Issues Related With Online Bill Payments & Recharges Done Via Apps Are Telco’s Responsibility: TRAI


Mobikwik Paytm issues

It has happened several times, but there has been no clear cut guidelines regarding the anomalies.

Assume this: You are making an online recharge for your Airtel number using a mobile app like Paytm or Freecharge. On the app or the website, you see Rs 100 full talktime on the recharge of Rs 100. Happily, you go ahead, and do the recharge.

But once it’s done, you are shocked to find out that only Rs 88 has been credited.

You check with Airtel, and then you realize that the ‘special offer’ expired 24 hours before. You plead with them that the app showed otherwise, but there is no respite. The customer service representative coldly informs you that the recharge has been done, and indirectly, blame you for actually using the app in the first place.

But not anymore…

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRA) has made it clear that any issues related with online bill payments or recharge has to be the telecom operator’s responsibility, and they should be held accountable.

Hence, in the above example, Airtel would be held accountable for showing wrong information on Freecharge/Paytm’s platform, and misleading the customer.

In a notification, TRAI has made it clear that the website or app which provides the facilities of online recharge or bill payments are not license holders of telecom service; they are merely partners or sub-partners, appointed by the telecom operator.

TRAI said, “Since Channel Partner(s) and sub Channel Partner(s) are non-licensed entities and appointed by telecom service providers (TSPs) based on mutually agreed terms and conditions, all responsibilities for ensuring compliance of terms and conditions of the license agreement and other regulatory guidelines shall remain with the TSP

Guidelines For Online Recharges, Bill Payments

TRAI has specifically said that whatever agreement or relationship the partners (Freecharge/Paytm etc) has with the telecom operators (Airtel, Idea etc) regarding online activities such as recharges and bill payments, the subscriber interest has to be kept in mind.

Issues such as resolving subscribers’ grievances in case of any undesired outcome like mentioned in the above example of recharge, timely tariff updation, resolving incomplete transactions etc should be managed via agreement between the telco and the service provider.

The time-gap between the announcement of a tariff plan, and updating it on the website/app of the partners/sub-partners should be reduced.

TRAI said, “A mechanism should be introduced by the TSP(s) where a new tariff product or any change in any tariff product is updated concurrently on Channel Partner(s) App(s)/website(s). Only after ensuring updation of tariff product(s) on Channel Partner(s), tariff product should be made live for the subscribers.”

TRAI has suggested that all updates related with tariff changes and offers should be made on the website/app between night 12 and 2AM, to make it uniform for all subscribers.

This is indeed a welcome move by TRAI, as customers are often stuck in the middle of no-where when it comes to issues related with online recharges and bill payments.

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