R – Jio asks TRAI to impose penalty on Airtel for ‘misleading’ ads
NEW DELHI: Reliance Jio Infocomm has urged the telecom regulator to take the “strongest” action and impose the “highest” penalty on rival Bharti Airtel for violating rules by “falsifying” tariff information to subscribers.
In a complaint to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on January 19, Jio has alleged that Bharti Airtel is hiding complete terms and conditions of its recently launched tariff plans, which actually do not provide unlimited voice or free data, as claimed.
Jio’s five-page letter to the regulator explains how Bharti Airtel is “misleading”, “misinterpreting” and also “discriminating” against subscribers, in its recently launched special tariff vouchers, in “gross violation” of Trai orders.
EThas seen a copy of the letter. Airtel didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.
The two companies have been at each other’s throats on a variety of issues, such as inadequate points of interconnection to Jio and the newcomer’s predatory free voice and data offers.
On January 4, Bharti Airtel announced that it was offering free data worth Rs 9,000 for a period of 12 months to customers who switch to Airtel 4G. The company had said prepaid customers could avail of the offer by buying a special tariff voucher worth Rs 345 as an add-on pack to an existing pack. Users could get enjoy free unlimited calls, both local and STD along with “free” 3GB data. The only condition stated was that the offer was either for new subscribers with 4G handsets or previous Airtel subscribers who were upgrading to a new 4G device.
Jio claimed that in reality calls are not unlimited and it was wrong to use the term “unlimited” as per the regulator’s own orders. “In fact, Airtel has implemented a fair usage policy of 300 minutes/day or 1,200 minutes/week whichever is earlier and post this fair usage all calls are chargeable at Rs 0.30 per minute”.
The company has said this fact is not discernible from advertisements and, “neither does Airtel specify in the advertisements that such limitations apply”.
Secondly, Jio has claimed that Airtel has wrongly described the 3GB data as free data as they require subscribers to first pay Rs 345.
Jio has further alleged that Airtel has also misled subscribers by inflating the value of the data they will receive under the pack, which violate Trai’s rules. While Airtel claims the 3GB data to be worth Rs 9,000 over 12 months, Jio has claimed that as per Airtel’s price indexation itself, the 3GB data with a validity of 28 days would be priced at Rs 450. “The price of using such a pack over 12 months would then be Rs 5,400,” Jio has claimed.
The Trai direction referred to by Jio says no tariff plan shall be offered, presented, marketed in a manner that is likely to mislead the subscribers.
Thirdly, Jio has claimed that by only allowing either new subscribers or Airtel subscribers who previously didn’t avail Airtel’s 4G services to avail the offer, the telco had discriminated between subscribers of the same class, thus violating Telecom Tariff Order 1999 which states no service provider shall in any manner discriminate between subscribers of the same class and such classification of subscribers shall not be arbitrary.
Finally, Jio has said that in mandating a subscriber to log into My-Airtel APP to opt for the offer required a positive action from a subscriber. “Thus while all subscribers opting the 345 pack may be eligible for the additional free benefits, only subscribers exercising a positive action in the application are provided benefits,” the company has said.
This violates the provisions of the Telecom Tariff Order 1999 which forbids it.
Among other alleged violations, Jio has claimed that the Airtel website doesn’t show all available plans, vouchers and packs to a new subscriber and directs all non-Airtel subscribers to ‘My pack’ option. “We understand this is also in violation Trai Directions pertaining to display of plans on website,” Jio has said.
reference from TheEconomicTimes