Telecom service providers will also be fined Rs. 5,000 per complaint, says TRAI
Acting strongly against the nuisance of pesky calls, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday warned that phone connections of banks, insurance firms and real estate companies will be disconnected in case unwanted calls and SMSes are received by customers on their behalf by unregistered telemarketers.
According to the new regulations — The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference (Thirteenth Amendment) Regulations, 2013 — telecom service providers will also be liable to pay a fine of Rs. 5,000 per complaint, if their network is being utilised to send an unsolicited commercial call (UCC) or SMS.
“It is the duty and responsibility of the service provider to ensure that such misuse (UCC by a subscriber not registered as telemarketer) does not happen in their network,” Trai said.
Noting that a large number of complaints pertain to calls or messages received by consumers on behalf of banks, insurance companies, builders and so on, the regulator said these organisations, by engaging such persons who are not registered as telemarketers with the Authority, are violating the regulations.
“These organisations marketing their products through retailers, distributors and franchisees are thus responsible for the acts of their agents,” Trai said.
It added, “In cases where the UCC contains a reference to another telephone number or an entity such as banks, insurance companies, builders, for which the commercial transaction has been solicited, the telecom resources issued to the subscriber/entity for which the commercial transaction has been solicited, shall be disconnected across all service providers on receipt of a complaint, after serving notices each on the first and the second complaint.”
The regulations state that service providers will have to submit to the regulator, by the 15th of every month, a list of all bulk connections provided during the preceding month.
The Authority pointed out that the major reason for telemarketers not registering with it is to avoid payment of registration fees, promotional SMS charge of five paise per SMS and be able to reach out to even those customers who are registered in the National Customer Preference Register.
According to official data, for the period between August 5, 2012 and August 4, 2013, the total number of complaints related to unsolicited calls and messages against telemarketers received by telecom services providers stood at 5,56,834, which translates into an average of 46,402 complaints per month.