Tata Dealers Aghast Over Company Wind-Up Plans

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Refund, Settlement  Policy In Works: Spokesman

SRINAGAR (ONS) – The decision of Tata Tele-Services Limited (TTL) to wind up its cellular and broadband services in Kashmir has shocked around 50,000 consumers and left some 150 employees and dozens of its franchises in sheer distress. Accusing the company of fraud and cheating, Kashmir Tata Channel Partners Association (KTCPA) Wednesday sought the chief minister, Omar Abdullah’s intervention to save the dealers from becoming insolvent. 

“We invested lakhs of rupees in establishing showrooms under the directions of the company (Tata). We’ve made sales worth lakhs of rupees while its devices worth lakhs of rupees are lying with us,” KTCPA chairman, Sajjad Husain Shah, told reporters.

He said the local dealers, who had made heavy investments in the company after selling their ancestral properties and other valuables, had received advance payments from prospective subscribers for the next six months. “Treating us as cheats, they are seeking refunds for devices from us,” he said.

“We have been and are being deceived by the company. No official is ready to listen to us and when we ask them about it, they tell us to talk to media,” he added.

“Officials of company have left the valley and there is no one to listen to us. Every dealer has invested around Rs 50 lakh,” a dealer, Yaseen Ahmad, said, adding they had voiced their concern to the chief minister on twitter.

On the one hand, the government makes claims of inviting big industrialists to the valley to help eradicate unemployment and on other it is silent over the cheating by such companies,” Ahmad said.

Started in 2008, the company will formally wind up its operations by January 17, 2013. It is preparing a full and final draft for customers and franchises. It is to announce a refund policy for customers who have purchased its plug-in and other devices. It is also likely to have asked its employees to relocate after qualifying an in-house interview.

Interestingly, the decision of the company to leave the valley lock, stock and barrel has come close on the heels of the much-trumpeted visit of Congress general-secretary, Rahul Gandhi, when he and Omar Abdullah hosted several Indian industry tycoons, including Rattan Tata, at an interactive session at the Kashmir University, promising moons and stars to Kashmiri youth. 

When contacted, a company spokesperson expressed its helplessness saying the decision to close down had been conveyed to their business associates and a settlement plan was being worked out for the Channel partners.

“An apex court verdict cancelled our licenses for three circles, including Jammu and Kashmir. The option for participating in the re-auction was dropped because we found the reserve price for spectrum extremely high, which could impact profitability. We decided to wind up instead,” the TTL official said. (With inputs from KNS)

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