Measure Twice, Cut Once
The Kafkaesque drama around getting a gas connection in Bangalore made me appreciate this adage
Moving to Bangalore from Mumbai has been mostly smooth sailing except in one area.
Getting an LPG gas connection.
A bit of background
In Mumbai, we use piped gas delivered straight to the home. Piped gas requires a slightly modified nozzle than the standard stove.
We brought that stove to Bangalore expecting to use it as is here.
First, the LPG gas agency made me buy a new gas stove for ₹4500 (~$55) even though we had a perfectly usable one at home.
Their reasoning was that the stove at home was optimized for piped gas, not LPG cylinders. To use the existing stove, I’d have to produce a warranty card. Now, given that we’ve had this stove for so long that even the name of the manufacturer is barely visible, expecting us to retain the warranty card is a stretch.
I’d later find out that I needn’t have bought that new stove at all if only I had asked.
Next, our setup is a little different from the standard where the cylinder is located next to stove.
We (wanted to) keep our cylinder outside the kitchen in the attached utility balcony. This would require a 3m long pipe instead of the usual 1.5m long pipe.
When I told them this, they sent me home with two 1.5m pipes, telling me that the cylinder delivery guy would come and attach the pipes to each other and to the cylinder and stove.
Well, the delivery guy came, took one look at our setup, and walked away telling me that this couldn’t be done.
So, back on the phone with the gas agency to tell them about this issue.
To resolve it, they promised to send a more senior technician.
The senior guy tells me connecting two pipes could allow leaks and the better option would be to use a single long pipe. Apparently, the gas agency people had not bothered to understand how our gas was supposed to be set up and had fobbed me off with two pipes.
Once again, we could have avoided so much hair pulling if only that agent had done her job asking a few questions about my setup.
Now, the senior guy has gone back to the agency to get a longer pipe to (hopefully) finally get my connection set up.
How to avoid such situations?
The first thing we need to remember is that every situation is unique. You cannot expect every use case to fall right in the middle of your happy path.
Ask a few questions.
For example, if the agent had asked if we have used the old stove for cooking (yes, we had) and were willing to wait for a technician to inspect the stove before approving its use, I could have saved myself ₹4500.
In the same vein, knowing that my setup was different from the norm, if the agent had offered a 3m pipe upfront, we could have avoided the friction of a delivery guy and then a senior technician look at the problem to diagnose a solution.
My message to business owners and support teams is the same.
Ask questions and try to solve the customer’s problems early in the cycle once and for all instead of doing it at the end.