Google Pay, it is Rs 32,074.”
Krishna Teja, a resident of Kadugodi, said: “Bescom refused to restore power without a visit by me to their office. A Kadugodi Bescom officer told me over phone that I needed to visit the office with my bill. It took six tweets, five calls to field officers, four calls to 1912, two days of blackout, and a lot of patience, to resolve the issue.”
Ravindra Gowda tweeted: “There are power cuts as frequent as 15 times a day in CKB Layout, Munnekolala and Marathahalli. I don’t understand the reason behind this.”
On September 18, Sameer Joshi, a resident of Rajajinagar, tweeted: “No power in half of Rajajinagar for more than 9 hours! Very improper planning by Bescom, all residents are suffering without any power….”
In a bizarre case, foreigner James Rinard tweeted: “For over a year I’ve been getting emails every month telling me I’ve successfully paid my @NammaBESCOM bill. Bescom is an electric company in India. Even after contacting them, this continues.” He had also attached screenshots of e-mails received by him.
B.N. Nagarajaiah, general manager-in-charge of Bescom customer relations, said: “Regarding online payment, it is real-time, it will get updated immediately. There is no delay. Probably it happens due to their network issues. Even the website error they are claiming to face might be because of the same.”
Asked about frequent power outages, he said: “We will check that with our people.” Pointing to the specific cases of Ravindra Gowda and Sameer Joshi, Nagarajaiah said: “Maybe it is their internal fault. Fifteen times a day is not possible. Nine hours of power cut also sounds very strange. Anyway, we will look into it.”
About the disconnection issue, Usha, assistant general manager, explained, “These cases arise when the disconnection list is generated the previous day and staff go for disconnection the next day. In the meantime, the consumer pays the bill. Hence, it doesn’t get updated. There are certain cases in which we cannot help. But Bescom addresses the problems as soon as possible.”
“In general, Bescom’s response compared to others is really very good. The complaints definitely get attended to unless there’s a major issue or a natural calamity,” Usha added.
On the helpline number being unreachable, Bescom officials explained: “When the call inflow is huge, there will be pending calls, nothing can be done about that. Earlier, we had 30 lines; now we have increased them to 60. If a consumer calls twice or thrice, he or she will get the line.”
When The Observer showed them James Rinard’s tweet, the officials said: “There is a reply from Bescom on his tweet asking him to send an e-mail to our helpline, but I think we have not got any response from him. Anyway, this is a serious issue, we will definitely check on this.”