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TRAI Asks For Comments on Draft Consumer Protection and Redressal Regulations

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has introduced two regulations that should be a big help to people troubled by the telcos.

1) Telecom Consumers Complaint Redressal Regulations, 2011

2) Telecom Consumers Protection Regulations, 2011

Redressal Regulations

What you might not know is a recent problem with telco complaints:

  • People would usually take problems to the consumer court
  • CC’s would charge Rs. 5,000 penalty on the telco, who, let’s face it, was usually wrong.
  • This is a big amount for any telecom provider on a per-customer basis.
  • In a case in 2009, Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju threw in a spanner in the works, saying that the TRAI act requires such complaints to be addressed through a government appointed arbitrator, so consumer courts can’t be used.
  • Unfortunately the government has appointed no arbitrator.
  • So technically, people who have been overcharged for their bills have nowhere to go; they could go to civil courts, which can take years.

The Redressal regulations attempts to address this problem. All telcos need to create a separate toll-free complaint center, with an IVR for which even the first and second level menu options are inscribed in the act. Then, if a complaint isn’t addressed with seven days, the customer gets a month to apply to the "Appellate Authority".

The Appellate Authority, unlike the current system where the person is an employee, is a three member committee, consisting of a retired judge, a consumer organization member and a representative of the telco. The authority’s decision is final and binding on the telco, though the system of appeal still exists, and will go through the regular court process.

I’m not sure this works very well, in that the Appelate Authority is both appointed and remunerated by the Telco. It’s not easy to keep deciding cases against a company that pays you. So expect at least some crookedness in the operation. But overall, it’s better than the current system.

Protection Regulations

All telcos are supposed to provide only three types of vouchers – whatever is used to buy into their services.

  • Plans: where you subscribe to a talk plan, and contains no talk time.
  • Talk time (top up): where consumers can buy only talk time
  • Special: Stuff like VAS or other services only.

This will apply even if it were an online purchase – so even online, you buy a plan, the talk time and the special stuff separately. Paper vouchers would even need to be colour coded (Red, Green and Yellow respectively)

Other guidelines include providing detailed information about the plans/talk time/special features, what can be called free or not, and other provisions.

You can send in your comments on these regulations at

A. Robert J. Ravi,
Advisor (Quality of Service)
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
Mahanagar Doorsanchar Bhawan,
Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg, New Delhi-110 002.
Telephone:011-23230404 Fax: 011-23213036
Email:advqos@trai.gov.in

I’ll send my letters in a few days and post the text here. Meanwhile, write in with your comments!

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