Fresh trouble for prepaid subscribers
Companies Begin Re-Verification, Block SIMs
Srinagar, Oct 31: The mobile service providing companies in Jammu and Kashmir are once again troubling the pre-paid customers by asking them to get their SIM cards re-verified within four days, failing which their phones shall be disconnected. The move, not first of its kind, has evoked sharp reaction from hundreds of customers, who accuse the companies of putting them to trouble, frequently.
In the past one week, the Bharti Airtel has shot a message to hundreds of its pre-paid subscribers asking them to produce relevant documents at its counters to avoid SIM disconnection. One of the messages, which threatens mobile blockade, reads: “Ap Ka Mobile Band Hosakta Hai!! Govt Dwara Jaari Ki Gayi Prepaid Ki Guidelines Kay Mutabik Apne Prepaid Connection Ko Jaari Rakhne Ke Liye Apna Naya Form, Sahi Photo ID, Valid Address Proof Aur 4 photos Kissi Bhi Airtel Outlet Par Kama Karwaian Aur Aglay 4 Din Ke Andar Payien MUFT 100 Local Airtel to Airtel Minutes.”
The message has caused panic among the customers. “It is unfortunate that the company is punishing us this way. It doesn’t happen anywhere,” said Shafaat, a pre-paid subscriber who received the message. “One year back, when the pre-paid service was banned in Jammu and Kashmir, I got a postpaid cell after on the production of valid documents. After sometime, the company shot a message that you can convert the postpaid SIM to prepaid by using the SMS. I did the same and got the SIM converted. That time the company didn’t ask for any documents. But after a year, it is asking for the documents which I have already submitted at the time of procuring the SIM.”
The subscribers accuse the company of being indifferent. “Why should we submit four photographs every year? What if they are misused? Last year we produced four photos and all the relevant documents. This year we are again asked undergo the same verification process. The company is not paying a single penny on account of photographs. They are just minting money and appeasing the government by troubling the subscribers time and again. Nobody has shown us the government guidelines which the company is talking about,” said a group of subscribers, waiting outside the Airtel Customer Centre at Raj Bagh.
Informed sources said the companies have already blocked scores of SIM cards without citing a reason. “My SIM got blocked early in the morning. I received the message that it would be blocked within four days. The company is taking customers for a ride which is condemnable,” Shafaat said.
It is not for the first time that any mobile service providing company is shooting such a message. This time, ironically, it is the operational SIM cards which the company is re-verifying, raising a question mark on the earlier verification process. “We are using these prepaid SIM cards for the past one year. Till date the company didn’t ask for any verification because it had already done that at the time of issuing the SIM cards. Now after a year, it is all of a sudden threatening to block the cards if the subscribers don’t go for re-verification, which is a tiresome process. We have to first visit the centres. Then fill the forms. Then get the documents signed,” said Raja, another victim. “The mobile companies in Jammu and Kashmir are earning millions of rupees every day. But when it comes to customer service, they fail miserably. Rather than doing the verification once and for all, they trouble the customers after every six months, which should be a matter of concern for the state government. How can it allow its citizens to be looted and troubled at the hands of the companies?”
While the company executives and media relation officers refuse to talk about the issue, insiders alleged that it was the central government which had issued “stringent guidelines” for the pre-paid subscribers. “We should not be blamed for the mess. We are working under a system which is monitored by the Home Ministry directly. Recently we got another set of guidelines from the Ministry seeking re-verification of the SIM cards which have been converted from postpaid to prepaid,” said an Airtel official, insisting not to be named.
Sources said other mobile companies have also begun to re-verify prepaid SIM cards, though they have not shot messages to the subscribers. “Everybody is doing it, internally. Many SIM cards have been blocked and more are likely to be blocked on the pretext that the subscribers don’t turn up for re-verification. It is for the fault of companies that subscribers are being punished. If it shot the message to subscribers asking them to get their SIM cards converted without any documents, why are the subscribers being blamed for it,” said the irked subscribers.
The use of mobiles in Kashmir has been a matter of concern, with Centre banning the use of pre-paid mobile services last year on the pretext that it was being misused. It lifted the ban (imposed in November, 2009) on pre-paid mobile services in the state in January this year, but on the condition that the operators would do customer verification in the given format at the earliest. That time, the government had issued fresh guidelines which limited the number of connections to a household to six.
Recently the companies blocked one of the two SIMs procured by a subscriber without citing any reason. It earned millions of rupees on account of the SIMs, which it initially issued and then cancelled. The state has about 40 lakh pre-paid phone subscribers. Such steps have, pertinently, also hit a number of youth associated with these companies.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 31 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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