Invalid Licence: Driving to Disaster
We Indians take false pride in our ability to innovate through, what we call, ‘jugaad’. While this may, occasionally, involve truly out-of-the-box solutions, it usually involves tweaking rules or outright breach of law. 
 
For example, a two-wheeler, meant for two, turns into a family vehicle for four and a four-wheeler can cram in as many as 12 persons. In the process, the law as...
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  • Is Airtel taking mobile subscribers for a ride on international roaming charges?
    In India, we have thousands of companies in services sector. However, when it comes to customer service or giving fair treatment to consumers, almost all behave like a typical sarkari attitude of 'we only are right’ and ‘who cares about the customer’. Recently one customer learned this hard lesson when Airtel charged him twice for an international roaming package. 
     
    During May this year, Sainath (name changed) decided to opt for an international roaming package on his Airtel number as he was visiting France. For this visit, he opted for a 10-day roaming package from Airtel. During the entire signing process, nowhere he was told about the time followed for the billing cycle, whether it is 24 hours from first use or new 'day' starts at 12 in the night (zero hour). 
     
    Sainath started using this package at 9pm on 13th May and continued using it till 8.34pm on 23 May 2018, a duration of 10 days, as per his understanding and calculation. However, when he received the bill, he found he was charged twice for the same one-time charge on international roaming package of 10-days. The 10-day international package opted by Sainath was priced at Rs2,999, but in his bill he was charged Rs5,998. 
     
     
    He called Airtel's customer care at 121 and spoke with the executive and supervisor. However, both of them insisted that Sainath had used the package for 11 days and not 10 days. Both also told Sainath that this was as per their billing rule where new cycle starts at 12 midnight. When asked to show this rule in Airtel's terms and conditions, the customer care had no answers.
     
    Sainath says, "As you can see nowhere in Airtel's terms and conditions is it mentioned that billing starts at 12am or noon or any adhoc time. This is because that would bring us into the shady territory of timeline to follow whether that of India's or France's".
     
    Surprisingly, the terms and conditions of Airtel for availing international roaming pack mentions about ‘activation time’. It says, “Irrespective of the time of subscription to the pack, the activation of the pack shall only take place upon commencement of usage in an international location.”
     
     
    Yet, in this case, the activation time and 24-hour validity was not followed in Sainath’s case. 
     
    Responding to the case of Sainath mentioned in the above article, Prasanto Roy sayd he too was charged twice by Airtel for the same roaming package. Few others also shared their experiences with Airtel on the similar issue.
     
    This incident, however, is not limited to Airtel. Almost all mobile services provider in India have devised own plans of 28 days billing cycle, especially for prepaid subscribers. While for prepaid subscribers, the validity ends in 28 days, for post-paid customers it is stated as one month (30/31 days). (Read: How prepaid mobile subscribers are being looted). With this new innovative 28 days cycle, while the subscriber is made to recharge for 13 times, the operator earns additional revenues from one extra billing cycle. One senior executive from a telecom company justifies it by saying that for prepaid, they offer the price inclusive of taxes while in postpaid, it is stated separately. In the end, both prepaid or postpaid subscribers end up paying similar amounts, he claims.  
     
    Even Indian Railways follow the 12am billing cycle policy without explicitly mentioning it. Many countries, other than India, follow the true 24-hour concept. For example, in Budapest, the travelcard remains valid for 24 hours from the date and time you had purchased it. In Tokyo, the Metro 24-hour ticket allows unlimited rides for 24 hours from first use. Hong Kong too has similar arrangements. There the tourist day pass at its Mass Transit Railway (MTR) remains valid for 24 consecutive hours starting from the recorded entry time of the first journey.
     
    Coming back to India, Sainath is now exploring all options to get his excess bill revised as Airtel had neither informed him about the zero hour billing cycle or stated this in its terms and conditions.
     
    Hope Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Department of Telecom (DoT) are listening to issues faced by customers and make all mobile operators to remove the zero hour or 24-hour ambiguity in their terms and conditions.
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    COMMENTS

    APACHE RTR

    9 months ago

    My Airtel number 9779585609 has bin billed for Rs.10000/- approx. I availed airtel roaming pack for 10 days for Singapore Malaysia and Thailand. I was advised by the store that i have 300 minutes and 5gb data for use under the pack. But now i am being told that only 3gb data is available under the pack and i have been charged excess for data usage. Further, Airtel never bothered to send me a msg on pack activation so that i could get to know the actual benefits available under the pack and no details of the pack were available under the my Airtel app. I was compelled to believe what the staff advised.

    Don't know about others but Airtel surely is duping its customers when it comes to international roaming.

    REPLY

    DeepakSB

    In Reply to APACHE RTR 9 months ago

    Indian phone consumer is at the mercy of service provider.ALL SERVICE PROVIDERS-PRIVATE/GOVT.MORE OR LESS ARE SAME.TRAI and Telecom ministry /Consumer affairs WORK ONLY FOR LARGE AND INFLUENTIONAL SUBSCRIBERS/COMPANIES.

    Ordinar subscriber still in pre independence days of slavery.!!!!!

    J. P. Shah

    1 year ago

    This is generic problem against consumers and hope TRAI and DoT will act firmly

    J. P. Shah

    1 year ago

    My family member also had bitter and exploitative experience of AIRTEL. His 10 day international roaming plan was activated without his request and billed for Rs.2999+GST.




    Customer care center, nodal officer and appellate authority of Airtel did not accept their mistake nor passed speaking orders by AA. Matter is scaled up to TRAI for regulatory action for flouting TRAI regulations.

    Pankaj Mahidhar

    1 year ago

    Cheating is Indian corporate culture. Each and every company cheats. If you can't increase the price, reduce the size irrespective of product or service. They are well supported by government and regulators. Every amendment creates new loopholes so people don't get bored with age-old cheating methods.

    Ralph Rau

    1 year ago

    Its a tough environment for Indian telcos.

    Government license fee and tax demands are unrelenting.

    Then Reliance comes along and engages in unfair, unreasonable and anti-business free pricing.

    Telcos are being driven against the wall ?

    Mohan Sivanand

    1 year ago

    I have use Matrix cards when I travel abroad. I choose only prepaid so that once the duration elapses, it's over and there's no chance of any extra billing. In April-May, I was in Japan for 16 days, but my Matrix card was valid for only 14 days. Even so, I made a request to them to give me two extra days and they kindly did so with no extra charge. While I was in Japan (I had a local SoftBank SIM card from Matrix), it suddenly stopped working one night, so I e-mailed Matrix in Mumbai and I got a call from them the next morning, apologizing for the fault and telling me that it was fixed.

    Umesh Gupta

    1 year ago

    Similar experience.
    This happened to me in March.
    Customer care was just not willing to listen to my point of view. Not only were they rude , they just brushed aside my view.

    Jairam S Narayan

    1 year ago

    It is shameful of companies of the repute of Airtel to behave in this manner. In fact, I think in India, customer service is only a lip service. No company in this country really takes the customer seriously, neither the Govt.

    That is the unfortunate truth.

    DeepakSB

    1 year ago

    Even Govt.owned MTNL fools subscribers with International Roaming.A relative who is in USA with international roaming activated on his MTNL mobile no. (Rs.7000/- paid as activation and deposit)-suddenly during May-June 2018 for over 10 days,his mobile was dead-no network.This roaming was activated to keep updates of bank transactions/OTPs.
    When complained to MTNL,he was told a dispute between At&t (USA-Roaming partner of MTNL) and MTNL for roaming services.(Dispute must be non payment of roaming fess by MTNL to At&T).MTNL NEVER INFORMED ITS SUBSCRIBERS FOR THIS DISPUTE.

    Such disruption of International roaming can result in NON detection of financial frauds in banking transaction in India.(Absence of OTP and SMS on MTNL mobile no.while roaming at USA ).
    MTNL and its highly paid officials had NO REGRETS for such operational mess.MTNL officials are UNACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS !!!!. Complaints sent to MTNL,and Telecom Ministry ON OFFICIAL WEBSITES AND TWITTER ACCOUNTS were NOT answered for over TWO weeks.

    Its dissicult for an ordinary subscribers WHOM TO TRUST IN SUCH CASES-GOVERNMENT TELECOM PROVIDERS OR PRIVATE TELECOM COMPANIES !!!!

    Prema Ramaswami

    1 year ago

    The exact same thing happened to my relative, a post paid customer with Vodafone. It took days of complaining, writing emails, phoning over and over again, to get the problem sorted. The bottom line is, with so much free WiFi everywhere, why bother with rip-off roaming programs of Indian mobile carriers?

    suneel kumar gupta

    1 year ago

    This is prevalent in many service sectors. Even in hospitals,they will make u wait till 8 pm saying room is not available. Then charge u date wise. If admitted on 10 th at 8 pm and discharged at 10 amon 11 th, u r charged for 2 days , i. e. 10 th and 11 th.

    Holiday season, sales push India's May air passenger traffic higher
    New Delhi, Despite a hike in air fares, India's domestic air passenger traffic rose by 16.53 per cent in May on the back of the holiday season and sale offers.
     
    According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), 1.18 crore (118.56 lakh) passengers were ferried by domestic airlines during the month under review from 1.01 crore (101.74 lakh) reported during the corresponding month of 2017.
     
    On a sequential basis, the traffic grew by around three per cent. It had risen to 115.13 lakh in April 2018, while in March it had grown to 115.80 lakh. 
     
    As per the data furnished by the DGCA, the passenger traffic during the January-May 2018 period grew by over 22 per cent.
     
    "Passengers carried by domestic airlines during January-May 2018 were 571.58 lakh as against 465.87 lakh during the corresponding period of previous year thereby registering a growth of 22.69 per cent," the DGCA said in its monthly domestic traffic report. 
     
    The data disclosed that low-cost carrier SpiceJet had the highest passenger load factor (PLF) -- a measure of capacity utilisation of the airline -- at 94.8 per cent during May.
     
    "SpiceJet has yet again recorded the highest PLF in the industry. This is the 38th month in a row that we have flown with the highest loads in the Indian aviation market which is a testament of the combined effort put in by Team SpiceJet," said Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer, SpiceJet.
     
    SpiceJet was followed by IndiGo with a PLF of 91 per cent, AirAsia India at 89.7 per cent and GoAir at 89.2 per cent.
     
    "The passenger load factor in the month of May 2018 has shown increasing trend compared to previous month primarily due to onset of tourist season," the monthly statistical analysis statement said.
     
    The data noted that IndiGo led the industry with 80.9 per cent punctuality rate (on-time performance) at the four major airports of Bengaluru, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. It was followed by SpiceJet (80) and Vistara (76.7).
     
    Besides, overall cancellation rate of scheduled domestic airlines for May 2018 stood at 0.70 per cent.
     
    In addition, the data disclosed that a total of 724 passenger-related complaints were received last month.
     
    "The number of complaints per 10,000 passengers carried for the month of May 2018 has been around 0.61," the statement said.
     
    The data revealed that IndiGo led the industry with the highest market share of 40.9 per cent, followed by Jet Airways (13.7), Air India (12.8), SpiceJet (12.3), and GoAir (8.7).
     
    AirAsia India had a market share of 5.5 per cent, followed by Vistara (4), JetLite (1.5) and Trujet (0.5). 
     
    "Despite the anticipated spike in May, growth in comparison to the same time last year has only been 17 per cent, as opposed to 26 per cent in April and 28 per cent in March," said Aloke Bajpai, ixigo CEO and Co-founder.
     
    "This is owing to the increase in fuel prices and travel in particular sectors becoming expensive. However, despite the increase in ATF surcharge and fuel prices, many airlines are seeing the increased demand as a great opportunity to attract travellers with discounts and offers for the ongoing holiday season."
     
    Online travel company Yatra.com's COO(B2C) Sharat Dhall said: "The airlines have responded to this by increasing number of flights to existing sectors. We have also seen that to sustain and further enhance this momentum, airlines have announced airfare sales for the upcoming traditionally lean period to pick up a significant share of advance bookings."
     
    "We are confident that this trend of strong growth in the domestic aviation market will continue in the near to medium term." 
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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