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Say No to Marketing calls

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Telecom regulator TRAI on Wednesday proposed to impose a heavy penalty of up to Rs.2.5 lakh on erring telemarketing companies and gave relieve to mobile users from unsolicited calls/SMSs . According to TRAI they can also face the prospect of getting blacklisted. The defaulting telemarketers will be liable to pay heavy penalties.

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What is a growing concern now days is unwanted calls received by customers not from any telemarketing companies but by the service provider they are using. How do we curb that. The latest regulation by TRAI can impose restrictions to marketing calls from telemarketing companies but how do we handle issues faced by consumers when they get calls from operators. There is no such measure on the operators' spam sms and calls.

The new guidelines will be effective from January 1, 2011. The rules prohibit service providers from providing packages of more than 100 SMS per day. It has also barred all kinds of commercial communication between 9 pm and 9 am, so as not to disturb the customers at night.

Customers registered under 'National Do Not Call Registry' will continue to exist in fully blocked category. The time of activation of this service which was 45 days initially is also reduced to only seven days active from 1st January.

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The telemarketers are required to enter into an agreement with the service provider before they get telecom resources. TRAI, under this new regulation, gave option to go for fully blocked or partially blocked category. Fully blocked category is similar to the earlier Do Not Call Registry regulation.

TRAI recommended a fine of up to Rs.2.5 lakh on telemarketing firms for making unsolicited calls to customers who have registered under Do Not Call Registry. The proposed fine is: first offence Rs. 25,000, second offence Rs.75,000; third offence Rs.80,000, fourth offence Rs.1,20,000, fifth offence Rs.1,50,000, and sixth offence Rs.2,50,000.

However, the regulator has exempted transactional SMS from unsolicited category. Customers will continue to receive transactional messages typically from their banks, insurance companies or telecom service providers giving information relating to their customers' accounts or from airlines, railways to passengers regarding flight and train schedules or from educational institutions to the parents.

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Even with the institution of a ‘Do Call Directory’, spam SMS cannot be curtailed, unless enforcement and punitive damages against telemarketers are strict. The problem today with Bulk SMS is that the trade has scaled, and as it has grown, competition, new entrants and resellers have driven down prices. This has been compounded in particular, by a business model innovation which took place two years ago. By itself, the Bulk SMS trade is not at fault – it was meant to be used for alerts (flights, banks etc), but the lure of scale meant that the business crossed over to the dark side, with SMS Spam and marketing.

The cost of sending Bulk SMS has become incredibly low in India, and with sellers and resellers, the business has really scaled. Most of the prepaid users get 2-4 SMSes and 2-3 calls per day-95% of the 670 mn mobile users are experiencing this. This means India's mobile population, primarily the prepaid users, get 46,428 crore unsolicited SMSes per year from his/her own operator.

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