Are you tired of being on the receiving end of those irritating SMSes from telemarketers that keep your handset buzzing and beeping throughout the day? Are you actually using any of the hundreds of services that infiltrate your handset offering solutions to all your problems by seeking the expert advice of the ‘guru’ and other such quacks? Be assured you are certainly not alone. Even the Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal isn’t spared the nuisance. At a recent event, when announcing the latest diktat from TRAI, he declared that he too was a victim of the pesky bulk SMS making the rounds. It’s not like this will stop just because he’s now involved, but misery does love company.
My number has been registered under complete DND. Ideally, I shouldn’t be receiving any promotional SMSes or calls, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been the case. DND notwithstanding, pesky SMSes continued to find their way into my inbox. How does one deal with it? You can try using apps that claim to block out spam messages, but they aren’t always too effective and can be quite pricey in most cases. But why should one have to pay for these apps when there is an existing, government provided system in place to tackle the menace?
If you continue to receive promotional communication, despite your number being registered under DND, then as per TRAI’s regulation, you can lodge a complaint with your telco. Upon receiving your complaint, the telco will have to track the errant telemarketer and take suitable action. But that’s where the real problem lies—most of us shy away from dealing with the telcos, unless it’s a real pressing matter. And there is a good reason for it too. Dealing with the helpline numbers requires tremendous amounts of patience just to connect and then to explain your predicament, not to mention answering a multitude of sometimes inept and irrelevant questions, before your complaint is finally registered. And even after all that hassle, there is no guarantee that your problem will be resolved.
Tired of pesky SMSes and calls?
TRAI really needs to have a simpler process in place to allow you to lodge a complaint. It should create an online platform where people can provide the necessary details of the recieved promotional SMS to lodge a complaint; they will also be notified of the action taken against the telemarketer. Secondly, most of the messages that you receive despite opting for DND are from unregistered telemarketers, as it’s mandatory for the registered telemarketers to periodically scrub their data and ensure that they exclude the numbers registered under DND from their database. Right now, upon receiving a complaint, the telemarketer is fined. But there is a need for stricter action, especially against unregistered telemarketers.
As a step in that direction, TRAI increased the cost of per SMS sent after the quota of 100 SMSes a day; this was done to curb those who misuse the bulk SMS packs provided by the telcos. Apart from this, it also simplified the process of lodging a complaint. All you have to do is simply forward the SMS that you have received, along with the date and number the message was received from, to 1909. But while TRAI is trying its best, the onus also lies with us consumers. Instead of simply complaining, we need to make use of the means provided to bring the errant telemarketers to book.
Another simpler way I discovered was to send an email. Annoyed by the religious SMSes I had to put-up with despite opting for DND, I first went through the rigmarole of contacting the telco's helpline. I was assured that suitable action will be taken against the telemarketer after investigating the matter. I wasn’t given any time frame and was informed that I will be notified of the progress. Not surprisingly, I didn’t receive any response from them and stopped following up after a while.
However, after a particularly annoying day, when I received a few more messages, I acted on impulse and decided to complain via email. Again, I wasn’t too hopeful, but was pleasantly surprised when I got a response from the telco, requesting for some details. It wanted to know the exact content of the SMS and the time it was received. Nearly four days after sending them those details, I got an email saying that it had tracked the telemarketer and taken up the case with them. I certainly wasn’t expecting such swift action. And I am glad to report that I haven’t received any messages thereafter.
So if you are battling it out with promotional communication, try sending an email. Not only is it less exasperating, but seems to be quite effective too.
Illustration: Chaitanya Surpur