18 Mar, 2008, Times News Network
Finally, there’s help at hand. Your mobile operator will be held accountable every time you receive an unwanted call from a telemarketer. Sector regulator TRAI on Monday notified that service providers will be subjected to a fine of Rs 5,000 for the first unsolicited commercial call made to a Do-Not-Call-registered subscriber (NDNC) , and Rs 20,000 for every subsequent call. All that the subscriber has to do is to inform his service provider within 15 days of the call.
Justifying the move to impose stiff penalties on telecom operators over their failure to rein in unsolicited telemarketing calls, the regulator said, “There have been a number of consumer complaints to the authority about telemarketing calls.
Financial sanctions, as an effective deterrent to non-compliance of the regulations, has become a necessity. The objective (of these penalties) is to increase the effectiveness of the regulations by providing some financial sanctions to non-compliant telecom service providers and reduce the nuisance and inconvenience caused to mobile phone subscribers.’’
Sources said that mobile phone companies are likely to challenge the TRAI directive. While no operator wanted to comment officially, sources said the operators are likely to point out that most of the unsolicited calls were being made by the 15,000 plus unregistered telemarketers and that they had no control over them.
TRAI also directed that telemarketers be fined Rs 500 for the first unsolicited commercial communication they make to a DNC-registered subscriber and added that the fine amount would be increased to Rs 1,000 for every subsequent call.
The Do-Not-Call service was introduced last year by the TRAI for those mobile subscribers who did not want telemarketers to disturb them with calls on house loans, credit cards, insurance and other services. So far, it has been a non-starter as even DNC-registered subscribers continue to be troubled by telemarketers.
The regulator also said that it was forced to impose steep penalties as the issue of increasing telemarketing calls had caught the attention of Parliament, the Supreme Court of India, the Court of Delhi, the Reserve Bank of India and the State Commission (Consumer) of Delhi.
However, it must also be pointed out that only a small section of India’s 250 million mobile subscribers has opted to sign up for Do-Not-Call registry. So far, only 8.3 million phone users have registered for the service. - a far cry from the initial prediction of 50-00 million cellular users likely to sign up immediately to get relief from pesky telemarketers.
Beyond the metros, there are hardly any takers for the DNC. Even in the metros, which have a combined cellular base of over 50 million, only a small percent of subscribers have signed up.
According to TRAI data, about 13,600 telemarketers have got themselves registered with the DoT. The NDNC is being accessed daily by around 600 tele-marketers for scrubbing their calling list. Out of approximately 1,522 million numbers uploaded by the telemarketers for scrubbing, 1,411 million numbers were cleared by NDNC for calling, TRAI added.
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NEW DELHI: Economic policy research and advocacy group CUTS International has strongly supported the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to penalise mobile operators for unwanted calls to consumers.
In a release here, CUTS secretary-general Pradeep S. Mehta said that even after registering for the ‘Do not call’ facility consumers were harassed by telemarketers.
A snap survey done by CUTS in New Delhi and Jaipur showed that over half the mobile customers, who had registered for the facility, continued to be bombarded by cheap loan offers, life insurance, credit cards from various national and international companies.
This was other than SMS text messages of telemarketers, which too were covered under the ban.
All mobile companies sell the data of their subscribers to telemarketers/service providers and thus make extra money.
In a letter to TRAI, CUTS had demanded that the accounts of mobile operators be examined for income on sale of subscriber data, which was against all norms and invaded the right to privacy.
“The claim made by operators that they are not responsible for such calls is hogwash because the subscriber data is sold by them to telemarketers and service providers,” said Mr. Mehta.
Besides, the callers were not properly trained by the telemarketers to ask for permission to speak.
“The TRAI should take some drastic measures, including levying of punitive damages on the operators,” Mr. Mehta said.
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Pesky calls: SC asks Centre to change law on penalties
25 Mar, 2008, 2111 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave eight weeks' time to the Centre to amend the law and facilitate early imposition of stiff penalties on service providers and telemarketing companies to curb the menace of pesky calls.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhan directed the Union of India to file a compliance report giving details about the mechanism being adopted by it to impose harsher penalties, as per the recommendation of TRAI, to check unsolicited calls.
The directions followed after Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium submitted that the authorities would need some time to amend the law to implement revised penalties ranging from Rs 5000 to Rs 20,000 on various banks and mobile service providers making pesky calls despite subscribers registering with the 'National Do-Not-Call Registry'.
He informed the court that the the telecom regulator had notified that service providers would be subjected to a fine of Rs 5,000 for the first unsolicited commercial call made to a subscriber enlisted in the National Do-Not-Call-registry and Rs 20,000 for every subsequent call.
It would act as an effective deterrent for non-compliance of the regulations and reduce the nuisance and inconvenience caused to mobile phone subscribers, he added.
Subramanium further said the guidelines and regulations, National Do-Not-Call Registry, related to checking pesky calls have been in place since September.
Counsel Vivek Tankha and Prashant Kumar, appearing for petitioner Harsh Pathak, submitted that there was no mechanism to implement the Regulations.
Earlier, the apex court had sought reply from 11 respondents including the Centre, cellular operators and nationalised banks on a PIL filed by advocate Harsh Pathak over the menace.Courtesy_