<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=450 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=headline>TRAI looks the other way as telcos milk users</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news></TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2></TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>

</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=450 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=news><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=450 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=news>Siddheshwar Shukla | Noida</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>
Telecom majors have been found to be levying illegal charges even without the consumers realising it. At least three telecom companies have been found to be charging consumers for services, which according to TRAI rules, should come free. Despite several complaints, the TRAI has neither taken any action nor has it issued guidelines to these private telecom companies.

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</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>The regulatory authority is instead actively considering a proposal to regularise these charges. "We are aware of the complaints and are inquiring into the matter. A team led by a chief advisor is considering the Airtel proposal of levying a visiting charge," said a TRAI official.

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</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>"What to talk about maintenance and replacement charges on landline instruments, Airtel charged me Rs 100 as 'visiting charge' when I complained about a technical fault," says Nirmesh Tyagi, who has an Airtel landline connection at his office in Noida Sector 6. "When I had applied for a landline connection, company personnel had assured me that they did not levy any maintenance charge," added Tyagi.

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</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>When Airtel was contacted at its Noida office in Sector 57, company official at the reception denied that such a charge was being levied. However, on persisting, Vijay Kumar, senior executive (Customer Care) informed, "We charge for maintenance in certain conditions. If the consumer pays a rental less than Rs 500, we charge for maintenance and replacement after a warranty period of three months."

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</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>Arguing in favour of a 'visiting charge', Vijay Kumar said, "We provide a very big network to the subscribers. To ascertain that consumers do not misuse the free-maintenance facility, we levy 'visiting charges."

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</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>Similarly, customer care officials of telecom major Reliance, at their Sector 18 outlet in Noida, confirmed that they were levying maintenance and replacement charges after a warranty period of three to six months depending on the scheme. A spokesperson for Tata Telecom said that theycharged a maintenance fee for wired broadband connections but did not charge for wireless landline connections.

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</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), however, did not charge any fee for maintenance, replacement or 'visiting'. "We do not charge for maintenance or replacement irrespective of the time span," informed AK Srivastava, GM, Noida. "Since the handset is the property of the company and we charge a rental for the service that we provide and there is no question of charging for maintenance or replacement. When a subscriber no longer wishes to continue with us we take back the handset," added Srivastava. The Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) also does not levy any charge for maintenance. "We don't charge for technical fault, maintenance or replacement of the handset. But charge appropriately if the set is burnt or damaged," informed JP Sharma, MTNL's Delhi spokesperson.

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</TD></TR><TR><TD class=news vAlign=top colSpan=2>Several attempts to get an official response from TRAI on the issue, starting with its chairman Nripendra Mishra to public relations officer R Gayatri, turned out to be fruitless.

</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>The Pioneer > Home




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