Friday 8 February 2013

Dial 155223 to get rid of unwanted value added services

The next time a value added service (VAS) is mistakenly activated on your number, simply dial 155223 to register a complaint. The number is common for all operators. If consumers register their complaints on this number within 24 hours of activation, telecom operators will have to refund the amount charged for the activation of the service.

The move, which is sure to earn the industry some brownie points from consumers, was put into effect after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) refused leniency in such cases. Telecom operators jointly introduced the service on February 2.

Subscribers using any VAS for over 24 hours can still use this number if they wish to deactivate the service. Such subscribers, however, will not be eligible for a refund. The VAS will have to be deactivated within four hours of the complaint being registered. TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar told PTI, "A common solution has now been devised for all of industry which will enable simple and easy exit. It came onto force on February 1."

In July 2011, TRAI asked telecom operators to seek consumers' consent, either by way of an SMS, e-mail, FAX or in writing, within 24 hours of a service being activated, and charge them only if they receive a confirmation. However, the move did not win support from the industry, which estimated that losses worth Rs 12,000 crore would be incurred, in addition to 10,000 jobs being lost. The industry then approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), but were turned down. TDSAT gave the operators time until February 2 to comply with the decision.

As it stands, operators will have to take permission from consumers before any VAS is activated. If no consent is received, the service will be deactivated without any charge to the consumer. Operators will have to inform their subscribers about this new service and also publish details in newspapers.

Over the past year or so, the TRAI has been taking steps to improve the quality of service in the telecom industry. TRAI recently issued its '“Quality of Service of Broadband Service (Amendment) Regulations, 2012 (28 of 2012),” which cited financial disincentives. By way of these regulations, TRAI stated that broadband service providers who do not comply with the benchmarks would have to bear financial disincentives at a rate not exceeding Rs 50,000 per parameter for the first time. Any further and the financial disincentives per parameter will rise to Rs 1,00,000. Further, TRAI's regulations also prescribed financial disincentives for false reporting and delayed submission of Quality of Services benchmark reports.

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