Reliance Jio is reportedly planning to offer a refund scheme for the JioPhone announced last month. The company is now said to grant a part refund to JioPhone customers who wish to return the 4G-enabled feature phone before the stipulated 3-year contract period.
According to Economic Times report, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani may announce the terms of the refund scheme in next few days. There are no specific details of the scheme known as of now. The development comes after the Reliance JioPhone opened for beta testing yesterday. The company accepted orders from both individual and business customers who wished to test the phone. Officially, you could pre-book the JioPhone from August 24, although retailers on the ground have already started accepting pre-orders.
When the JioPhone was launched at an effective price of Rs 0, questions were raised regarding the three-year lock-in period. For the uninitiated, the feature phone can be bought with a one-time deposit of Rs 1500, and a monthly plan of Rs 153. However, after three years, consumers can ask for a complete refund of the deposit that brings down the effective price of the feature phone to zero.
The elusive strategy might seem disruptive in nature for the telecom sector in India but does raise eyebrows. The 3-year lock-in scheme might have been put in place to hold customers on its own network but doesn’t outline questions related to refunds. For instance, what happens if the phone becomes dysfunctional during the three-year period? What are the circumstances under which the consumer will be eligible for a refund?
According to the latest TRAI report, the monthly ARPU for access services based on adjusted gross revenue declined from Rs 111.63 in the quarter ending December 2016 to Rs 89.34 in the quarter ending March 2017. Considering that Jio is looking at a monthly plan of Rs 153, it is looking at a higher ARPU than the industry average from the feature phone segment of telecom users in the country.