Too lazy to call

Too lazy to call

Bangalore loves to crib about its auto drivers — but somehow, these complaints never seem to make it to the helpline that the traffic police have set up for this exact purpose.

Not many people are turning to the auto helpline to register complaints against drivers. (For illustration purpose only)

Although bitter anecdotes about overcharging, tampered meters and rude drivers are ridiculously common in the City, the helpline receives an average of a mere two or three valid complaints in a day.

Anil M Patil, who works at the Traffic Management Centre, tells Metrolife that although more complaints are received, most of them are invalid.

 “People don’t give the licence number of the auto, or explain what the offence actually was. We also receive about five valid complaints via text message each day. If a complaint is valid, then we book a complaint against the driver and they are charged a fine of Rs 100,” he explains.

Whether it’s due to sheer laziness or a lack of faith in the system, Bangaloreans don’t seem to have taken to the helpline system in a big way. Metrolife attempts to find out why.

Given that most auto drivers are confident of avoiding penalty even if one registers a complaint against them, it comes as no surprise that several people in the City believe that calling the helpline would be of no use.

Pratul, a software engineer, says that he has had more than his fair share of auto-related drama, but is yet to actually register a complaint.

“I travel quite frequently by auto, and have had many bad experiences — a lot of meters are tampered, drivers tend to overcharge and sometimes, they agree on a fare and then demand extra once I’ve reached my destination,” he describes, adding, “I haven’t tried calling the helpline, though. I have a lot of doubts about it, regarding what response I’d get and whether I’d be taken seriously. I don’t know whether it’s worth the trouble of actually calling.”

Logistically speaking as well, it can be difficult to actually note down an auto’s licence number and communicate this to the police.

Swati, a professional, feels that it isn’t worth the effort. “There have been times when I’ve been charged extra by auto drivers, but I don’t have the time to take down the number and register a complaint,” she explains, adding that another reason that people aren’t confident about calling the helpline is because many are unaware about the actual rates of autos.

 “People don’t know about the times when drivers can charge extra — such as before six in the morning or late at night, and also aren’t aware of the charge for waiting time. Maybe if they did, they’d know when they can actually register a complaint,” she suggests.

Registering a complaint may not be very convenient, but Aditya, a student, feels that threatening to do so can sometimes keep auto drivers in check.

“I’ve never actually used the helpline. But some of my friends have threatened to do so, and the moment they started making the call, the auto driver reverted to the actual rate. However, I don’t think any of them have ever received a response for their complaints,” he says.

Commuters, who want to register a complaint against an auto driver, can note down his licence number, and call 080-25588444/555.

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