The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has pulled up Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd after the subscribers complained. The issue is related to these companies sending messages to its prepaid subscribers asking them to mandatorily recharge their account balance in order to continue using their services.
The companies drew irks from the subscribers as some the messages were sent to those users as well who were holding sufficient balance.
The telecom regulators directives come in after Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea had announced a new plan to increase their margin by introducing minimum monthly recharge plans starting at Rs 35.
Telecom companies are exploring new ways of boosting their average revenue per user which had taken a hit due to price war triggered by the new entrant, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. in the telecom sector.
TRAI, in a letter, has asked the service providers to clarify the manner in which the current validity of an existing plan would expire. In its letter, Trai has asked operators to duly inform subscribers within three days in a clear and transparent manner the date on which the current validity of an existing plan would expire.
Additionally, it has also asked them to inform the manner in which the subscriber can opt for available plans. TRAI has given three days to the TSPs to inform its customers.
The letter read that "Till such time operators should not discontinue services of such customers who have balance in prepaid accounts equal to minimum recharge amount." Last month, Gopal Vittal, Airtel's chief executive had said that minimum recharge is being introduced to have an enhanced customer experience. He said that "minimum recharge plans would reduce the number of marginal customers, rein in selling, general and administrative expenses, and help focus attention on improving services to premium customers."
Similarly, India's largest telecom operator by market share, Vodafone Idea had also introduced to increase the ARPU as well to simplify its tariff portfolio. However, the market analyst believes that these basic plans are not going to help the operators given the current market conditions.