Nobody listens to TRAI

Telecom regulator TRAI has AGAIN directed the telcos to take explicit consent from customers before billing them with value-added services. This directive is the result of increased consumer complaints because telcos keep billing its subscribers for services not requested by them and also without their consent.

TRAI has issued such directives a number of times before but who’s listening? Nobody. TRAI cannot stop the telcos from billing because of the following reasons:

(a) TRAI either does not have the powers to stop the telcos or are unable to fight against the all powerful lobby of telcos.
(b) Telcos will not stop billing for value-added services because this is how they make money. Now let me suggest to you the amount involved in this scam and you will understand why telcos will not stop doing what they are doing. Airtel has over 75 million subscribers. Let us assume it bills 10% of these with Hello Tunes at Rs. 30 a month. This will generate a revenue of Rs. 22.5 million a month. Even assuming that half of these subscribers are able to get the Hello Tunes discontinued, still Airtel makes over Rs. 10 million a month. Please understand that I have used very conservative numbers and also that I am talking about only one value add service. Imagine Airtel doing the same with a number of its other services. You will find that a major portion of its profit comes from such services. Those of you who have tried to get any of such services know how difficult it is do so.

The only way these telcos will stop billing sibscribers with services without their consent is that we the subscribers need to file a criminal suit against them. I am just waiting for Airtel to bill me and I will file a criminal case against them as it amounts to cheating and fraud. Airtel has done this a number of times to me and I wasted a lot of time to get such services disconnected. We need to file a criminal case of cheating against telcos who continue to adopt such practices.

Its a shame as the people heading most of these telcos are the rich and famous industrialists / businessmen who really do not have to stoop to such low levels.

avinash narula

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