TRAI recommends global calling card sellers should be answerable to it

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New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) The Indian telecom regulator, which had received various complaints from subscribers regarding billing and overcharging by international SIM cards and global calling cards companies, in Monday recommended that an itemised bill should be provided to customers within 10 days of the date of the journey’s end and such firms will be accountable to it.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday released its ‘Recommendations on sale or rent of international roaming SIM cards or global calling cards in India’.

Among the recommendations were that an “itemized bill shall be provided within 10 days of the date of culmination of the journey. If the journey is undertaken for a period exceeding 30 days then the itemized bill shall be generated in 30 days cycle from the date of the commencement of the journey and provided to customer within 10 days”.

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International SIM cards and global calling cards provide an option to the mobile users to avail mobile services outside the country without having to pay premium roaming rates.

At present, the prepaid international calling card is sold in over 185 countries around the world. In India, such service providers are required to take a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) from the department of telecom (DoT). The DoT has granted NOC to 38 firms for offering sale or rent of international SIM cards and global calling cards as on April 17, 2015.

The TRAI stated that it has not been monitoring these services as these firms do not fall under the ambit of TRAI Act, 1997, but recommended: “The holder of NOC for sale and rent of international SIM cards should be answerable to TRAI. The terms and conditions of NOC should be suitably modified to make the firms providing sale and rent of global or country specific SIM cards responsive to TRAI by adding a clause.”

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It said in the recent past, it had received a number of complaints from consumers against these firms, mostly related to billing and overcharging.

“A close scrutiny of the complaints reveal that majority of complaints are related to hefty charges levied on customers for accessing data services in the foreign land.

“In all such cases, customers had refuted the claims made by the operator and denied having accessed the data services. Since TRAI Act only mandates to regulate the services provided by a licensee, the authority, in the interest of the consumers, decided to undertake an examination of the mode of delivery of services, consumer grievances and its redressal by such firms and make recommendations to the government to ensure their orderly functioning,” the regulator said.

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The TRAI recommendation said: “The customer should be given the option by the firm to choose a data service or a voice service or combination of both.”

It added that in respect of a postpaid connection, there shall be a credit limit which may be fixed as per the customers requirement and customer be transparently informed of the same.

“The customer shall be informed through SMS/USSD message upon reaching 70 percent of the credit limit. If the credit limit is breached, the services should be barred till such time the customer deposits the necessary amount with the operator.”

“Billing and consumer redressal mechanism of the NOC holder should be strengthened to enable time bound resolution of billing grievance by the operator within a period of 30 days,” the regulator added.



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