Good riddance to pesky telemarketers

Are you being haunted by telemarketers while you are busy driving or attending an important conference? Your woes will soon end, thanks to new guidelines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) which restrict telemarketers from intruding into your private life.

TRAI has found that telemarketing is one of the most cost efficient tools for marketing products. Private banks like ICICI are ahead of others in using telemarketing to offer new schemes to customers. To curb unwanted telemarketing calls, TRAI has asked National Informatics Centre (NIC) to create a national "do not call" registry (NDNCregistry) which would contain telephone numbers of subscribers who do not want to receive unsolicited commercial communications.

The telecom service providers will have to set up call centres within 15 days after the establishment of the NDNC registry by NIC. However, the NIC and service providers are yet to fall in line though the deadline is September 5, 2007 for setting up the registry at the national level.

Telemarketers should verify their telephone numbers list with the NDNC registry before making a call. An amount of Rs 500 per call/message has been prescribed to discourage telemarketers who make calls to numbers registered with the NDNC. However, consumer organisations are not satisfied with the TRAI regulations. "The intrusion of telemarketers into the privacy of individuals is a crime. It is being viewed very seriously in foreign countries. We also have to implement stringent rules and regulations in India. The fine amount should be at least Rs 5,000 per call/message," says C.V.L. Narasimha Rao, president of Raksha, a consumer rights protection organisation.

Rao fears that the NDNC will not function properly since there is no initiative either from NIC or service providers to establish call centres and a registry as per the TRAI guidelines which came into force on June 5, 2007.

Hyderabad district consumer information centre representatives suggest that the telecom service providers should take permission from the consumers instead of asking them to enroll their phone numbers with NDNC registry.

"It is ridiculous to ask the customers to register their names. It is the responsibility of service providers to take written permission before disturbing them with commercial calls," says Ms Anuradha, Info organiser of the centre. "Should telemarketers have the right to intrude into the lives of individuals who do not register with NDNC?" she asks.


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