Tata Sky DTH violates TRAI norms on Quality of Service

There is a very public war going on between Tata Sky DTH and some television channels, although the newspapers and TV channels are generally looking the other way rather than come out in support of their readers and viewers.

Tata Sky, which is part of the reputed Tata group (see The Hindu’s report on this subject today) has been treating its subscribers in the most cavalier fashion during the past month. For many who thought that the shady cable operator era had been wiped out and one of competitive market forces and accountable corporate operations had arrived, it was a deeply disappointing experience.

The serious issue about the spat between Tata Sky and ESPN Star, Star Cricket and Star Sports is that there is a clear violation of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India norms on Quality of Service. The DTH operator has brazenly ignored the service norms relating to notice to be issued before a package is changed (see clause below).

Consumers are also being insulted by Tata Sky with this SMS to registered mobiles: “Our new package pricing has had a huge demand. So you are not able to reach us. Apologies! For help press help on your Tata Sky remote. Thanks for your patience.”

Indeed, many subscribers have been showing too much patience and tolerance towards a powerful corporation that is taking consumers for a ride.

It would appear that there is a strong case for consumer action for damages from Tata Sky, for the disruption it has caused so far. If you are running or plan to organise an association for Tata Sky owners, please post your contact information in the comments here, to bring all those affected together.

The salient features of the DTH QoS Regulations issued by TRAI are as follows:

(i) The order will take effect from 1.12.2007.

(ii) The DTH operator will formulate schemes to offer customer premises equipments (including the set top box) to its subscribers on outright purchase basis, hire-purchase basis and rental basis. Authority may also prescribe suitable schemes in this regard in future if necessary.

(iii) The DTH operator, while formulating its scheme for hire-purchase, will make provision for refund to be given to subscribers if they choose to return the customer premises equipment. This facility, together with rental scheme, is expected to provide commercial interoperability to DTH subscribers in addition to technical interoperability which is already there in DTH licensing conditions.

(iv) The DTH operator will devise the format for application form, and will assign a customer identification number to each such application received.

(v) A time limit of 5 working days has been prescribed for complying with requests relating to shifting, disconnection and reconnection.

(vi) DTH operator will give notice for discontinuing a channel or for disconnecting a subscriber.

(vii) DTH operator will not disable the set top box if the subscriber has opted out of his service. This will enable the DTH subscriber to use the STB for receiving other DTH services.

(viii) The subscription package offered to a subscriber will not be changed for 6 months. However, the subscriber can opt out of a particular package for any other package at any time.

(ix) Post paid subscribers, if any, will be issued bills containing details such as charges for subscription package, value added services, customer premises equipments, taxes etc.

(x) DTH operator will establish call centres with sufficient number of telephone lines with “toll free” numbers, such that the benchmarks relating to response time are met (e.g., 80% calls to be answered within 60 seconds in case of voice operators and within 20 seconds if answered electronically, etc.).

(xi) Each request or complaint to a call centre to be assigned a docket number.

(xii) 90% of complaints regarding non-receipt of signals to be redressed within 24 hrs., and 90% of other type of complaints to be redressed within 48 hrs. No complaint to remain pending beyond 5 days. All billing complaints to be redressed within 7 days.

(xiii) DTH operators will nominate Nodal Officers for redressal of grievances of those subscribers who are not satisfied with the redressal at call centre level.

(xiv) The Nodal Officer will redress the grievances within 10 days of registering of the complaint.
(xv) Complaints received by TRAI and forwarded to DTH operator will be redressed within 15 days of forwarding, and outcome intimated both to the subscriber as well as to TRAI.

(xvi) DTH operator will prepare a manual containing details such as benchmarks for grievance redressal, call centres, Nodal Officers, operating instructions for STB, etc. A copy of the same to be supplied to each subscriber.

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