TRAI’S Recommendation to Move on Unwanted Calls very Fair: CUTS

New Delhi, March 23, 2008

A leading economic policy research and advocacy group: CUTS International has strongly supported TRAI’s recommendation to penalize mobile operators for unwanted calls to consumers.

In a press release issued here today, CUTS Secretary General, Pradeep S Mehta, said that in spite of registering for ‘do not call’ facility, consumers continue to be harassed by telemarketers.

“Once I was called by the direct sales agent of Airtel to buy value added services, when my number has been registered by Airtel for “do not disturb’ facility” for over two months, said Mehta. “This is a case of the fence eating the crops. Adding insult to injury, many a times I get such nuisance calls when abroad, and I have to pay for ISD charges as well”.

A snap survey done by CUTS in New Delhi and Jaipur, showed that over half the mobile customers who have registered for ‘do not call’ continue to be bombarded by cheap loan offers, life insurance, credit cards from companies such as Aviva, ICICI Lombard, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, travel companies etc., etc. This is other than sms text messages of telemarketers which too are 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 has demanded that accounts of mobile operators be examined for income on sale of subscriber data, which is patently against all norms and invades 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”, asserted Mehta.

Besides that, the callers are not even properly trained by the telemarketers, to ask for permission to speak but to launch their verbal message as soon as the called person picks up the phone.

“The only issue raised by the operators which can be supported by consumer groups is that telemarketers need to be disciplined, but that does not mean that operators have no liability”, said Mehta. “They are responsible jointly and severally. TRAI should take some drastic measures including levy punitive damages on the operators, and that should shake up the whole unholy nexus”