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Know your rights as a DTH consumer

Not many are familiar with the Direct-to-Home Broadcasting Services (Standards of Quality of Service and Redressal of Grievances) Regulations, 2007, and the amendments to the regulations brought about in 2009, writes Pushpa Girimaji.

business Updated: Jan 20, 2013 00:07 IST

Not many are familiar with the Direct-to-Home Broadcasting Services (Standards of Quality of Service and Redressal of Grievances) Regulations, 2007, and the amendments to the regulations brought about in 2009.

Through the regulations, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India sets certain minimum quality standards to be followed by DTH operators with respect to their services, including redressal of subscriber grievances.

For example, it makes it mandatory for DTH service providers to give the subscriber a proper, detailed bill showing the tariff towards the subscription package, value-added services (if any) and applicable taxes. Similarly, it stipulates that every DTH provider will give a warranty for equipment (including the set-top box) bought by the customer and during this warranty period, no charges be imposed by the service provider for any repairs or home visits for such rectification of faults in the equipment.

The regulations also provide for complaint redressal — every service provider has to have a call centre and also a nodal officer for the purpose. It also sets time limits for resolution of complaints.

In respect of complaints pertaining to non-receipt of signals, at least 90 per cent of the complaints must be redressed and signals restored within 24 hours. As far as other complaints are concerned, at least 90 per cent will be redressed within 48 hours, the regulations say.

As per the regulations, no complaint will remain unresolved beyond five days and if it does, then the subscriber should be given a proportionate rebate in the subscription from the sixth day of the registration of the complaint till its satisfactory resolution. And this is in addition to any other relief that the subscriber may seek and get under any other law in force.

A consumer can also complain to TRAI for violation of these regulations, but it’s time we had an ombudsman for redress of telecom complaints.

SP Jain: On the basis of advertisements in national dailies offering “freedom pack for one year and value pack for two years”, I paid Rs. 4,800 for a package of 180+ channels. However, I am only getting 127 channels from the DTH operator and every time I complain, I am told that I have been booked for the sports pack (I never opted for this) with 127 channels and that it cannot be changed. Please tell me the correct forum to approach for justice.

The regulations that I have earlier referred to make it clear (Rule 9A) that a DTH provider cannot arbitrarily make any changes in the composition of a subscription package chosen and paid for by the subscriber, during its validity.

Thus, the service provider has not only violated Rule 9A, but also the time limit set for resolution of complaints under the regulations. He has also not given you the rebate prescribed under the regulations. And he has to be held liable for these transgressions.

First, write to the nodal officer of the service provider and also to the TRAI. You can also lodge a complaint before the consumer court, seeking compensation for unfair trade practice, for deficient service and for violation of the TRAI regulations. Given the behaviour of the service provider — he not only gave you the wrong package, but also refused to rectify the mistake — you should also ask for punitive damages so that it acts as a warning to other service providers too.

Already, in Tata Sky Limited vs Kamla Lall (RP No 3044 of 2010, decided on January 14, 2011), the apex consumer court has made it clear that DTH operators who provided deficient service will have to compensate the consumer.