Customers at the any time payment counters at Jusco’s corporate office in Bistupur on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Standing in that never-ending queue to pay your water or power bill is a thing of the past. The amount can now be debited from your bank account after an SMS alert informs you of your bill details.
Jusco — a wholly owned Tata Steel subsidiary and the city’s civic amenities provider — tied up with payment gateway BillDesk last month to introduce the auto debit service. And, if officials are to be believed, the number of customers opting for this convenient facility has already crossed 3,000.
Currently, the utilities company has a general customer base (non-Tata Steel employees) of 45,000 power and water connections, which caters to nearly 700,000 residents in its command areas. All these people can avail of the new service, which was launched from November 1. For nearly 17,000 connections used by Tata Steel employees, bills are deducted directly from their salaries.
Jusco’s billing officials said an existing customer could apply for the auto debit service by filling up a form. “The forms are available at our payment counters in Kasidih, Sidhgora and Sonari, and at the Jusco corporate office in Northern Town, Bistupur. They need to mention their bank account details and a limit for the maximum amount that can be debited,” an official explained, adding that a completed form was sent to BillDesk for verification and introduction of the service for the individual concerned.
Jusco officials said the process was foolproof because BillDesk was one of the leading online payment service providers, with agreements with as many as 70 banks across the country. Sources in the company added that the auto debit facility was expected to start within two months of submission of the form from the consumer’s end.
“Our objective is to provide services on the doorstep. We already send text message alerts on bill details to our customers. If the bill amount exceeds the upper limit mentioned in the form, then an automated SMS alert is sent to the customer, asking for balance payment at our counters,” said Jusco DGM (customer relations and corporate communication) A.P. Singh.
Message alerts are also sent to a customer if his or her bank account is devoid of substantial funds, which automatically cancels the transaction, Singh added.
R. Rekha, an MNC executive and resident of Vijaya Heritage in Kadma, recommended the service. “Earlier, I used to take a circuitous route every month to clear my bills. It was such a hassle to drop by at the payment counters before office or during lunch hours. Now, I am spared,” she said.
Singh harped on Jusco’s other customer-friendly initiatives.
“We have been stressing on effective communication for business transactions with our customers through our 24x7 Sahyog Kendras. It was a part of this initiative that we started cashless payment options at our any time payment (ATP) counters earlier this year. Here, customers pay through cheque between 8am and 8pm,” he said.
The senior official maintained that the average waiting time for customers at ATP counters was five minutes and almost 90 per cent of bill collection system were automatic for swift payment. “Around 60 per cent of our customers avail our ATP counter facility,” he added.