Anuradha ShettyJul 11, 2013 10:14:38 IST
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued new guidelines for activation and de-activation of VAS services to protect the interest of consumers.
New guidelines to protect the interest of consumers (Image credit: Getty Images)
The new guidelines issued to service providers prescribe the manner in which they ought to seek explicit consent from subscribers before activating VAS services on their numbers. These new guidelines, the body notes in its official statement, only partially modify the existing norms for VAS activations and de-activations in the country. The guidelines cover all forms of activation including OBD, IVRS, WAP, mobile Internet, USSD, SMS, and tele-calling. The regulatory body admitted that it has been receiving several complaints from customers over the wrongful activation of VAS services on their numbers and acknowledged that the issue is a major concern for them as well.
All service providers have been directed by TRAI to provide a system that seeks a customer’s consent for the second time before finally activating VAS on their numbers. Simply put, after a service provider explicitly seeks consent from a customer for the activation of VAS services, a confirmation has to be sought for the second time through a “dedicated consent gateway”, owned by a third-party entity and not by the service provider. Only after this confirmation can the service provider activate VAS services on that number.
To de-activate VAS services on one’s number, one can dial the free common short code 155223. As per norms, all de-activation requests ought to be fulfilled in 4 hours. TRAI further states that the de-activation procedure itself must be publicised through ads in newspapers, updated on the website and via SMSes. In case of auto-renewals of VAS services, the customer ought to be informed about the same 24 hours prior, through SMS and Outbound Dialing (OBD).
In case of wrongful activation of service, the amount shall be refunded within 24 hours (for VAS with validity of more than one day) and within 6 hours (for VAS with validity of one day). If the VAS activation has been done via USSD or SMS, the response time should not be greater than 10 seconds and 60 minutes, respectively. In case there is no response, the default action is ‘no activation required’.
TRAI has directed service providers to inform the customers of all details including the de-activation number, and validity of VAS and renewal charges, at the time of the activation of VAS. They will have to also provide a monthly report to TRAI on activations, de-activations and complaints received and their redressal.
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