March 13: Vodafone Essar today caught a rap across its knuckles with the telecom regulator ordering it to stop foisting its valued-added services (VAS) on unsuspecting customers.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) directed Vodafone to refund to all subscribers within 15 days whatever charges it had levied for valued-added services where the services were provided without their explicit consent.
The regulator said it had received complaints from Vodafone Essar subscribers, who said the telecom service provider had started offering valued-added services without seeking their consent and without giving them proper information about the charges.
According to Trai officials, the complaints centred mainly on providing a caller tune facility, which was initially provided free for a trial period and later charged without informing the customer or seeking his permission.
Trai has been in correspondence with the service provider on this since February 2007.
It said Vodafone had admitted to a technical error.
From the explanation provided by Vodafone, Trai concluded that it could not be confirmed whether the VAS was provided with the explicit consent of the consumers, particularly when the consumers had denied having given any explicit consent.
It has asked Vodafone to investigate all cases where subscribers denied having given their consent for the activation of such services.