Today I had an interesting experience at the main bus station. I had gone to send a consignment to Dharamshala through the HRTC courier service. Before I start my rant, here is what the HRTC site mentions – The charges for non document category courier is 10/ per kg within Himachal and the cooliage charges for loading/uploading will be borne by the agent. With this knowledge in hand I reached the bus station at 12.30 pm with a 3 kg packet.
The babuji at the counter freaked upon seeing my parcel. He told me non document courier are not accepted at all. After much persuasion he quoted a rate of 175/ plus cooliage charges. Cooliage charges for carrying the courier to 5 meter distance from the booking counter to the bus! Also he cautioned me that the conductor would not take responsibility of such a ‘big’ consignment. Then I was asked to open the packet to let him see the contents. I had packed the packet at home and there was no material at the office to stitch this again. By this time, babuji had me completely rattled.
Seeing my plight, the babu then offered me a solution. There is always one there! He asked me to contact the conductor of the bus and hand it over to him directly and pay some money to the conductor. Now this had my attention and I wanted to check how the conductor sahib would react to my ‘big’ consignment. Waited till 2 pm and the sahib asked for 100/ for doing the jan seva to carry my parcel to Dharamshala. I was assured that the parcel would reach in one piece and he would call me at the time of delivering the packet. I had no option but to shell out this amount since carrying it back again would not have served my purpose.
This episode made me think, how well organized the racket is. These guys are minting money for the service they are supposed to render. Irony of all, the big boss of HRTC, the MD, sits just above the booking office. Any guesses why HRTC is always in red!
For the record the bus number was HP03B-6080 and left Shimla at 2.30 pm on November 24, 2008 destined for Dharamshala.
Ps. The packet was delivered safe & sound in one piece.