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Fine on operators for phone faults

New Delhi, July 1: If your land-line phone is not repaired even three days after filing a complaint, you can claim a rebate in the rental as compensation.

Telecom regulator Trai has ruled that if a fault is corrected 3-7 days after a complaint is made, the customer will be entitled to a discount of 7 days’ rent. If the complaint lies unattended for 7-15 days, the rebate will be 15 days’ rental. A full month’s rent will go as rebate if a phone is not repaired for over 15 days after a complaint is made.

The average monthly rental is Rs 250.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued the order today as part of its review of parameters for quality of service, which covers a range of issues from the time taken to record a customer’s complaint to the number of telephone faults. The order comes into effect immediately.

The parameters were first defined in July 2000 and telecom companies were given three years to implement them, in three phases ' 12 months, 24 months and 36 months.

A senior Trai member said the new rules have been framed as “the performance was found to be very poor for basic or fixed line service networks, especially the ones that were predominantly wire line networks”, even after the deadline had expired.

However, officials admitted that some of these targets were not feasible, given the need for extensive rehabilitation work in the wired network that fixed-line operators use.

Consequently, Trai has reviewed the targets to be achieved by the telecom operators in the short, medium and long term. (See chart)

Operators have been asked to bring down the number of telephone faults to less than 5 per 100 phones per month by March 2007 and less than 3 by March 2008.

The call drop rate or inability of the network to connect a call should be brought down to 55 per cent by March 2008 from the existing 65 per cent, the companies have been told.

The regulator has ordered that software used to answer calls made to file a complaint or seek clarifications be improved. It has asked companies to cut the time taken to answer calls both by the interactive voice response (IVR) and human operators.

The IVR system should answer a call within 40 seconds and the human operators should not take more than 90 seconds, Trai has ruled.

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