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Takes Airtel 5 Years, Rs 10,000 Fine Threat To Clear SIM Conversion Request

The Telangana state Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed the CEO, AP circle, of Bharati Airtel who is operating from Begumpet in Hyderabad, to refund Rs 1500 collected without any reason from a former employee of a corporate entity. That employee’s name is N Siva Senani, a resident of Gachibowli in Hyderabad.

Siva Senani worked with a corporate company and during his stint with that company he was provided with a corporate mobile connection. He left that job but the sim remained with him and he was using it as his personal phone number in a post paid format. In 2014, he noticed that his telephone bills were increasing gradually from January to July. He requested the Airtel officials to change his mobile usage plan to a different pack known as ‘My Plan 399’ from August 2014. The telecom firm assured the customer that the changed plan will come into force from August 24, 2014.

It had even sent him a reference number saying that his request had been acceded to and will be implemented. But that was not done. Despite several reminders through emails, phones and visits, the plan was not changed.

It was still showing it as a corporate connection though Siva Senani has been paying the bills on his own for the last five years. Airtel insisted that the customer should get a no objection letter from his previous employer to convert the connection into a retail connection. Siva Senani later issued a legal notice to Airtel asking it to pay him the Rs 1500 excess amount it collected from him.

The Hyderabad district consumer forum directed the telecom firm to refund the excess amount of Rs 1500, it also slapped a penalty of Rs 10,000 towards punitive damages and also Rs 2000 towards costs asking the Airtel CEO to pay it to the customer.

It also asked the CEO to pay the amount with 9 per cent interest. The Airtel CEO filed an appeal against this district forum judgement in the state commission and raised technical objections that aggrieved customers should not come to consumer forums directly and that they should first invoke arbitration methods for a resolution.

The district forum, as well as the state commission, refused to accept this technical ground raised by the telecom company and decided the matter on merits.

While confirming the district forum’s order in all respects, the state commission however set aside the penalty of Rs 10,000 in view of the readiness of the telecom company now to change the category of the connection of the customer from corporate to retail.―Times of India

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