Companies & Sectors
Uber trying hard to resume its services in Delhi
Uber, the taxi aggregator that was banned in Delhi following the rape of a young woman by its driver, is trying very hard to resume its services in the national capital. On Monday, 29 December, the Transport Department of Delhi held a hearing to determine whether Uber can begin services again, as per the directions given by the Delhi High Court.
 
In an online petition, Uber said, "We are fully committed to making Uber the safest way to get around Delhi and the entire Uber organization, from San Francisco to Delhi, is working hard to show that commitment. Features such as the Enhanced ShareMyETA and safety specialist teams like Incident Response Team are being rolled out first in India. We are working on many more technology enhancements and partnerships and continue to innovate and focus on safety."
 
"Uber’s business model is identical to the other app based companies who have been allowed to operate in New Delhi since 22nd December. However, Uber still continues to be banned and blacklisted," the app-based transportation network and taxi company said.
 
Uber said that, to enhance safety for its passengers it is introducing the following features:
 
Police Verification: Ensuring all Uber driver-partners across India have an authentic and valid police verification 
 
Document Verification: A local team of specially trained safety experts to detect fraud, verify and authenticate driver/ vehicle documents and test the validity of Uber's screening. 
 
Background Checks: Going above and beyond required government verification, we’re (Uber) engaging local and global experts to evaluate the most effective background screening solution across India; pilot programs are already running in select cities, including Delhi. 
 
Incident Response Team: A local and dedicated customer support centre that will specialize on resolving critical issues for our rider and driver community in India. 
 
In-app safety features: An enhanced ShareMyETA button is the first of a whole set of new integrated Uber safety features coming to India. ShareMyETA allows you to send your complete trip details (including live GPS tracking, driver photo, name and vehicle license no.) to your loved ones.

User

How prepaid mobile subscribers are being looted

Arbitrary hikes in data and call charges for prepaid subscribers are frequent and not limited to just one mobile operator. In addition, Vodafone and Idea have reduced 3G prepaid data pack validity to a non-standard 28-days, thus forcing the user to recharge 13 times in a year instead of 12

 

Subscribers of Bharti Airtel have right to be furious over the mobile operator’s decision to charge extra for subscribers using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) apps, like Skype, Viber, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts. However, Airtel is not the only one who is charging more to its own subscribers. Several mobile operators like Vodafone and Idea Cellular are discriminating between their own post-paid and prepaid subscribers by enforcing non-standard validity period for internet packs. This follows an arbitrary hike in mobile data tariffs for 3G packs irrespective of whether the subscriber really gets the specified, minimum speed for internet or no. However, more about it later.

 

The telecom industry follows a monthly billing cycle for all post-paid subscribers. However, when it comes to prepaid subscribers, all telcos want to simply loot them. While a post-paid subscriber pays for 30 days of usage, prepaid customers are forced to use a validity of 28 days for internet packs. Remember, in India, over 90% of the subscribers are in the prepaid category. Therefore, you can imagine the margins earned by telcos from this clever usage of validity reduction.

 

Both Vodafone and Idea use 28-day validity for all their prepaid mobile internet packs. So how much more it costs to the subscribers in terms of usage? When you use a validity of 30 days over a year, you may lose just five days (used for 30*12=360) in a year.

 

However, when you are forced to use 28 days validity, you end up losing almost a month (used for 28*12=336 days). This means instead of recharging for 12 times, prepaid subscribers are forced to recharge 13 times in a year, giving an extra income to service providers. This is nothing but daylight robbery of prepaid subscribers, which the regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is supposed to stop.

 

According to TRAI norms, telecom operators are mandated to conduct a self-check to ensure that the tariff plan(s) is/are consistent with the regulatory principles in all respects which inter-alia include interconnection usage charges (IUC) compliance, non-discrimination and non-predation. However, the act of Vodafone and Idea is in contrast with this direction from TRAI. Both telcos are openly discriminating between post-paid and prepaid subscribers by offering them different validity period for the same service.

 

As I wrote in 2013, arbitrary hikes in data and call charges are frequent and not limited to just one mobile operator. How does TRAI allow such practices? Why no action is initiated against these telecom companies? (Read: How Idea Cellular arbitrarily increased data charges

 

In June 2013, all the three telecom services providers—Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular—once again showed their camaraderie by reducing data tariff on 2G by as much as 90%. What was interesting in the telcos decision to slash rates for 2G data, this was applicable in almost all the circles where Airtel, Vodafone and Idea did not have a 3G license in their individual capacity.

 

All the three partners have been increasing tariff for 3G data packs as well. Earlier, the 3G data pack for prepaid subscriber used to cost Rs98 (1GB) for a validity of 30 days. It was increased to Rs125, then to Rs154 and suddenly to Rs249. Both Idea and Vodafone charge Rs245 and Rs251, respectively for 1GB prepaid internet 3G pack with a validity of 28 days. Airtel charges Rs249 for the same pack with a validity of 30 days. However, none of them can assure the subscriber (both prepaid and post-paid) a minimum download speed across locations. Ask any mobile internet user and she will tell you about the miniscule internet speed she gets despite paying higher price for a 3G data pack.

 

According to TRAI, the minimum download speed varies amongst the telecom services providers (TSPs) even for the same technology and the variation is also quite large. for eg:- in 2G technology, the speed varies from 21.42 kbps to 97.06 kbps between the operators.

 

“Moreover," TRAI says, "the telecom consumers availing wireless data services are not aware of the minimum download speed being offered to them by the TSPs. Generally, the tariff plans offered by the TSPs are based on the volume of data usage for various technologies, without any clarity about the speed being offered to consumers. Also, there is no commitment of minimum download speed while offering a tariff plan."

 

Telecom operators had reported to TRAI that the minimum download speed delivered on their highest speed of 3G service is in the range of 399 kbps (less than minimum broadband speed of 512 kbps) to 2.48 mbps.

 

On 24 July 2014, TRAI came out with a regulation to amend the Standards of Quality of Service for Wireless Data Services Regulations, 2012 (26 of 2012). It mandates service providers to indicate the minimum download speed available and the same should be available to subscribers for not less than 80% of the usage time.

 

However, most of the times, mobile subscribers never get the data speed as promised by their service provider. Subscribers are not even informed about the drop in data speed.

 

How come mobile operators are allowed to increase tariffs, introduce non-standard validity periods as per their whims and fancies? How come telecom regulator TRAI or the Department of Telecom (DoT) allow such an arbitrary decisions by mobile operators? Will there be any action against such acts or prepaid mobile subscribers should continue to suffer at the hands of the cartel?

User

COMMENTS

Chintan

2 years ago

details & eye opening article for all people....many people do not even think for this trick of private operator for money siphoning from our pocket....

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to Chintan 2 years ago

Being frank, TRAI is asking Telecom players what is net neutrality . Then automatically Indians are looters for their hunger and they remain robbers ..

MOHAN SIROYA

2 years ago

There is nothing new in this looting of prepaid customers by all telecom service providers (SPs). They violate the TRAI directions with impunity in all respects. TRAI is toothless and merely acts as a post office to forward ANY GRIEVANCE TO THE CONCERNED SP, who merely says that either is grievance under process or is disposed off. How and in what manner, whether the customer got any relief or not is not TRAI's concern. They claim they are toothless, TRAI Act does not provide any authority to them to redress any consumer grievance. Pre-paid customers just get SMS that so and so amt. is charged/deducted from Balance for the VAS which the subscriber never asked for . Unfortunately 90 percent of such illegal deductions go unreported as the harassed and busy customers have no time and resources to fight back for a trial deduction of a few rupees. And those 10 percent who fight just for principle may not also get relief even at Appellate level and TRAI will just believe what SP has said.
WE Consumer Organisations have been crying hoarsely to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and DOPT to at least appoint an Ombudsman to mediate in disputes, if TRAI is not empowered to do, but so far it has gone on deaf ears.
I think it is high time that a concerted onslaught is made on the MOCA and DOPT for this protection. If TRAI or Government can not protect from wrong charges, they should at least control the Telecom tariffs visa- vis its cost to the SP.

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 2 years ago

TRAI is asking Telecom players what is net neutrality to regulate all application ex: whatsapp, olx etc.., seems TRAI is also a robber in India

Sudharsan R

In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 2 years ago

Being frank, TRAI is asking Telecom players what is net neutrality . Then automatically Indians are looters for their hunger and they remain robbers .....

Sudharsan R

In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 2 years ago

TRAI is handicapped and sick department in India with all foolish and useless fellows working in department.

Sudharsan R

In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 2 years ago

Absolutely right I think people in TRAI might get heavy kickbacks from all these looters some way or other.

SANDIP BISWAS

2 years ago

Best to use BSNL 3G Data Pack 20GB Rs 1949 60days validity

Bhaskar Raut

2 years ago

TRAI should look in to the matter.
I had subscribed for 3D services from my service provider,but I could not get the expected speed. The speed was equal to the speed of 2G. Subsequent to that I am subscribing to 2G only.

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to Bhaskar Raut 2 years ago

wat to get rid is #netneutrality.in

Mahesh S Bhatt

2 years ago

Mostly if the data is unused best practice should be give Consumer addon to existing pack but telcos delete the unused portion for their gain & that's also big ticket.

Call details transactionwise are payable while as Consumer you should get itemised bills as your right they charge extra for hard copies & in soft copy they give consolidated informations.

Mahesh

R S Murthy

2 years ago

Like drug sellers, thesde companies take you to addiction level and charge as they like. Once customer is addicted, more particularly the youngsters, no way to escape. Where is the need for one to download all sorts of music, films etc. It is the weakness that is exploited.

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to R S Murthy 2 years ago

You are absolutely right they make GB conscious and mad to cheat each and every young citizen and make it spreads like virus.

Dineshbabu G

2 years ago

How does the mobile user complain? Airtel even reduced the talktimes and internet pack in their subscription packs and kept the charges as same.

Earlier 1 pack had 100 minutes of local talktime and 90 minutes of STD usage & now the same has been reduced to 90 minute and 80 minutes and that too without informing the users !!!

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to Dineshbabu G 2 years ago

I think they should be awarded by all leading business Magazines every year "How to make money by fooling customers"

Sudharsan R

2 years ago

The exact fact.

Tamal Bhattacharjee

2 years ago

Absolutely true. Rates of 3g data from private operators are exorbitant, arbitrary and these operaters formed carrels to fool their customer. I have also doubt about data usage figure apart from speed.
Bsnl 3g data quality or speed may not be god but atleast they are trust worthy. In India people are raliking about efficiency of private sector. But in terms of trust worthiness public sector is always better.

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to Tamal Bhattacharjee 2 years ago

They have made people GB conscious and mad with GB restrictions and speed restrictions. Once BSNL introduced 3G there was Truly Unlimited plan for Rupees 1000 I (do not remember exactly) and it had no restrictions with speed.But when all these private players jumped in they made and still making fool out of every citizen and forced public sector companies to follow them as the cheat public and the key private looter is airtel.

Tamal Bhattacharjee

In Reply to Tamal Bhattacharjee 2 years ago

Some spelling mistakes like carrels instead of cartels, god for good, raliking for talking.

Prakash Jain

2 years ago

Airtel recently increased call charges on prepaid without any notice and information, it is simply cheating. Matter serious.

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to Prakash Jain 2 years ago

May be Airtel are very tradition in India they might be studying and researching each and every customer behaviour and learn how to fool and loot every citizen and make them addict to their company.

rajivahuja

2 years ago

Why does't TRAI do something against this daylight robbery. It seems all the operators have formed a cartel of looting their subscribers who are taking 3G packages.

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to rajivahuja 2 years ago

They have formed an association called COAI to loot each and every citizen in India and the main associates are airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular. TRAI is sick and handicapped regularity in India.

Gopalakrishnan T V

2 years ago

The next scam will be in the Communication system. Both prepaid and post paid mobile users get some bill every month and for ordinary people it is highly impossible to arrive at the figures given in the bill. The money has no value and the present generation has lost the habit of being meticulous. Old generation people try to be meticulous but the way people earn and spend they also have also lost control. Greed has overtaken the market and no body cares as to how the bills are raised. Banks are also doing the same thing. Of late the banks charge Convenience Charges for booking air tickets through Internet using plastic cards. The fact of the matter is that the ethical way of doing business has been on the way out. Regulation is literally absent.Make hay while the sun shines and loot the masses as long as it is possible is the approach almost everywhere these days.

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to Gopalakrishnan T V 2 years ago

Exactly and 101% right.

Sreekanth Yelicherla

2 years ago

I'm a postpaid user of Airtel currently and earlier IDEA. The experience with Post paid is not good either. Once in a 6 month wrong bills by deactivation of even paid services like message (without any intimation), wrong data usage reports and thus higher monthly bills are common to any post paid user. Pre-paid are much better as you know at least what you are paying upfront. This is not the case with postpaid.

REPLY

Sudharsan R

In Reply to Sreekanth Yelicherla 2 years ago

Being frank TRADITIONAL cheats especially are airtel, Vodafone and idea

Proloy Coomar Pramanik

2 years ago

How is this loot...? When companies were charging Rs 98 for 1 GB of data, they were causing 176000 crore loss to the government. Remember the calculations done by our super honest CAG, Mr Vinod Rai...? (He's serving Railways under the BJP these days, in case you were wondering where he went away. Pending, presumably, a suitable governor's post becoming available.)

And remember how much chest beating we all indulged in over the 176000 crore loss...? Well, now that the telecom companies are going to pay up Rs 176000 crore, whom do they recover the money from...? Should they recover it from those who'll buy McDonalds or Papa John's...? Or will they recover it from those who use 2G/3G data and voice...?

And, if you think the telecom operators are swimming in money after looting the public -- well, there is no reason to crib, unless you are a Moneylife non-reader, who has never heard of stocks. Put your money where your mouth is, buy Idea and Vodafone and Airtel and RCom stocks, and swim in money yourselves.

But then, how dull will life be if we couldn't crib twice every half-hour...? So, let's raise a toast to Moneylife, and continue our cribathon...! After all, didn't Sardar Patel teach us -- Eating my cake and also having it is my birthright...? (Or was that Malviya ji...?)

And if you are still shaking your head unconvinced, I recommend you read 'Not Just an Accountant' (by you know whom). It'll make you feel good about the immense patriotic service you are doing by paying more for telecom services that used to cost several times less only a few years ago.

Sudharsan R

2 years ago

Excellent article on how airtel, idea and vodafone "CHEAT" money from public. Further they cheat customers in the name of unlimited internet plans with FUP with heavy data tariffs.

IRDA needs to repeal the loophole it left in health insurance guidelines
The insured need to know the reasons for claims denial or partial settlement as well as the remedies for grievances. Will IRDA take away TPAs' powere to recommend claim amount  or wait for Bombay HC to decide? 
 
On 16 December 2014, hearing a PIL filed by social activist Gaurang Damani, the Bombay High Court (HC) had directed the General Insurance Company/TPA to inform the policyholder for the reasons behind rejecting the claim or partially disallowing the claim under section 12(d)(ii) of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Health Insurance Regulations, 2013 and also the remedies available to the policyholder. It is unfortunate that despite health insurance guidelines requiring that the policyholders know about reasons for denial or partial claims settlement, Bombay HC had to reinforce the same.
 
Mediclaim policy documents should specify the grievance option beyond the insurance company handling. It should specify the ways to approach IRDA's IGMS (Integrated Grievance Management System) along with the insurance ombudsman's  office contact details. Many policyholders are unaware of the insurance ombudsman option and there is need to educate them about the kind of cases that are handled and the timeframe for getting a hearing. The best part is that the insurance ombudsman's decision is binding on the insurance company while the insured can still pursue the matter with consumer or civil courts.
 
IRDA’s health insurance guidelines implemented in February 2013 state, “a TPA may handle claims admissions and recommend to the insurer for the payment of the claim settlement, provided a detailed guideline is prescribed by the insurer to the TPA for claims assessments and admissions.” It means a TPA will have a say in the amount that is to be paid for a claim or even recommend claim rejection to the insurance company. 
 
So, even though the insurance company will technically settle or reject the claim, the TPA will have a major role to play in the process. This will surely be exploited to its maximum by insurance companies and TPAs to meet their own needs. The regulator seems to have made a last minute change related to a TPA’s function that was absent in the previous versions of the draft. Has it created a loophole to give TPAs a role due to pressure from insurance companies?
 
Moneylife has found examples of TPAs making not just recommendations to the insurance company, but also sending claim rejection letters to the insured. It means that there is a need for the IRDA to ensure that there is compliance with guidelines. The prayer in the additional affidavit filed by Mr Damani states, “It is the petitioner’s humble prayer that clause 12(b)(i) of the gazetted regulations be immediately rectified in the spirit of the discussions held in the high court and also in reference to the documents submitted by Respondent No. 2 (IRDA) itself, to the high court. The words of the aforesaid clause ‘recommend to the Insurer for the payment of claim settlement’ should be removed at the earliest in the interest of justice, equity and fair-play.”
 
Economic Times article dated 25 December 2014 quotes New India Assurance general manager and whole-time director K Sanath Kumar, saying, "There is a downward trend in grievances in my company due to our increasing dependence on TPA (third party administrator) for settlement of claims and drastic reduction in communication gap with the policyholders."  It seems to be a direct admission of senior government insurance company official about TPA settling claims and not just recommending to the insurer claims payment. Read - http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/45641897.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
 
According to Mr Damani, “Sastry committee report of 2009 specified that TPA can only process claims. IRDA has classified TPA's as Intermediatories under section 42D of the Insurance Act, which does not specify about their role in settlement of claims. Health Services Regulations, 2001, sec 21 Code of conduct of the TPA's, also makes no mention of TPA's being allowed to settle or recommend claims. They can only process claim documents.”
 
In the third part of the article series we will look at possible reasons for decrease in claims ratio in 2012-13.
 
Read - 
 
 
 
 

User

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)