If you thought signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNCR) would mean you stop getting unsolicited calls, you are wrong.
September 1: I register for NDNCR with Airtel. "All promotional communication will stop within 45 days,” says the confirmation SMS.
October 15: Forty-five days after registering my complaint, my phone rings. “Calling from Reliance Life Insurance…”
A missed call on my cellphone call records shows a number that looks like it is from the persistent executive who has been trying to convince me for the past one year to take a top-up on my personal loan from Citibank. I am right.
I call Airtel for the second time to follow up on my complaint. Contrary to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India guidelines, which state that service providers have to issue a complaint number to the complainant and revert to him/her on the status within seven days, an Airtel executive says: "We can only stop promotional calls from Airtel. You have to contact the service provider from whose number the call originated." Three calls thereafter to three different customer care executives reap the same result.
October 16: It’s the Citibank executive again, offering a loan. I tell her I’m on DNC and she hangs up immediately. I call Airtel again. The same message is repeated and I am told it is my job to trace the service provider.
Over the week: Several calls to Airtel follow to register a complaint but I keep getting the same message. I check with a senior TRAI official who says that my service provider has to register my complaint.
October 25: The pesky calls are still pouring in. I try telling Airtel again. This time I’m mildly stern and insist on speaking to a supervisor, who says she will “check and get back to me".
October 26: I’m rude this time when I dial Airtel customer care. I threaten to file a complaint in the consumer court. The executive politely refuses to register a complaint and says she is unable to transfer my call to a supervisor. However, she promises to call me back within two hours.
October 31: I haven’t received any calls from Airtel. But the executive with a loan offer has called. This time I asked her the name of the company she works for and whether they could scrub the registry. She told me she works for Shelters and apologetically says: “It is the bank’s job to scrub the registry. We just call the numbers they give us.”
I visit a senior TRAI official who is shocked to hear from me as he had passed on my number and details to someone for action. I call Airtel in front of him. This time, I am told a complaint was registered on October 25 and I get a complaint number. That is it.
November 1: An Airtel executive confirms my complaint is registered but has no idea when he can revert to me on the action taken.