The country’s largest telecom player gets away with short-changing a customer, despite his constant efforts to rectify the situation
This will come as a shocker—India's largest telecom service provider, Bharti Airtel, is deducting an amount from prepaid subscribers—despite promising full talk time on certain recharge schemes.
On 1st August, through promotional messaging, Airtel came up with an offer, where on a recharge of Rs110, users would get full talk time of the same amount-along with Rs20 as special talk time valid for 7 days. This offer was valid only till 2nd August.
On receiving this message, Bengaluru-based Airtel user, NN Bala, subscribed to the scheme through a local mobile recharge shop on the same day.
To his shock, Mr Bala discovered that the recharge was done only for Rs100-despite him having paid Rs110. "As per Airtel's SMS, I am supposed to get Rs110 talk time but the top-up was done only for Rs100," he told Moneylife.
Subsequently, Mr Bala decided to take up the matter with Airtel to see where his Rs10 had gone. He sent an e-mail to the company. Here is Airtel's vague reply: "Talktime: Rs.111/- / Talktime Validity-20days / RC 100 = Rs 80 Talktime + 20 Local airtel to airtel minutes /Validity-Validity 20 Local airtel to airtel minutes in RC 100 is 5 Days." Obviously, this was a very confusing response from the telecom provider.
Mr Bala decided to contact Airtel again. Speaking to Moneylife, he said, "I asked something and they replied with something else just to evade a direct reply, thinking I may not follow up with them. I became furious and sent one more mail that if they don't clarify clearly what happened to my Rs10, I would go to court."
Interestingly, to his second e-mail query, Airtel sent a completely different reply, and also promised to credit Mr Bala his Rs10.
The company said, "Recharge with RC111 and get Rs100 talk time instantly. Also get 600 free seconds of Local & STD valid for 5 days. However, we would like to inform you that Rs10/- will be credited towards the same as one time benefit within 24 hours."
Mr Bala explained to Moneylife, "600 seconds of STD/local calls valid for 5 days amounts to Rs6.60. This means that even if you accept Airtel's explanation, you get additional Rs6.60 and not Rs10. This was not mentioned in the offer SMS or in the first e-mail reply. If you go through the SMS with the offer, it clearly says that the recharge amount will be Rs110. On every recharge of Rs110, the user should get complete talk time of Rs110 instantly. Therefore, the second email actually says that for a recharge of Rs111, you get (only) Rs100 as talk time instantly!"
He added, "After I followed up with the company, it agreed to credit me Rs10, but what happens to customers who don't report this matter to Airtel? They will be short-changed by Rs10. And such a number of cases could run into lakhs or even more."
Speaking to Moneylife, Achintya Mukherjee, honorary secretary, Bombay Telephone Users' Association (BTUA), said, "Whatever service has been provided, there has to be a service tax. By providing such offers of full talk time it is assumed that the service tax is paid by the company, which they invariably don't and hence the consumers are charged. Such messages are misleading and all the service providers across the board are doing it in some way or the other.
"There are very few people who complain after being over-charged. Out of 100% who subscribe to a scheme, only 10% complain. In that, say, about 5% follow it to the end, while others give it up. For users following (the case) to the end they may be credited back their money. So it gives an easy way for the companies to earn by mis-selling schemes to these people," he added.
An e-mail query sent by Moneylife to Airtel has not received any reply till the time of publishing this story.
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SEBI has directed stock exchanges to levy a penalty on trading members for short or non collection of margins from clients in equity and currency derivatives segments. While the minimum penalty is 0.5% of the shortfall of margin money, the penalty could be as high as 100%
Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Wednesday asked stock exchanges to impose heavy penalty on brokers allowing their clients to trade in derivative market without sufficient margin money and said that fines could be as high as the shortfall of funds, reports PTI.
While the minimum penalty is 0.5% of the shortfall of margin money, the penalty could be as high as 100%, SEBI said in a circular.
The stock exchanges will have to impose the penalties from 1st September, the SEBI circular said. The move is to protect investor interest and promote development of securities markets, it added.
“In consultation with the BSE, MCX-SX, NSE and USE, it has been decided that stock exchanges shall levy penalty on trading members for short or non collection of margins from clients in equity and currency derivatives segments,” it said.
The higher limit of exposure allowed by a broker to its client in the derivate market is the margin money.
According to the SEBI norms, clearing members and trading members are required to collect initial margins from all their clients and required to report on a daily basis details in respect of such margin amounts due and collected.
In derivative market if the price of a product declines, then the client comes under margin pressure.
“SEBI is ensuring that collection of margin money is synchronised with the trade and done without any time lag to avoid any systemic default,” SMC Global head research Jagannadham Thunuguntla said.
The regulator said that if short/non-collection of margins for a client continues for more than three consecutive days, then penalty of 5% of the shortfall amount shall be levied for each day.
If it takes place for more than five days in a month, then penalty of 5% of the shortfall amount shall be levied for each day, during the month, it added.