Consumers demanded to improve quality of services from telecom service providers on the World Consumer

Phone has become indispensable part of the lives of billions of people from social interaction, digital identity; to banking and e-commerce. They have become essential to the way we live, spend, connect and express ourselves. By January 2014, India with total 922 million telecom subscribers is now world 3rd largest subscriber country. With the growth in telecom consumers and service, consumer problems are also on rise, despite consumer protection laws and regulations.

Globally World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated on 15 March, and this year theme is ‘Fix Our Phone Rights’. On the occasion CUTS organised an interface meeting in Jaipur to mark the occasion and to discuss consumer concerns with leading telecom service providers. The meeting was attended by 30 representatives of various consumer organisations and CSOs and representatives of service providers, BSNL (K K Kumawat), MTS (Manmohan Swami), Tata Teleservices (Rishi Mansharamani), Aircel (Ankur Mathur), Idea Cellular (Partyush Sharma), and few media persons.

Mr. George Cheriyan, Director CUTS International in his opening address said India has the fastest growing telecom network in the world with its high population and development potential, about 73.48 percent (as on October 31, 2013) having telephone. Though this is one of the sector in the country where consumers benfitted as a result of health competition and strong regulation and several initiatives are made to protect the consumers, still consumers are faced with numerous problems. He further explained about the background of WCRD, importance of the theme and highlighted key consumer issues in telecom sector.

Mr. Deepak Saxena Sr. Programme Coordinator CUTS, made a presentation about the WCRD, telecom issues and CUTS intervention in the area.

The key consumer issues emerged out of discussion were need of fair contracts, transparent billing, to improve redressal system, to protect consumer data privacy, unsolicited calls/SMSs, undue deduction for value added services, network problems, unsatisfactory services, no data card portability etc. It was demanded that free national rooming facility should also be started soon.

In the discussions, consumers demand from service providers providing them with fair contracts explained in clear, complete and accessible language; fair and transparent billing; security and power over their own information and listening and responding to their complaints.