TRAI directs mobile operators to seek users' written consent before activating VAS

TRAIIn a much-needed move to prevent inadvertent activation of value-added services (VAS) - like hello tunes and call ring-back tone - on the users' phones, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) directed the mobile operators on Monday to seek written consent of users for activation of the services.

The TRAI measure has come in response to the horde of consumer complaints regarding the activation of the aforesaid services without their consent.

Asking the operators to maintain transparency about their services and communicate the details clearly to the users, TRAI has instructed them to follow the user-consent criteria even while offering their free services. Furthermore, the operators would be required to maintain complete records of the activation consent obtained from the customers.

In its statement regarding the measure, TRAI said: "Before the activation of VAS, such explicit consent shall be obtained by means of a customer originated call or SMS to a specified number or a request made by the customer in writing or by fax or e-mail." The statement also gives a 45-day period to all access service providers, BSNL and MTNL inclusive, for the implementation of its new directive.

In its order, TRAI specified that the "accidental" activation of VAS came about through Out-Bound-Dialer (OBD) call, and the customers often activated the services, without understanding the implications of such offers!

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