Over-charging Mobile Operators–More common than you think!

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If you are a mobile post-paid subscriber, I am sure you may have been surprised one time or the other, looking at your mobile bills. More often than not, they are more than you could have imagined. Most of the times you can’t figure out why the bill is so high, at other times you can spot discrepancies in your SMS charges or phone calls. Sometimes you are also charged for things like caller tunes without having even asked for them.

Yes, that’s the existing scenario and you are simply one of the thousands (or even millions) of victims being overcharged by mobile operators. Interestingly, some of us don’t even realize that we are being looted by the mobile companies.

So how does it work? Say you have asked for some schemes like free SMSs and cheaper call rates. You are really happy that you have made the best possible deals and talk to your girlfriend ( or boyfriend or wife or husband) day in and day out. Many mobile companies use this as the easiest way to fool you. They sometimes charge for SMSs which have been paid for as FREE or charge a few paisa here and there for some calls which you can just call ‘BILLING MISTAKES’. But then what’s the big deal in a few paisa here and there, right? WRONG! With a few paisa here and there the mobile operators are making millions all the way to the bank. Just think, if each call is billed at just 1 second extra, with millions of calls daily, operators are making a killing!

But, the overcharging is not limited to just calls and SMSes -  Caller tunes and other value added services are also cash cows! Lets say, you have taken a new connection and then when one fine day your dad calls you to hear that he was shocked listening to ‘Munni Badnam Hui’, you don’t know how to react. And then you realise that you being charged needlessly for this caller tune despite you not even having asked for it. But in another case you could be encouraged to keep a caller tune though probably not the Munni one.

One could argue saying this is the way mobile operators encourage customers to use caller tunes. But isn’t charging them against ethics? Similarly, value added services are another big money spinner for mobile operators as they charge their customers even after the services have been cancelled. Every mobile operator asks you to deposit some money for the services they provide. All the while you are using the operator’s services, they are earning interest. Once you cancel and are late with your bill payment, you have to pay a fee. And only the money minus the interest is given back to you.

Although hundreds of thousands of users face this issue, only a few of them notice it and even less complain about it. Here are the number of complaints launched against Operators in last 2 years.

Consumer Complaints for overcharging

Telecom - Overcharging

[source]

The biggest complaints of overcharging have been from Airtel and Reliance. The TRAI has notified the Telecom Consumer Grievances Regulations, 2007 regarding providing some protection to consumers from such errant operators. But no one has done anything and the consumer is left to fend for himself. From trying their best to reject the MNP because it makes it competitive for them to charging customers over the top, mobile operators have been ruling the roost.

How long can they really do this? Is there any way to stop consumers getting overcharged?

  1. Vidhu Sagar says

    I completely agree with the original post – it seems to be a totally one-sided relationship where payments for such services is concerned. Overcharging is a regular occurance and arbitrary bills are always landing in your inbox all the time.
    I had a horrible experience with Airtel recently where they sent me a completely unjustified bill regarding GPRS usage on international roaming.
    The fact that I’d deactivated my GPRS service BEFORE I went on my travel is completely being ignored by Airtel. After all, how can a lay user prove that he’d given deactivation instructions to an Airtel call centre executive?
    Is there a way to get justice? After all why should one pay some 25000 INR for some service that was never availed in the first place??

  2. Altaf Rahman says

    Two years back, I took Reliance wireless internet. Though I dont remember exact figures specifically, i was getting bill for more than double the package cost. The customer care of reliance was so pahetic at that time (I dont know now) my call was diverted to so many lousy exacs and to each lousy guy I had to explain from eh biginning. It took me two mnths to figure out that they are charging me for some voice call facility they provide along with wireless internet. I was surprised. If that is an additional service that they can provide, they have to check if I want it or not. When I asked tham why did they give me that service, they say unless I specifically tell then that I dont need it, they will give it by default and charge for it too. This is negetive business ethics. Also they were overcharging me for more hours than I use. They give so many cock and bull excuses for the over charge. As long as possible they try not to give your money back.

    Finally after a year I was fed up and initiated the procedure of cancelling the internet connction. Again to my surprise, it took me 3 months to come out of Reliance com spider web. I fill a form, submit, the guy recieving the form tries to convince me to stay with Relcom for 30 min. Then he forwards the form to his senior exec. She tries to convince me for anotehr 30 min. Then she tells me to wait for a week before the disconnection. After a week I get a call from Relcom Mumbai office enquiring the reason why I am going away. That lady tries to convince me for 30 min. Every one from the first guy to this lady discuss the same set of advantages. I told her that by now I know byheart all the Relcom advantages and told her that all of them are like parrots singing same song.

    Finally I was relieved to be out of their customer list after about one month.

    Note : I still like Anil Ambani and blame all the staff for spoiling the brand image.

  3. dpi says

    TRAI should look into these kind of tricks by the telco’s and moniter by strict laws, by give a penalty, free talk time to user etc.. Otherwise all operators are tend to loot the users.

    1. Aseem Rastogi says

      Sadly TRAI is just making rules and more rules rather than doing anything concrete. And we customers are being taken for a ride.

  4. Mahendra says

    Hey it very true I had very bad experience with Airtel and Reliance even though Airtel provide very good service but some times it charges for no reason like for caller tune (Rs 45). On my cell they activated caller tune 2 time in a month of Dec 2010 without any request. Then both time I have called their complain helpline and talked to their Senior executive and asked for refund for which they refunded my balance.

    The next is Reliance they also did the same thing but when I complained for that the customer care executive was careless and was not not interested in listening to me. When I asked for further help she told that ‘what can I do’. Reliance I really a ass hole how can they hire such a customer care executive.

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