The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has pulled up Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel for warning their subscribers that their service would be suspended if they did not do mandatory minimum recharges, reports Mint. Vodafone-Idea and Airtel prepaid users complained that they got such messages from the companies despite having sufficient balance.

In a letter dated November 27, the TRAI has directed the telcos to inform these subscribers within three days, the date of the current validity of the existing plan, how they may opt out of the available plan, including minimum recharge plan. The TRAI has also told both the companies to not discontinue the services of the customers who hold minimum recharge amount in their prepaid accounts.

ARPUsh

The letter comes in the backdrop of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea’s strategy of weeding out subscribers who maintain only minimum balance in their account to be able to receive the calls but do not make calls. This metric is called the average revenue per user (ARPU). Earlier, both the companies had announced minimum monthly recharge of Rs 35 to boost their ARPUs.

MediaNama has reached out to Airtel and Vodafone Idea for a comment. We will update the story when we hear from Airtel.

Vodafone Idea told MediaNama that:

“Catering to the evolving market dynamics, Vodafone Idea has radically simplified its prepaid plans to enhance customer convenience.  These new integrated prepaid plans, available in a range of price points, offer bundled talktime and tariff, making them easier to understand and use. These plans have been rolled out across all circles and we are actively communicating with customers, informing them of the changes and helping them avail these new plans.”

In September 2018 quarter, Jio led the ARPU chart with Rs 131.7, still down by over 2% from Rs 135 y-o-y, followed by Airtel at Rs 100.8, but down from Rs 142 y-o-y, and Vodafone Idea had the lowest at Rs 88.

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