Despite a lot of provisos in the regulations, many Direct-To-Home service providers often flout them

Bala was irate when even after one week of taking the Direct-To-Home (DTH) connection, his account was not activated. His emails to the customer care department of the company went unanswered and when he wanted to escalate, there were no means to do so, though the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) regulations on DTH mandate an escalation matrix within the system. He sought our assistance and the issue was resolved only when we took the matter to the notice of TRAI.

Chapters IV to VII of the Direct-To-Home Broadcasting Services Regulations, 2007 (amended in 2009), deal with redressal of DTH subscriber grievances. It states that every DTH operator shall have one or more call centres for registering DTH service requests, complaints and redressal of grievances. Such call centres are required to be accessible round-the-clock, all days. Complaints pertaining to non-receipt of signals are expected to be resolved within 24 hours from the time of receipt of the complaint and with regard to other complaints, they are expected to be sorted out within 48 hours. No complaint is to be left unresolved beyond five days. If the DTH operator fails to resolve a complaint within the stipulated period, he is required to offer a proportionate rebate to the subscriber from the sixth day of the registration of the complaint till its satisfactory resolution. Also, complaints relating to billing are to be addressed within seven days, and refunds, if any, are to be made within 30 days from the date of complaint.

Likewise, if a subscriber is not satisfied with the redressal of his grievance by the call centre, he may escalate his complaint to the nodal officer, required to be appointed by the service provider and whose appointment is supposed to be widely publicised. The nodal officer should be easily accessible, and when a complaint is filed by a DTH subscriber, an acknowledgment in the form of a unique docket number should be given within three days and the complaint resolved within 10 days.

Consumers can also complain to TRAI for breach of these regulations. Such complaints will be forwarded to the service providers for redressal, and the operator ought to resolve such complaints within 15 days and must inform the consumer concerned and the Authority about the resolution of the complaint within one month.

In addition, a manual of practice containing details of the call centres and nodal officers, instructions on operation of equipments, rights of subscribers and duties and obligations of the operator is supposed to be given to subscribers at the time of subscription.

Unfortunately, despite many such provisos in the regulations, service providers often flout them. In such cases, consumers may approach consumer fora and seek compensation for deficiency in service and violation of the TRAI regulations.

(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details / queries contact 2491 4358 / 2446 0387 or helpdesk@cag.org.in)

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