Sunday, September 25, 2011

Brief history of UCC and the customer friendly policies: series1

The background for UCC-Unsolicited Commercial Communication goes way back into year 2006. This is the year when TRAI has recognized problem of UCC. First time consultation paper to address UCC been published in the month of Nov-06. Multiple options been provided but most optimal and widely accepted option was to create National Do not Call (NDNC) Registry. And finally, Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communication Regulation was born on 5th June-2007 and became legally binding.

In most of the aspect this regulation was based on the Canadian regulation and experience. It was the important first step towards the robust UCC laws expected to come in the future, but miles to go before that. In current state of the Regulation was simply basic and there were hardly any penalties. (max up to Rs. 500/- for noncompliance to the Telemarketer). And there were no provision for disincentive for the service provider at that time. Also there was no mention about QoS-complaint resolution time lines etc.
By the end of 2007, mid October NDNC registry been developed by NIC. And NIC was also expected to maintain it in the future. DoT has made mandatory for every telemarketer to register themselves with DoT. RBI also agreed to force all banks and financial institutes to appoint only DoT registered and approved telemarketers for any activities/ or as their DSAs.
Within a year of operation, 8.3 mil customers got registered with NDNC registry. TRAI also started tightening the loose end by Mar-2008. It was made then mandatory to put an option upfront in CAF for the new customer if he/she wishes to apply for NDNC. TRAI has started putting some customer education advertisements. RBI has also made it mandatory for bankers to employ only duely registered telemarketer. TRAI had asked service providers to provide 1909 toll free number for the existing customers to register for NDNC. Penalty tariff been revised up to Rs. 1,000/- and provision been introduced to disconnect telecom resources provided to frequent violators (telemarketers). Even there was introduction of financial disincentives for service providers starting from Rs. 5,000/- up to Rs. 20,000/-. And still there was one of the cirtical but most abused regulation guideline, largely violated and most of the times abused; that provision of the regulation is: mandatory declaration during any of the UCC (voice call or text) that it is commercial communication and if customer do not wish to receive such calls in future, he/she may contact the service provider…  .
Regulator did not stop here, in the month of Oct-2008, TRAI had given clear cut guidance about timely resolution of the complaints more welcome move in favour of consumers. Then decided time line was not more than 28 days to resolve any sort of complaints and followed with verifiable action taken report.

By one of the estimate there were approximately 10bil calls made which can be categorized as UCC. With these introduction there were significant curb came on voice UCC. But transaction through SMS has been increased. 1,700+ telemarketer has registered with DoT.

By the end of the yr-2008, TRAI has come long way by proposing to introduce National Customer Preference Registration Facility (NCPRF). Again NIC suppose to develop it. Laws had very stringent for UCC and financial disincentives in terms of significant penalties and plus always looming threat for 2 year straight blacklisting. This things obviously had lot of roadblock before getting to see light of the day- in terms of service provider least interested in introducing this, their major bulk business customers- telemarketer also had commercial interest against the rule. So nobody was in hurry of making this regulation as fact of the life. But customer does have big stake- Peace of mind. TRAI had came forcefully. DoT had also taken their own good time to release the required numbering series for the telemarketer but they did it finally. Regulation was tried to be put in place in bits-and-pieces. By the end of 2010, THE TELECOM COMMERCIAL COMMUNICATIONS CUSTOMER PREFERENCE REGULATIONS been proposed. We are yet to se the implementation of this regulation in totality. Finally in 2011, DoT has released the required numbering series '140 'completely (for Mobile and fix both)- critical point in implementing this regulation .

So let us speculate what will be the life post 27th Sep-2011 – the date as of now considered to be the dead line for full implementation of the telecom commercial communications customer preference regulation.

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