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TRAI pushes for dues of prepaid users

The telecom regulator is pushing to implement a regime that would give prepaid users their service due, reports Archana Khatri.

business Updated: Sep 13, 2007 23:38 IST
Archana Khatri

In the booming world of telecoms, prepaid card customers may be the ones to pump up sales volumes, but when it comes to customer service, they could be second-grade citizens. The telecom regulator is waking up to this, and pushing to implement a regime that would give prepaid users their service due.



Three months after the announcement of a set of consumer redressal guidelines for prepaid mobile service users and commencement of regulatory guidelines on August 10, none of the service providers has taken any step towards adopting the consumer redressal guidelines.



Nripendra Misra, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), told

Hindustan Times

he will "check up with them (cellular service providers)" to probe why they have not put in place a framework to help prepaid users.



The regulator had announced the Telecom Consumers Protection And Redressal of Grievances Regulations 2007 last May and made it compulsory for all the operators offering basic telephone service, cellular mobile telephony or broadband services.



Bringing the prepaid mobile services under the regulatory net, the guidelines make it compulsory for service providers to provide usage details to subscribers. It says every service provider, on request from the consumer, shall provide itemised details regarding usage charges of call data records, value-added services if subscribed to, premium rate services, roaming charges and their monetary value. The cost for providing the information that could be up to six months old should not exceed Rs 50, or the price paid by post-paid customers for the same service.



The regulations also made it compulsory for the mobile service providers to start handing out a manual of practice from August 10. The manual is also expected to "regulate prepaid mobile services, the amount to be deducted whether as an administrative expense or otherwise from the total pre-paid value of service."



"The manual will be more useful for prepaid card users. As there is no redressal mechanism for prepaid card users, they don't have any nodal officers or higher appellate authority to approach," said Col SN Aggarwal, an official at Voice, a consumer activist group.



The manual of practice that is to be published in Hindi, English and state languages is aimed at setting service benchmarks.