At a time when beleaguered telecom operators have decided to raise tariffs, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday said it plans to review the transparency factor in the publication of tariff plans and offers rolled out by the telcos. A TRAI statement said that in order to protect consumers' interests there is a need for transparent sharing of the complete set of information relating to tariff, including the rates and related conditions for provision of services.
The regulator further said that it has been intermittently receiving a significant number of complaints from individual consumers relating to lack of transparency in disclosure of tariff information.
"It is felt that a comprehensive review of extant provisions aimed at transparency relating to flow of information from telecom service providers to consumers is essential. Accordingly, this consultation paper has been issued with the objective of empowering consumers by making available all relevant information to them and to eliminate the instances of adverse choices made by consumers," it said.
In its consultation paper, the regulator has asked the stakeholders whether it should prescribe any format for publishing tariffs.
"It has been observed that the actual tariff applicable to a customer may sometime be quite distinct from the tariff given in the tariff plan voucher. The reason for the same lies in the fact that the service providers provide various tariff options to customers in form of STVs (special tariff voucher) and CVs (combo voucher) which can change the applicable tariff," the TRAI consultation paper said.
In this situation, the mere depiction of tariff plans may not be enough to convey the relevant information to the customers, it said.
The regulatory framework regarding the transparency in publishing of tariff offers is primarily governed by the "2012 Tariff Offers Publishing Directions" as modified by a order dated April 3, 2019.
Telecom service providers (TSPs) are currently required to ensure that the tariff plans are updated on their website and customer care centers every time there is a change in any of the tariff offerings.
The same is required to be made available in updated and consolidated form by the 7th day of January, April, July and October at their points of sale and retail outlets.