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Nothing free about toll-free numbers

N. Ravi Kumar and K. Lakshmi

Mobile calls to 197, 100, 102 charged

CHENNAI : Mobile phone subscribers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited in the city and suburbs are discovering to their dismay that calls to toll-free emergency numbers are not actually free.

Instead, many say, numbers such as 197 — directory enquiry, 100 for police assistance, 102 to call an ambulance are charged.Subscribers of private mobile operators too face a similar problem.

What angers them most is that calls to the same numbers are not charged when from BSNL landlines.

"The impression among the mobile phone users is that such calls are free of cost ... but when calling from a pre-paid service or post-paid service the call amount is charged," says T. Sadagopan, Chief Coordinator of Thandurai Pattabiram Consumer Council.

Noting that the directory enquiry is one of the most frequently called numbers, he says publication of the new BSNL Chennai Telephones directory is overdue for three years now.

Considering that many of the telephone numbers in its subscriber base of nearly 8.5 lakh has changed since the publication of the directory, the need for a new one is imperative, subscribers say.

Underscoring the need for the service provider to clarify the position on calls to toll free number, Mr. Sadagopan says it is not the only problem faced by subscribers.

Subscribers were unable to get feedback or redressal from the customer care number of BSNL's mobile service (94440-24365).

The call centre number provides only information about the schemes available and registers complaints. Calls to the same number from alandline get charged, he said, urging that a toll free landline number be provided.

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