Can’t force users for minimum recharge, would take strict action: TRAI

NP NEWS 24 ONLINE – The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has pulled up Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel for warning their subscribers that their service would be suspended if they did not do mandatory minimum recharges. Vodafone-Idea and Airtel prepaid users complained that they got such messages from the companies despite having sufficient balance.

“TRAI has received a large number of complaints regarding SMSs being received by them to mandatorily recharge their prepaid accounts in order to continue to avail services even though their prepaid account has sufficient balance in it,” the regulator wrote in similar but separate letters to the two telcos dated November 27.

In its letter, TRAI has asked operators to duly inform subscribers within three days in a clear and transparent manner the date on which the current validity of an existing plan would expire and the manner in which the subscriber can opt for available plans including minimum recharge plan using subscriber’s available prepaid account balance. Mint has seen a copy of the letter. Trai also met the two operators on Monday to discuss the issue.

Vodafone Idea told :

“Catering to the evolving market dynamics, Vodafone Idea has radically simplified its prepaid plans to enhance customer convenience.  These new integrated prepaid plans, available in a range of price points, offer bundled talk time and tariff, making them easier to understand and use. These plans have been rolled out across all circles and we are actively communicating with customers, informing them of the changes and helping them avail these new plans.”

In September 2018 quarter, Jio led the ARPU chart with Rs 131.7, still down by over 2% from Rs 135 y-o-y, followed by Airtel at Rs 100.8, but down from Rs 142 y-o-y, and Vodafone Idea had the lowest at Rs 88.

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