Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Do Not Call"

To overcome the problem of infringement of privacy, the Indian government decided to establish a "do not call registry" for those who do not wish to accept unsolicited calls or short text messages (SMS's) from business houses, retail stores, holiday clubs, banks and financial institutions, lenders, sellers, advertisers, professionals, marketeers, etc on their mobile phones or land-lines (fixed telephones). A National Do Not Call Registry was made available online, and all that the hapless consumer had to do was to go online and register all the phones that he wanted to register for the DNC.

Heavy penalties are imposed on marketeers who continue to call or message consumers whose phones are registered on the NDNC. Initially, this was pegged at Rs. 500/- per call or SMS sent by them, but in view of continuing violation of the letter and spirit of the law enacted by the government by all marketeers, the penalty has been hiked to Rs. 1000/- per call/SMS.

My cell phone was automatically registered to NDNC by my cell phone service provider; I received a message from them well in advance of the date from when the DNC would become effective. Alas, this has not stopped the unwanted calls and SMS's.

One month after the DNC became "effective" on my cell, I made my first complaint to the cell-phone service provider (mine, incidentally, is BPL Mobile); since then, in the past two and a half months, I have wasted my time and effort and logged in over a dozen complaints against banks such as Barclays, ICICI, retailers such as Pantaloons and Country Club, FI's such as Kotak Mahindra and SBI cards, and what not. The calls have certainly reduced. Barclays, for example, has probably learnt the lesson, as I complained four times against them. They haven't called me now for over 20 days! Others remain unrepentant and shameless.

I am wondering what next I can do other than to change my number, as I am a practising doctor and changing the number just won't do.

Comments? Suggestions? Do contribute, please.

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