Bharti Airtel fined for subscriber harassment

Indian consumer forum directs telco to pay US$453.35 to post-paid subscriber as compensation for demanding fresh documents to verify his six-year-old connection, and then reportedly blocking his calls despite him agreeing to request.

Bharti Airtel has been ordered by a consumer forum to pay 25,000 rupees (US$453.35) to a postpaid subscriber as compensation for harassing him.

In the complaint by customer Manjoy Kumar Sharma filed to the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum on Oct. 2009, he said that he had been using an Airtel post-paid connection for more than six years when the telco's service center called and demanded for documents to verify his number, The Times of India reported on Thursday.

He claimed he had agreed and asked them to send someone to collect the documents from his home but no one came, which then led to Airtel blocking all outgoing calls from his number without notice.

A postpaid connection is issued to subscribers only after residential proof such as passport and driving license are provided, so this is a "clear case of deficiency" in harassing the subscriber "without any rhyme or reason," C. K. Chaturvedi, bench president of the forum noted in the report.

"[Airtel] is directed to pay Sharma 25,000 rupees (US$453.35) [for] harassment, mental agony and litigation charges as the consumer has been suffering without any valid reasons since 2009," Chaturvedi said.

In a written statement to the Indian news site, Airtel that it had been acting according to the Indian Telegraph Act and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) guidelines. The forum then rejected the contention, saying its act was arbitary.