With a view to mitigate the problems of the customers and safeguard their interests Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued certain directions to the operators through a consultation paper.
“ Not with standing the several steps taken in the past by TRAI with a view to enhance transparency in tariff offers, the Authority continues to receive complaints and representations from consumers and their representatives allege lack of effective transparency and resultant confusion for subscribers due to the multiplicity of tariff plans of various nature available in the market” TRAI said.
The Authority has decided to streamline and standardise the vouchers offered by the Service Providers, so as to provide clarity and transparency and help the consumers in better understanding the nature of various vouchers.
In case of enrollment of new subscriber, TRAI has asked the service providers to provide him Start-Up Kit (SUK) containing, among others, “the SIM card, where such connection is intended to be provided through a SIM, mobile number (if the customer is not enrolled through mobile number portability), the monetary value available, if any, information about type of connection viz. post-paid or pre-paid connection, information about Customer Care Number and General Information Number and a copy of the abridged version of the Citizen’s Charter for Consumers’ Education”.
Several stakeholders have alleged non-transparency of tariffs on the part of service providers, resulting in unintended activation of certain packs. With a view to acilitating easy identification by the consumers, the regulations now specify a colour band code on the reverse of the vouchers to distinguish different types of vouchers.
A major concern of the consumers regarding size of the letters giving details of the plan, MRP, net monetary value available on the voucher etc. has been addressed by the Authority by prescribing the printing of information on the paper voucher in font size of not less than eight points.
During the consultation process, concerns were expressed by consumers that some of the service providers are not providing the information like last call duration, call charge, validity period,account balance etc. Most of the stakeholders were of the view that such information should be provided to a prepaid subscriber, immediately on completion of every call, so that he can verify the correctness of the amount deducted from his account and also regulate his usage. Accordingly, the present regulations have mandated that the service provider shall, immediately on making any deduction from the account of a prepaid consumer, provide the information through SMS, relating to the subscriber’s usage for all calls and data.
TRAI has also taken note of several stakeholders’ view that a time limit should be prescribed within which the service provider should provide the information. Accordingly, these regulations have prescribed a period of thirty days for providing itemised usage details by the service provider.
Similarly in case of Value Added Services, information regarding its validity, charges and the method to unsubscribe is generally not known. In order to ensure that a consumer is aware of the charges payable for availing such services, the regulations prescribe that in case of PRS, the consumer should be informed of the charges for such service before materialisation of the call and in case of value added service, he should receive, before activation of such service, information about the charges, validity period and the procedure to unsubscribe from the service.