IRCTC, Indian Railways Come Under CCI Scanner
IRCTC is the undisputed leader when it comes to online ticketing in India, lakhs of tickets being booked on daily bases. But at the same time the amount of problems faced by travelers while booking on IRCTC site are equally big. There must hardly be any one who has not complained about it!
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has now ordered a probe against Indian Railways & IRCTC for resorting to unfair trade practices. In an official statement, they have mentioned, “that prima facie, a case of contravention of the provisions of the Act is made out against Indian Railways and IRCTC”
The CCI have found 9 different aspects that they want to investigate that include overcharging of fees, compulsory inclusion of Food charges on trains like Shatabdi and Rajdhani, unfair cancellation charges among others.
Here are the points CCI have mentioned:
1) IRCTC charges services fees over and above normal ticket price. Along with it, if travelers book ticket from IRCTC authorized agents, they have to pay extra agent charges as well. CCI also finds Payment gateway charges and transaction fees (for e-wallet) levied to be unreasonable.
2) The service charge imposed on e-Tickets is non-refundable, even if the passenger needs to cancel the ticket. These charges are over and above the cancellation charges imposed by IRCTC.
3) Online ticket bookings have number of restrictions including break-journey reservations not being allowed and maximum limit of 10 ticket bookings a month for an individual.
4) Under Tatkal Quota huge inventory of tickets is being hoarded based on type of train and class of travel creating artificial scarcity of tickets. The Tatkal quota tickets are then sold at huge premium of upto Rs.400 over and above the normal price.
5) Unfair and discriminatory cancelation and clerkage charges: These are the charges levied for clerical work rendered in refund of fares on cancellation of tickets.
6) On trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi express, the travelers are not provided with any option to book tickets without their food and catering services.The traveler is compulsorily required to pay the ticket prices inclusive of catering charges, which artificially inflates the railway journey ticket price.
7) Indian Railways has limited the availability of IRCTC agents by charging unreasonable fees for appointment as agents. The one-time fee of Rs.20, 000 and annual fee of Rs.5, 000 is prohibitive for people desirous of becoming agents.
8) Indian Railways has given long term contracts for Food vendors at railway stations which has led to food court monopoly at larger stations.
9) CCI has also pointed out that IRCTC has not improved technically and have virtually made no gains in increasing train speed or have taken no steps to reduce the travel time.
Overall, CCI has found multiple points that lead to believe that Indian Railways and IRCTC have abused their dominant position by not making adequate efforts to improve their services for travelers. CCI has given a time of 60 days to investigate the same.
In our opinion, CCI has done a great job of ordering a probe. While IRCTC has been taking some steps in recent times to improve their services, it has been far too long that travelers have suffered at their hands. It’s time IRCTC and Indian Railways is taken to task.
What do you think?