TRAI, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is the independent regulator of the telecommunications business in India. It has laid down various rules and regulations on various subjects like tariff, interconnections and mobile number portability for the protection of consumer interests. But none of the mobile operators educate the users about these rules and guidelines and most subscribers are not aware of a majority of them. Due to unfair practices employed by some of the mobile network providers, even today some people are scared of taking a postpaid connection, fearing that the network provider might impose extra or hidden charges later on. Even prepaid users are afraid of balance deductions as we often hear people saying “Airtel deducted my balance“, “Idea deducted my balance” “Being charged for GPRS“, “VAS activated by default“, “Service renewed automatically” and so on.
Thanks to TRAI, subscribers don’t need to worry about any issues concerning mobile networks, provided they know the appropriate rules and learn how to deal with any issue they face in the future. Let’s take a detailed look at the various measures TRAI has laid down to safeguard consumer interests.
How Users Are Protected
As I said before, TRAI makes sure users don’t face any problems when it comes to issues regarding any mobile network. Here is a comprehensive list of the ways users are protected at all times:
- A tariff plan once offered by a service provider shall be available to a subscriber for a minimum period of six months from the date of enrollment of the subscriber to that tariff plan.
- The subscriber shall be free to choose any other tariff plan whenever he/she wants.
- The network provider cannot activate any chargeable service (including VAS) without the user’s permission.
- The trail services can not be auto renewed by the mobile network provider.
- All issues need to be resolved by the network provider within 3 days.
- No surcharge shall be levied for any of the national roaming services.
- Receiving SMS is free while roaming.
- The network provider cannot charge any type of fixed or recurring charges for roaming facility.
- Maximum permissible per minute charges for roaming calls, irrespective of the terminating networks, and irrespective of tariff plans would be:
- Rs. 1.40 for outgoing local calls
- Rs. 2.40 for outgoing NLD calls
- Rs. 1.75 for incoming calls
- Services that do not affect “talk time value” such as incoming SMS/voice calls will be available during the validity period even after the talk time value is exhausted.
- In case a SIM gets lost, the user can get a new one by paying the appropriate charges and any unused amount should be carried over to the renewed SIM, if replacement is done within a specified time period.
- The title of no tariff plan should be misleading & all monthly fixed recurring charges for a subscribers under a given plan have to be shown under one head (including Value Added Services).
- Any unused balance has to be carried forward if the recharge is done in the grace period.
- The billing shall be transparent, and no hidden charges should be levied.
- All advertisements regarding a particular service or plan need to mention the appropriate pulse rate/ tariff applicable.
- The websites of the service providers and the tariff brochures shall contain complete details of the tariff plans.
- Days on which free SMS are not available need to mentioned in the package itself. SMS charges applicable on such days shall be conveyed to the subscribers.
- The dates corresponding to such days shall not be altered once a pack is subscribed by the customer.
- No addition should be made to the list of such days after the pack is subscribed.
What Mobile Networks Are Supposed To Provide
Now that we are aware of the various clauses laid down by TRAI that protect consumers from mobile networks, let’s take a look at what all mobile networks are supposed to provide to subscribers:
- Hard copy of the bill shall be provided to the post-paid subscribers free of cost.
- The bill shall contain details of the methodology applied for calculations of amount mentioned in the telephone bills, details of pulse rates and charges, STD, ISD and SMS charges and monthly fixed charges.
- The bill shall also contain details for the mode of payment of the bill, details of grievance mechanism, procedure for change of billing address, details of late payment charges and acknowledge of last payment made.
- Hard copy of the call logs for prepaid customers need to be provided if requested.
- All cellular network providers are required to inform the customer in writing, the complete details of his tariff plan within one week of activation of the service.
How to File Complaints
If you have a complaint about your mobile phone service, the first step is to call the call center of your service provider using the appropriate toll-free number and obtain the docket number for the registration of your complaint.
Though most complaints should be resolved within a few days, if you are still not satisfied with the redressal of your complaint, you can contact the Nodal Officer of your service provider.
If your complaint is not redressed by the Nodal Officer within the time limit specified, you can appeal to the appellate authority of the service provider, where the appeal will be decided within 3 months.
For the complete list & subsequent details of the appropriate Appellate authority for each mobile network provider, you can visit this link.