NEW DELHI, SEPT : An 88-year-old woman in Palakkad got a rude shock recently when she discovered that some Rs 500 was being deducted by her mobile operator every month even though she had not used the phone for a while. The operator had not only subscribed her to value-added services (VAS) like music downloads without her authorisation but was also charging for it. Incidents like this could soon be a thing of the past. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has ordered all operators to take subscribers’ consent in writing or by SMS before activating any service. Though this regulation was issued in 2011, the operators have not complied with it yet.
Now, the TRAI has issued an ultimatum to the operators to either comply with the regulations within the next one month or face legal action. The mobile operators have been told to give it writing by Tuesday that they will comply with the year-old regulation.
In July 2011, the TRAI issued a regulation wherein operators were told to seek the consent of subscribers before activating any value-added service. The operators were supposed to obtain confirmation from the consumer through an SMS, e-mail, a fax or in writing within 24 hours of activation of the VAS. Further, every service provider had to inform the consumer through SMS at least three days before the date of renewal of a subscribed value-added service. But even after one year, the operators are yet to fully comply with these rules.
The mobile companies had proposed to do away with the outsourcing model with VAS players in a bid to address the concerns raised by TRAI. Mobile companies have brought in all push-promotions under an ‘in-house model’. This model will comprise a subscription engine, management system, hardware and software. Operators claim they will have greater control on the VAS activations and hence the number of billing related queries will come down. The TRAI has rejected this alternate proposal.