* “Learn the REAL SECRETS of success and happiness in life. Join Personal Efficiency workshop on 2 October. Interested? SMS your name to…”
* “Fully furnished 2/3 BHK flat @ price of raw flat, free AC, chimney, wardrobe, prime location @ Noida Extension, near possession @2017. Call …”
These are just a few examples of unsolicited commercial messages that flood mobile phones frequently, both as text messages and on WhatsApp, causing great inconvenience to mobile phone users. These text-ads not only deflect people’s attention, especially while they are driving, but also affect the memory of their phones.
Besides that, customers are also getting voice calls from telecallers of different companies in a bid to sell their products like insurance, credit cards, personal loans and also to advertise services like pest control and old newspaper collection.
The unwanted advertisements keep intruding one’s phone despite the introduction of the DND (Do Not Disturb) feature by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as early as in October 2011. The subscribers had to call on 1909 or text his/her number, for blocking pesky caller and texters, along with telemarketing personnel. However, this DND service was not that effective as smaller organisations tied up with mass SMS sending companies.
“I had registered my number as DND, yet I am getting numerous unwanted calls and SMSes. Now they have started sending text messages on WhatsApp as well. This is quite annoying. I have, in fact, downloaded TrueCaller, which helps me, to a great extent, distinguish between a genuine caller and an unwanted caller,” said Rashmi Agarwal, a teacher in New Delhi.
Anshuman, an event manager, said: “There is something wrong with this facility. Or the process of penalty is faulty. The government should come out with stricter norms to ensure that we are saved from such unsolicited communications. It’s quite annoying when you are in the middle of your work in office and somebody calls you on your mobile to ask whether there are old newspapers for sale.”
Realising the consumers’ woes, TRAI has now come up with a new option to check the menace. It recently introduced an app, “DND Services” which will help mobile users to manage unsolicited commercial communications (UCC).
According to a source in TRAI, this app has made the complaint mechanism very easy. “Till now, the consumer had to file complaints by calling the toll-free number 1909 manually. But this app is quite convenient for lodging complaints related to both messages or voice calls and the resolution of the complaint is fast. The feedback is quite encouraging and hopefully more and more consumers will take the benefit of this facility for getting rid of UCCs or unwanted calls,” he said. The interface of the app is very user friendly and does not require much of user intervention.
However, he said the facility of lodging complaint on the toll-free number 1909 exists now as well and that the app is an additional option for consumers. The application is available on Google Play Store and Mobile Seva App Store for download.
Besides registering for “DND” service and filing complaints on the app, subscribers will also be able to view the status of their lodged complaints. The complaints will be delivered to the telecom operators also.
The Sunday Guardian spoke to a couple of consumers but they were ignorant about this app. This suggests that not much has been done to popularise the app.
“I was not aware of this app. But now I will try. Hope this will give me some relief. I am tired of unwanted messages and calls,” said Sonu, a property consultant.
The reviews on Google Play Store were mixed. While some appreciated the TRAI move, some expressed their problems. “Has been crashing for the last week. Every time I select voice complaint, the app crashes,” wrote Krishnan Kasturirangan.
However, one Rashmi Gupta has written: “Excellent app to manage pesky calls and SMS & to give lesson to such people.”