Over-charging Mobile Operators–More common than you think!


This is one of my recent posts from Trakin – http://trak.in/tags/business/2011/03/11/over-charging-telecom-mobile-operators-india/

If you are a mobile post-paid subscriber, I am sure you may have been surprised one time or the other, looking at your mobile bills. More often than not, they are more than you could have imagined. Most of the times you can’t figure out why the bill is so high, at other times you can spot discrepancies in your SMS charges or phone calls. Sometimes you are also charged for things like caller tunes without having even asked for them.

Yes, that’s the existing scenario and you are simply one of the thousands (or even millions) of victims being overcharged by mobile operators. Interestingly, some of us don’t even realize that we are being looted by the mobile companies.

So how does it work ? Say you have asked for some schemes like free SMSs and cheaper call rates. You are really happy that you have made the best possible deals and talk to your girlfriend ( or boyfriend or wife or husband) day in and day out. Many mobile companies use this as the easiest way to fool you. They sometimes charge for SMSs which have been paid for as FREE or charge a few paisa here and there for some calls which you can just call ‘BILLING MISTAKES’. But then what’s the big deal in a few paisa here and there, right? WRONG! With a few paisa here and there the mobile operators are making millions all the way to the bank. Just think, if each call is billed at just 1 second extra, with millions of calls daily, operators are making a killing!

But, the overcharging is not limited to just calls and SMSes – Caller tunes and other value added services are also cash cows! Lets say, you have taken a new connection and then when one fine day your dad calls you to hear that he was shocked listening to ‘Munni Badnam Hui’, you don’t know how to react. And then you realise that you being charged needlessly for this caller tune despite you not even having asked for it. But in another case you could be encouraged to keep a caller tune though probably not the Munni one.

One could argue saying this is the way mobile operators encourage customers to use caller tunes. But isn’t charging them against ethics? Similarly, value added services are another big money spinner for mobile operators as they charge their customers even after the services have been cancelled. Every mobile operator asks you to deposit some money for the services they provide. All the while you are using the operator’s services, they are earning interest. Once you cancel and are late with your bill payment, you have to pay a fee. And only the money minus the interest is given back to you.

Although hundreds of thousands of users face this issue, only a few of them notice it and even less complain about it. Here are the number of complaints launched against Operators in last 2 years.

The biggest complaints of overcharging have been from Airtel and Reliance. The TRAI has notified the Telecom Consumer Grievances Regulations, 2007 regarding providing some protection to consumers from such errant operators. But no one has done anything and the consumer is left to fend for himself. From trying their best to reject the MNP because it makes it competitive for them to charging customers over the top, mobile operators have been ruling the roost.

How long can they really do this? Is there any way to stop consumers getting overcharged?

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