To quell angry customers, Reliance Jio Infocomm has started offering 30 minutes of free talk time to users. Customers are unhappy after the telecom operator announced that users will have to shell out 6 paise per minute for calls to other networks. The limited-period offer was announced less than 48 hours after Reliance Jio announced the call charges.
"Customers will get free talk time of 30 minutes the first time they recharge their phones. This one-time offer will be available for the first seven days from the date the plan was announced," said a person in the know, as mentioned in a report in The Economic Times. The person said that this scheme has been announced to ease the transition for subscribers.
The call charges have been sharply criticised on social media. Users reminded Jio that it promised free lifetime voice calls when it started providing services three years ago. The operator decided to charge users to offload the pressure of interconnect usage charge (IUC) set by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). IUC is a cost paid by a telecom operator when its users make outgoing calls to another operator's customers.
Reliance Jio claimed that it had paid Rs 13,500 crore in IUC, since it does not charge customers for voice calls.
After Reliance Jio's announcement was met with anger, the operator said that customers would enjoy free calls till their existing plan expired. "Dear customer, if you have recharged on or before 9th October, you can continue enjoying free call benefits (even to non-Jio numbers), until your plan expires," Reliance Jio had said.
Other operators such as BSNL saw a golden opportunity in this. BSNL is hoping to boost market share following Reliance Jio's decision to charge callers. "We see a silver lining. We expect 3-4 per cent gain in market share from our current levels due to Jio's announcement," BSNL Bengal Circle CGM Ramakant Sharma told reporters in Kolkata.
Taking a dig at Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea said that like what promised they will not charge on calls to other networks. "Relax, there will be no charges on Vodafone calls to other networks. So keep enjoying what we promised you - truly free calls on Vodafone unlimited plans," it said.