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Are TRAI’s SMS Spam Guidelines Really Working?

Perhaps trying to justify its SMS spam guidelines, the TRAI on Friday issued a press release stating that it is “monitoring and enforcing the regulations for protection of customers from Unsolicited Commercial calls and SMSs” and that Vodafone has penalized the first batch of telemarketers by deducting penalty amount from their security deposits on 12.10.2011, and deposited Rs 50000 with TRAI.

My experience with Airtel has been quite different – a complaint I filed against HDFC Bank was rejected at the first instance due to insufficient information, even through I gave them all the information. I’ve been filing DND complaints for over 4 (yes, four) years now, so I know what to do. The customer care exec was unable to specify what they meant by ‘insufficient information’, so I filed it again. A message I received on the complaint later stated only that a warning letter has been sent to the telemarketer, and made no mention of a fine.

I’m yet to receive any information on a complaint filed against LIC, or one filed against an Airtel Direct Selling Agent who was trying to sell me a new Airtel number. Since then, I’ve got a few other telemarketing messages as well. Again, Airtel is being singled out because I’m an Airtel customer (and a happy Airtel customer), and I don’t have any other number on the DND. Tell us about your experience with other operators in the comments.

But as Sagar Bedmutha pointed out yesterday, the SMS’ are still coming. As I said earlier, the onus should have been on the telecom operators to prevent spam – start fining originating telcos for spam.

The TRAI is being unresponsive – an email MediaNama sent Rajkumar Upadhyay, Advisor TRAI requesting an interaction on how businesses with a legitimate use case for sending SMS to customers can approach the TRAI for exemption or a solution, did not receive a response. We believe that this directive should have been issued following a consultation process to take multiple views and alternatives on board.

We’ve heard from larger mobile companies that the TRAI is meeting them to get their views on board, but we don’t think that a selective approach is entirely democratic. Many smaller businesses are not getting an audience, because the TRAI isn’t approachable, or they don’t have the wherewithal for ‘lobbying’.

Why should some policies go through a consultation process and others be directives? The TRAI needs to change the way it works, and show some consistency in its policy making, and transparency in its decision making.

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    © 2008-2018 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ