As long as we have service providers who care two-hoots about their customers and as long as organizations such as TRAI and RBI remain toothless-tigers, no do-not-call registry (DNCR) system is going to work in India.
The problem is simple. We’re trying to create independent do-not-call registries. For example, you have a DNCR per cellular service provider, a DNCR per banking institution, etc. That’s haphazard and is never going to succeed. How do you keep track of which DNCR you are registered on or not? The correct solution is so obviously simple, everyone is too wise (or blind) to see it.
Create a secure non-repudiatable central database that is:
- Maintained by a single accountable organization
- Accessible by all service providers and their mercenary-like agents (telemarketers, direct-selling agents, etc.)
- Accessible by an any customer who so wishes to use it
- Configurable by any customer on a per-service basis
And most important, slap heavy penalties on violations. Strip the license from that service provider. Create the fear of God. Do this and there’s not going to be a single unsolicited call.
Here’s the latest update – specifically from the telecom sector – on this merry-go-round circus. My comments are interspersed in between [My comments] tags.
From the January 01, 2007 edition of The Economic Times:
Alarm bells: Telcos want commercial calls out of do-not-call registry – Demand is in line with mandate to keep consumers informed about tariff, value-added services – by Joji Thomas Philip, New Delhi
If telecom companies have their way, they will continue to trouble you with Unsolicited Commercial Calls (UCC) even after the ‘Do-Not-Call’ (DNC) registry comes into effect in mid-2007. Telecom operators have written to regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) demanding that all “communication undertaken by the service provider with his subscriber for his business and commercial purposes be exempted from UCC”.
[My comments] That’s business jargon being used by the cellular service providers. It actually means “We want to screw the customer. Make it easy and legal for us.” Enough said.
UCC includes telemarketing calls, SMS and other commercial or marketing messages. A section of the industry has demanded that calls to past and prospective customers should also be allowed.
[My comments] From a typical cellular service provider: “What? You were going to strip us of our most lucrative revenue streams? No way TRAI. We’ll make our customers pay dearly for being our customers. Worse. God save you, if you have been our ex-customer. We’ll follow you no matter where you are.”
TRAI had initiated a consultation towards creating a do-not-call registry last month, stating that UCC “disturbed a large number of subscribers by forcing them to respond to their telephones, thus invading their privacy”.
[My comments] TRAI, the toothless tiger, at work.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the GSM body, in their communication to TRAI over this issue, said: “There should be an exemption list published by the authority, which excludes certain types of communications from the purview of the definition of UCC”.
[My comments] Already commented.
According to COAI, the exemption list must include all service-related communication undertaken by the service provider for business and commercial purposes. For instance, information to the customer of his pending dues and new tariff plans being offered, COAI said. Justifying their demand, COAI pointed out that this was in line with the TRAI mandate that consumers be kept informed about changes in any item of tariff, credit limit and provision of any chargeable value added service.
[My comments] There’s a saying in Kannada: “Tirugu Baana.” Meaning, an arrow shot by you that comes back and pierces you. Kind of like a boomerang which comes back and strikes you bang between the eyes. So much for your rules TRAI.
Going a step further, the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI), the body representing CDMA players, said that calls made to subscribers that have quit the service provider over the last 18 months also be placed in the exempted categories. Interestingly, AUSPI has also demanded that calls made to prospective customers — those subscribers who had enquired about product or services in the last three months — be permitted even to those who have registered with the DNC.
[My comments] From a typical cellular service provider: “Screw the DNC. Let’s get back to making those calls. Leave no revenue stream untapped. Screw everyone.”
“The exempted category of calls should be suitably incorporated in the definition (of UCC). This exempted category mentioned is also part of Do Not Call Registry Act of Australia and Telemarketing Rules of USA,” AUSPI stated.
[My comments] Ummm…for a change, why don’t we think for ourselves? Do we do everything Australia and The USA of A do? We have a billion+ minds. Let’s try and be different. It won’t hurt too much.
Apart from the industry bodies representing operators on both technological platforms, operators including Bharti Airtel, MTNL and Tata Teleservices have also written to TRAI requesting that the above-mentioned changes be incorporated to the definition of UCC.
[My comments] From a typical cellular service provider: “Let’s hammer home the message boys! Flood the toothless-tiger with written requests and delay the whole circus.”
What do you think?