To protect customers from bleeding white during international roaming, TRAI on May 9 recommended that data services of Indians travelling abroad should be stopped upon reaching the credit limit and activated further only after they deposit the required amount.

TRAI in its recommendations on sale or rent of international calling and roaming cards in India said that in respect of a postpaid connection, there shall be a credit limit which may be fixed as per the customer’s requirement and customer be transparently informed of the same.

The international SIM vendor should inform the customer through SMS or other message upon reaching 70 per of the credit limit, TRAI said. “If the credit limit is breached the services should be barred till such time the customer deposits the necessary amount with the operator,” TRAI said.

The government has authorised 38 companies to sell international roaming SIMs. The regulator has received several complaints from consumers on being over-billed by companies selling these SIMs. It observed lack of transparency on billing charges specially exorbitant charges on mobile internet activated without their permission.

“A close scrutiny of the complaints reveal that majority of complaints are related to hefty charges levied on customers for accessing data services in the foreign land. In all such cases, customers had refuted the claims made by the operator and denied having accessed the data services,” TRAI said. The regulator also observed lacunae in resolving customer grievances.

The regulator has also recommended that international SIM sellers should be made answerable to TRAI. “Billing and consumer redressal mechanism of the NOC holder should be strengthened to enable time bound resolution of billing grievance by the operator within a period of 30 days,” TRAI said.

At present, the international sim vendors are required to only take ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) from the Department of Telecom to operate. TRAI has recommended that the international sim seller should provide tariff plan along with the terms and conditions, contact details in India and the visiting country should be provided at the time of handing over the sim to the customer.

For the sake of transparency, TRAI has recommended that all applicable tariff rates should also be available under the link ‘Tariff Plans’ on main page of vendor’s website. “Customer care service should also be developed and offered preferably free of charge or at nominal charge (not more than applicable local call charges) which should also be informed transparently,” TRAI said.

Further, upon reaching the country of destination, the consumer shall be provided toll free customer care service by the foreign partner with whom the Indian NOC holder has commercial agreement with, TRAI said.