Aiming to give a major relief to mobile users from unsolicited calls and SMSes,telecom regulator TRAI today imposed a hefty penalty of up to Rs 2.50 lakh on erring telemarketing companies which also face the prospect of getting blacklisted.
A whole set of new guidelines issued today would come into effect from January 1,next year.
To help unregistered subscribers identify commercial calls,telemarketers will be issued a different set of numbers starting with ’70’.
The regulations also mandate that no commercial communication,even for unregistered customers,shall be sent between 9.00 pm and 9.00 am,so that customers are not disturbed at night.
Unlike the previous regulations which provided only for a ‘Do Not Call Registry’,the regulations issued today provide a wider choice to customers.
The subscriber may choose to be under the ‘Fully Blocked’ category which is akin to the ‘Do Not Call Registry’. The user can also choose the ‘Partially Blocked’ category,in which case he will receive SMSes in the categories chosen by him.
Trai has identified these categories– banking and financial products,real estate,education,health,consumer goods,automobiles,communication and entertainment,tourism and leisure.
In case of violation,as per the revised guidelines,the telemarketers would have to pay a fine of Rs 25,000 for the first offence which would go up to Rs 75,000 in case of a second violation,Rs 80,000 for the third,Rs 1.25 lakh for the fourth,Rs 1.50 lakh for the fifth and Rs 2.5 lakh for the sixth offence,following which the number will be blocked by all service providers.
Besides,TRAI has also asked operators not to offer packages containing more than 100 SMSes per day after concerns were raised over the fact that any subscriber can indulge in commercial communication from their numbers.
If an unregistered ordinary subscriber makes unsolicited commercial communication,he/she will be warned for committing the offence for the first time. On committing the offence for the second time,his/her telephone will be disconnected.
The new set of regulations will also expedite the registration process for users. Customer registration will be effective within seven days of registration,unlike in the past when it used to take 45 days.
Customers can register by ringing up 1909 or sending an SMS to 1909.
Customers at present on the ‘National Do Not Call Registry’ will continue to be registered under the ‘Fully Blocked’ category and need no re-registration.
The procedure for registration of telemarketers with TRAI has also been simplified.
All telemarketers now have the facility of registering online. They can also make payment of the necessary fees either online or offline. The registration will be immediate on payment of registration fee. Telemarketers registered with DOT should re-register.
The scrubbing of numbers (screening),which used to be done by a centralised agency earlier,has now been replaced by a system,where telemarketers are required to scrub the data before sending the SMSes.
In addition,it has also been made mandatory for the service providers to filter the data.
This two-stage screening is designed to stop any unsolicited calls/SMSes.
The regulations also provide for an aggrieved customer to lodge complaint with his service provider who is required to take appropriate action and inform the customer of the action taken within seven days.
However,transactional messages,which typically includes messages from banks/insurance companies or telecom service providers giving information relating to their customers’
accounts,or from airlines/railways to their passengers regarding flight/train schedules,are out of the ambit of the new regulations.
Transactional messages will however be only in the form of SMSes and that too restricted to relevant information.
Promotional content in transactional messages will not be permitted.