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Ensure transparency in tariff ads, TRAI tells operators

Delhi,Business/Economy, Mon, 26 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) The telecom regulator Monday directed all service providers to ensure that their tariff advertisements are transparent and should not mislead consumers.


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asked the operators to maintain a register having specimen of every ad and conduct internal audit to ensure they are complying with the direction.


"A tariff advertisement is considered to be misleading, which in any way is likely to induce the consumer to subscribe to a tariff plan which he would not have subscribed; contains an untrue statement; omits a material fact having bearing on the subscriber's decision; and fails to disclose attached limitations and restrictions," said TRAI.



The firms have also been asked to report compliance to the authority on a half yearly basis.


TRAI has asked the firms to contain their website address and customer care numbers on the ads which should be issued in vernacular languages containing all mandatory disclosures.


According to the watchdog, advertising a particular call rate as 'per second' or 'per minute' would be misleading in cases where the pulse rate is higher than 'one second' or 'one minute'.


Thus, declaration of call rate as half paisa or one-fourth of a paisa per second would mislead if the actual rate is one paisa per two seconds or one paisa per four seconds. Similarly, to present a call rate as 40 paise per minute, would be misleading if the actual call rate is Rs.1.20 per minutes.


TRAI has said ads of specified reduced call or SMS charge would be misleading if they do not indicate that such reduced rate is applicable only after some usage.


For example, one paisa per SMS would be misleading if one paisa per SMS becomes applicable only after the first SMS which is charged at the base rate or higher rate.


The regulator has also asked the firms to specify if the schemes offered in the ads are available only on the customer's network or across the networks.


On international calls, TRAI has said that advertising a specific discount as general rate would be misleading if such rates are applicable only in respect of calls to specific countries.


For example, a Gulf-pack offering ISD calls at Rs.2 while the rates are only valid for UAE would be misleading if the factual position is not clearly conveyed in the ad.


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