India

Telecommunications Regulation Authority of India acts against SMS "spam"

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has acted on the problem of unwanted messages on mobiles at last. It has issued notification prohibiting unsolicited commercial communications (UCC) through SMSes.

TRAI has stipulated that all mobile operators have to prefix an identification tag before all application-to-peer (A2P) SMSes being sent from their SMS centres (SMSC) from February 1. A2P refers to messages generated from bulk messaging systems permitted by TRAI. This tagging will help in creating a trail of the messaged making it easier to detect the sender. If the recipient of the SMS has registered with the national do-not-call registry, a complaint can be lodged with the TRAI. If the recipient is not registered, the regulator is not bound to act on the complaint.

For example, when I recieve a message from my service provider Idea Cellular offering me various tariff plans, the message has a tag IZ. I is for Idea and Z is the code for Maharashtra. Till the TRAI notification, SMSes sent by bulk message providers using an alphabetic or numeric code were hardly tracked making it tougher for the service provider to track the sender.

This is only one aspect of the complaint related to mobiles. In a conference held on january 21 in Pune, Grahaka Hitwardhini, a consumer rights organisation in the city presented Telecom Disputes settlement and Appelete Tribunal (TDSAT) a list of most common grievances about mobile service providers. The issue is to be taken to TRAI for action. Sudhakar Velankar, former president and trustee of the organisation, who had previously fought for Conditional Access System and Cable TV regulation, said that these are the basic complaints and flout one or other law. Either TRAI or any other agency which has power to solve the issue will be asked to resolve it.The list was prepared after taking into consideration various complaints coming to the organisation; and the issue is to be taken with the TRAI now.

The complaints consist of not responding to the complaints from consumers and not passing on the benefits to the consumers. Here is the list of such grievances.

1) Details of Billing Not Received : Pre-paid users do not get the details of their bills showing different heads.

2) Debits in billing not detailed : Pre-paid users also do not get the details of their bills as to how amount has been deducted from their balance.

3) Details of carry forward amount not given : Pre-paid users are not provided the details of carry forward amount after they recharge the service. In simple terms, this means you do not get full talk time on a top-up recharge which is against the TRAI order. 

4) Bills not provided : Consumers with pre-paid cards are not given the bills. They can obtain a copy of the details but after paying a fee. 

5) Detail heads must be clear : Pre-paid card holders even when they manage to get a copy of their bills receive vague statement. The statement given to them should have clear heads in the credit and debit side.

6) Call Drops : This is the most common complaint and this problem is faced by every user whether it is pre-paid or post paid. 

7) Call Drops Charge : As if call drops are not enough, some service providers charge you for these calls. To top it all, the charge is levied for the full time of the call.

8) Charge on Congestion Response : If you call a person on from your mobile and you get a message saying the route is busy and connection is not possible, it does not mean that the call is not charged. Some service providers have been found charging for this message also.

9) Bills not received on time : Post paid card users are found to be complaining about their bills not received on time. 

10)Details of Calls Charged : The details of the calls from post paid phones are given after levying a charge for the same. As in the case of calls from landlines, the details are not available free. 

11) Add On Charges: Mobile service providers are found to lavy charges on add on services like net, video call etc. which is sure to rise.

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