It seems telecom operators in India will have a tough time to get money out of their customers by tricky activating and charging for various Value added Services (VAS), as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued new guidelines that needs telecom operators to take customer consent two times before activating any VAS on a connection. The new guidelines issued by TRAI provides strict rules on activating and for de-activation of the Value Added Services so as to protect the interest of consumers.

Some months ago TRAI made mandatory for telecom operators to take customer consent before activating any VAS services and also to provide a common complaint residual number (155223) for registering complaints about mistakenly activated VAS. Still TRAI received many customer complaints against telecom operator regarding activation and deactivation of VAS services. The new direction issued today provides a modification of the existing norms for VAS activation and de-activation in the country and directs all telecom operators to take a uniform procedure by taking explicit consent of the consumer for activation and deactivation of VAS. Major guidelines issued by TRAI includes –

Telecom Operators needs to take Customer Consent two times before activating VAS
  • Telecom operator has to provide a system which takes a second consent from the customer before activating a VAS through any means including OBD, IVRS, WAP, Mobile Internet, USSD, SMS, Tele-calling or any other mode of activation. The first confirmation of a VAS is on the telecom operator’s platform and the second confirmation from the customer is through a dedicated third-party consent gateway. Only after receiving a second confirmation from the customer, that the telecom shall activate the value added service.
  • Common de-activation procedure using toll-free number 155223 and all requests for de-activation to be completed in 4 hours.
  • 24hrs before auto renewals of the VAS services, information about renewals to be provided to the customers, through SMS and Outbound Dialing (OBD)
  • In case of wrong VAS activation, the amount shall be refunded within 24 hours of the customer’s request. Such customer requests should be within 24 hours for value added services with validity of more than one day and within 6 hours for value added services with validity of one day
  • In case of USSD and SMS mode of activation, no activation response time should be greater than 10 seconds and 60 minutes respectively and in case of non-response, the same should be treated as ‘no activation required’.
  • Monthly report on activations, de-activations and complaints received and their redressal to be submitted to TRAI.

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