Batting for consumers, Trai seeks transparent tariffs


NEW DELHI: In a consumer-friendly measure, telecom regulator Trai has stepped in to drive transparency and accountability in mobile tariffs, making it contingent on companies to declare and display various parameters in prepaid and postpaid plans to remove ambiguity on issues such as data usage, network speed, rentals and combo vouchers.
Trai said there have been demands to bring in clarity in mobile tariff plans as customers often complain of not getting the services that they have been promised.
Tightening the rules, Trai issued directions on tariff publication and tariff advertisements. “…it has been observed that existing measures adopted by telecom service providers are not transparent as they should be and that some of the telecom service providers are not prominently highlighting additional terms and conditions and are also collating the terms and conditions applicable to various tariffs on a single web-page and that the relevant information either gets lost in the maze of detail or becomes ambiguous and incomprehensible to consumers.” The “essential disclosures”, mandated in Trai’s directive, include information on units/volume of voice, data & SMS, and its rates, limits of usage rates and speeds beyond entitled use.
Telcos will also have to transparently inform subscribers about upfront cost along with details like advance rentals, deposits, connection fee for postpaid services as well as top-up, tariffs vouchers and others. Trai said “clear, unambiguous and easy to understand” disclosure needs to be made on the validity period of tariff plan and last date of bill payment. Other details that must be transparently communicated to subscribers are inclusions made in the plan.
Telcos are now also required to offer complete details of all charges that may be levied on consumers for usage of the said product, and Trai also asked telcos to disclose all promised service parameters such as data speeds in clear terms. Even details of ‘fair usage plan’ will have to be communicated clearly.
The regulator has also spelt out essential disclosures that have to be made in case of special tariff vouchers, combo vouchers and add-on packs, on similar lines.

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