Here is why IRCTC's credit offer to book e-ticket 5 days in advance a useless scheme

IRCTC is going to tie up with a Mumbai based portal epaylater to offer credit to e-ticket bookers. The following are the salient features of the scheme:

1.Tickets can be booked only five days before the date of travel;

2.The tickets thus bought on credit will have to be paid for within 14 days; and

3.A flat credit charges of 3.5% will have to be paid.



The scheme seems to have been hastily designed. Certainly it hasn’t been thought through. First, there would be recovery problems.  One doesn’t know if the government company IRCTC would be indemnified by the private player epaylater for the credit risk. Aadhaar details and CIBIL credit rating of the traveler are no guarantee against default because there are no collaterals. The traveler with dubious intent albeit with good CIBIL credentials need not lose his sleep over denial of subsequent credits in the face of the first and last default. In other words, every crook would avail of the non-repayable credit once. And he would rope in the services of his near and dear ones for encore on subsequent travels. He would keep on pushing the envelope and ride his luck depending upon how big his family is.

3.5 percent credit charge translates into 84 percent per annum which is usurious to say the least and put it mildly. It is possible to rationalise this unconscionable rate on the specious ground that epaylater or IRCTC or both must be compensated by B for the default committed by A. And it may also be contended that a part of the interest is actually service charges.  But to a customer however the nomenclature or semantics do not matter.  The bottom line is the charges are heavy, period.

To be allowed to use this facility only five days before the date of travel further robs it of much utility. Where is the guarantee that one would get a confirmed ticket on a busy route when he wakes up to book so late in the day unless there is a special quota reserved for tickets under this scheme a la tatkal? And if indeed there is a special quota that would undermine, and work at cross-purposes with, Tatkal.

The moot question however is if a scheme should be launched when it apparently would not be serving a larger public interest. Who is the IRCTC trying to woo?  Is it to woo air-travelers? If it is, they are not going to give up the comfort and shortness of air travel just to enjoy a 14 day credit. Is it to serve emergency travelers who might not be able to cough up the ticket amount immediately? Prima facie yes but a deeper reflection shows the show of sympathy is hollow and superficial because in any case the bill has to be paid within a fortnight at exorbitant charges. Is it to woo the first time traveler?  The answer is once again no because once again the credit period is too short and charges too high to be attractive. Business houses wouldn’t evince any interest either because travel agents give better terms.

In the event, the scheme is as mindless as UDAN (Ude desh ka aam nagrik). UDAN imposes a cap of Rs 2,500 on one hour or less flights under the wooly socialistic notion that the common man otherwise cannot afford and hence savor air travel little realising that a stinking rich person would also benefit from such munificence in the same manner he does when he travels by garib rath trains.

Railways to be sure is a service organisation and thus should pamper the customer but offer of credit with superficial benefits at high cost accompanied by impossible conditions such as 5 days in advance and not earlier makes the scheme useless except to charlatans.

Published Date: Jun 02, 2017 12:39 pm | Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 12:39 pm

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