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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!

  • Pajat says:

    Regarding “Redressal Regulations”:
    If we make a complaint to the company there usually wont be any proof for the same(Unless you send an email/other form of written complaints). So,l think its better for TRAI to borrow a nice recent idea from SEBI in their SCORES system-website (which is a SEBI managed website, where you can register a complaint against any market entities). In such a system, there is a third party proof for the complaint registration. In the existing suggestion of calling the company’s complaint-helpline will not work. Then, telcos will find ingenious ways to not register a complaint on frivolous grounds (They can simply terminate your call claiming they cannot hear you properly, for instance).

  • Sunil says:

    Dear sir;
    Already several steps has been taken by TRAI to streamline the Telecom sector
    But still there is a need of standardization on the tariffs plans and Customer care number there are hell lot of options available which keeps on confusing the customers
    1. Since the MNP is in and consumer keep on switching between service providers .we can have Common Customer care number for all the providers all over India. (like police help line number is standard throughout the country) 121 or 123 can be one.
    2. Lots of Confusing pulse rates are there. (Standard pulse rate must be followed per second for voice and video and per MB for DATA plans.
    3. Standard tariffs should be followed as of Now Minimum Existing Combination in Per plan Plans Per operator per circle is as follows
    Plan Combination 30
    Average Number of operator per circle 8
    Number of circles in India 22
    Total number of plans only for mobiles = 30*8*22=5280
    Even if it is 25% i.e. 1320 Plans
    Why Indian Telecom Consumer is easily Fooled. (Make it Simple Silly)
    Minimum Existing Combination in Per plan Plans Per operator per circle Recommendations
    Plans Pre paid Plan Post Paid Plan Prepaid STV Plan Post Paid STV Plan
    On Net Day * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net Day * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming Day * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net Night * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net Night * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming Night * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net Voice Day * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net Voice Day * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming Voice Day * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net Voice Night * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net Voice Night * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming Voice Night * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net Weekends * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net Weekends * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming Weekends * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net Video Day * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net Video Day * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming Video Day * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net Video Night * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net Video Night * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming Video Night * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net SMS * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net SMS * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming SMS * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net MMS * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net MMS * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming MMS * * * * X p/Sec
    On Net Data * * * * X p/Sec
    Off Net Data * * * * X p/Sec
    Roaming Data * * * * X p/Sec
    VAS-XYZ VAS-XYZ * * * * X p/Sec
    VAS-XYZ VAS-XYZ * * * * X p/Sec
    VAS-XYZ VAS-XYZ * * * * X p/Sec
    * Might be Per second, per minute, per half sec,per 3 min,per call Pulse Rate
    Plan Combination 30
    Average Number of operator per circle 8
    Number of circles in India 22
    Total number of plans only for mobiles = 30*8*22=5280
    Even if it is 25% i.e. 1320 Plans
    TRAI Do some standardization
    Note 1.Calls to CDMA,WLL ,Land Line all this has not been included.
    2. International Call Not Included
    3. National Calling Cards Not Included.
    4. Pulse rate taken as standard.
    5. Hell Number OF VAS Not Included
    Note 1.Calls to CDMA,WLL ,Land Line all this has not been included.
    2. International Call Not Included
    3. National Calling Cards Not Included.
    4. Pulse rate taken as standard.