Now, telemarketers target fixed lines Economic Times l 17 Nov l New Delhi
With Trai getting tough on unsolicited commercial calls made to mobile phone users, telemarketers have now turned their pesky attention to land lines as an alternate route to the consumers ear.
Telemarketers are targeting fixed line phones with far greater frequency than ever before. Though the population of fixed line phones is significantly lower than of mobile phones and depleting, it still offers sizeable numbers.
At the end of September, India had 315.31 million wireless subscribers and 38.35 million fixed line users. Of the fixed line population, MTNL accounts for 3.57 million in Delhi and Mumbai while BSNL accounts for 30.12 million subscribers across all telecom circles except Delhi and Mumbai. Bharti has 2.5 million , Reliance 1.02 million, and Tatas and others 1.15 million subscribers.
One of the reasons why telemarketers have chosen to target fixed line phones is because most fixed lines do not have a CLI or caller line identification . So while telemarketers have access to many helpless and unsuspecting targets , the consumer has no way of reporting the pesky caller.
‘‘ We have got complaints that unsolicited commercial calls to fixed lines have gone up after our crackdown on such calls to mobile phones. This is peculiar to India as globally fixed lines do not receive commercial calls. We are trying to address the issue,’’ Trai chairman N Misra said.
The nuisance to consumers in this case is far worse than with mobile phones. Calls come in at odd hours, including in the afternoon and there is no way for housewives, students and senior citizens to avoid them.
Clearly land-lines allow pesky callers a reasonably high level of protection vis- avis mobile phones which display their numbers.
The culprits are the same: insurance companies, banks and even private telecom companies who usually call on fixed lines for upgrades or for selling broadband connections .
A recent consumer outcry against pesky calls forced the Supreme Court to come down heavily on the DoT and telecom regulator Trai to police telemarketers. Under pressure from the SC, Trai and DoT set up a National Do Not Call (NDNC) registry in October last year and announced steep fines on offenders who called subscribers registered on the NDNC.
A Trai press release says till 11 October this year over 18 million of 344 million telecom subscribers have registered and claims a significant reduction of call made by telemarketers to registered subscribers.
According to Trai, so far 10,151 telephones of telemarketers have been discontinued for repeated violation of which 8,602 disconnections were of telemarketers not registered with the DoT.
Further, 8,543 telemarketers have been fined Rs 500 and 2,801 telemarketers have been fined Rs 1,000 for repeated violation of NDNC rules.
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