Unasked Service & Paying to Stop It!
An Open Letter to TRAI
As a consumer of Airtel Mobile [No 8088304324], I have a serious complaint to make against the company. I’ve good reason to believe thousands of other consumers also suffer this nagging problem, as I do. Let me make bold, therefore, to write this open letter to TRAI, in the expectation the telecom regulator will take steps to end a thriving unethical practice in the telecom industry.
By a SMS message to customers on Oct 10, the company put through a Live Aarti service, unilaterally. And to make it seem as if the customer had asked for it, the message said ‘Thank you for subscribing’ ...I myself knew nothing about it beforehand. What’s more outrageous, it made it known I had been charged Rs 10 for 7 days… a quiet debit from the pre-paid account I keep with the company. For argument sake, I could stop the service by calling 552230, but it was just that I found no such STOP option when I phoned that number.
I am not persuaded that a customer any where should pay for what he has not asked to buy. Can a shop in our neighbourhood get away in a case of this kind? In the event, it’s an unfair business practice that doesn’t behove the country’s leading mobile service provider, to say the least.
As they’ll tell you when you phone 552230 at Airtel, the service on offer has to do with Aarti from Shri Tirupati Balaji and several other renowned temples in the country. The devotees are encouraged to seek blessings by performing the Aarti . A multilingual service, it clearly targets lakhs of people across the country. Small payments add up to a huge kitty. A thriving big business in the name of God!
It’s no one-time payment, either. ‘Tirupati Live Service will be renewed in 3 days,’ a curt Airtel SMS advised me today. ‘You’ll be charged Rs.10 for 7 days.’ Elsewhere in these columns, I’ve taken up this matter twice [see Debit against Unasked Service & Charging for an Unsubscribed Service]. No way out. I was trapped without an exit option. Almost. However, after considerable effort and a good Rs.10.50 in STD outgo, I was able finally to get Airtel’s Karnataka Helpline to stop the unsubscribed service.
What about others who are similarly saddled with one or another kind of unasked programme?
14 Oct 2011