Inconvenient convenience: E&T Dept to introduce new helpline

This is the third time they have changed their helpline and text code.


Rameez Khan October 30, 2014

LAHORE:


In yet another attempt to convenience consumers, the Excise and Taxation Department has decided to introduce a new helpline from the first week of November. The corresponding short-text messaging code to obtain vehicle registration details will be launched a few weeks later.


This is the third time the department has changed its helpline and short-text code this year. The first helpline 8070, managed by the Punjab Information Technology Board, was scrapped in 2013 “because of its bad system design”, an E&T official said.

Earlier this year, the department launched the 08000 9966 helpline and 9966 text code for consumers to be able to request their vehicle registration details. The helpline was managed by the Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited. It was replaced only five months later with another helpline and text code (08000 9989 and 9989) that would enable consumers to obtain the status of their number plates as well. This helpline was managed by the Awami Service Technology (AST).



Now, the E&T Department has decided to launch yet another helpline and short-text messaging code, 08000 8786 and 8786, which will be managed by the PITB.

How it works

An E&T officer said people can call on 08000 8786 and ask for information. He said they were developing a complaint management system as well.

“Whoever receives the call will assign the consumer a code he or she can use to track their queries or complaints.”

‘This is inconvenient’

Some E&T officials believe that this will not go down well with consumers. “How can you expect people to switch to and remember the helpline when you keep changing it every other month?” an official said.

He said the first short-text messaging code introduced this year, 9966, got over 2.5 million hits in four months. When that number changed to 9989, over 200,000 people sent text messages to it in one month. Millions of rupees had been spent on advertising the numbers. “We’ll have to spend millions on advertising this new helpline as well,” he said.

Raza Khan, a resident of Samnabad, said the department’s decision to change its helpline was reflective of how the public sector in Pakistan functioned. “You can’t expect people to register so many numbers… this is very confusing,” he said.

Region-B Director Masudul Haq confirmed that the department was launching a new helpline. When asked why the department had changed the number thrice in a year, he refused comment. When asked how he thought it would go down with consumers, he refused comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2014.

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