Shoeshine boys at Mumbai railway stations accused of fleecing customers

Published: 15 December, 2013 07:24 IST | Vedika Chaubey |

Shoeshine boys contracted to work at Western and Central railway stations are allegedly charging Rs 3 extra to polish shoes, hence violating railway norms. Passengers who have been forced to pay up, say the men gang up if someone refuses to pay the extra money

Several daily passengers on Mumbai’s local trains have a strange complaint. Most complainants are men and they accuse the railway authorities of overcharging. And no, it’s not the ticketing staff but the shoeshine boys who are charging a significant premium to polish shoes in recent months stating that they were using branded shoe polish. Passengers say they have beencomplaining about this fleecing since long but the problem hasnot been solved yet.

At least 5 lakh male passengers get their shoes polished every day, and most of them are charged Rs 10 instead of Rs 7. Pic/Vedika Chaubey

Dayanand Chandraghatgi, a professor at a Matunga college, for instance, has registered several complaints along with few other passengers alleging that they have been overcharged. “The shoeshine boys are fleecing us by charging an additional fee of Rs 3 for polishing shoes, by saying that they have applied branded shoe polish,” he said. He pointed out that the regular charge for polishing a pair of shoes is R7 but the shoeshine staff are now charging Rs 10 per pair.

“Nowhere is it written that the rate has changed to Rs 10. They take it forcefully, threatening to leave the shoes unpolished halfway through,” said Chandraghatgi, who resides in Borivli. He alleged that the problem was not limited to Churchgate alone but at many railway stations. “I have fought with these boys at Masjid station, Borivli station, Grant Road, Dadar and other places. They are in groups and it becomes difficult for passengers to fight with them,” he added.

The official rate for shoe polish at railway stations prescribed by railways is Rs and Rs 7 for ordinary and ‘cream polish’ respectively. According to senior railway officials, nearly 70 lakh passengers travel by local trains in suburban sections of central, western and harbour line every day. Out of this, approximately 50 lakh are men.

At least 5 lakh male passengers get their shoes polished every day. And most of them are charged an additional Rs 3. “This means an additional income of Rs 1.5 lakh per day,” says Chandraghatgi. Ankit Sonawane, another commuter who resides in Kharghar shares the same experience. “I don’t bother fighting with the guys as I am in a hurry and don’t want to waste my time for Rs 3. I have been a victim often,” he said.

When contacted, Atul Rane, Chief PRO at CR, said, “We will check and if anybody is found charging extra, action will be taken against him.”

There are nearly 150 shoeshine staff contracted to Western Railway and over 250 under Central Railway including the harbourline.

Did you know?
Western Railway has 150 shoeshine boys
Central Railway has 250 shoeshine boys
The regular charge is between Rs 5 to Rs 7
Commuters are forced to pay Rs 10
Five lakh commuters get their shoes polished daily
The total extra income of shoeshine boys every day is Rs 1.5 lakh 

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