Our country has more mobile phones than toilets.
Loss of blackberry is bigger issue than loss of your virginity.
And many other mobile related jokes tell a big story of growing importance of mobile in our rapidly changing life style. Mobile has replaced Post Cards (Short Messages), wrist watches, time piece (morning alarms), radio, personal computers, calculators, e-book reader, calendar, personal diaries, maps, scanners, recorders, music players, camera, video games and many other devices. In one recent advertisement in Australia, user put his girlfriend into mobile (I found this advertisement sexist and ethically wrong). This all show importance of mobile in our life.
We should never forget core use of mobile is telecommunication services provided by some telecom operator and it is where it cost most to our pocket. Naturally, there are regular consumer complaints related to these services. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued the Telecom consumers Protection Regulations, 2012 for protection of consumers’ interest related to these services. These regulations are in addition to the usual consumer protection laws.
This regulation clearly separate start – up kit of the mobile connection from plan vouchers. Start – up kit only offer a new mobile connection SIM, a number and some details. There shall be three vouchers, namely; (a) plan vouchers, (b) top – up voucher, and (c) special tariff voucher. These three vouchers shall be in red, green and yellow colour band.
The plan voucher enroll a consumer into a particular tariff plan without providing any monetary value. The top – up voucher offer a monetary value expressed in Indian Rupees and shall have no validity period or other use related restriction. There shall be a special tariff voucher, which clearly indicates to which plan it is applicable, special rates and validity period of these tariff rates.
There is a requirement of sending an SMS to the pre – paid consumer on the activation of any plan or top – up voucher. On the activation of plan voucher SMS will tell title of the plan and validity period. On the other hand, on activation of top – up voucher total amount charged, processing fee or administration charges, taxes deducted, net monetary value and total available monetary value. In case of special tariff voucher total amount, validity period, and benefit specific to the voucher.
After every call an SMS will inform the duration of call, charges deducted, balance amount and in case of specific tariff voucher minute usage deducted and balance minute available. After every session of quantum of data usage, charges deducted and balance available. In case of activation of any value added service; amount deducted, purpose, balance and validity period of the value added services through SMS.
The consumer may demand details of past use of all details at a nominal cost less than Rs. 50/-. This Past data usage details shall give following information related to itemised usage charged for all call, number of SMS sent and amount charged, value added services, premium rate services, and roaming charges. However, this data shall be available only for six month preceding the date of request.
There is a provision of toll-free short code to enable the consumer to seek, through SMS, the information about tariff plan, balance available and value added services activated.
Before the activation of any premium rate services, there shall be a voice alert either in English or in local language before the materialisation of the call.
Further, to redress the complaint of the consumers, TRAI issued the Telecom Consumers Complaint Redressal Regulations, 2012. Every service provider is required to set up a complaint centre for redressal of complaint and for addressing of service request. The customer care number of service provider shall be free. There shall also be one General Information Number along with a short code. Every service provider shall also establish a web based complaint monitoring system.
At every Complaint centre, docket number shall be allotted to every complaint and it will be sent to complainant through SMS. The complainant shall also get SMS on completion of action. The complainant shall also has right to appeal against the complaint centre to an appellate authority.
Every service provider shall prepare a Citizen Charter.