Written byGogona Saikia
A week ago, the Railways launched a number where people can send their complaints on WhatsApp.
They have received a lot of messages since then, but something completely unexpected: apparently, their helpline number has been flooded with 'good morning' messages, devotional poems, and 'forward this to 25 people for luck' spams.
Friendship Day that just went by was even more disastrous!
The helpline was launched on July 31. Passengers can now report complaints about lack of cleanliness at stations as well as the pay-and-use toilets at 90044 99773 for Western Railway (WR) and 9987645307 for Central Railway (CR).
The numbers are manned by social media cells of the respective divisions.
Till now, passengers had to report such issues to the station master, who'd register it in the complaint book.
"Passengers can click pictures of unclean premises and pay-and-use toilets and send the same on WhatsApp. A dedicated staff has been deputed round-the-clock in the complaints cell," announced Ravinder Bhaker, WR spokesperson.
"The complaints are sent to the control department, which forwards it to the staff concerned, including the station master," an official added.
Though there's no deadline, officials have said they're attempting redressal in 24 hours.
In a week, Railways has received a total of 25 complaints: 23 in WR and two (Diva and Titwala) in CR.
What they didn't expect was random messages exceeding the number of complaints.
"We have received messages wishing us good morning, good evening and rest. Messages of deities with devotional messages have been forwarded. We have also received amusing Hindi poems," an official said.
There's something about Indians and free helplines. This might be new experience for the Railways, but other agencies will vouch for it.
"Out of 500 calls we receive daily, not more than 100 are genuine," said an employee of Bengaluru's 24x7 women's helpline facility five years ago.
Last year, Mumbai Police said of the 50,000 calls they receive each week, nearly 70% are blank or missed calls.
Undoubtedly, this takes a toll on employees. "These messages are a nuisance and waste of time," said a railway official.
So what do they do? "We have asked the staff to delete these messages, which we receive daily."
But that isn't easy, plus it takes a lot of time. Staff members have to check each message and delete them carefully, depending on their significance.
The Railways has other helplines too. In case of any problem, you can reach out to @RailMinIndia or @RailwaySeva on Twitter.
But we need to understand that what is one random and seemingly trivial forward for us, adds to a long list of unnecessary messages for them.
In the time they waste sifting through, genuine complaints might be lost. The costs might be high.
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