The last time TRAI was in news, it was when it had increased the limit of 100 SMSs per day to 200 SMSs per day.. Well, this time, TRAI has again come out with regulations to protect the interest of consumers.
Two regulations have been announced by TRAI – the telecom consumer protection regulations, 2012 and the telecom consumers’ complaint redressal regulations, 2012. So what to these regulations entail? How will they affect our daily mobile transactions?
Firstly, lets break it down for you. These regulations are aimed at making telecom services more consumer-friendly. In fact, they can be called the most intelligent TRAI regulations till date.
Let’s take up the consumer protection regulations. Firstly, it ensures that every consumer should get a start-up kit upon enrolling for a network i.e. getting a new connection should receive a SIM card, his/her mobile number (unless it is given through mobile number portability (MNP), information about the connection, all the numbers one may need such as consumer care number, general information number etc. along with an abridged version of the citizen’s charter.
The provider should also offer the consumers three kinds of vouchers. Firstly, a plan voucher that explains different kinds of tariff plans on offer. Secondly, a top up voucher which provides the details of monetary value including tax, processing fee etc. Thirdly, a special tariff voucher, which indicates which plan is applicable and explains all the details including validity, usage etc. All these vouchers should be color-coded i.e. the plan voucher should be red, top up should be green and the special tariff voucher should be yellow.
To ensure that the consumer remains duly informed, every provider needs to send an SMS to the consumer upon activation of his/her card explaining validity, tariff plans etc. But that’s not the important part. According to this regulation, every telecom provider needs to send an SMS after every voice/data call, explaining the call/data usage, charges deducted and the available balance for every prepaid customer. This will ensure that you do not get high bills or spend all your money just because you wanted to see YouTube on your smartphone. It would inform you regularly about your usage, which helps you monitor it before it goes out of hand.
Along with that, it would also ensure that you are duly informed about every value added service on your phone. According to this regulation, you can have the complete details of your past usage by paying a reasonable charge. Every supplier is also bound to provide you all current information about your account, free of cost. So, you can send an SMS to your provider and get to know everything you need to know about your usage.
The main purpose behind the issuance of these guidelines is to keep the consumer fully informed.
But, in case you need to complain about your provider, TRAI has taken care to protect your interests in that scenario by issuing the telecom complaints redressal regulations.
According to these regulations, every telecom provider will need to establish a complaint centre that should attend to the consumers’ complaints between 8:00 A.M. and 12:00 P.M. everyday. These calls should be toll free, which is a relief to the consumers who were till now, being charged for every call to a customer care number.
Besides the customer care number, the providers also need to set up a general information number providing information about plans validity etc. These complaints should also be monitored so as to ensure none of them goes unheeded.
Every provider also needs to set up an appellate authority takes care of complaints that have not bee resolved by the customer care number. The record of these complaints should be placed on the provider’s website on the 15th of every month.
Along with that, every provider needs to provide the consumer with a citizens’ charter that will give name and address of the provider, service centre details along with other necessary information such as the general information number and the customer care number.
Both these sets of regulations come into force on the 20th Feb 2012.