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TRAI issues directive on transparent marketing, disclosure of tariffs

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Friday issued two directions on disclosure and marketing of telecom tariffs. The direction on disclosure requires that within two weeks, telecom operators make terms and conditions for their tariffs accessible on their website and mobile application. The second direction goes into detail on what specific disclosures should be made to consumers reviewing such plans.

In its order, TRAI said that “consumers may be facing [a] situation of lack of information, misleading information, unclear or hard to find information and information difficult to assess and compare in the marketplace affecting their ability to make informed choice[s]”. The directions build on a series of moves by TRAI to increase tariff disclosures, such as this portal that compares wired and wireless internet and telecom plans, and a 2018 order requiring telcos to disclose new tariffs at least a week after implementing it (as compared to at least five days before implementation).

In Friday’s guidelines, TRAI said that add-on packs (such as data add-ons and talktime add-ons) and combo packs (such as the cricket packs being offered by telcos in the lead up to the Indian Premier League) have necessitated an expansion of these rules.

List of essential disclosures

For tariff plans, telecom operators are required to disclose to customers the following:

  • Service-area wise list of all plans, both prepaid and postpaid, on their website, app, retail outlets, customer care centres, and points of sale.
  • Volume of voice and data in each plan, and speed or price after prescribed limits are reached.
  • Validity period of the plan, and last date for bill payment.
  • Exact amount of talktime, SMS, and data allowance, as well as all “non-telecom products” bundled with the plan, if applicable.
  • Details of charges that may be applicable for usage beyond what was allotted in the plan.
  • Promised service parameters such as data speed.
  • Details of Fair Usage Policies (FUPs)

For special tariff vouchers, add-on packs and combo packs, telecom operators are required to disclose:

  • All the details applicable to tariff plans detailed above.
  • Full details of upfront costs, First Recharge Conditions (FRCs), and any potential additional costs that may be required.

Telecom service providers will be required to comply with these directions within two weeks, and self-certify compliance every quarter.

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