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Inter Company Portability

In order to have competition among distributors in the interest of customer service, it was felt a portability system enabling customers to migrate between cluster of distributors both intra and intercompany to be put in place. In such a scenario, a customer not satisfied with services of his parent distributor can migrate to his chosen distributor within the cluster for better service. This would result in better customer satisfaction and incentive for distributors for giving better service. The distributor who would thus be loosing customers also would always look forward to woo existing customers with prompt service.

One of the problems in LPG customer inter/intra company portability – which was available prior to 2013 to very limited areas known as de-linking scheme - is physically approaching distributor, submitting request for transfer which may or may not be entertained by the parent distributor and then move to the next distributor, complete the documentation to become their customer.

In the new portability initiative, this is achieved through web wherein a customer desirous of transfer submits her application in the portal which will be converted into an automatic transfer process even if it is not accepted by the parent distributor for intra company portability. The customer can subsequently complete the documentation in the new distributorship within stipulated time.

Under the portability scheme, a consumer can opt for the distributor of his choice within a cluster of LPG distributors in the vicinity. The option is to be registered electronically on the website of the OMC to which the consumer is presently attached. This will bring great relief to consumers who are unhappy with their LPG distributor or want to move to a distributor closer to his home.

To register for Portability, the consumers need to do the following:
  1. Visit the OMC websites
          1. IOCL www.indane.co.in
          2. HPCL www.hpgas.com
          3. BPCL www.ebharatgas.com
  2. Register themselves in the site if not registered already.
  3. See the distributors in the cluster and their star rating in terms of refill delivery performance ( 5 Star- Excellent, 4 Star- Good, 3 star- Average, 2 Star- below Average and 1 star - Poor).
  4. Choose the distributor of his Choice from the cluster.
  5. The consumer will then receive an email confirming the registration and advising details of procedure.
  6. In case of Intra-Company portability request, consumer has to just visit only the new distributor with copy of the email and get enrolled.
  7. In case of Inter-Company transfer, as the equipment is not compatible across companies, consumer will need to visit the existing distributor and surrender cylinder and pressure regulator, collect refund/ transfer documents and then approach the Chosen distributor for reconnection by paying the same deposit as earlier.
  8. No transfer fee or additional security deposit will be charged for transfer of connection under portability scheme.
  9. Proactive electronic tracking of the portability request with escalation matrix and its closure is in place to ensure that a consumer does not have any difficulty in moving to the distributor of his choice.

In order to facilitate the portability OMCs have made clusters of distributors which are made at field levels and distributors corresponding to the customer cluster will be visible to the customer when he login in the website so that he can choose the distributor from the list available to him. If the portability request made by the customer is not attended by distributors in stipulated time then proper tracking with the escalation matrix by the auto generated mails are also in the system design.

This initiative will usher in improvement in consumer service by the distributors as it will bring in competition in the cluster of distributors and bring choice to consumers who want to change their LPG distributor within or across the Oil Company or want to move to a distributor closer to his home.

Advantages

  1. Due to lack of competition attributed to the policy on exclusive area of operation and ceiling on maximum number of refills, currently there is no specific motivation for distributors in their monopoly market to expand and woo the customers. In other words, with most of the distributors’ customers being captive, they are not allowed to choose any other distributor. This would undergo a drastic change when portability is introduced.
  2. Customers can switch from one distributor to another within the same cluster when portability is implemented. Link will be provided in the portal displaying the service levels of the distributors making it easier for the customer to choose his distributor.
  3. Customer will be allowed to get transferred and get reconnection within the cluster of distributors, identified with common Area of Operation, intra and intercompany (across IOC-HPC-BPC).
  4. Portability will bring in competition in the markets and thereby it will improve customer service.
  5. The existing distributors not providing good customer service, for their survival will also gear up to offer the services for customer satisfaction and delight.
  6. The overall efficiency in the LPG cylinder distribution and logistics will improve.
  7. From mere distribution as a commodity, LPG cylinders would migrate to a competitive marketing environment.