New Delhi: How often have you got a phone call selling an insurance product right when you were in an important meeting? One such consumer in Delhi chose to file a complaint against telemarketing and has been awarded a compensation of Rs 50,000.
Incessant phone calls from telemarketing agencies offering everything under the sun, whether you want them or not, generate the following responses from people:
"It's very annoying. You are in the middle of something important and you get these phone calls," says a harassed cell phone owner.
"In spite of telling them that I don't need a loan, ICICI calls you every 10 days," another one adds.
"When I tell them that I am 16, they disconnect the phone. It's a waste of time," says a third person.
Tired of getting such calls, advocate Nivedita Sharma filed a complaint in the Delhi State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission against Airtel, ICICI and American Express.
In response, the consumer court on Tuesday awarded her a compensation of 50,000 rupees. It has also slapped a collective fine of Rs 1 crore to be paid by Airtel, Cellular Operators Association, ICICI and American Express.
Says Nivedita Sharma, "The consumer court in their findings have realised that it is the telephone companies which are giving out information about their customers - their numbers and details about the financial status."
However, the Cellular Operators Association of India feel that they are unnecessarily being targeted.
Says the Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India, T V Ramachandran, "We are the victims. We are not at fault. We just provide the channel or the pipeline through which these companies work. In such a competitive market why would we give out numbers of our valuable customers?"
And banks are guarded in their reactions.
ICICI spokespeople say that they are getting their legal department to look into the issue.
The consumer court's ruling is a victory of sorts for the consumer who may finally get some relief from aggressive tele-marketing.
Now that Nivedita Sharma has been awarded a compensation of Rs 50,000, other harassed consumers are likely to follow in her foot steps.
(With inputs from Prachi Doctor in Mumbai)