TRAI recommends ombudsman for complaint redressal

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In order to "address consumer complaints more efficiently", Telecom Regulator Authority of India (TRAI) has pitched to set up an independent complaint/ Grievance resolution body or an 'ombudsman' for the telecom industry.

TRAI recommends ombudsman for complaint redressal

The regulator recommended a three-stage consumer grievance redressal mechanism starting with resolution by the telecom service provider (TSP) followed by the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) and the Determination by telecom ombudsman in the final stage.

Currently consumer grievances are taken up by call centre and a nodal officer.

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Trai said,"The consumer should in the first instance approach TSP to seek a solution. It will be the duty of the TSP to look into the request and address the consumer's concerns within the time frames stipulated by the authority."

"If the operator fails to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the consumer, remains unresponsive or is unable to resolve the complaint within the prescribed timelines, the consumer will have the option of moving onto the independent mechanism suggested by TRAI," it added. Adding that, this will consist of a process of a resolution based on fact finding by the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum or CGRF, followed by, if necessitated, determination by the telecom ombudsman

Only those complaints that have clearly identifiable and measurable rights will qualify, said the regulator. A centralised web based system will be placed for the flow of information from each level of the grievance redressal mechanism to the ombudsman, it added.

On the ways to create funding for establishing and running the ombudsman, the regulator suggested that no additional burden should be put on the TSPs, but a portion of the existing license fee can be used as the funding mechanism.

The ombudsman will have offices at national levels and sub- national levels covering each state and it should have the power to levy penalties on the TSPs, says the regulator.

It, however, will not handle complaints on disputes relating to third-party payment made using sources provided by TSPs (credit card payments, airline booking and bank transfers), email frauds, tower frauds, phishing, etc. On the need of an independent body for grievance redressal, Trai said that as per the current trends, on an average around 10 million complaints are lodged with the TSPs each quarter and that there is a general sense of "dissatisfaction among consumers about the TSP's established mechanisms and in particular about the quality of redressal offered by them".

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