Who doesn’t love a good joke popping into their mobile inbox? This question, although rhetorical, has an answer – the Western Railway (WR) authorities.
The WR authorities are not amused by the barrage of jokes they have been receiving on their public complaint number — 9004477777 — meant for handling commuter grievances or suggestions related to local train services or railway stations.
“On an average we receive seven to eight messages daily, of which, at least two are junk messages,” said S Chandrayan, chief PRO, WR. They receive these junk messages mostly in the mornings. Railway officials say it’s embarrassing when they receive inappropriate or nasty jokes.
Between September 2010 and February 2011, of the 1,400-odd messages received on the commuter complaint number, around 25% were miscellaneous messages which included jokes, poems, greetings and wishes.
The rest were genuine messages that reflected the need for more train services, the bad condition of seats and fans inside trains, cleanliness at stations and platforms, punctuality of services, complaints pertaining to ticketing or about the nuisance of beggars found loitering in trains or on platforms.
The WR has found an efficient way of dealing with junk messages. “Junk messages are labelled ‘not applicable’ while genuine complaints and suggestions received are classified and forwarded to different departments. They are then looked into on an immediate basis,” said a WR official.
Meanwhile, officials claim that complaints about passenger amenities, punctuality of services, and cleanliness have declined in the six-month period between September last year and February this year.
Complaints on ticketing dropped by 46%, complaints about delayed services dropped by 40%, and complaints about passenger amenities fell by 38%.
The Western Railway introduced this passenger complaint number to facilitate the process of redressing commuter complaints. Earlier, commuters had to approach the stationmaster and register a written complaint. This process proved to be very time-consuming.