Consumer court urges curb on overcharging by mobile operators

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) The Delhi State Consumer Commission has urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to curb the practice of overcharging by private mobile operators who include undue charges in bills which are rectified only when pointed out by subscribers.

A commission bench, comprising its president Justice B.A. Zaidi and member Salma Noor, was hearing a petition filed by private telecom operator Bharti Airtel seeking to set aside compensation of Rs.25,000 awarded by a district forum to Nitin Jain, a consumer who was charged for a service that was not activated.

Jain contended that Airtel even charged him for the free SMSes.

The bench sought the help of TRAI to inquire whether ‘mistakes’ in bills were unintentional or on purpose.

Pointing out that prima facie it is seen that Airtel was earning huge profits by inserting such charges in bills, the commission said when a protest is lodged, it rectifies the error and makes adjustment in the bill.

‘The forum rightly pointed out that this amounts to unjust enrichment and dishonest practice. It needs, however, a thorough enquiry by the TRAI to ascertain this circumstance and we believe that it will do so in public interest,’ it added.

Upholding the district forum’s order of compensation, the commission said: ‘Since there was an error in billing which has been accepted (by the company), the consumer becomes entitled to damages and we would only say that damages are very honest.’

Jain had received the bill for the month of March-April 2005 in which undue charges were levied with regard to a ‘Hello Tune’ service which was not provided to him, and for free SMSes.

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