Express News Service
Posted: Sep 02, 2008 at 0159 hrs IST
Pune, September 1: In the last 16 months, over 24,430 consumers of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) had to contend with dead telephones for more than 15 days. But only 1720 got rent rebate from the telecom company. The rules state that the telecom company must give a rebate in rent when the phone lines are dead, but they do so only when the consumer asks for it.
This was the information procured from an RTI application filed by Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch. “It is a direct hit on their revenue, which is why they are not moving on it,” Velankar said.
BSNL authorities said that more than revenue, it was a logistical issue. “It takes some time as the field unit needs to file a report on the reason for the phone disconnection. Unless the billing section gets this report, they cannot reduce the rent. Because of the logistics involved, it becomes difficult to unilaterally offer the rebate,” said Vineet Mathur, General Manager, East, Central and Marketing.
He said that consumers were given a rebate within three weeks, if they applied for it. However, the rebate is given only if the phone is found dead for a minimum of seven days. “The minimum rental plan for BSNL is Rs 180. If the phone has been reported dead for 15 days, the rebate would be Rs 90. However, many consumers have a higher plan tarrif,” he said.
This would mean that the telecom company owes its consumers a little over Rs 20 lakh at least.
In a letter to BSNL authorities, which has been circulated in the media, Velankar has said that the company has taken no efforts to educate consumers about this facility; it has also not published this bit of information in telephone directories or telephone bills.
“When you have all the data about for how many days the telephone number is dead, why is the rent rebate not given to all the customers,” he has written.