The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday announced measures to protect the interests of mobile subscribers and strengthen complaint redress mechanism.

Besides asking all operators to provide itemised bill on demand to their pre-paid customers, the regulator has called for the setting up of a toll-free consumer care number and change existing three-tier complaint redress mechanism of call centre, nodal centre and appellate authority to a two-tier one by doing away with the nodal officer.

Issuing the new ‘Telecom Consumers Complaint Redressal Regulations, 2012', the TRAI said a complaint centre with a toll-free consumer care number would be established. “The complaint centre will be responsible to address all the complaints received by them (subscribers). Provisions have also been made at the complaint centre to establish a customer care number which could be accessed from any other service provider's network,” it said.

Similarly, pre-paid customers can now get their itemised bill within 30 days of consumers' request and at a reasonable cost not exceeding Rs.50. According to TRAI, about 96 per cent of consumers are in the pre-paid category and unlike post-paid consumers, the pre-paid consumers do not get any bills for their usage and the amount charged.

Operators have also been asked to provide a start-up kit (SUK) to each subscriber at the time of enrolment, which will include the SIM card and mobile number, besides an abridged version of the citizen's charter. Similarly, the vouchers offered by the service providers have been simplified and standardised into three categories -- plan vouchers, top-up vouchers and special tariff vouchers (STV).

The TRAI has asked operators to set up a web-based complaint monitoring system through which the consumer can track their complaints. If a consumer is not satisfied or his complaint remains unaddressed, he can approach the next tier – the Appellate Authority for redress of his complaints.

The TRAI has also called for the setting up of a two-member advisory committee in each of the service areas by the service provider. This will comprise one member from the consumer organisation registered with TRAI and another member from the service provider. The regulations also provide for resolution of complaints by the service provider in a time-bound manner, referred by TRAI.

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