Sujay Giri, a civil engineer and a consultant of Idea Engineering, visited Vellore, India for a medical checkup in January 2015 and stayed there for about 10 days.
He used his Samsung Note 4 phone with 4G facility during that time, and upon reaching Vellore, his phone connected to Aircel as he has availed himself of the roaming service from Bhutan Telecom (BT) about one to two years back.
In the past, we was charged few thousands ngultrums for using the roaming facility while travelling to border towns, like Jaigoan and Dadgari among others.
While in Vellore, Sujay Giri didn’t use his phone much as he was aware that his phone was on roaming. He said he had used his phone for checking emails, downloading the PDF of a local paper and a few occasional calls.
A month after he returned from Vellore, he received a bill of Nu 682,000.
Sujay Giri said, “When I received the bill, I was really shocked because though I was aware that roaming charges are comparatively higher than local telephone bill, I had no idea I would be charged close to Nu 700,000 for roaming.”
After receiving the bill, Sujay Giri wrote to BT inquiring about the bill and question why he was charged so much for using the roaming for just 10 days.
BT told him that during his stay at Vellore, as his phone was on roaming, his phone was connected to Aircel and the rate for Aircel is different from other networks. BT also informed him that he was charged Nu 900 per MB.
From the bill he received from BT, he learnt that he was charged Nu 56,000 for downloading 1.6 to 2 MB of a local newspaper PDF.
Sujay Giri said, “They have charged Nu 486,000 for data roaming and Nu 214,000 for calls but the prices are still unreasonable and much higher that what they had displayed in the website at the time when I availed the service.”
He said, “I was debating with BT that to avail such service, I should have post paid service and should have signed the agreement for international roaming for which you have to deposit Nu 10,000, and they should have told me how much I shall be charged for availing the roaming service but I was not told anything. He signed the agreement two to three years prior to the incident.”
He further said, “The total MB usage that I had for this bill was 750 MB and I was using my phone very cautiously because I knew it was on roaming, and I was also fairly aware of how much I will be charged for the roaming by looking at their website. Roaming charge was given in the website and it was nowhere close to this. If I was charged the price that was given in the website, I am sure that my roaming charge would not even come in terms of lakhs.”
“I say that I am innocent in this case because I came to know about it only after I received the bill. They could have at least sent me a message or an email to notify me about the charges I have incurred on roaming. How could they stay silent and present the bill of Nu 682,000 which I am definitely not going to pay even if they take me to the court because I know I am innocent,” he said.
According to Sujay Giri, it seems that BT have changed the terms and conditions of the roaming agreement and also the charges displayed on the website. He said he read all the terms and conditions of the agreement before signing it. “The agreement that I signed with BT had few conditions, it was nowhere mentioned that data charges will be high and there will be different charges for different networks. It seems most of the terms and conditions were added recently. The agreement that I signed and the new agreement given on their website is completely different,” he said.
Sujay also said, “We are allowed to use the roaming for two months without knowing the bill and if I had to stay in India and used the service for 2 months or 60 days about Nu 8.1 mn would be incurred and I am not the only person using this service. There are so many people using roaming in India and the figures would come in crores, and is BT willing to take this much risk and why, there is flaw in their system.”
He said it is not easy to get a SIM Card in India as it involves long and tiring procedures. “I thought that why should I buy a sim when I can use my own sim while travelling outside as I was willing to pay the prices that were reflected o their website when I signed the agreement with them but not on this rate. There are different rate and I wasn’t aware of this rate and this rates were not given on their website.”
Because Sujay Giri refused to clear his bill, Bhutan Telecom barred his number which has caused him additional trouble as he was not able to use the same phone number, and it caused him to loss almost 30 percent of his clients, and it has affected business badly, he added.