The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has partially modified the existing directions on the procedures for providing value added services (VAS) and has directed all service providers to implement a uniform procedure for taking explicit consent of the consumer for activation of value added service and or deactivation of value added service.
TRAI said the new direction on the procedures for activation and de-activation of such services are aimed at protecting the interest of consumers.
TRAI said VAS activation procedure should include all forms of activations and scenarios – OBD, IVRS, WAP, Mobile Internet, USSD, SMS, Tele-calling and any other mode of activation.
The service provider should to provide a system, which takes a second consent from the customer before providing a value added service through any means - OBD, IVRS, WAP, Mobile Internet, USSD, SMS, Tele-calling or any other mode of activation.
The first offer of a service should be on the service providers' platform and a second confirmation from the customer should be through a dedicated consent gateway, which is owned by a third party and not by the service provider.
The service provider should activate the value added service only after receiving a second confirmation from the customer.
Service providers should follow common de-activation procedure using toll-free Common Short Code 155223. They should also complete de-activation of all requests in 4 hours.
The deactivation procedure should to be publicised through advertisements in newspapers, updation in the website and SMS blasts.
Service providers should provide customers information about auto renewal of VAS services 24 hours before such renewals, through SMS and outbound dialing (OBD).
In case of wrong activation, the amount should be refunded within 24 hours of the customer's request. Such customer requests should be within 24 hours for value added services with validity of more than one day and within 6 hours for value added services with validity of one day.
In case of USSD and SMS mode of activation, no activation response time should be greater than 10 seconds and 60 minutes, respectively, and in case of non-response, the same should be treated as 'no activation required'.
Upon activation of VAS service, the de-activation number, the validity of the VAS service and charges for renewal should be explicitly informed.
Service providers should submit monthly report on activations, de-activations and complaints received and their redressal to TRAI.
Activation of value added services by service providers has been the cause of many customer complaints and is a major concern for TRAI as well.