Thursday, Sep 25, 2003
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By N. Ravi Kumar
Without assigning any reason for the inclusion, the bills show the entry accounting for a substantial portion of the total amount. It has led to many of the subscribers approaching the Bharat Sanchar Nigam seeking clarifications.
On the `miscellaneous' entry, a senior official of Chennai Telephones, said it was not a new charge. It was merely due to a new billing software package, which breaks-up the rental and the plan charges components under different heads.
The miscellaneous entry shows the plan charges, the official said, pointing out that the new entry was restricted to the bills of subscribers who migrated to the alternative tariff packages announced by the BSNL in May this year.
Agreeing that the new entry was not quite clear to the average users, the official said necessary alterations, towards clearing the confusion, would be effected in the next bill. Different entries separating the rental and plan charges have been necessitated as the BSNL had kept the rental to Rs. 200 in its alternative packages to reduce the burden of sales tax on rentals.
Many subscribers of Chennai Telephones, however, favour a tariff package which does not have a rent component. This was one of the demands raised by the Thandurai Pattabiram Consumer Council at an open house session organised recently for BSNL subscribers attached to the exchanges under the Avadi division.
``None of government operated public utilities such as power, water and even cooking gas has any rental component. They merely charge deposit,'' the vice-president, T. Sadagopan, said appealing to the BSNL against charging telephone rentals. The subscribers would not mind the loss of free calls if rentals were discontinued, he said.
The council sought a locking system to bar calls to `95' numbers and mobile telephones to prevent use of the facilities. It also demanded that the telephone bills should carry names, office address and telephone numbers of key officials, including those in the Vigilance department, in the exchange concerned. The consumer body sought waiver of the rent during the periods when BSNL employees went on strike.
Meanwhile, Chennai Telephones has established a helpline (24610500) for its CellOne cellular subscribers seeking clarifications about their mobile connection bills. Assuring that ``every action has been taken to update the billing system'', a press release said any customer requiring clarifications or corrections in their invoice should register their cases by calling the number between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on all working days.
In another development, members of the National Federation of Telecom Employees today resorted to an indefinite fast outside the office of the Chief General Manager. They were demanding withdrawal of the complaints filed with the Avadi police against 20 of their members.
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