Cheating by catering staff on Southern Railways

It’s disgusting to see the many small ways (adding up to large totals) in which the catering contract staff on Southern Railways cheat the passengers.

On the 26th of July, 2016, I travelled by the Bangalore-Chennai Exp (train no. 12609) to Chennai, and on the 27th, I travelled back by the same train.

 
An elderly gentleman asked the man selling bottles of mineral water, “How much is a bottle?” and the answer was, “Rs.30”. Even before I could react, another alert passenger caught the man and said, “It’s Rs.15 a bottle, why are you giving twice that price?” The man glibly replied, “I thought he was asking the price of two bottles!” We all knew perfectly well that the catering man was lying, but because we could not prove it,we had to let it go. The man never showed his face in our compartment (C2) again.
 
Then it was the turn of those who sell tea and coffee. On some cups (but not all of them) it’s clearly mentioned that the price of each cup of tea or coffee is Rs.7. But the catering staff generally charge Rs.10 if they feel they will not be challenged.  When challenged, they back down, but often they get away with this. Given that they are pocketing Rs.3  on each cup of tea, and calculating at (at least) 20 cups of tea/coffee each hour in each carriage in the train (which has at least 20 carriages), one can imagine the huge amounts the catering staff is milking from an unsuspecting public.
 
Another cheap, stingy thing they do to make money is to fill the cup to less than the amount that should be served. For me it is a regular confrontation when a catering person serves me a cup of tea. “Fill it up properly,” I have to say, every time. To this, I have got responses like “If I fill it it up properly, it will spill, madam!” or “You are the only one to complain like this.” Most passengers are unaware that they are being cheated in this way. 
 
What are the Railways doing to curb such pernicious practices? And to whom can I complain about such malpractices?
Deepa Mohan
About Deepa Mohan 712 Articles
Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.

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