ISP charges subscribers for Indiagames service without consent – report

State-owned internet service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is charging its subscribers for Indiagames’ subscription game service without their consent, a new report has suggested.

India Today is reporting that several BSNL broadband customers have complained of being charged for subscriptions to an Indiagames service, which is most likely Games on Demand, the company’s only PC-based service.

"I was taken aback when I started receiving an additional bill of over Rs 250 per month. I went to the BSNL office, but they refused to help me. They suggested that I speak with Indiagames officials. Several phone calls to Indiangames were futile," an affected customer said.

Games on Demand offers access to a wide selection of PC games for a monthly subscription fee, and Indiagames has tied up with various ISPs for the service. ISPs like BSNL receive a share of the subscription fee and in return provide Indiagames with access to their customer base and exempt downloads through Games on Demand from their fair usage policy.

Indiagames does often offer free trials of the service, and some customers have reportedly complained of the service being continued beyond the trial period. Others have claimed that the service was activated without the free trial.

According to the report, BSNL customers have been charged anywhere from Rs 250 to Rs 1,000 per month for the service without their consent.

Responding to the report, BSNL chairman and managing director R K Upadhyay told Mail Today, "Our authorities will take care of it. We are not bound to tell what kind of tie-up we have with Indiagames. It is our internal matter. You can file an RTI if you need any information in this regard."

BSNL also claims that all revenue earned through its customers is collected directly by Indiagames and it is therefore not liable to offer affected customers a refund.

Indiagames is part of DisneyUTV Digital, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company India.

Responding to the report, Vishal Gondal, managing director of DisneyUTV Digital, told MCV, We adhere to all procedures and guidelines. The service is activated only upon explicit consent from the customer and we have records of all such consent available.”

While this is the first time such an incident has occurred in the broadband space, several such instances have been reported in the mobile industry, with users having been charged for games or other services by mobile operators under the guise of VAS (value added services) bundles.

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