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Pesky calls, SMSes, etc: Sibal to meet mobile users

Last updated on: July 4, 2011 17:43 IST

Pesky calls, SMSes, etc: Sibal to meet mobile users

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Amid growing consumer dissatisfaction, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal will hold the first round table with consumer user groups to look into their grievances in issues like pesky calls, hidden costs in tariffs and ineffective redressal system, among others.

"I shall be holding a round table with consumers on July 5 ... This is the first ever round table to interact with consumers. I want to know from them what their problems are," Sibal told PTI.

Asked why telecom regulator Trai was unable to address the menace of pesky calls and SMSes, the minister said, "I do not know, that's something we need to discuss. Though Trai is holding discussions separately with consumers, I think as a minister I want to directly interact with the consumers to know what they want and I intend to resolve those concerns."

A day ahead of the meeting, Trai has issued two draft regulations on protecting consumer interest and redressal of complaints, a move aimed at empowering over 860 million telecom consumers in the country.

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Image: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.
Photographs: Reuters
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The drafts focus on issues like effective grievance redressal system, review of consumer centric quality of service parameters, metering and billing audit and providing information to prepaid consumers, among others.

The two draft regulations -- 'Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2011' and 'Telecom Consumers Complaint Redressal Regulations, 2011' -- have been placed on Trai's website for comments from stakeholders by July 25, 2011.

As part of the drafts, telecom operators would be able to offer only three categories of vouchers -- Plan Voucher, Top Up Voucher and Special Tariff Voucher, which would have colour bands for easy identification.

While the plan vouchers (red) would be used for selecting tariff plan, top up voucher (green) would be for adding talk time and special tariff voucher (yellow) would provide special tariff options.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Also, telecom operators would have to ensure that the information printed on the paper vouchers meant for the pre-paid subscribers is legible and printed in font size of not less than eight points.

At the end of each call, service providers have been mandated to provide information like call duration, call charges and balance in consumer account or SMS.

Sibal expressed concern that there was no appropriate forum for addressing consumers' complaints. "These are the issues I want to discuss with them (consumers)."

Service providers have also been mandated to provide upon request, information relating to the itemised usage charges for prepaid consumers limited to preceding six months within 15 days.

Operators would also have to inform subscribers of the terms and conditions of premium rate services to consumers opting for such service.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Customers, on their part, can lodge their complaints on a toll free 'Customer Care Number' and service providers have been mandated to provide details of docket number, date and time of registration of the complaint.

They would also have to provide a tentative time limit for resolution of the complaint to consumer at the time of booking as well as through SMS.

All telecom operators have been mandated to establish web-based complaint monitoring system to allow customers to monitor the status of their complaints.

In case, the consumer is not satisfied with the redressal, he can approach the Appellate Authority through e-mail or facsimile or post or in person.

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Photographs: Reuters
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The appellate authority would decide on every appeal within one month. The appellate authority would be a three-member body constituted by the telecom operator.

This body would comprise a retired District Judge or a retired officer of the central or state government of the rank not below joint secretary, one member from organisations

registered with Trai and another member nominated by the service provider.

The appellate authority will meet at least once in a month to decide the appeals and the decision of the body will be binding on the service provider.


Photographs: Reuters
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