Queuing up to buy Aavin milk from the milk booths makes a quintessential Chennai morning for many of us.
However, recent steps introduced by the state government have made it difficult for many customers to be able to continue buying Aavin milk in the city.
What I assumed was a simple exercise to link my Ration card and Aadhar information with the milk cards issued by Aavin turned out to be a much more complicated exercise that laid bare the failings of the system.
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Chaos reigns at Aavin office
When I went to the Aavin office in Perambur earlier this week, I was greeted by a long queue extending into the street. Several two-wheelers were parked on either side of the street where the office is located. This obstruction was caused by the various customers who were at the office to renew their milk cards.
In December 2022, an announcement was made by the state government asking consumers to link our Aavin milk cards with Ration cards while renewing the same.
Even prior to this announcement, many consumers had been asked to submit a copy of our Ration card and Aadhar card on two different occasions but no information was forthcoming on why the submission had to be made again at the time of renewal.
This month, there has been a new announcement asking consumers who want to procure full cream milk to once again submit copies of their Ration card.
When I visited the office to look into why I have been asked to repeatedly furnish the same information, what transpired was a frustrating exercise in inefficiency.
A security guard deployed at the Aavin office was in charge of enforcing the queue. Even when I mentioned that I have already linked my milk card with my Ration card and Aadhar information I was told to wait my turn to meet the officials. It was only after I asserted myself that I was allowed to go and meet the officials manning the counters.
Upon enquiry, I was informed that the details that had been collected earlier could not be recorded properly and hence they have been asked to collect the ration card details once again.
During this time, several consumers were seen returning empty-handed because they were not aware of the new rules as they assumed they had already completed the necessary procedure to link their information to the milk cards.
Aavin must adopt to changing times
Both the announcement and the manner in which the linking process has been carried out have been hostile to loyal customers of Aavin.
These days, most of us are used to linking our IDs with various services using our phones or computers. It surprises me that Aavin has not offered any online option and is collecting details on a register manually from all its customers
The information noted down manually at the offices is then digitised. It would be prudent for the authorities to adopt a digital-first approach to avoid wasting the time of consumers and also prevent issues arising from the process of digitising this information.
While the monthly milk cards were being issued at the respective booths on specific days earlier, this month the consumers who want full cream milk have been asked to procure the cards from the nearest Zonal offices.
People staying in Valasarawakkam have to go all the way up to Ashok Nagar to renew their milk cards as a result of this move. Similarly, residents from faraway locations had come to Perambur to obtain their cards.
Having finally got some answers as to why I had to repeatedly furnish my information with Aavin, my ordeal was not over.
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I had to return empty-handed on two occasions as the queues snaked on and wait times seemed endless. I had to visit the office once again later in the day with the required documents and wait for nearly an hour to renew my card.
It is imperative that the government does not alienate paying customers of Aavin, especially in light of private players such as Amul preparing to foray into this space.
Making customers jump through so many hoops at the cost of their time would only be detrimental.
If a fixed timetable is provided, consumers can plan their visit and complete the procedure without having to queue up at the offices of Aavin across the city.
Introducing more customer-friendly policies and making it easier to gather and safely store information of the customers should be one of the first steps to be considered if Aavin is to stay competitive in the market.